Dry & sensitive skin in babies: an ayurvedic perspective

Dry & sensitive skin in babies - how you can help using herbs and natural oils
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

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My baby has dry & sensitive skin – how can I help her / him? – this is a question we often receive at Krya.

Dry & Sensitive skin: an alarmingly common problem in babies

One in 5 children in under the age of 5 years in India suffers from eczema , also called atopic dermatitis. It often occurs quite early ,before the baby is two years old. Eczema is different from cradle cap and can occur on any part of the skin, though it often occurs on the cheeks, joints of the arms and the legs. It is characterized by red, dry & sensitive skin that is often itchy and rough. This skin reacts quickly and aggressively to any change in cosmetic products, detergent brand, and sometimes even water hardness.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: 1 in 5 children experience this today

Allopathic treatments for dry & sensitive skin: where the cure is worse than the disease

Of grave concern to parents today are the common allopathic treatments given for infant eczema – which are topical steroid creams and in severe cases , oral anti-histamines. Steroid creams act on the skin by shutting down the immune cell in the skin and thereby hoping to reduce the skin inflammation caused by the eczema. This gives a temporary relief to the itching and redness produced in dry & sensitive skin. However, as the effect wears off, which is in 8 hours or so, the itching starts, sometimes with an increased vigor.

Dry & Sensitive skin in abbies: topical creams suggested to control the skin condition may aggravate the situation

However the steroid cream approach is terribly flawed and there is NO evidence that they provide any cure for the disease. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence for a number of alarming side-effects of steroid usage.

Depending on the strength and frequency of steroid usage , these are the side-effects – steroid addiction/dependence, skin thinning and atrophy, breakdown of skin barrier allowing easy entry of pathogens, unusual hair growth on skin, proliferation of visible skin blood cells (so skin appears flushed and red without any cause), discoloration of skin due to poor melanin production etc.

Parents should rightly be very very wary of using steroid creams on their child’s skin.

Factors that determine whether your baby can develop dry & sensitive skin:

Babies are prone to dry & sensitive skin condition through genetic factors – like the parents’s prakriti and the time, season and place of conception . A baby with this genetic pre-disposition develops the actual skin condition due to a number of factors that can trigger the eczema. It is a condition that many times settles down as baby grows up. But we can control and eliminate baby’s discomfort, by preventing a number of modern day factors that contribute to this skin condition.

Dry & sensitive skin in babies: skin condition is influenced by many internal factors

To understand this skin condition better, we must first remember that the human skin is the host to a fantastic micro-ecosystem of microbes called the microbiome. The typical skin microbiome can contain around 1 trillion microorganisms, both helpful and pathogenic. This delicately balanced microbiome is vital to the healthy functioning of the skin – there is a clear difference in the micro-biome of healthy skin and the micro-biome of a person suffering from eczema.

A person builds the skin microbiome ( and the many other microbiomes in the body like the gut flora) over time , starting from the colony inherited from the mother during birth. So c-section babies and formula-fed babies will have a less diverse and different micro-biome from the babies that were born via a normal delivery and were breast-fed exclusively in their first few months. However these are large factors over which many mothers have little control after the event, so what can be done now ?

Building baby’s skin health: steps for concerned parents

This is why we introduced the concept of the skin micro-biome and its vital importance in maintaining healthy skin. The baby’s microbiome is intelligently built by the skin over hundreds of happy accidental acts everyday like contact with the parent , food intake , touching clothes, toys , books, the very air in the home, playing in the sand. So the best approach for a parent is to create an atmosphere that supports the creation of a healthy micro-biome.

Avoid creating an excessively sterile environment

The first step here is to avoid creating an excessively sterile environment – like the usage of a/c for long periods. Another common factor in a new baby household is the excessive use of anti-bacterial wipes and anti-bacterial hand-wash to prevent infections. An excessively sterile environment tends to reward disease causing micro organisms and encourages the growth of super bugs – a case in point is the super bug growth in hospitals across the world.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: avoid creating an excessively sterile environment

While the worry is understandable, these chemical sanitizing products are broad-spectrum and kill all bacteria – both good and bad. This creates a hyper-sterile environment, preventing the growth of a healthy microbiome and stunts the baby’s progress in building general immunity by interacting with the environment.

Avoid using bacteria killing and pH altering foaming synthetic soaps and petrochemical cosmetic lotions and creams :

All foaming baby soaps and body washes are harsh on baby’s skin and are broad-spectrum , killing all the bacteria on the skin. They also alter the skin’s pH , disturbing the delicate balance of the microbiome. Read more about what goes into a typical baby soap in our previous post. 

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: avoid using soaps and synthetic foaming bodywash to cleanse baby's skin

Another common skincare mistake perpetrated by the baby cosmetic brands is the use of mineral oil based lotions and creams, after baby’s bath. This is flawed on 2 levels – one is the use of harmful petrochemical derived ingredients which cannot nourish the skin and also clog the fine channels.

The second error is the application of a oil or cream after the bath. This clogs the pores of skin and does not allow the Srotas of the skin to perform properly.  Hence when baby has dry and sensitive skin, using a petrochemical moisturiser will give skin temporary relief. With the passage of time, heat will build in skin surface and trigger higher itchiness and skin irritation causing baby a lot of discomfort.

Dry & Sensitive skin - clogging moisturisers can aggravate heat in baby's skin

The correct procedure as per Ayurveda is to massage the baby FIRST with a  good herb-infused vegetable oil and then give baby a bath with a herb & grain based cleanser. The pre-bath oil massage keeps skin soft, moisturized and supple.

These intelligent ,rakshogana herbs in the bath powder ( unlike a soap) cleanse baby’s skin gently, do NOT alter the pH, repair minor skin blemishes, kill pathogens and yet allows the healthy bacteria to function -thereby providing the ideal atmosphere for the skin microbiome to develop. You can read more about what goes into the Krya baby ubtans in our previous post here.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: intelligent rakshoghna herbs used in baby ubtans cleanse skin intelligently and protect it

The choice of pre-massage oil is very critical for baby’s skin health. Many parents mistakenly believe that pure coconut oil is the right oil to be applied to relieve dry and sensitive skin. Read more about why we DO NOT recommend this practice here. 

The microbiome of a baby is an important subject. we have an ongoing miniseries on the subject, of which the first part can be found here.

For a detailed step-by-step description of an ideal Ayurvedic baby care routine and how to maintain a healthy baby nursery , please read our previous blog post on this subject.  :

To sum up:

There are many internal causes for a baby developing dry & sensitive skin. We will explore some of these in our upcoming posts. However, this sudden rise in skin conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis and other special skin conditions among babies whose parents have perfectly healthy skin is due to other, external, avoidable factors.

Our microbiome colony is what gives us immunity, good gut health, the ability to digest food and extract nutrients and keeps our skin healthy. It is presented to us as a gift from our maternal line – many of us may have remnants of microbiota which are thousands of years old, passed on from mother to mother, and finally to us.

Unfortunately, this generation old microbiota is in short supply for our babies today – mostly due to the fear driven, poor choices we are making as parents.

We hope this post helped you understand the link between dry & sensitive skin in babies and the effect of some of our cleaning and cosmetic choices. Our upcoming posts will delve more into the establishment of a healthy microbiome in baby and explore more on the subject of sensitive skin condition in baby.

Krya baby products for dry and sensitive skin in Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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Cold pressed virgin coconut oil or Krya baby oil – which is better for baby?

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

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Concerned parents often ask us which is better for baby’s skin and hair: cold pressed virgin coconut oil or the Krya baby skin oil and the Krya baby hair oil? What is the rationale behind using a herb infused oil that is specific to skin or hair? Given the high interest around cold pressed virgin coconut oil and the number of queries we get on this subject, we thought we would do a short post on this subject today.

Which si better for baby? Cold pressed virgin coconut oil or Krya baby oil

 

The series that is ongoing on the Krya blog is a series on Ayurvedic baby skin and hair. We have been exploring different facets to Ayurvedic baby care last month and this month on the blog. Our last post explored the important topic of the baby’s microbiome and how critical it is to baby’s health and well being to ensure baby’s micro biome is not wiped out. The use of synthetic soaps and bodywashes can completely wipe out a nascent microbiome colony. This is why Ayurveda recommends using edible, food grade organic lentils and grains and Ayurvedic herbs to cleanse skin. Specifically, we are supposed to oil baby’s skin FIRST and then cleanse skin with a specially prepared ubtan.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: edible oils and grains are healthier for baby's skin

When a pure natural oil and pure natural ubtan is used for baby’s skin, it contains material to feed the existing healthy microbiota on baby’s skin. When there is a sufficient number of healthy, well fed microbiota, they strongly keep away invasive micro organisms from skin. Besides feeding the microbiota, using edible, food grade skin products has other advantages.

 

A good quality vegetable oil has the capacity to penetrate skin. This is not the case with oils that are made using Liquid Paraffin (most commercial baby oils). Liquid paraffin does not penetrate or feed skin. Instead, it forms an occlusive barrier on skin. This interferes with the skin interacting with the environment. It also slowly kills healthy microbiota on the skin as it cuts off their oxygen supply.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Commercial baby oils contain large doses of Mineral oil

So the question remains: can we use a vegetable oil like cold pressed virgin coconut oil instead on baby’s skin? Let us explore the pros and cons of this.

Benefits of cold pressed virgin coconut oil:

After many decades of persecution and being made into a villain, coconut oil has finally begun to see a renaissance. As always, Indian doctors are much later than their Western counterparts in promoting coconut oil.

There are many obvious benefits to using cold pressed coconut oil. All vegetable oils are rich in nutrients and coconut oil is no exception to this rule. Coconut oil contains important medium chain fatty acids like lauric acid, capric acid and Caprylic acid. Together this set of triglycerides has anti microbial and anti bacterial properties that are intelligent. This means they can boost growth of useful microbiota and bring down growth of invasive organisms.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut oil has many health benefits. It is not the villain it is made out to be

As it is a vegetable oil, it is capable of penetrating deep into skin. Studies show that coconut oil penetrates must faster and more effectively into skin unlike mineral oil. Once in skin, it encourages regeneration of damaged cells, helping healing skin faster, again compared to synthetic oils.

These benefits are much more if we take the purest form of coconut oil – cold pressed virgin coconut oil. Solvent extracted coconut oil made from chemically farmed coconuts is obviously not as beneficial to skin.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Traditional extraction methods gives a more nutrient rich oil

So if we find a good source of cold pressed virgin coconut oil, should we begin slathering it immediately on our and baby’s skin? Hold on to your bottle of coconut oil. Let us see what Ayurveda says about the properties of coconut oil.

Ayurvedic properties of Narikela (Coconut):

Narikela (coconut) is described in Madanapala Nighantu as “Maha phala” – the great fruit and “Maha vriksha”, the great tree.

The same Nighantu describes the properties of Narikela Phala, Coconut fruit as “Sheetya” (cooling), “Brmhana” (nourishes ,firms, increases weight / size) and “Vrishya” (promotes vigor).

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut oil is nourishing, weight promoting and vigour giving

Narikela is also described as having “Vasti shodana” property, i.e. it cleanses the bladder, which is why Coconut water is prescribed in UTI and bladder infections. Due to its “Daha samaka” (thirst quenching) property, it is given in peak summer in heat strokes, and excessive thirst and sunstroke.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut is bladder cleansing

Narikela is also described as “durjara”, which can be interpreted as “difficult to digest”. This could be due to is weight giving and nourishing or “Brmhana” property and also because of its “Sheetya” (coolant) property.

Coconut water, on the other hand has different properties from the fruit pulp from which we extract oil. Coconut water is “Deepana” or digestion promoting and “laghu” or light in nature.

Implications for eating and application of Coconut oil based on Ayurveda:

Even though Coconut oil is Vrishya (aphrodisiac) and Brmhana (strength promoting), it is “durjara” or difficult to digest. Hence it cannot be freely consumed by everyone. Those with high digestive strength and people who are very strong physically can certainly take it.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut is cold and hard to digest. so must be consumed at right level only

For others, it should not be taken in very high quantities. If used, it should be used along with warming and light foods which can balance its cooling and heavy properties.

Issues with application of Cold pressed virgin coconut oil – as per Ayurvedic properties

Similar issues arise when we apply cold pressed virgin coconut oil on skin. On one hand it is “Brmhana” and “Vrishya” which means it can potentially nourish skin. But as it is “Sheetya” and “durjara”, it is heavy and thick and does not penetrate skin quickly.

Even in scalp applications, we cannot use only Coconut oil directly. To be able to penetrate scalp, the oil must have some amount of warmth. a purely cooling oil is not very efficient at penetrating scalp quickly and nourishing it.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut needs warming herbs to make it more efficient

If you compare this with another vegetable oil like sesame oil, Sesame oil is much more lighter and penetrates skin much faster compared to Coconut oil as it is ushna in nature. This is why in the ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sesame oil is generally referred to as the base Taila for all oil based preparations.

In the Kerala Ayurveda tradition, as coconut oil is native and much more easily available, it is used over Sesame oil in most formulations. However, care is taken in all Kerala Ayurvedic formulations to make coconut oil lighter and increase its warmth and skin penetrative ability by using the correct warming herbs in it.

So to answer the first question of concerned parents: Yes cold pressed virgin coconut oil is an excellent vegetable oil. But it should not be used directly on either baby or adult skin and hair. This is because unless it is processed with the right herbs it is too heavy and cold to penetrate skin and scalp properly and deliver nourishment deep within.

How should cold-pressed virgin Coconut oil be processed: some examples from Krya’s baby range of skin and hair oils

Krya uses cold pressed Organic coconut oil in its adult and baby skin and hair formulations. But as we have seen, to improve the efficiency of the oil, we need to process the oil correctly.

We have seen that Ayurveda recommends that Baby formulations should be made slightly more warming than adult formulations. The balance is very subtle – if we make the product too warming it can cause heat rashes and irritate the baby. On the other hand, if it is too cooling, it brings down baby’s core temperature down much more rapidly. This can spread infections and also cause mucous clogging in the baby.

Coconut oil being cooling and heavy by nature, has the potential to quickly increase mucous build up in baby.

In the Krya traditional baby massage oil, our base oil is much more heavily weighted towards Sesame oil than Coconut oil. This base oil is processed with 17 other herb juices and decoctions like Daruharidra (tree turmeric), Ashwagandha, Bala (Sida cordifolia), Manjishta, etc. In addition to these 17 herbs, as is recommended by Ayurveda, we also add a very mild decoction of dried ginger, black pepper and jeera. The use of these warming spices plus other herbs, completely alters the property of the coconut oil in the mix. The final oil is light, warming, penetrates very quickly and is extremely beneficial in good muscle development and nourishes skin greatly.

Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala and Ashwagandha nourishes baby's skin and aids healthy bone and joint development.

