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 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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