In the Krya nourishing skin massage oils, we have 2 variants: Palmarosa and Rose and Lemongrass and Neem flower. Palmarosa and Rose variant is generally suggested for babies with much drier skin or with conditions like dermatitis. Lemongrass and Neem flower is suggested for other babies.

Again in this Baby skin oil, we use warming herb juices like Vitex Negundo (Nochi), fresh organic vegetables like Carrot which is a slightly “hot” vegetable, and herbs like Ela (Cardamom) and Vacha (Acorus calamus) which are warming and vata balancing. This combination ensures that the cold, heavy properties of Coconut are transformed. The final oil is deeply nourishing to skin, and continues to be warm and soothing for the baby.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Krya uses warming herbs like ela to change the nature of Coconut oil

The Krya Baby hair oil uses a good amount of Brahmi, similar to the Krya Kids hair oil and the Krya harmony hair oil formulation. Brahmi is suggested in Ayurveda to be used in all hair oils for children. This is because it actively aids brain development and helps support the rapid development of the brain that is seen in children and relieves stress ad pressure during this phase.

Here, the use of pitta balancing and vata balancing herbs like Organic Amla, Organic Bhringaraj, Organic Balloon vine, Organic Bottle Gourd, Khadira, Triphala, etc, ensure that the base oils are made much more nourishing. The transformation that coconut oil undergoes in this process, makes it highly penetrative, helping it deliver nutrient packed goodness to baby’s scalp. This is why so many parents swear by the Krya Baby Hair oil and the Krya Kids hair oil as it promotes healthy , good quality hair growth WITHOUT aggravating Kapha dosha.

To sum up:

We attempted to answer a popular question: is cold pressed virgin coconut oil good to use for skin and hair. We hope our post educated you on the benefits behind this wonderful oil, and also some potential drawbacks.

There is no universal panacea in Ayurveda. Even in the case of a hoary herb like Amla, there are strict specifications on how each kind of person should eat this to derive maximum benefits from it.

Similarly, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil is an excellent vegetable oil. But it has to be consumed correctly and in the correct way by people of different types. In skin and hair application, it is better to choose an Ayurvedic oil, where the base oil has been worked on and processed and transformed using different kinds of herbs. This brings the properties of the oil close to what we seek and gives us much better results without as many side effects.

If you have any questions on this, please write to us.

Krya Skin & Hair products recommended for Baby:

Hair:

  • Krya Gentle Baby Hairwash powder – made with 16 richly nourishing Ayurvedic herbs . Formulated for New borns, Infants & Toddlers . Cleanses scalp gently, relieves itching & dryness, soothes cradle cap, promotes healthy hair growth . Completely Free from SLS, SLeS, Other Sulphates, Parabens & Other Chemicals
  • Krya Baby Hair Oil –  made with 8 richly nourishing Ayurvedic herbs , organic cold pressed coconut & sesame oil . Formulated for New borns, Infants & Toddlers. Soothes and clears cradle cap, nourishes scalp, promotes healthy hair growth.  Free from Mineral Oil, Parabens, Silicones, Fragrances, & Other Chemicals

IS cold pressed virgin coconut oil better for baby: Krya Baby hair oil

Skin

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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Baby Microbiome basics – Part 1

The human microbiome - sites
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

We are in an interesting and contradictory world today. One the one hand, the rise of Western science has taken basic hygiene to unimaginable levels. So household products can successfully wipe out every last germ in our clothes or our hands. But on the other hand, this increasingly sterile world has many fall outs. Our immunity levels are lower than what they used to be and our children are weaker, less healthy and perpetually fall sick. How do we balance this seeming contraindication? This is the first in Krya’s 3 part series on the Baby microbiome. This series will explain the current body of research on the Baby microbiome, share Ayurvedic insights on the same and leave you with solid recommendations to boost baby’s immunity and health.

Baby microbiome basics: a highly sanitised world is creating new health complications for us.

Joshua Lederberg first coined the term “Microbiota” to distinguish the bacteria that colonize, populate and symbiotically live on us. The current world view lies in seeing ourselves as separate from the “germs or bacteria” that live on us, and treat them as opportunistic parasites that feed off us and have to be therefore be removed or eradicate.

However the growing body of research is instead choosing to view human beings and indeed living beings as the “Holobiont”. The Holobiont is the host body + all the associated micro organisms that co-exist and live on the body of the host. The Holobiont is being postulated as the evolutionary edge for living organisms and species: and it is the composition of Microbiota AND host organism that presents the unique evolutionary edge and not the host body alone.

The Human Microbiota includes fungi, bacteria and archea. This does not include opportunistic micro animals like head lice which weaken the Holobiont and are purely parasitic. Research indicates that the human Holobiont is made up of 37 trillion cells: of these ¾ belong to our Human Microbiota, and only ¼ of these 37 trillion cells are contributed directly by us.

Baby Microbiome basics: Microbiota colonise us throughout the body

How a healthy colony of micro flora helps keep us strong & healthy

On a cell to cell comparison, we are more Micro flora than human. Our body is made up of cells of which the human part is only 10%. The balance 90% is our microbiome which colonizes various parts of us: our skin, nose, ears, reproductive organs and inside our body. Each area of our body has different species of micro flora. Microflora form a unique fingerprint for each of us: our colonies are not exactly the same, even for twins born and raised together.

A large portion of our microbiome lives in our gut. This colony decides many things about our health. They decide how healthy we are going to be and how much immunity we have. It defends us against invasive and predatory micro organisms. They help our body with digestion, assimilation and nutrient absorption. Our friendly Microbiota also boosts our brain function and helps mood regulation as well.

Baby microbiome basics: teh quality of your microbiota determine the nutrient absorption from your food

The human body hosts different sets of colonies in various parts of the body. Every set of microbes has its own role to play, depending on where they live. The oral microbiome acts as a gatekeeper, guarding what enters the GI tract. If the colony in your mouth is in good health and shape, they can block the entry of potentially invasive organisms into our body.

On skin, the microbiome forms a very important gatekeeper role as well. The skin micro flora prevents entry of predators into the blood and lymph. These predators if allowed, can cause huge harm as they can bypass our acid containing gut and enter the circulatory system directly , through which they can spread rapidly.

Baby microbiome basics: Skin hosts innumerable microflora that imporves immunity and protects health

The skin microbiome helps guard this, if we take care to ensure our skin microbiome population is not unnecessary washed away. The human microbiome also bring down small inflammations in the body, help produce vitamins and digestive enzymes. In short , they support and extend healthy life for us. This is an example of a symbiotic and synergistic partnership.

 

Why is a healthy microbiome critical in a baby?

Human babies are born vulnerable and helpless. Their microbial colony begins to be established during pregnancy, and continues well until they are around 3 – 4 years. The successful establishment of a healthy microbial colony depends upon many factors. These include the health of the mother, the mode of delivery of the baby, feeding choices, weaning food choices, and the availability of a healthy microbiome colony in the baby’s surroundings. Some of our choices can also destroy a healthy available microbiome , for example the choice to raise baby in over sanitary surroundings.

The GI tract of the baby is especially unformed and vulnerable in the first 6 months. For example, in the first 6 months, a baby’s intestinal tract has spaces between the intestinal cells. This gap is filled as the baby grows. But in the first 6 months, the baby’s gut flora microbiome plug these intestinal gaps themselves. If these gaps are not properly plugged, undesirable molecules and invaders can squeeze through the intestine and directly enter the baby’s bloodstream.

Baby microbiome basics: healthy microflora reduces baby's vulnerability to disease

It is safe to say that the baby’s first 3 years sets the foundation for the future health and well being of the baby. Our choices as parents can greatly impact the health and well being of our child, way into the future. This is why we are writing this series on the Krya blog this week.

Our posts this week in this series will discuss the stages of microbial colonization in the baby and some choices you can make to provide positive intervention at each stage. We will also discuss various do’s and don’t s and how Ayurveda tells us to raise baby and improve immunity. However, until the next 2 posts, here are 3 thought-starters we would like to end this post with. Each of these will impact your baby’s microbiome and therefore her health.

3 baby microbiome thought-starters:

Give baby plenty of thoughtful skin to skin contact with skin that is not over-sanitized:

Microbiome colonies spread from living organisms. So Ayurveda encourages thoughtful, selective skin to skin contact in young infants. Our microbial colonies are incredibly selective and unique. For example your right hand and left hand host a different microbial signature! For these colonies to be healthy and survive, we must ensure their surroundings are healthy as well. In an over sanitary environment, we kill off all our good bacteria – instead these environments breed super-bugs and very dangerous predators, which can thrive in this environment.

Ayurveda recommends that baby be handled and touched by the Mother and one –two selectively chosen caregivers.

Baby microbiome basics: thoughtful loving skin contact improves healthy microflora

The mother and “Dhatri” (nurse or additional caregiver or a nanny), must use the correct Ayurvedic herbs to bathe in. The Nursery must be kept well ventilated, yet cosy and facing in the right direction. Baby’s linen must be washed with Rakshoghna herbs.

Baby microbiome basics: Mother an dDhatri should bathe in rakshogha herbs and wash all linen with these. This helps spread good quality microflora

In this environment, the use of these herbs keeps down the spread of dangerous micro organisms. This gives healthy Microbiota a chance to flourish. So, when baby is touched and handled lovingly by such caregivers, the healthy Microbiota are transferred onto baby’s skin and can colonize it.

If the Mother is breastfeeding, Ayurveda recommends proper cleansing of the breasts and mother’s skin with warming, vata pacifying, Rakshoghna herbs. When this is done, the baby absorbs the right micro flora through mouth-to-skin contact during breastfeeding.

Avoid: Cleansing mother’s skin and baby’s skin with a synthetic soap or bodywash. This wipes out all the friendly colonies of bacteria, leaving baby vulnerable to infection and disease. Use a completely natural grain and herb based Ayurvedic ubtan instead.

Reduction of electronic stress and other stress around mother & baby:

One of the key impediments to the growth of friendly bacteria is stress. When we are stressed, the pitta dosha in the body increases. This creates a high heat and acidic medicum in the body. This tends to reduce our gut bacterial colony. Also, the nature of skin and scalp secretions change in high Pitta conditions. Sweat becomes much more acidic, foul smelling and the composition of sebum also changes. This again brings down growth of friendly bacteria and instead attracts unhealthy organisms.

Baby microbiome basics: high stress impacts the quality of microflora

High use of electronic devices like Mobile, Wi-Fi, I-Pads, etc, increase subtle Vata vibrations in the air. This changes the dosha balance in the body, again leading to an unhealthy condition. Subtle electronic vibrations also thrown off our sleep cycles. When sleep is disturbed, our Microbiota are also harmed.

If the Mother is stressed, her bacterial colony is affected. Which in turn affects the baby. So Ayurveda advises a time of rest, reduction in physical work and focus on the Mother at least in the first 6 months after delivery. If this is extended upto one year this is ideal.

This post is not meant to discourage working mothers or criticize them for their choices. But, we echo Ayurveda’s emphasis on the important of rest and recovery for mothers. If this period is adhered to, we can avoid many health issues that may crop up later.

Fresh, organic home made food

Ayurveda tells us that all health begins in our gut. All Disease can be traced back to overloading the digestive system, eating improper food combinations and at the wrong timing. At the time many of the original texts were written, here was no practice of chemical farming followed. So obviously we have no explicit mentions of pesticide grown food.

But from all the available research today, we know how toxic , eating chemically farmed food is. From the Microbiome perspective, this is like consuming frequent doses of poison to the system. This harms everything in the body including your Micro biota.

For a breast feeding mother, eating fresh, organic, seasonal, home made food promotes better nutrient absorption and produce better quality breast milk as well.

Baby microbiome basics: high quality organic seasonal food boosts healthy microbiota

Also, seasonally grown organic produce has a healthier colony of micro flora. So when we handle and cook this produce, we are enriching our own bacterial colony.

To sum up:

Through this post, we hoped to provide you a glimpse of the fascinating world that lies on our skin and in our bodies. It is not an exaggeration to say that without friendly Microbiota, human life would not exist.

Conserving, nurturing and protecting our friendly Microbiome becomes even more critical in babies. Babies’ microbiome is under developed and the choices we make for them in the first 3 years of their life has long lasting impact on their health and their Microbiota.

We also looked at 3 simple methods you can start with to encourage proper colonization of Micro biota in baby. In our next 2 posts, we will look at Microbiota colonization in baby stage by stage and also explore Ayurvedic interventions in each stage to strengthen baby’s micro biota. Stay tuned.

Krya Products recommended to encourage healthy skin colonization in Babies and Moms:

For Moms:

  • Strongly recommended: Krya Women’s Abhyanga system (Krya Women’s Ubtan + Krya Abhyanga oil) – helps balance vata dosha and encourages the growth of friendly Microbiota while discouraging predatory microbes

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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3 Krya baby ubtans to choose from + Benefits behind a traditional ayurvedic baby bath

Krya bbaby ubtans: teh alternative to a synthetic baby soap
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

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Our wide range of hair and skin products can sometimes confuse people who are not sure what they are choosing. The same confusion occurs in Krya’s range of baby products. Choosing a Krya hair product for your baby is quite easy – we have a single herbal hair wash / shampoo powder and baby hair oil. But choosing a Krya baby ubtan or Krya baby oil becomes trickier. We have 3 Krya baby ubtans / bodywash powders and 3 Krya baby massage oils.  This post is to explain the differences between the 3 Krya baby ubtans and bodywashes today and the formulation philosophy behind them.

Krya baby ubtans: Important to choose teh right Krya ubtan for your needs

Benefits behind traditional Abhyanga-Snana for baby:

Krya advises following the Ayurvedic principle of skin cleansing. In this, we FIRST oil and massage baby’s skin well with a correctly prepared Ayurvedic massage oil. The baby is then bathed using a herbal Snana powder (Ubtan) which has been formulated as per season.

Krya baby ubtans: Ayurveda says massage baby well before bath

 

This oil massage practice is especially beneficial in the case of babies where the skin structure is yet to be completely formed. The oil massages improves circulation in baby’s body and creates warmth. As skin structure is not yet completely formed, it helps the movement of toxins to the surface of skin, from where it can be removed. It delivers powerful herbs through the oil which work on various functions in the skin. We will see these functions of the baby massage oil in a separate post.

Krya baby ubtans: Oil massage imporves cicrulation, eliminates toxins and is beneficial for baby's health

 

A Snana with a herbal baby ubtan works on a much deeper level than using synthetic baby soap. Our previous post spoke about the hazards of baby soap. Apart from being much safer to use compared to a baby soap, a herbal baby ubtan through cleanses skin. As baby’s skin is underdeveloped, the Srotas do not perform as efficiently as they do in adults. Hence the use of a herbal baby ubtan helps suck out hidden dirt, dead cells and toxins more efficiently from baby’s skin. Remember, soap works SUPERFICIALLY, but an ubtan works holistically and DEEPLY.

Krya baby ubtans: Bath with a herbal baby ubtan works on a deeper and more holistic level than a synthetic baby soap

 

Ayurveda tells us that a daily oil massage + Snana (bath) using correct set of herbs is very beneficial to both babies and post partum Mothers. For babies, this practice improves complexion, strengthens bones and muscles, and encourages proper growth and development. Because it assists in removing Ama (toxins) so efficiently, the baby’s appetite and hunger levels are good and well adjusted. Elimination takes place properly in the body. Therefore nutrient metabolism is good, so baby receives the correct dose of nutrients as the system is able to extract this efficiently from food.

Krya baby ubtans : a good abhyanga-snana helps baby digest food and metabolize nutrients better

So, the Abhyanga-Snana in a baby assists not just in the baby’s external appearance and skin health. It works at deeper and fundamental levels and helps improve baby’s health and immunity.

Principles behind Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes:

All Krya baby ubtans are formulated and manufactured as per Ayurvedic principles. The Krya baby ubtans are made up of 2 kinds of basic ingredients.

Proprietary blend of lentils and grains:

The first set of ingredients is a proprietary blend of lentils and grains. We use organically grown, desi grains and lentils in all Krya products. For the Krya baby ubtans, we also add a set of medicated grains and lentils. These base grains soak for 24 hours in a specially prepared medicated herb decoction. This process softens the grains giving us a much finer powder. It also transfers the base properties of the herbs into the grains, so we have a much more powerful set of base grains.

Krya baby ubtans : Krya uses a proprietary set of desi grains and medicated grains that help cleanse skin well and eliminate toxins

These base grains and lentils have slight variations as per season. We generally use a mixture of Desi Mung bean, Himalayan Adzuki bean and Himalayan Navrangi bean in the Krya baby ubtans. To this, we also add a small proportion of heritage, desi Rice (typically we add Rajmudi Rice or Kavuni Rice, as is seasonally available). Heritage rice is extremely beneficial for baby’s skin AT THE RIGHT LEVEL – it is sweet, nourishing and gently cleansing.

Proprietary blend of Herbs:

The second set of ingredients we use in the Krya baby ubtans is our proprietary blend of herbs. This set needs to be at the correct level and the right herbs must be chosen. If we add too much of these herbs, they can be astringent and slightly harsh on baby’s skin. If we add too little, we have a formulation that is inefficient at ama removal and does not work too deeply.

In our herb set, one of the things we monitor is the synergistic action of these herbs along with our proprietary blend of base lentils and grains. Ayurveda advises that the overall formula must be slightly “ushna” in veerya or warming. Again here the balance is delicate. If the formula is too ushna, it can cause heat rashes and itching in baby’s skin. If it is too “Sheetya” (cold), the baby is prone to catching colds. The balance must be mildly warming without irritating skin.

Krya baby ubtans : Krya baby ubtans strike teh right balance and are warm and soothing for baby, not hot and irritating

 

Ayurveda also suggests that baby ubtans use a special set of Rakshoghna herbs. The word “Rakshoghna” can be interpreted in many ways – these are herbs which give “Raksha” or protection. At one level Rakshoghna herbs give protection at a physical level. So they have krimihara properties and help keep away disease causing microorganisms. However, at a deeper, emotional level, they drive away mental agitation and anxiety by calming down the baby and keeping vata dosha at the correct level.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya uses teh correct set of Rakshoghna herbs that protect baby at many levels

 

We use a special set of herbs for the Krya baby girl ubtan. These herbs help in naturally lightening excess hair growth and are also considered auspicious for women. Apart from aesthetic reasons, Ayurvedic Acharyas recommend that we use specific Divya oushadi herbs for women (and baby girls) to bring about upliftment of mood, and increase positive energy.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya also uses many divya oushadi (divine herbs) in its baby ubtans

Seasonal variations in formulation:

Ayurveda tells us that herbs must be chosen according to “Desha” (place), and “Kala” (time or season). So what is appropriate in hot and humid weather is inappropriate in winter.

For example, Badam (almonds) are often advertised as being present in certain Baby ubtans. Ayurveda tells us that the skin of Almond (badam) is full of Pitta and is highly irritating both when eaten and when applied. So traditionally, we are ALWAYS supposed to soak Badam overnight, and then rinse it in the morning, peel the skin and then only consume. This overnight soaking brings down the heat in the nut and removing the skin brings down its irritating effect. Unless Badam is pre-processed this way, it is not suitable for either internal or external use.

Krya baby ubtans: Every herb must be pre-processed properly to avoid irriitation. Almonds are a case in point

We use Badam in the Krya Intense hair oil. But even in our Hair oil, we pre-process the Badam in the same way described above. This takes us much more time, but we are sure that Badam will not irritate.

The high heat of Badam is very welcome in cold climate. So it is appropriate to use in a product meant to be used in cold countries or in cold seasons. But in hot weather, if the bay ubtan contains other warming ingredients, using Badam may make the entire product extremely “Ushna”.

Therefore Krya baby ubtans are always appropriately researched and formulated to ensure they are pleasant and comfortable for the baby to use in each season.

3 Krya baby ubtans and differences between them:

Krya has 3 baby ubtan products: the Krya Ubtan for Baby girls, the Krya Ubtan for Baby boys and the Krya Gentle Baby Bodywash   powder.

 The differences between the Krya Ubtans by gender are quite obvious. The Krya Baby ubtan for baby girls is designed to also mildly thin down excessive hair growth in babies. So it contains natural hair thinning herbs which also help improve the complexion.  We use 3 kinds of turmeric in the Krya Baby Ubtan for baby girls – Turmeric is a “mangalya” (auspicious) Divya oushadi (divine herb). It is considered especially beneficial for Women, and is recommended to be used in any product meant for girls / Women.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya baby ubtans for baby girls contain many hair thinning and auspicious herbs

 

While differences between gender are quite low in babies (apart from the hair thinning requirement), we also have a Krya baby ubtan for baby boys to complete our range logically. This ubtan uses a different combination of herbs from the Krya baby ubtan for baby girls. In this ubtan, we use safe, Rakshoghna herbs and skin nourishing herbs like Daruharidra (Tree turmeric), Rosemary, Kacholam (south Indian Zeodary), etc. This combination gently yet thoroughly cleanses and uplifts tender skin.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya baby ubtan for baby boys contains many soothing, uplifting herbs like Rosemary

 

Many of our customers buy the Krya baby products during the last month of pregnancy. They want to ensure that there is no chance of running out of time and having to depend on synthetic baby products. Who can blame them? This IS a wise choice. Obviously at this time of purchase, the gender of the baby is not known. So we advise that they use the Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder. This is a unisex formulation, so it does not contain our set of hair lightening and hair thinning herbs. However, it can be used if you do not know the gender of your baby, have 2 babies that are close in age, or if you have twins and want to economize.

 The Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder uses protective Rakshoghna herbs like Neem flower, Ram tulsi and Forest Tulasi. We also use skin nurturing and circulation improving herbs like Babchi, Khadira, Manjishta and Mulethi. In addition to keep the baby’s mood cheerful and calm baby down, we use Divya oushadi herbs like Vacha and Amla.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya gentle baby bodywash contains skin soothing and nurturing herbs like Liquorice

 

 To complement these 3 Krya baby ubtans, we also have 3 Krya baby massage oils. We will speak about these oils in a separate post.

 To sum up:

We hope this post gave you an understanding of the traditional practice of Abhyanga-Snana and how much it benefits a baby if done regularly. An abhyanga Snana must always be done with products carefully chosen for babies as their skin is unformed and they are very vulnerable to imbalanced products.

We also hope that this post helped you understand the differences between the 3 Krya baby ubtans, so you could choose the appropriate one for your baby.

If you have any questions on the Krya baby ubtans or any of our Krya baby products, please write to us.

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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What are the ingredients in a baby soap: Krya Baby 101 series

ingredients in a baby soap: avoid all soaps
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Reading Time: 13 minutes

“What are the ingredients in a baby soap and why do you recommend we use a baby ubtan instead?”

This is a common question we receive at Krya. My curiosity about this question prompted me to do a search. Google tells me that common searches made around baby soaps include: “best soap for newborn skin”, “newborn baby soap”, and “natural soap”, and “homemade soap for baby”. Interestingly, all these come under the larger umbrella of parents seeking information on exactly what goes into a baby soap.

Sadly, if you type the search term “ingredients in a baby soap”, all you get are product advertisements for baby soaps. Nowhere do you get any information on what goes into a baby soap and whether these ingredients are safe. So as a part of the Krya Baby Skin 101 series, we decided to do a post on this subject. Once you have found out the ingredients in a baby soap, would you even consider using one on your baby? We hope not and hope this post will explain why. Read on.

ingredients in a baby soap: truly horrifying to contemplate

What are the ingredients of a soap?

Historically, soaps were used only to clean laundry and fabric. Their discovery was accidental. Atleast 5000 years ago, it was discovered that when rain water mixed with wood ash, a highly alkaline, caustic substance called Lye was made. When Lye was poured on dirty fabric, it bleached and removed stains on fabric.

ingredients in a baby soap : soap is a historical invention used only to clean fabric

However, Lye was extremely caustic and corrosive. It could make you blind and burn your skin off. So, the ancients learn to bring down the caustic properties of Lye, by making a salt. When Lye and vegetable oil were mixed together, soap was made, which is chemically a salt.

This new salt, contained the same alkaline properties of Lye, but it was slightly milder compared to using plain Lye. However, even this milder soap was still quite corrosive. Therefore, it was used to wash the dirtiest fabric and linen to remove pre-historic dirt and stains.

So historically, the ingredients in a soap were just 2: Natural Lye and Natural vegetable oil. These 2 ingredients were combined and made into a soft paste initially and used to wash fabric.

How did soap make the transition from laundry to skin?

Soap started being used to clean skin in medieval Europe. This was a regressive move, when you consider how evolved skin care had gotten in ancient India, Greece and even Medieval Islamic countries. With the spread of Ayurveda and herbal knowledge from India, the utilization of herbs, oils, clays and special herbal mixtures had become very advanced in all these regions. Floral extracts and essential oil production techniques had also filtered from India to regions like Damascus, and Syria and these techniques and skin care methods were adopted.

Meanwhile in the rest of Medieval Europe, because of the colder conditions and medical techniques practiced, there was a fear around the use of water. From the 10th century to well beyond the Elizabethan Era, there was a rising fear around water and frequent baths.

This was compounded by cold conditions and very low temperature of water and lack of indoor plumbing or heated water systems. The result: baths were taken very infrequently. The nobility bathed once a month or less. Poorer people bathed once a year, and this year was a designated holiday.

ingredients in a baby soap: In medieval europe , bathing was rare due to lack of indoor plumbing, easy access to hot water and fear around bathing

As people were bathing very rarely, a very strong, harsh and alkaline soap become popular to remove accumulated dirt and dead cells. The easy availability of tallow due to animal husbandry practices, meant that soap could be easily made at farmsteads and manor homes. The poor people made do with a simple lye-tallow soap. Richer people and gentry were able to add perfumed oils into the mix and also after bath to give bathing a better experience.

Soap in modern India – killing traditional practices

The practice of bathing with soap is a post-Independence phenomenon in India. Until the 1950s, village industries flourished and the joint family set up ensured traditional practices were followed. Soaps and shampoos were not available. Once multinational companies began making their appearance in India, they started promoting “modern” soaps and shampoos to Indians, deriding our traditional practices.

Heavy advertising, the use of celebrities to promote the practices, the rise of beauty pageants with multinational sponsorship and heavy use of cheap, industrial fragrances, all helped cement soaps firmly in India’s mind.

An example of racist MNC soap advertising - Soap advt in 1890ingredients in a baby soap : Soap was thrust down upon Indians by MNCs using heavy advertising, celebrities and deriding our traditional practices

Traditional bathing utilized seasonal herbs, grains and clays. Recipes could be tailormade by season and availability of fresh herbs. Recipes were also tailormade for different groups of people. Baby ubtans were lovingly made by the women in the family using the best available ingredients. Ubtans for post-partum women included warming, vata reducing, mood uplifting herbs. Men who went out frequently and subjected to high sun exposure were given cooling herbs and rich clays to bathe in. The traditional bathing practice had something for everyone. Skin health, dosha balance and mood upliftment were all neatly taken care of.

ingredients in a baby soap : Tradiioally India relied on Ayurvedic wisdom to create well researched, holistic skin and hair care products

As soaps became more and more popular, the whole ecosystem behind traditional bathing practices began to collapse one by one. First with the loss in joint family set up, we lost family knowledge about herbs. With lack of interest in these products, there was no economic opportunity for the collectors of herbs. As herb processors found their machines rusting due to lack of use, the small village industries which locally processed these products went out of business.

As MNCs began aggressively spending behind retail space and advertising, retail stores stopped promoting these traditional products. When people started moving to nuclear and urban set-ups, the only place they could remember these practices became the kirana and retail stores. With no retail store promoting traditional skin and hair care products, the urban consumer fully became ensnared with chemical soaps and shampoos.

Thus a 5000+ year old wonderful, eco-friendly, healthy tradition of complete skin and hair care was lost to us. So today, we have to write blog posts at Krya explaining how a soap is dangerous for you and an ubtan is better!

What are the ingredients in a baby soap?

Let us analyze the most popular brand of synthetic baby soap. The ingredients listed on the pack are as follows:

  1. Sodium Palm Kernelate
  2. Sodium Palmate
  3. Water
  4. Mineral Oil
  5. Sodium Chloride
  6. Fragrance
  7. Glycerin
  8. Titanium dioxide
  9. Dimethicone
  10. C12-C15 Alkyl Benzoate
  11. Disodium EDTA
  12. Stearoxytrimethylysilane
  13. Stearyl Alcohol
  14. Disodium Etidronate
  15. Tocopherol Acetate
  16. Hydrolysed Milk Protein

As per Drug & Cosmetic guidelines, the ingredients should be listed from largest to smallest. The 15th ingredient is a synthetic compound which resembles the chemical structure of Vitamin E. The 16th ingredient is a synthetic extract of Casein. Casein is commonly found in Milk. These 2 ingredients are what the company heavily advertises as going into its soap.

This misleads parents into believing that this synthetic baby soap is full of Milk. Milk was also traditionally used in baby ubtans to make a paste. Parents conclude that this chemical soap is similar to a traditional baby ubtan with milk for their baby. The could not be more wrong.

As per Drugs & Cosmetics guidelines, Tocopherol and Casein form the smallest part of this chemical baby soap. How small? We can only make a guess as percentages are not listed on the pack. But as per our experience, these 2 ingredients can be as small as under 0.25% in the final product. Therefore, this is DEFINITELY not the same as a traditional baby ubtan mixed in milk.

All soaps need to be made with some form of oil / fat. Historically beef tallow was in use. We can also make soaps using edible vegetable oils like coconut oil, sesame oil, etc. if we wish. BUT, a mass-produced soap which costs around Rs.10 in the smallest size cannot afford to use edible vegetable oils.

So chemical soaps are made into a slurry, which is cement-like using synthetic cleansing agents, water, salt, fragrance and synthetics which give a soft feel on skin. This whole mass is churned into a slurry and then poured into moulds to set quickly. The presence of binding agents like Sodium Chloride help “set” the soap and form a hard mass.

The 1st two ingredients in the listing are Sodium Palm Kernelate & Sodium Palmate.  Sodium Palm Kernelate is a detergent surfactant. It is chemically a salt of Palm oil – so it is a synthetic version of a soap. However, it is much harsher on skin, as it is chemically very close to a detergent. It strips natural oils quickly and aggressively from skin.

Apart from being an aggressive surfactant, Sodium Palm Kernelate is also an emulsifying agent. So, in the presence of water it forms a thick, soft dispersion which feels moisturizing on skin. However, this only “feels” moisturizing, as in reality it is a simple detergent.

Disodium EDTA & Disodium Etidronate are both preservatives. This is essential as water is the 3rd largest ingredient by volume in this product. Disodium EDTA can worsen sensitive skin conditions – so if your baby has dermatitis or eczema, using this soap will worsen it.

Titanium dioxide (ingredient no 8 in the list) is used to bleach and whiten the final soap. It is a mineral used in Nano particle size which can clog baby’s delicate skin.

Stearoxytrimethylysilane is another chemical salt. It has a coating effect on skin, so skin temporarily feels smooth. This is only temporary and not real, but this chemical blocks the Srotas in skin from doing their job.

Stearyl alcohol is similar in its effects as Stearoxytrimethylysilane. It is a common coating agent which is added to moisturizing lotions, hair conditioners and synthetic soap to mimic the effect of a moisturizer on skin. Just like Stearoxytrimethylysilane, Stearyl alcohol coats and blocks skin. It is a commonly used evaporation suppressing monolayer which is used in some applications to prevent water from evaporating. Imagine the effect this evaporation suppressing monolayer can have on tender, unformed, highly vulnerable baby skin!

We have analyzed the ingredients in a commonly used, very famous brand of baby soap. It is a toxic overload of skin blocking, unnecessary, highly synthetic, lab made ingredients. The combined action of these ingredients is harmful for vulnerable skin. This product can do NO GOOD for skin.

We can safely assume that NO parent reading and understanding this, would ever consider applying this toxic product or any similar product on their child’s skin. So, what is the alternative?

ingredients in a baby soap: would you now, knowingly use a baby soap on your baby?

Herbal Baby ubtans: a safe, natural, non-toxic alternative to toxic baby soaps

We started this post with a lament on the dying traditional bathing practices in India. It was our sense of loss around these, and our growing alarm on the increasingly toxic personal care products now available that led us to start Krya.

The best and safest way to bathe a newborn, a baby with sensitive skin, for that matter, any baby, is with a good ayurvedic, herbal ubtan.

HOWEVER: all baby ubtans are not necessarily good for your baby. In our work, we have seen the following issues with the few other brands that offer baby ubtans:

  • High use of drying astringent herbs like Turmeric – While turmeric is an excellent herb, it cannot be used in high proportion in baby ubtans as it is very drying on skin

ingredients in a baby soap : Too much turmeric can be counter-productive in a baby ubtan

  • High use of potentially allergy inducing lentils: Many people are now developing allergies to commonly used lentils like Besan and Channa Dal. We estimate atleast 5% of the population could be allergic to these lentils. These lentils are also quite drying on skin. So, it is wise to completely avoid it in a baby ubtan – BUT many companies persistently use these lentils without doing proper research on their effects on skin
  • Formulation which is not properly balanced between “Ushna” and “Sheetya” ingredients: Ayurveda teaches us that every herb has a “Veerya” – which is a heating or cooling effect. It is important to reach the right balance for babies as they are very vulnerable to drops in their core temperature. Many baby ubtans we have seen are much more cooling than they should be – this is not good overall for the baby.

ingredients in a baby soap : important to make teh right balance of hot and cool ingredients in a baby ubtan

  • No Seasonal variation practiced in formulation: Ayurveda teaches us that herbs should be used seasonally. We cannot use highly cooling herbs in Winter and vice versa. However, many brands of baby ubtan do not vary their formulation properly by season. This can also affect baby adversely.
  • No use of organically grown lentils and grains: The dependence on chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides are abnormally high in conventional farming. So, grains sourced from such chemical farming are NOT IDEAL for Baby. We are yet to come across any company which uses organically grown grains and lentils in their formulations.

ingredients in a baby soap : Lentils & grains sourced through chemicalfarming are used in many baby ubtan products. This can increase toxic overload in baby's skin

Krya Baby Ubtans & Body wash powders: Ideal, traditional product for Baby’s skin

Obviously when we search for “ingredients in a baby soap” online, we expect two things. First we expect an answer on just what are these mysterious ingredients in a baby soap. Second, if we do not want to use these toxic, chemical laden products, we need an alternative.

We saw both what goes into a regular baby soap and some problems we have seen in baby ubtans. So here is why we feel Krya baby ubtans and baby bodywash powders are ideal products for your baby’s skin.

Krya offers 3 baby skin cleansing traditional powders: Krya baby girl ubtan, Krya baby boy ubtan and Krya gentle baby bodywash powder (a unisex product).

ingredients in a baby soap : Krya baby products are teh ideal partner for your baby's skin

If you are looking for a special product by gender, we recommend using the Krya baby boy / girl ubtans. If you have twins, or would like a unisex product, you can choose the Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder. All 3 products can be used from one week of the baby’s birth.

Traditionally, a newborn baby is massaged with a traditional ayurvedic oil from the first day of birth. For one week, we use only herbal water to wash the baby. From one week onwards, we may use any of the Krya baby ubtans / bodywash products.

All Krya baby ubtans / body washes MUST be used along with one of Krya’s baby oils. This is the recommended ayurvedic practice. Oiling before bath helps nourish baby’s skin, tone and support healthy muscle growth and relieves fatigue.

ingredients in a baby soap: a pre-bath oil massage is a must before baby's bath to nourish skin and support healthy muscle growth

We looked at some of the drawbacks of other baby ubtans in the market. Here are the plus points behind all of Krya’s baby ubtans and bodywash powders.

Why Krya’s baby ubtans are a better choice for your baby

Balanced, well researched, authentic, proprietary formula:

The Krya baby ubtans follow a traditional, well researched formula. We take care to ensure the formula judiciously uses drying herbs like turmeric (it is present in the correct quantity). We also ensure the correct balance of Ushna and Sheetya Veerya herbs to make sure baby remains warm and does not carry a chill.

We specially use excellent divya oushadi herbs which are warming like Ram Tulasi, Krishna Tulasi, Siva Tulsi and Indian borage (Karpooravalli) in our formulations. Some of these herbs are not very widely available commercially – we take care to source these herbs to ensure our formulation is good for babies.

ingredients in a baby soap : Krya's baby ubtans and bodywashes contain many rare medicinal herbs

No allergy / rash inducing lentils and grains:

Although Besan and Channa dal are relatively cheaper and help cleanse skin, we do not use these lentils in Krya’s formulations to ensure that there are no allergic reactions on babies. Similarly, common allergens like peanuts and associated products are not used at Krya. However, despite all these precautions, it is always wise to do a patch test on baby’s skin before starting to use any product. This is a practice we recommend at Krya as well.

ingredients in a baby soap: Krya's baby products contain no allergy inducing lentils.

Krya’s baby ubtans have seasonal formulation variations:

All Krya’s formulations undergo seasonal variations. This ensures that baby does not develop any chills or colds from using a product that contains cooling ingredients in cold season. In Winter, our formulation is usually slightly more “warming” to account for seasonal changes.

Krya ‘s baby ubtans use organically grown lentils, grains and herbs:

All of Krya’s grains and lentils are organically grown. We source our grains from known, trusted, authentic farmers, and farming co-operatives. Many of our herbs are forest collected, which ensure that pesticide run off and contamination is minimal. The oils we use in our Baby oils are organic AND Cold pressed – ensuring very high nutrition. All fresh herbs, leaves and fruits going into our oils are ONLY ORGANICALLY grown.

This makes our supply chain process complex and demanding. Our average costs are also atleast two or three times higher because of our insistence on high quality organic produce. But, this means that your baby gets only the best and safest products on his / her skin, which makes the effort worth it.

To sum up:

We started this post with an innocent question: what are the ingredients in a baby soap. The exploration to this answer took us through the murky world of personal care, explored our traditional bathing practices. We also looked at the history behind the invention of soaps, and how they have taken over our minds today.

Our post ended with an analysis of Baby ubtans and what makes Krya’s baby ubtans and bodywash products so unique and good for baby.

We hope this post inspired you to replace your current baby soap with the Krya baby ubtan. We also hope this post sparked off a desire to know more about what goes into products you use on yourself and in your home.

Our collective choices are very very expensive today. We are flooding our planet and our bodies with unnecessary, toxic and hazardous ingredients. We do not yet know the long-term consequence of any of these ingredients on our collective health.

We hope our post gave you a thought starter on these lines. If you have any question on our baby products, please call us or write to us.

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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Krya Baby Skin 101 series : 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin and improve immunity
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

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Caring for baby’s skin the right way is a challenge. Every single day, media reports tell us yet another company is making unsafe products. For confused parents looking for holistic, completely safe and natural baby products, Ayurveda provides many answers.  In this post, we will discuss 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. These 5 skin care practices also help boost baby’s immunity and overall health.

Pregnancy: a time to take stock and re-evaluate choices

Most of our consumers tend to discover Krya when there is a particular problem they have not been able to find answers to like persistent hairfall, or when there is a new and wonderful change in their life (pregnancy or the birth of a child).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : pregnancy is a time to re-evaluate our existing product choices

Most of us adults tend to bludgeon through life, and are willing to experiment quite widely with our health, skin and hair. Nothing else can explain how, despite all the evidence to the contrary, we continue to eat pesticide ridden foods and hormone and antibiotic filled dairy. However, when we see the fragility and delicate nature of an infant, we are forced to re-examine our choices and we make much better and more informed choices.

Why is it critical to treat baby’s skin and hair with care and reverence?

Human skin is the largest sense organ in our body. It is considered the seat of the Indriyas / sense organs and is literally the seat of sight, sense, touch, feeling and hearing. It is our first barrier layer and helps protect our internal organs from damage and bacteria. It is a marvel of bio engineering and hosts a massive colony of micro organisms which work along with us to ensure a constant pH of 5.5, with an acidic mantle that keeps harmful organisms away from us.

The skin and hair structure in children is one of the last major systems to be formed. The sweat glands which help regulate temperature, eliminate toxins from our body and help maintain the skin’s natural acid mantle takes upto 3 years to form. This means that babies stay sweet smelling longer, but this also means that their body does not have the mechanism to readily eliminate toxins like adults do.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : baby's skin is extremely under developed and therefore vulnerable

This means that they can handle far smaller toxic loads than adults – so it makes NO sense to keep on massaging them and washing them with toxin filled synthetic oils, lotions, creams and soaps. Even if the label says that it is “gentle” and will not make your baby cry.

How should we be protecting and caring for baby’s skin instead? Read on below for 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

1. Follow the 3 step ayurvedic fabric washing routine for baby’s linen and clothing

Baby’s skin is under-developed and fragile. It lacks the ability to resist attacks by micro-organisms, fungal organisms and small insects and bugs. Therefore Ayurveda recommends that baby’s skin is to be cleansed with suitable herbs.

Step 1: Wash with a natural detergent

Ayurveda also recommends that all fabric coming into contact with baby’s skin is cleansed thoroughly in natural, non irritating, anti bacterial, “Rakshoghna” herbs like Shikakai, soapberry, Triphala, Vacha, Neem, etc.

To prevent rashes, contact dermatitis, we recommend double rinsing baby’s linen, cloth diapers and clothing using only a gentle natural detergent.

When we use the words “gentle, natural detergent” we mean a completely plant based herbal detergent. Any other detergent which uses either castille soap or SLS is too harsh for baby’s skin. If using a synthetic detergent, consider switching to a completely natural detergent.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : always wash baby's clothing in a pure, plant based detergent

Step 2: Line dry in hot sun

After washing baby’s clothing in a completely natural detergent, line dry it in the hot sun (forenoon sun is recommended).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : line dry baby's clothing for natural anti bacterial effect

Step 3: Fumigate with natural herbs

Additional fumigation of dried clothing is recommended in very young or delicate infants or in humid and wet weather. Fumigation can be done in pure sambrani (benzoin resin) or Guggulu resin.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : additional natural fumigation is excellent for premature or very young babies

Why is a 3 step washing routine a part of a post that is titled “5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin”?  In our experience at Krya, synthetic detergents are the culprit for a huge host of skin related issues for baby.

Many parents who are told that their baby has contact dermatitis and are pained to see baby suffering with a constant itchy skin rash find that it vanishes when the detergent is changed. Switching to a good ayurvedic fabric washing routine can do wonders for baby’s skin health.

2. Massage baby everyday before bath with a nourishing botanical oil

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sebaceous glands are not fully formed. Therefore there is a decreased production of natural oils to coat the skin. In adult skin, the natural sebum also forms the skin’s barrier function. So in the absence of this, the baby’s skin has to be assisted through daily massage using a mildly acidic, herb infused botanical oils.

Oil application of the skin has a twofold effect: the herb infused vegetable oil is able to penetrate the skin easily and nourish it, ensuring baby’s skin does not go dry.

It also has the ability to work with the skin to boost its barrier function. This increases the baby’s immune response and improves the body’s ability to protect itself from harmful micro organisms.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : daily oil massage with a good botanical oil supports baby's skin health

Krya recommends daily oil massage of the baby 15 minutes before the bath to boost the skin’s natural oils and improve skin’s barrier function. This everyday oil massage with a good botanical oil is a critical part of the 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. This oil massage ensures that baby’s skin is well hydrated, and well supported and the right synergistic bacteria are encouraged to colonize.

3. Cleanse baby’s skin with right products

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sweating mechanism is not present. Therefore it is important to assist the skin in its thermoregulatory function.

For thermoregulation, the srotas (minor channels of the skin) need to be massaged, detoxified and cleaned well every day. The massage of the skin every day helps deep cleanse the srotas.

Snana (bath) that follows should be done using a mixture of grains, lentils and Ayurvedic herbs. This mixture has the capacity to gently massage the srotas, and remove toxins along with excess oil. When the srotas are active and clean, they can do the job of thermo regulation properly.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Baby should be bathed with the right herbal ubtan

As per Ayurveda (unless you live in a very cold climate), the srotas should not be masked or covered after a bath with any moisturising substance. This brings down their activity. This is why Taila abhyanga (oil massage) is done in Ayurveda before the Snana.

Many parents write to us asking for the best moisturizing lotion that can be used on babies. They are surprised when we ask them to do a pre-bath oil massage and use a Krya baby ubtan instead. When we cleanse skin correctly, there is NO NEED to apply any post bath moisturisation. Also this application blocks the skin and impairs its functioning. This is why correct cleansing is an important part of our post on 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

4. Keep baby warm

Because of the unformed nature of baby’s skin, infants are very sensitive to temperature and changes in humidity. Because of their growing nature and diet which is high in liquids, they are prone to kapha dosha imbalances. Hence Ayurveda suggests the following:

Keep infants well covered and slightly warmer than you would keep yourself. Protect all vata based organs like skin, feet and ears, especially when taking baby out in the open.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Always protect baby's core temperature

Babies must be bathed in warm, and not hot water. Check the temperature before bathing baby.

Baby’s nursery should be kept slightly warm, and draughts of wind must not be allowed inside. Fumigation with rakshoghna herbs atleast once a day, especially in late evenings is advised to keep infection at bay.

5. Bathe baby with a special herb infused water

To boost baby’s immunity, support skin and keep micro organisms and diseases causing germs at bay, Ayurveda recommends adding s special herb mixture to baby’s bath. A simple herbal decoction can be made at home using either Neem or Tulsi leaf. Neem leaves is used when the weather is hot and Tulsi leaves when the weather is cold. The leaves can be added in the following manner:

How to make a bath steep for baby’s bath:

Mild decoction: Boil 4 – 5 Neem / tulsi leaves in 1 glass of clean water. Boil until the water reduces in half. Strain and add to baby’s bath water. Ensure the temperature of the water is suitable for baby’s skin before bathing her.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : It is a good idea to add ayurvedic herbs everyday to baby's bath water

The same decoction can also be done with dried Neem leaf or Dried Tulsi leaf powder. In this case, boil the decoction until it reaches ¾ the original volume, strain and use.

To sum up:

Baby’s skin is fragile and vulnerable. As the skin system is under developed, the products we apply on baby’s skin must protect and support its healthy growth.

Ayurveda offers worried parents many wonderful solutions to holistically nurture and care for baby’s skin. These solutions are specific and range from how baby’s linen must be washed to how baby must be bathed.

We hope you found these 5 simple Ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin useful and easy to follow. Please do try them out yourself or forward the same to a friend in need.

If you have any questions or queries on the same, please write to us.

Krya products recommended for baby:

  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
    • Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & ashwagandha – traditional formula that aids baby’s muscle development . Can be used from the time a baby is 1-2 days old. Not recommended for babies with sensitive skin, dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. For these conditions, see below.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin - Use the Krya traditional baby massage oil everyday

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use Krya baby ubtans to gently yet thoroughly cleanse baby's skin. does not irritate sensitive skin.

  • Krya detergent – completely natural, plant based herbal detergents to cleanse baby’s linen without irritating baby’s skin
    • Krya Classic Detergent – made from forest collected soapberries. Recommended for premature babies and infants with skin conditions5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use the Krya natural plant detergent to wash baby's clothing and linen
    • Krya Lemon detergent – Made from forest collected soapberries, lemongrass and lemon – for all other infants

 

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Krya formulation Tuesdays: Krya baby ubtans

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

The problem with synthetic baby products:

As we are fond of saying, just because it smells mild, has the words “gentle or soothing” on it and promises not to cause tears, does not mean it is actually mild or even remotely good for your child.

A Missouri based jury passed a verdict last year asking Johnson & Johnson to pay damages of 72 million dollars to the family of Jacqueline Fox, whose death by ovarian cancer was linked to her daily use (of over 30 years) of Johnsons baby powder and Shower to shower talcum powder.

A study by the campaign for Safe Cosmetics examined baby and children’s products for the presence of 2 probable human carcinogens – 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde. Both of these are not put in intentionally by manufacturers, but are toxic by products that are formed because of the presence of other chemicals in these products. The research study showed that over 61% of the baby products surveyed (across leading brands), contained these 2 chemicals in more than trace quantities.

1.notorious baby skicare

1,4 dioxane is a common contaminant by product when sulphates like SLeS (Sodium Laureth sulphate), polyethylene, polyethylene glycol , ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG are present in products. A quick read of the back of label of many baby products would find many of these chemicals listed in your baby’s “gentle shampoo” or “mild bodywash”.

 

What the 5000 year old science of Ayurveda has to say on looking after babies and their skin:

Ayurveda is considered a divine science in India, handed down directly from the Gods to Man. Ayurveda has 8 branches of which “Kaumara bhrityam” or Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Child care forms an important branch.

2.ayurvedic abby care

The texts have an extremely advanced understanding of infant health care and have written down the risks of disease that can be transmitted from nursing mother to infant and the reverse as well. In fact, to maintain the health of the infant, the hygiene and cleanliness to be followed to maintain the health of the breasts is also outlined. This is because there is a very clear knowledge of infection transmission through the breast milk route.

 

Ayurveda recognises that what is applied at an external level on the skin also has the twin capacity of treating the blood underneath – in fact an important aspect of treating blood based disorders is the external application of herb on the skin. This not only reaches the blood but is also said to influence the lymph secretions and the “rasa dhatu”.

 

This deep understanding of the connection between the skin and the body leads us to a very important conclusion: it is unsafe and potentially harmful to apply synthetic substances on a child’s skin. Many of the herb and oil applications advised by Ayurveda on a child’s skin are not just safe and nourishing for the skin, but are also advised to increase a child’s immunity, prevent infections and aid healthy bone and joint development.

3.ayurvedic oil massage benefit

 

The tenets of Ayurvedic baby care:

Ayurveda recommends 5 tenets to care for your baby.

  1. Taila Abhyanga – massage using an appropriate medicated oil
  2. Udvartana and Snana – Cleansing of skin using an appropriate herb and lentil mixture followed by a bath using warm water or warm medicated water
  3. Purification of the nursery and surroundings using prayer, meditation and chanting
  4. Washing the baby’s linen and clothing using a prescribed mixture of herbs
  5. Fumigation of the nursery and baby’s clothing and linen using a prescribed mixture of herbs.

 

In today’s Formulation Tuesday, we will look at how we formulate the products meant for baby’s Udvartana and Snana (bath) (the 2nd tenet in Ayurvedic baby care) as per Ayurvedic principles.

 

The Ayurvedic principles behind skin cleansing for Snana (bath):

Snana in Ayurveda is usually supposed to be done after Taila Abhyanga. This is especially important for babies. Abhyanga Snana is advised to be done daily for a baby starting from the first week of birth. In fact the first bath given to a baby soon after birth is itself an Abhyanga Snana preferably with Bala tailam.

When Snana follows Taila Abhyanga, the baby’s skin requires no external post bath moisturiser.

4.taila bahyanga

To cleanse baby’s skin, Ayurveda recommends using a specific set of grains and certain herbs. The choice of materials does not vary too much, and usually sees only a seasonal variation to accommodate high heat or high cold weather conditions.

 

The base set of cleansing grains are edible lentils and cereals, with Mugda (Mung / Green gram) forming the largest part of the cleansing base. Just like Mugda is a preferred lentil internally because of its dosha balancing and internal cooling and easy to digest properties, externally, it cleanses skin gently without irritating in any way.

5. Mugda

 

Compare the use of edible Green gram to cleanse baby’s skin to the highly toxic , dangerous and skin irritating SLS / SLeS which is a major part of any cosmetic baby cleansing product – where is there any comparison between these 2 completely different mindsets ??!!

 

After the cleansing base, Ayurveda recommends adding specific skin improving herbs. As baby’s skin is still in the growth and formation phase, these herbs help improve the skin’s resistance to harmful micro-organisms, cleanse the subtle channels in skin (srotas) well, and maintain the skin’s acid mantle and barrier function.

 

In addition, Ayurveda recommends adding vata reducing and warmth improving herbs to baby’s Snana bath powder. Young infants are especially prone to mucous accumulation and kapha based illnesses like colds. Also, because of their rapid growth, they may also have unexpressed aches and pains as they learn to crawl or walk. Adding warmth giving and vata reducing herbs, helps control excess kapha atleast to some extent, and also soothes the baby and reduces minor aches and pains.

6.warmth adding

 

Besides these, depending upon gender, Ayurveda also recommends adding body hair growth reducing and complexion enhancing herbs to the Snana powder.

 

These are the general principles. We will now see how we formulate Krya’s baby ubtans for baby boys and girls based on the above.

 

The Krya baby ubtans: for baby girls and boys

If there is one universal favourite among all our products across production, customer fulfilment, and marketing and R&D, it would have to be the Krya baby ubtans. The Krya range of baby ubtans is also a very strong consumer favourite.

It is often gifted by regular Krya consumers to their family or friends as soon as a new baby makes her (or his) way into the world.

The Krya baby cleansing products have 3 types: the ubtan for baby girl and boy which have a slightly different set of herbs used as per gender. We also have a unisex baby bodywash – this is for folks with twins that span both genders, or for people who want something slightly non traditional.

7.krya baby ubtans

Our baby ubtan formulations differ quite significantly from our ubtans meant for older children and adults. The differences lie in the number of ingredients that go into each product and the granularity of the product.

Our ubtans for adults sometimes contain upto 30 – 35 different herbs, grains and lentils. However, for infants, we restrict the number of ingredients that go into each formulation. We pick herbs and grains that are specifically mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts for the use of small infants. Atleast 90% of the ingredients we use continue through every single batch – so the seasonal fluctuation in our baby formulations are much lesser compared to our adult formulations.

The granularity of our baby ubtan formulations is also extremely fine – finer than even our face wash products. This ensures that the paste you apply on baby’s skin is very soft and soothing and does not irritate skin in any way.

8. fine sift

 

Grains and herbs which go into the Krya baby ubtans:

Cleansing base:

As is recommended in Ayurveda, Mugda (green gram) forms the main cleansing base in the Krya baby ubtans. The Mugda we use is organically grown from desi (native) seeds. To this, we added a small amount of our medicated Mugda (Mugda processed in a special herb decoction meant to improve skin complexion, blood circulation and lustre). We also add a small amount of organically grown, indigenous red rice – this is an extremely good skin cleanser and polisher and helps maintain the delicate skin barrier of a baby’s skin.

9.medicated lentil

 

Herbs which improve skin’s barrier function and immune response:

Krya’s baby ubtans use herbs specially recommended in Ayurveda and traditional medicine to improve skin’s barrier function, and actively keep away harmful micro-organisms form baby’s skin. Some of these herbs include Ram Tulasi, Krishna Tulasi, Neem, Bael, Amla and Tree Turmeric. These herbs also help prevent skin rashes, prickly heat and other pitta based conditions on skin. They are also excellent Srota cleansers – and help remove toxins and hidden dirt from baby’s skin, gently yet effectively.

10.vilwa

 

We choose these herbs in the right balanced proportion – to ensure the doshas are balanced and maintained post cleansing without loss of heat.

 

Herbs which improves skin’s lustre and circulation:

As we have mentioned, Ayurvedic skin care for baby is also designed to give baby’s skin the right foundation to develop properly. Therefore herbs which help improve blood circulation within the skin, help eliminate toxins properly and improves skin’s natural complexion are also used in the Krya baby ubtans.

 

Manjishta and Mulethi (Indian liquorice) are 2 such important herbs we use. Both are excellent skin rasayana herbs in Ayurveda and help maintain the rakta dhatu properly and ensure that skin tone is even and lustrous. Tree turmeric which we mentioned in the previous section is also a similarly important herb.

11.manjistha and mulethi

Zeodary (sati) is an important wild herb that is used in the Krya baby ubtans. It is a very strong skin lustre improving herb and also adds a subtle camphoraceous and warming fragrance to the Krya baby ubtans. Similarly Amla (Indian gooseberry), a very valued Ayurvedic herb, goes into the Krya baby ubtans. Amla is an important source of Vitamin C, and is a very important skin polisher and booster of natural lustre and radiance.

 

Warming and vata dosha reducing herbs:

As we have mentioned above, warming and vata reducing herbs are a key part of any Baby Snana ubtan formulation. These herbs are added to ensure the baby does not catch a cold after oil application and Snana, and also to improve baby’s overall immunity towards mucous formation.

These herbs are also effective at reducing muscle soreness and aches and pains that baby may develop due to the use of their limbs.

The Krya baby ubtans use warming and vata balancing herbs like Vacha (Acorus calamus), Indian borage (Karpooravalli / Ajwain ki patta). Both are effective in reducing excess water retention in the body, and help with balancing Vata dosha which is cold and cramping.

12.indian borage

Vacha is very soothing when applied all over the stomach and is often sued externally to soothe cramps and colic pains.

 

Deodorizing herbs

Everyone wants a sweet smelling baby at the end of a bath to play with. What better than naturally sweet smelling Ayurvedic herbs that are also great for the skin for your baby’s bath? Krya’s ubtans use organically grown or wild cultivated flowers like Rose, Chamomile and Lotus petals – these flowers come packed with beautifully aromatic natural oils and skin softening and conditioning nutrients, which are not just great to smell but truly good for skin.

13.rose

Our careful manufacturing process ensures the delicate floral aroma is retained through our process by ensuring slow drying and low speed grinding to retain the natural oils in the petals.

 

Special herbs for baby girls:

Finally, to complement all these herbs, the Krya ubtan for baby girls additionally uses 2-3 varieties of turmeric: we use Aromatic turmeric, South Indian turmeric and Himalayan Turmeric. These 3 varieties of turmeric add a beautiful golden glow to the Krya baby girl ubtan and add a warm, camphoraceous fragrance as well. Ayurveda recommends using this to even out complexion and slow and thin down the growth of body hair for baby girls. Together, these 3 varieties of turmeric also boost skin’s functioning and improve skin’s immune response.

14. turmeric

 

To sum up:

On Formulation Tuesdays, we generally focus a lot on how we make the formulations we discuss for that day, and our philosophy behind the herbs, oils and manufacturing process followed.

I hope this background was useful to you and you were able to understand, appreciate and resonate with the differences between how Ayurveda cares for your baby’s skin (vs. synthetic cosmetic products which simply claim to be gentle or soothing). Our ongoing Formulation Tuesday series is designed to improve transparency and give you a greater understanding into how we think about, design and manufacture our products. We believe that greater transparency promotes better choices and helps you make better decisions on what you apply on yourself, your child or use in your home.

 

If you have any questions on our products, the philosophy behind our products, or a specific question on skin and hair, please do get in touch with us.

Krya’s baby range can be explored here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Herb Thursdays at Krya – the ayurvedic properties & benefits of Vacha (Acorus calamus / Vasambu)

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

One of our employees at Krya has a 3 year old daughter. One day when the child was playing outside her home, she wandered off from her street and got lost in the neighbourhood. It took the parents atleast 2 – 3 hours to find the child, and finally someone who knew and identified the child dropped her back home.

The experience severely frightened the child. Over the next two weeks she became very clingy and afraid, lost her appetite, and kept waking up at night telling her mother that she could see a ghost outside her window. The worried parents took her to the hospital and atleast 3 doctors. All of them examined the child and pronounced her fit as a fiddle. They asked the parents to tempt the child to eat by giving her favourite junk food and closed the case.

2 weeks later, my employee broke down at Krya and narrated the whole experience to us. By this time, the child had become weak and listless and stopped talking to anyone around her. She appeared semi conscious most of the time. And when food was kept around her or force fed, she would vomit it out. Her weight dropped from 16 Kg to 8 Kg in this 2 week period.

 

The effect of fear and mental stress in Children as per Ayurveda:

Fear and mental stress of children is something that Ayurveda is very detailed about and warns parents to guard against. Ayurveda is particularly cautious in protecting and caring for young children and infants (upto the age of seven). Every Acharya in their treatise warns parents to ensure that children are not exposed to strangers, scary toys, inclement and scary weather (howling wind, lightning and thunder storms), are not tossed up in the air or exposed to sudden movements.

1. fear in infants

Parents are also asked to take extreme care when exposing children to stories, books, plays or TV shows. Great care is also to be taken to ensure children are not taken around at night time, in very high buildings, in lonely roads, etc where they can be frightened.

2. exercise extreme caution

The emphasis on warmth and safety is so high that nursery design and window direction is a very detailed subject. In addition, children’s rooms are always mopped with special Rakshoghna herbs.

When children are exposed to sudden shocks, their normal excretory functions can suddenly stop leading to urine retention which can become painful. They can go into a state of listlessness or semi consciousness as we saw in our employee’s child, and refuse to eat food. The body tends to drop weight very quickly and become extremely weak as well.

 

Rakshoghna herbs in Ayurveda:

Rakhshas means demons. In naming certain herbs as Rakshoghna, we can see many layers in the meaning: to protect, to keep “Rakhsasa” or scary things away or drive fear away, and to also drive away invisible objects or microbes. Hence Rakshoghna herbs are used extensively by Ayurveda around children. These herbs are used to swab the floors or nurseries, wash children’s bed linen, and are strewn around in herb pouches so that their fragrance permeates the air.

3. Neem a rakshoghna herb

Vacha, which we are writing about today, in Krya’s Herb Thursday series is a famous Rakshoghna herb.

How Vacha helped the young child:

For our employee’s child, 2 – 3 applications of Vacha on her stomach, an amulet of Vacha on her wrist, and Vacha strewn around her pillow, got her smiling and accepting small amounts of food. This combined with special prayers in the nearby temple and mosque, with copious applications of warm sambrani incense around the home got her laughing and talking. A mere one week later, little S strolled in to office to meet me, back to her chipper and naughty self.

 

Vacha (Vasambu) with the Latin name Acorus calamus is one of the most important herbs we use at Krya. Vacha is a potent growth inhibitor of gram negative bacteria. It is an intestinal relaxant, is a hypotensive herb (relaxes blood pressure), is antispasmodic in action on seized muscles and organs. The origin of Vacha is attributed to Europe. However, it has been known since ancient times in India and has been referred to right from the time of Charaka and is mentioned in all the Nighantus (Ayurvedic herb encyclopaedias).

4. vacha

Vacha in Classical Ayurveda:

Classical texts describe Vacha as having “lekhaniya” (scraping action, therefore useful in bringing down excess fat), Sanjnasthapana (group of herbs that help restore consciousness), and Sheeta prashamana (group of herbs that give warmth to the body and relieve the sense of coldness).

 

Vacha has Panchana (digestion promoting and toxin expelling) action, promotes digestive strength, and is Medhya in its action (improves brain power), Vak prada (improves voice). It is also a Jantuhara (anti microbial) herb, is Shoolahara (relieves abdominal colic), and Adhamanahara (relieves bloating and gas in the abdomen) and is useful in psychological imbalances and disorders.

5. colic

Because Vacha has Katu (pungent) and tikta (bitter) rasa with Ushna veerya (hot action), it helps balance both Kapha and Vata dosha.

 

Common uses for Vacha:

Vacha is a famous anti microbial and insect repellent herb. One of the best uses for Vacha is to use it in grains to repel insects. It is also a very good herb to be used to repel crawling insects like cockroaches and mosquitoes and head lice.

6. vacha for lice

Because of its anti spasmodic property, colic relieving, warmth giving and gas reducing properties, Vacha is very useful in reliving griping pains and colic. It can also be used to relieve menstrual cramps. It should not be used when abdominal pain is due to diarrhoea as this is a Pitta condition for which Vacha which is high in heat is unsuitable.

 

Vacha is a very important part of the Medhya drugs prescribed in Ayurveda to be administered orally to infants. It is commonly given along with honey or breast milk along with other Medhya herbs like Swarna bhasma (gold bhasma), Brahmi, etc and is administered in small drops on the tongue of the baby from the 7th or 11th day of the baby’s birth. The texts say that children given this mixture of herbs have very high intelligence and intuitive and grasping capacity. The exact dosage is decided by the Vaidya after seeing the baby’s weight.

7. vacha for medhya

Vacha is also effectively used in Ayurvedic medicines to improve memory power, grasping power and in neuro-degenerative disorders. So it has application in epilepsy, autism, speech disorders and neuro degenerative disorders we see in geriatric conditions as well.

Vacha is also a very important herb to relieve fear and provide warmth to the body. It is therefore used as an amulet around an infant’s wrist so its fragrance can stimulate the brain growth and calm the infant. We have seen its effect in many cases of fear induced fever and chills. Vacha is able to quickly calm the brain, and relieve fear within minutes of external application, bringing balance.

 

 

Caution to be followed when using Vacha:

Vacha is a highly effective and potent herb, even when used externally. Before using it on children or yourself, kindly check with an experienced herbalist or a Vaidya for doses.

If you use too much Vacha it can severely increase warmth in the body and stimulate the intestinal system enough to give diarrhoea. Please use extremely carefully and after finding out the right dosage.

Vacha should not be used internally in certain conditions like pregnancy, high fever due to high pitta, etc.

 

Vacha at Krya:

At Krya, we use Vacha across most of our formulations. Our wash off products for the skin (like our face and body washes and our masks) are made from edible grains and lentils. Our biggest challenge is insect infestation because many of our skin care products are edible. So we use Vacha across the board for its insecticidal and anti microbial properties. (This is also why we insist that our products be stored in clean dry conditions and used quickly. Bugs love our goodies!)

8.vacha in krya skin care

Vacha is also used prominently in the Krya Anti lice range of products. Vacha goes into the Anti lice hairwash, Anti lice hair mask and the Anti lice hair oil. Consumers love how effective all these 3 products are, and the Krya Anti lice range is recommended across the board by parents who are looking for a safe, non-toxic , yet effective anti lice solution for their children.

 

Vacha also goes into the Krya ubtans for Men, Women , children, baby girls and baby boys. Warmth is required to balance the body post abhyanga, so Vacha is used in the Post oiling ubtans to help relieve the body of tiredness, balance all 3 doshas and retain warmth. The use of Vacha also relaxes the brain and calms it down leading to a feeling of balance and harmony.

9.vacha in ubtan

 

To sum up:

So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Acorus calamus / Vacha which goes into Krya’s skin care and Anti Lice products. As we have said before, Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution.

Do not attempt to self medicate. This is even more true of Vacha, so I repeat my warning once again: DO NOT SELF MEDICATE EITHER INTERNALLY OR EXTERNALLY WITH VACHA.

 

If you feel internal consumption of Vacha could help you or your child, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your/ your child’s condition and prescribe Vacha in the right dose and right format for you.

 

We do herb related posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Do leave your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you would like us to write about a specific herb next Thursday, do leave that in your comments as well.

 

 

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Ayurvedic post natal care to strengthen, nourish and care for a new mother and a new born baby. Krya shares a first person account.

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Reading Time: 20 minutes

The Krya blog has been speaking these last few days about different types of vata based disorders. The last few of our posts have been speaking in particular about post partum hair fall and related vata disorders and how the root cause of this can be traced to uncontrolled vata dosha because of a lack of proper post natal care that follows Ayurvedic principles.

As we have discussed earlier, Ayurveda opines that the birth of a child causes an imbalance in the body’s doshas as a large gap is created in the womb that was once occupied by the fetus and her placenta. The process of childbirth which is physically demanding and rigorous excites Vayu. Once Vayu is aroused, it is in its nature to rush in and occupy empty spaces and childbirth gives Vayu a large empty space to occupy.

blog-post-1-vata-and-pregnancy

Traditional post natal practices therefore centre around nourishing, oil and ghee based warm food and regimens like abhyangas to remove fatigue, provide strength back to the body and reduce the likelihood of vayu rushing in and upsetting the body’s dosha balance.

Our posts on post partum health have led to a lot of enquiries on how mothers should be looked after post child birth for good health. So we are fortunate today to carry a piece written by Seetha Anand Vaidyam on the traditional post natal practices that were followed in her home for both her pregnancies.

Seetha is a holistic educator, remedial therapist and an author (a longer bio follows at the end of her piece). Along with her piece, we have also included textual references to the practices described wherever relevant to clearly establish that these time honored practices flow from Ayurvedic first principles.


Old is Gold,

I was always told,

This advice I followed,

Especially when lo behold!

The most precious being in my hands I hold.”

Seetha Anand Vaidyam

 Good news! You are pregnant!” — My Gynecologist told me. I was 22 years, I had been married for 2 months, I had gone for my check up alone and I was nervous. “What should I do Doctor… In terms of how should I take care, what foods should I be eating…anything I should bear in mind… ? “, I asked her in part shyness, part embarrassment and even fear. I wanted to have children and had planned it, but now that I was pregnant, I was nervous, especially since I was in a new city away from my own relatives.

“Just act as normal as you are. You can do all what you did … just be normal.” my doctor said to me. And I did try. Surely a blanket “be normal” is not the soundest of advice and this is something I re-learned in my research and working with children of different needs in later years.

Pregnancy is the time to begin the nourishment of the baby in-utero. Seldom are first time mothers aware of the extent of influence their lifestyle can have on the baby. Stress, sadness during pregnancy can be especially detrimental. Sadness brings a kind of constriction in the abdominal region for most people, (we use terms like stomach churning feelings etc.) This constriction, tension can damage the tender nerves and muscles of the fetus in-utero. Nothing, nothing but the well being of the baby is paramount in that period and for this the pregnant mother’s wellness of body, mind and soul is imperative.

blog-post-2-pregnancy-special-period Ayurvedic first principles:  from the Putrakamiya chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“Sattvaviseshakarani Punarmathapithrasvadyoganatharvarthnyah:  Shruthyaschabhikshanam

Swopachintah cha karma bhavathi Poorvabhayschethi”

 This can be roughly translated as: “ The factors that influence the mental makeup of a child are the mental traits, purity , behavior of the family, cleanliness and purity of parents, the sounds that the fetus hears, the sounds and vibrations the pregnant women hears, and the karmic effects of the past lives of the fetus”.

 

It is to be noted here that Acharya Vagbhatta says that the collective set of emotions, thoughts, feelings and the sensory stimuli offered by the external environment shapes the mental makeup of your child. In this context , a pregnant woman and her caregiver must evaluate the television she watches, songs she listens to, people she meets and books and newspapers she reads and ask herself if each of these influences are positive and useful for the growing child.

Fast forward … 9 months later I was in another city, my home city and I was now a mother of a new born! This time, both my mother and me nervously asked the doctor, what I should be fed, if we could follow our traditional post natal care at home (especially since my first delivery was a Cesarean section and my mother had no experience of that, she was very confused as to what should be done), if we could give the traditional “orai marundhu” to the new born etc. My obstetrician said something similar to my gynecologist in the other city: “Just give her normal foods, no massages, use simple baby soap for the baby, and just stick to mother’s milk and if the baby is not satisfied top feed!!!” And what was worse, she said, “Don’t come running to me if an infection develops in the baby due to use of traditional oils and powders!”

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Being from and married into a traditional family, the words of the Doctors were ignored with contempt. My mother and mother in law consulted each other and a few other elderly aunts and grandmothers and the plan for my massage and diet and that of my baby were chalked out.

My pregnancies are not something I relish writing about since till date I wish I had taken better care of my babies when they were inside me! I was in a new city, unaware, helpless and overwhelmed by so many things in my new life! But like they say no point in getting negative with regret. The post natal care that my mother lovingly provided me and my babies hopefully made up for most of my earlier shortcomings. I will share details of traditional post natal care based on my own experiences and observations.

Post natal care is extremely elaborate and specific in South India. Even in today’s times of hospital deliveries, many of the customs are followed.

 

The design of the New Mother and new born baby’s Chamber

The room where the new mother and baby are housed, is kept spic and span and fumigated with sambrani over a ‘kumiti’ or iron stove with coals. It is a well lit room but not overly bright or close to noises, the windows were closed by dusk. The room is kept very warm and cozy. The room is protected from strong sensory stimuli such a smell, sound and light.

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Ayurvedic first principles:  from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“The chamber that holds the new born baby and recovering Mother should be architecturally beautiful, equipped with all necessary materials, should not have too much wind, and should have only soft wind blowing from the east. The room should be entered only by a few elderly women and physicians and should be free from bedbugs, mice, mosquitoes and other vermin. The room should not be too dark, or too bright. The cradle, bed, and bed sheets should be clean, well washed, unwrinkled, soft and fumigated with rakshoghna drugs.

 

It is important to note again, that Acharya Vagbhatta specifies that the baby’s nursery should have restricted entry with good cleanliness and fumigation using certain drugs. This helps prevent infections as Ayurveda considers that both a new mother and the baby have low immunity and depleted strength. The mention of controlling wind in the nursery is also a point to be noted – this is because Vayu (air) is already considered high in the mother post delivery. So additional Vayu is not to be allowed in as a strong breeze. Ayurveda actually classifies wind as having different properties depending upon the direction from which it blows!

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Clothing

Both the mother and baby are given soft cottons, often used clothes. New clothes for the baby are actually discouraged. Often old cotton dhotis and saris are converted into “jablas” /tie string tops and diapers. The diapers from the first day of the baby made from old saris or dhotis are thrown away and not washed. Later they are rinsed and then soaked in hot water with herbal powders, brushed, washed and dried in the sun. Care is taken not to have them washed by unmarried, young persons who may have an aversion for tending to soiled clothes.

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Even the repulsive feelings that a person may have for the soiled clothes were considered strong enough to harm the tender baby. Such was the extent of sensitivity towards the new born! And of course the new mother was forbidden from wetting her hands or staying near moist areas. She was considered to be in a delicate physical state and vulnerable to colds and infections after the hard task of child birth. If the delivery happened during monsoons, the washed napkins were dried indoors but were further dried on top of sambrani fumes that were covered with a metal rice sieve.

Ayurvedic first principles:  from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“Fumigation of the nursery and the linen and bedding of the mother and child should be done with guggulu and other rakshoghna resins which are mentioned in the prescribed texts. The child and mother should also be adorned with small bundles of herbs like Vacha, and other rakshoghna herbs to ward off the evil eye and deter krimi and germs”.

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Negative energy and the warding off this are addressed with a great deal of care across Ayurvedic texts including the Ashtanga Samgraha. The use of specific herbs, chanting of mantras and specific stotras, prayer, and restricted access to the new Mother and baby helps protect both and helps them conserve their spiritual energy.

 The mother and baby are kept warm, ears of the mother are covered with cotton, and the mother’s waist is bound by a folded sari tightly so that the sagging belly after delivery is held tightly. I went through this procedure after both my deliveries, the first being cesarean while my second was normal delivery. The baby’s head and ears are well covered, feet are protected with socks.blog-post-7-covered-ears

Ayurvedic first principles: the procedure described by Seetha above to cover the ears, feet and bind the stomach of the New mother all flow from the principle of correcting excess Vayu. The ears and feet are the seat of Vata dosha, so it is kept covered in both Mother and Baby to prevent entry of excess Vayu.  The space in the stomach is kept physically restrained in the Mother to restrict the space available for Vayu to rush in and fill the now empty womb.

 

Daily Rhythms of a post natal home

A post natal house functioned like clockwork. Sleep, wake, bath, meal, visitor timings were all strictly followed. It is considered healthy for babies to wake up early. Lactating mothers need as much rest as possible and new born babies sleep long hours and need frequent feeds. Child birth is considered to be a tiring effort sapping the mother of energy and certain essential nutrition.

Therefore apart from the special diet given, the daily rhythms or routines were sacrosanct since they also build up the etheric forces/ life forces of the mother which tend to get weak during the birthing process. The baby is tender and depends immensely on a precise rhythm to build its body clock and bio rhythms. Today modern medicine talks so much about the connection between health and bio rhythms, which traditional wisdom always believed was sacred.

 

Visitors and Outings for the Newborn and Mother

Visiting new borns and new mothers was highly restricted. Only certain inmates of the house entered the room. Relatives and friends from outside were allowed for one day on the 11th day after birth where the child is given a formal bath and placed on a cradle and the naming ceremony is carried out. After the completion of the function, restrictions continue and visitors are not encouraged.

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Ayurvedic first principles: from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“Shoorairayodhibheergupathmadrashyam nagaram paraiha

Yatha shishovarpurathdhwagatho thaovirddhibhigrahaiha”

 

“Just like a city is protected from enemies by brave men with suitable weapons, similarly the body of a child must be protected from different kinds of invaders / evil spirits using appropriate methods”

 

This is the concluding verse in the Balopacaraniya chapter which brings together the point behind all of the prescriptions of newborn and maternal care in Ayurveda. Every single ritual prescribed is done with the view of protecting the health of the child and mother – the care given post child birth to the Mother and in the first year of the child are seen as critical for establishing the lifelong health patterns of the Mother and Child.

After 30 days, a visit is made by the new born and the new mother to a nearby temple. The child is brought outside the room to sit in a place where the evening sunlight falls. By the end of the second month the child is allowed to be placed in the other rooms of the house. The mother is still not very active and is confined to feeding the baby, in some cases bathing and changing diapers, folding clothes. Physically exerting activities are not carried out by the mother.

 

Massage and Bathing Rituals

Nothing is discussed, prepared for and spoken about as much as massage rituals in a post natal household!!! In some houses a masseur is appointed these days, but traditionally the mother or grandmothers who were usually in a fit condition bathed the new mother and the new born baby.

 

Cold pressed Sesame oil or Coconut oil was used for the massage. While the baby received a full body and head oil massage every day after the 11th day of birth, the mother received an oil massage for the body everyday and head oil massage every alternate day. After the 11th day of giving birth. The mother’s body oil was mixed with generous amounts of kasturi manjal and especially rubbed well on the waist, feet, elbows and face.

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This everyday oil massage of the body helped prevent dryness and itchiness that result after delivery. In case of girl babies too turmeric was added to the body oil. Massaging around the navel area for both mothers and babies was regarded important and also on the area on top of the head where there is a slight depression, considered to be the crown / sahasrara chakra.

Ayurvedic first principles: from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“An abhyanga with a special herb infused oil should be done every day. Medicated oil prepared, with herbs like Bala, Chandana, Kushta, Ashwagandha, Eranda, Tila and other herbs is ideal for massage. “

 There is a special emphasis on muscle and dhatu nourishment and growth and vata reduction given in Ayurveda which percolates the philosophy behind formulating abhyanga oils for babies and new Mothers. As we have discussed before herbs like Bala are extremely useful in balancing excess pitta and vata and are extremely nourishing and helpful in building muscle mass and relieving fatigue and tiredness. Ashwagandha is excellent for skin and also helps with inflammatory conditions that the Mother could face.

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 Tila as mentioned as the oil of choice here and this is different from what has been practiced in Seetha’s home. We must be cognizant here of regional differences and modifications in Ayurvedic practices depending upon the geography and climate. Being hot and humid, Ayurvedic practices in Kerala have traditionally adopted coconut oil as the base oil of choice. However, to control the kapha promoting nature of coconut oil, the oil is usually prepared with certain warming herbs and spices to control any kapha based excesses.

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The oil for the baby was prepared at home by my mother. She would grate enormous amounts of coconut and then extract milk from it, this was gently heated till oil emerged from it. ‘Venda Velichennai’ or virgin coconut oil thus got was carefully stored in glass bottles or ceramic ‘baranis’/’jadis’. This oil smelled like ghee and was prepared in a kind of secrecy away from the eyes of all so as to avoid any feelings of greed or lust for the oil. It is amazing how the new born was protected even from negative thoughts and feelings. Such was the reverence for a new life in the olden days. This is now considered as discrimination and blind belief. Thoughts and feelings produce energies and babies are very sensitive to energies.

The entire bath water was heated and then allowed to cool down a wee bit before being used (cold water was never added to make the hot water tolerably warm) And of course in the days of yore, copper boilers or cauldrons were used to heat water over firewood and coal.

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Ayurvedic first principles:

 Acharya Vagbhatta and Acharya Charaka recommend bathing the baby and the mother with water which has been boiled with Jivaniya herbs (restorative and vitalizing herbs). Some of these herbs include Mahameda, Kakoli, etc.

 The purpose of using Jivaniya herbs is to restore Prana to the tissues, promote the longevity and health of all the dhatus and promote deep nourishment.

 

New born mothers and babies thus massaged and bathed glowed with soft and well moisturized skin. Especially mothers and girl babies looked golden due to the application of turmeric. Hair of new born mothers under such care generally became lustrous and thick and abundant. At least for the first three months when she gets maximum personal care pampering!!

Soaps were a strict no no! A Bath powder for babies was made with moong dal/ channa dal while for mothers vasanai podi or ubtans were made at home with various herbs and lentils. Hair wash powders for the mothers were also made at home with Shikakai, karsalanganni, ponnanganni, hibiscus flowers and leaves, lime peels, fenugreek, curry leaves, many other flowers, leaves, seeds, seed pods — which were all cover dried in the sun and powdered. These powders and oils were sent with the new mother when after a period of 3 months she returned to her in laws and husband.

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After bath babies and mothers were well dried and gently warmed with sambrani fumes. Kajal or kann mai was the only cosmetic item that was allowed. This was applied even to the eyes of boy babies and their forehead marked with a dot/bindi/tilakam. In order that the bindi/ tilakam/ pottu did not smudge, a bit of vibuthi that was again home made with cow dung ash was rubbed slightly over it. Thus there was no need for any chemicals in body care. This not only ensured glowing skin but also made sure that there was adequate probiotic microbial activity in the body which is the foundation of immunity and health.

The fragrance emanating from new born babies and mothers under such a personal care regimen has to be experienced to understand the value of such homemade, pure, chemical free personal care products. My mother’s sister sent me home made kann mai made from castor oil, pachcha kalpooram, nadyaravattai flower extracts. It smelled good and brought a refreshing tingling in the eyes when applied.

Ayurvedic first principles: the use of herb enhanced collyrium

Collyrium / Kajal is an Ayurvedic medicine and is so much more than a regular cosmetic product. It has been designed to protect the eyes which are an important secondary seat of Pitta by reducing excess Pitta. As the eyes are also made up of kapha based fatty substances, the use of herb infused Kajal helps the healthy removal of fat based toxins from the eyes .

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 Rasajnana is a famous Ayurvedic extract made from Daruharidra, which is used in Ayurvedic Kajal. Rasanjana when prepared properly helps promote the dislodging of kleshma (fat based toxins) by triggering a watering reaction in the eyes.

Diet

While babies were strictly only fed mother’s milk, they got just a dash of ‘orai marundhu’ which was a mixture of a set of seeds/herbs, gold etc which were rubbed on a stone along with a drop of mother’s milk and applied to the baby’s tongue. Babies were fed in a private area and a serene silence was maintained during the baby’s feeding time.

In case baby is taking very short feeds and falling asleep only to wake again very soon for another feed, the mother is advised to caress the ear lobes gently. I was given this advice too and I found that the baby sucked for longer when I did this!!! Babies were fed with solely mother’s milk for upto 10 months and were fed mother’s milk in addition to other foods even after the first year. Some scriptures and ancient texts indicate that mother’s milk was given till the fall of, milk teeth. With changing times, consciousness changed and priorities changed.

Children lost their dreaminess, unconscious behavior and innocence prematurely. So as a result, it was considered embarrassing to feed children with mother milk once they became conscious. Mother’s milk is loaded with microbes and lauric acid. This helps the growth of beneficial gut bacteria which are the essentials of a strong immunity system in the body.

The first thing a new mother is given to eat is a ‘legyam’ again home made with so many different heat inducing herbs, spices, lemon, ginger, ghee etc. A gooseberry sized ball of this is given in empty stomach. This is a decongestant, anti inflammatory and digestive. The beneficial properties of this is passed to the baby through the mother’s milk.

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Babies and mother’s are especially hungry after a laborious bath!! So usually the mother’s were fed while the baby is being bathed so that they are not hungry while feeding the baby. Bathing soon after a meal/feed for anyone was absolutely forbidden.

Ayurvedic first principles: from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

 “A child should not be fed with the breast milk of the women who is hungry, grief stricken, tired, exhausted, angry, whose tissues are diseased, who is pregnant, or who is indulging in unhealthy foods”.

 Ayurveda is very particular about the health of the mother as this science recognizes the deep spiritual, mental, emotional and physical connection between the Mother and her baby. By nurturing the Dauhridini (pregnant woman) from the stage of pregnancy, keeping in her in good spirits and providing her loving emotional and physical care post child birth, Ayurveda ensures the baby too is well looked after and has the chance to develop well.

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 Many of us have seen tired, exhausted and depressed or even hungry modern mothers tending to their children’s needs. This is not a healthy practice and you are not supposed to sacrifice your well being for that of your child. Ayurveda recognizes that only if you are nourished and healthy, can you give your child the right environment to be nourished and healthy as well.

Mother’s diet consisted of short frequent meals. Parboiled rice was given preference since it is easier to digest. Tuvar dal and channa dal were avoided since they induce vata or gas. Moong dal was given in limited quantities. Lots of iron rich curry leaves, drumstick leaves, bean varieties, perandai or bone setter thogayal that is rich in calcium, dried sundaikkai or thai brinjal, manathangalikkai which had properties of healing wounds and ulcers were included every day. Gourds were by and large avoided, so were brinjals, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. In short gas producing foods were avoided. Pepper was the preferred spice and chilies were avoided or minimized.

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Betel leaves were given at the end of the meal and even in the evening to aid digestion and bring down acidity.  Ginger was another spice that was used every day. Coolants and cold foods were completely avoided. Ghee was served generously. Water was given in restricted amounts. The use of tamarind was restricted. Peanuts were avoided. Bananas especially the nendram variety was given to satiate odd time hungers. Par boiled rice gruel/ puzhungal arisi kanji with salted narthangai or salted lemon pickle were given. The baby’s stools were an indicator of whether the diet of the mother was suiting the baby. Greenish or whitish yellow stools were considered not healthy and immediately changes were made in the mother’s diet. Curds were not given.

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The practice of giving white bread, certain types of vegetables, etc might have crept in during the in-between period. What are truly traditional needs to be understood. After the entry of the Britishers in 1600 A.D., many traditional customs were modified. Cropping patterns were altered. Grains traditionally grown were discontinued and certain foreign ones introduced. Therefore even what has been practiced for 400 odd years may not be truly traditional!

 

Ayurvedic first principles – a healthy post partum diet

All the Ayurvedic texts that refer to kaumarabhrityam (gynecology, obstetrics and child care) have given special importance to the pathiyam diet that is given both to the pregnant woman and the recovering Mother.

 The purpose of the diet in each stage is different – in the pregnant woman the diet is meant to be nourishing, full of good fats and cooling. The diet is supposed to nurture the fetus at every stage of the development and not cause any ama or toxic residue in the body.

 The pathiyam post partum diet has a different purpose. The food is meant to nourish all the dhatus of the woman which may be depleted following child birth. It is also supposed to ensure that the breast milk is full of the nutrients required by the growing child. The food is sweet (madhura) and kapha promoting in nature to build the dhatus and nourish the tissues.

 The food is also cooked so that excess pitta and vata is controlled. So the vegetable and cereal selection is quite deliberate.

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The time immediately after delivery is usually an extremely restricted diet. It is high in nourishing liquids like milk cooked with galactologue herbs and ghee. Cleansing mixtures like panchakavya is also used to stimulate digestion, remove ama and toxins form the body as these may pass onto the baby through the breast milk.

 Post the first 15 days / month 1, the recovering Mother is put on a more solid diet. A very careful selection of lentils is given – if the Vaidya feels that vata is high, she may be advised a diet without any lentil except Mung dal and not lentil based vegetables like beans. Hard, difficult to digest lentils like peas, rajma, channa are usually restricted.

 Ghee is key to the pathiyam diet to promote adequate digestion, keep the body in a tridoshic state and reduce vata dosha. Warming spices like Maricha (black pepper), Sunthi (ginger) and Jiraka (Cumin) are also liberally used in the food to expel wind, promote digestion and cleanse the respiratory passages of mucous if present.

 

General atmosphere in a post-natal home

Care was taken to avoid overwhelming sensory stimuli. Noise levels were restricted. Loud noises which would startle a sleeping baby or disturb the deep sleep of a new mother whose sleep depended on her child’s sleep were consciously avoided. Very often grandmothers or elderly members of the house or the new mother would sing lullabies and other specific baby songs.

The entry of too many visitors as mentioned earlier was avoided. In some communities, the inmates of the house where a baby is born would also not go to other houses for a period of 30 days. This was like a quarantine that was observed. The close relatives of the new born could not even attend functions and festival celebrations for a period of 30 days after the birth of the child in their family.

Feeding time of the mother is considered sacrosanct. The mother is advised to be calm while feeding the baby since the babies are tender in every way and would be affected by any physical, emotional or mental disturbances around them.

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A post natal care household was full of busy activity — preparing bath oils, powders, fresh legyam, meals, fumigation, washing clothes etc. So there was no time for gossip or idleness. Today we hear so much about post natal depression and mood swings. In a traditional home, where so much activity is going on there is so much to observe and participate, to absorb and learn that one does not get the time to become depressed. Moreover the food given is so carefully chosen that it balances hormones and leads to emotional stability.

At the end of 3 months and in much earlier times after 5 months, the new mother left the luxurious pampering in her mother’s house and returned to her in-laws and husband.

Even then till the baby turned one year old, that is till the mother is lactating, she was not allowed to cook or go into the kitchen since the heat from the kitchen fires might interfere in the lactation. Mother’s milk was considered to be ‘oushadam’ or medicine and hence every measure was taken to safeguard it. New mothers were pampered, nourished and their motherhood and the baby’s childhood were cherished.

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The changing patterns of motherhood

In course of time life became fast paced and therefore roles changed and so have health and fitness. Stamina and stress do not go hand in hand. The elders in the family can no longer perform all the chores required of them during the birth of their grandchildren, mothers are not relaxed enough to lead life on a slow track for a certain period of time. Ambitiousness, restlessness, changed priorities have all resulted in the lack of reverence for the new born and the new mother.

The rise of full time working mothers with limited maternity holidays, emergence of packaged baby feeds, over exposure of children to excessive sensory stimuli prematurely — have all resulted in weakened bodies, minds and souls — of mothers and their babies!!

I hope this article helps in reviving the due reverence for the new born and the new mother. I hope at least some aspects of post natal care can be incorporated if not all.


seetha-anand-vaidyam-krya-blog-author-profileAbout the Author:

Seetha Anand Vaidyam, works through Ananda Foundation for Holistic and Healthy Learning & Living. Ananda, through its 3 wings — Learn to Move & Move to Learn; Plate to Planet and Art of the Hearts — offers hands on workshops, talks and one on one counseling sessions on Early Childhood, Remedial Therapy, Sustainable Living and Holistic Wellness across India and abroad. Seetha has authored ‘ “Good” Food — a guide to right cooking and eating’ which has 2 editions and 1 reprint to its credit. She can be reached at seethaanand@yahoo.com .

 


Krya would like to thank Seetha Anand Vaidyam for her generous, authentic and detailed piece on traditional post natal care today. This very important tradition of nourishing the mother and caring for her mental, emotional and physical well being which used be such an important part of Indian culture is fast disappearing today.

We hope that this post brought home the importance of these practices and you were able to appreciate the deep rooted Ayurvedic first principles behind these practices. Even if you are unable to recreate the exact set of rituals described by Seetha in this post, we hope you are able to incorporate atleast few parts of these rituals in your life or help out another young mother with knowledge about these practices.

 

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Ayurvedic baby massage : benefits for baby’s health and skin

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Are you worried about the carcinogens and suspicious synthetics in the baby care products you have been buying? Looking for a truly natural, genuine, safe Ayurvedic baby massage oil? Read on, for a short introduction to the benefits of an Ayurvedic baby massage routine .

Krya baby massage oils: recent feedback received

“Hello Team Krya,

I have been using this baby massage oil for my baby since she was 1 month old. This is really good. My baby is feels good and fresh after taking message with this oil.  This is 100% better than those synthetic and chemical baby massage oils”. – Amit

Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & AshwagandhaKrya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha - excellent for an ayurvedic baby massage

It’s not mild, its carcinogenic : why chemical baby products are toxic and un-safe

A Missouri based jury passed a verdict last year asking Johnson & Johnson to pay damages of 72 million dollars to the family of Jacqueline Fox. The jury concluded that her death by ovarian cancer was linked to her daily use (of over 30 years) of Johnsons baby powder and Shower to shower talcum powder.

A study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics studied baby and children’s products for the presence of 2 chemicals – 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde. These 2 chemicals are probable human carcinogens formed as toxic by products when certain chemicals are present in a product. The research study showed that over 61% of the baby products surveyed contained these 2 chemicals in more than trace quantities.

1,4 dioxane is a by product formed when sulphates like SLeS (Sodium Laureth sulphate), polyethylene, polyethylene glycol , ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG are present in products. A quick read of the back of label of many baby products would find many of these chemicals listed in your baby’s “gentle shampoo” or “mild bodywash”.

Therefore most chemical baby products are un-safe, toxic and dangerous to use on everyone, especially vulnerable babies.

Why is your baby’s skin so vulnerable to chemicals?

Human skin is the largest sense organ in our body. It is considered the seat of the Indriyas / sense organs and is literally the seat of sight, sense, touch, feeling and hearing. Skin is our first barrier layer and helps protect our internal organs from damage and bacteria. It is a marvel of bio engineering and hosts a massive colony of micro organisms . This colony helps ensure a constant pH of 5.5 on skin, with an acidic mantle that keeps harmful organisms away from us.

The skin and hair structure in children is one of the last major systems to be formed. The sweat glands which help regulate temperature, eliminate toxins from our body and help maintain the skin’s natural acid mantle takes upto 3 years to form. This means that babies stay sweet smelling longer, but this also means that their body does not have the mechanism to readily eliminate toxins like adults do.

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The harmful effects of SLS & SLeS - one of the many synthetics in baby care products

This means that they can handle far smaller toxic loads than adults . Therefore it is critical to choose a safer, more natural skin care solution for babies. Genuine, carefully manufactured ayurvedic baby skin care products should be your first option

Ayurvedic baby skin care: a 5000 year old science

Ayurveda is considered a divine science in India, handed down directly from the Gods to Man. Ayurveda has 8 branches of which “Kaumara bhrityam” or Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Child care forms an important branch.

Sagar manthan: the Churning of the ocean from which Lord Dhanwantri rose and gave the world Ayurveda

Samudra Manthan (Churning of the Ocean) which gave Ayurveda to the world

 

While Kaumara bhrityam has been dealt with in portions of the Rig Veda and even Purana Granthas like the Garuda-Purana, Kumara-sambhava and even the Artha Shastra, the Ayurvedic text which has the most material devoted to Kaumarabhritya is the Kashyapa Samhita.

Ayurevdic baby massage is an integral part of baby skin care. Taila Abhyanga Snana (baby massage with oil followed by herbal bath) is advised to be done daily for a baby starting from the first week of birth.

Typically Ayurveda recommends that baby massage be done first with Bala Tailam. This helps the newborn get rid of the exhaustion after child birth. Medicated herbal water made with a decoction of herbs like Bilwa (Aegle marmalos), and other aromatic herbs (sarvagandha dravyas). Bilwa is a powerful and renowned herb used in religious practices in India.

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Bilwa leaf used to worship Lord Shiva

We can see from the above description, how detailed, through and holistic Ayurvedic baby skin care is.

The deep connection between the Skin and the body as per Ayurveda:

The skin (Tvacha) in Ayurveda is said to be made of 6 layers. These 6 layers form from the blood while undergoing metabolic activity – this formation is described similar to the layers of cream that form when milk is boiled.

Therefore, in disorders of the skin, herbs and regimens that treat the blood at an underlying level are advised. Similarly, Ayurveda recognises that what is applied at an external level on the skin also has the twin capacity of treating the blood underneath . So, many blood based disorders are treated through herbal lepa (pastes) applied on the skin. This way, the herbs reach the blood and also influence the lymph secretions and the “rasa dhatu”.

Once we understand this connection, we also understand how critical it is to choose what we apply on baby’s skin. Chemical products and carcinogenic ingredients are highly unsafe and can damage baby’s health. On the contrary, a regular baby massage with an ayurvedic baby oil is safe and nourishing for baby’s skin. This practice also helps increase baby’s immunity, prevent infections and aid healthy bone and joint development.

The 5 tenets of Ayurvedic baby skin care:

Ayurveda recommends 5 tenets to care for your baby.

  1. Taila Abhyanga – baby massage using the correct ayurvedic baby massage oil
  2. Herbal Snana – Cleansing of baby’s skin using the correct ayurevdic baby ubtan followed by a bath using warm water or warm medicated water
  3. Purification of the nursery and surroundings using prayer, meditation and chanting
  4. Washing the baby’s linen and clothing using a prescribed mixture of herbs
  5. Fumigation of the nursery and baby’s clothing and linen using a prescribed mixture of herbs.

Each of the above steps are not just to care for baby’s skin. They also help build immunity, improve disease resistance, protect baby’s skin, keep down mucous accumulation and care for baby’s health.

Taila Abhyanga – Ayurvedic baby massage:

The Ayurvedic baby massage routine restricts moisturisation to the pre bath taila abhyanga or oil massage. This is a very special feature of Ayurveda .

Ayurvedic baby massage - important tenet of ayurvedic baby care

Taila Abhyanga - essential Ayurvedic baby care practice

Skin needs to constantly interact with the environment and continuously facilitate toxin removal.  Srotas are thin, tube like structures in skin, through which toxins are removed. When we apply a moisturizing product after Snana, the Srotas can get clogged. If a petroleum based, synthetic moisturiser is used, the srotas are fully blocked. When srotas are blocked, the skin is unable to do heat exchange properly. This traps excess heat within the body. Skin is also unable to eliminate waste products properly. This is why Ayurveda insists on pre-bath moisturization with a herbal taila, and not post bath moisturization.

Herbs chosen for the ayurvedic baby massage

The herbs chosen for an infant’s Ayurvedic baby massage are carefully selected. Bala is a commonly used herb in Baby oils in Ayurveda. Bala is a famous Ayurvedic herb that aids regulation of vata dosha. It removes muscle fatigue and exhaustion. Bala helps growing infants develop a healthy muscle and bone structure.

Bala is a rejuvenative and deeply nourishing skin herb : excellent for an ayurvedic baby massage

Bala (Sida cordifolia) - a powerful vata balancing and growth stimulating Ayurvedic herb

Manjishta is another common herb selected for an ayurvedic baby massage oil. Manjishta is an excellent herb that helps increase the microcirculation of the srotas in the skin, and improves the circulatory function. It is a good blood purifier and a famous “varnya” (complexion enhancing) herb.

Warming herbs like Tulsi often are used in preparations meant for infants. The Puranas compare Tulsi to “amrit” or the nectar that rose from the churning of the ocean and say just like amrit which gives ayu (long life), Tulsi is to be sought after and cherished.

Tulsi is a warming and kapha balancing herb - excellent for an ayurvedic baby massage

Tulsi - compared to "Amrit" in Indian tradition and revered for its ability to enhance physical endurance

Modern Science and research confirms what Ayurveda and long held Indian tradtion says about Tulsi: that it can cure both mental stress and enhance physical endurance.

In ayurvedic baby skin care preparations, Tulsi helps boost the overall immune system. It also adds warmth to the body, and is an anti bacterial and insect repellent. 

To recap:

Baby massage is a key part of the 5000 year old Ayurvedic baby skin care routine . When this is practiced, baby’s skin and health are both benefited. This is especially critical in the first year of baby’s life.

The texts speak about multiple benefits of the Ayurvedic baby massage routine with an Ayurvedic taila. At an immediate level, the ayurvedic baby massage relieves exhaustion, balances excess vata dosha, reduces high pitta dosha and improves the baby’s appetite, digestive power and allows for peaceful, undisturbed sleep. As a bonus, the taila abhyanga is an excellent skin aid – with this regular practice, the skin’s health and functioning is maintained, without sacrificing cleanliness or its receptivity to the environment.

The process of Ayurvedic baby massage is also extremely enjoyable to the baby. So it helps establish the vital connection and emotional bond between a Mother and the baby.

At a long term level, the Ayurvedic baby massage helps muscle development, correct minor growth deformities and aids proper growth and functioning of all large muscle groups and joints.

 

 

Krya’s products for an ayurvedic baby massage (Taila Abhyanga):

Krya has 3 products for Taila abhyanga for your baby:

  • Krya traditional baby oil with Bala & Ashwagandha
    • Made using a traditional, Ayurveda inspired formulation, Krya’s traditional baby massage oil uses time tested, powerful Ayurvedic herbs like Bala, Ashwagandha Vacha, Tulsi and Manjishta for your baby’s daily Taila Abhyanga. Regular use helps keep skin healthy and nourished and support’s baby’s growing immunity and health.

Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala and Ashwagandha - excellent for an ayurvedic baby massage

  • Krya Nourishing baby massage oil with Palmarosa & Rose
    • Made using traditional skin nourishing and healing herbs like the sacred Durva grass, Moringa, Indian Liquorice and Lodhra, this oil is a rich, skin oil that is free from petroleum by products like Light Liquid Paraffin (White / Mineral oil), parabens, synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances, silicones, thickeners and colours. Infused with natural Organic Palmarosa and Organic Rose petals
  • Krya Nourishing baby massage oil with Lemongrass & Grapefruit
    • Made using traditional skin nourishing and healing herbs like the sacred Durva grass, Moringa, Indian Liquorice and Lodhra, this oil is a rich, skin oil that is free from petroleum by products like Light Liquid Paraffin (White / Mineral oil), parabens, synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances, silicones, thickeners and colours. Infused with natural Organic Lemongrass and Organic Grapefruit leaf

Krya’s toxin free home care products for baby:

Krya all natural classic soapberry detergent - free from LABSA, phosphates, bleaches, enzymes and fillers. Hypoallergenic and baby safe

  • Krya All natural Classic Soapberry detergent (can be used in a machine) – made fromm organic, forest collected whole soapberries. Completely toxin free, and hypoallergenic and safe on delicate skin. Free from LABSA, Enzymes, Phosphates, Fillers, Bleaches, Enzymes and other Chemicals. Completely Chemical free and made from whole plants.  Compostable & Biodegradable product .  Environmentally safe, Does not harm aquatic life . Grey water generated can be recycled in the garden. Recommended for baby’s nappies, diapers, clothing and linen

Krya All natural classic dishwash - free from LABSA, phosphates, enzymes, bleaches, fillers. recommended for baby's bottles, cutlery and dishes.

  • Krya All Natural Classic Dishwash Powder : made from whole organic and forest collected herbs. Completely toxin free, and hypoallergenic and safe on delicate skin. Free from LABSA, Enzymes, Phosphates, Bleaches, Colours, Fragrance & other Additives . Hypoallergenic, Toxin & Synthetic free, Made from Ayurvedic herbs . De-greases and cleans dishes thoroughly , yet Gentle and Safe on skin . Compostable & Biodegradable product .  Environmentally safe, Does not harm aquatic life . Grey water generated can be filtered to remove kitchen wastes & then recycled. Recommended for baby’s bottles and other dishes.
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