Why Experts Advise Against Using Baby Powder or Cornstarch on the Diaper Area

Baby powder used to be a household staple for many families. Since the moist environment in a little one’s dirty diaper can cause diaper rash, parents have used baby powder to soak up excess moisture, keep the area dry, and reduce chafing. 

However, we now know that baby powder isn’t the best option for babies. This has some parents reaching for another household staple: cornstarch. Is cornstarch powder a safer swap for baby powder? 

Let’s see what the experts have to say.

 The dangers of talcum powder

Traditional baby powders contain talcum powder. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral that is formed by magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Some talc contains asbestos. This toxic ingredient isn’t included intentionally but is present because talc mines are located where asbestos naturally occurs, causing talc to be contaminated.

Studies have linked asbestos to lung and ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson has faced several lawsuits regarding the link between their baby powder, cancer, and other side effects. 

Inhaling talc can also irritate the lungs and respiratory system. A baby’s lungs are even more vulnerable to irritation, making talcum powder a particularly dangerous choice. Even if carefully applied, particles in the air can reach their nose and mouth. 

Is cornstarch a safer alternative to baby powder?

Unlike baby powder, cornstarch does not contain talc. Cornstarch is a mineral-free food substance that’s commonly found in kitchens. Cornstarch fills the same role as baby powder, drying out the skin and providing some slip to reduce chafing. 

However, like baby powder, cornstarch spreads through the air and can irritate a child’s lungs if inhaled. Doctors and pharmacists also advise parents to steer clear of cornstarch as it may worsen yeast infections and yeast-related diaper rash. 

With that being said, while some claim that cornstarch is a safer alternative to baby powder, it still poses a risk to your child’s health. 

Do you need to use baby powder when changing a diaper?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents not to use cornstarch or talc-based baby powders when changing a diaper. Keeping the area clean and moisturized with simple, natural products is best. The AAP also recommends changing your little one’s diaper as soon as possible after noticing it is soiled. This will negate the need for extra products to keep the area dry. 

Not only does a powder-free approach save your child’s bottom from irritation, but it also saves you time and money. Cutting out powders means one less step when changing your baby’s diaper and fewer items to purchase.

We’ve also learned that the more products you apply to your little one’s skin, the more likely you are to damage their skin microbiome. Their skin microbiome is made up of a balance of bacteria that protects their skin and impacts overall health. Every product that goes onto their skin can affect that balance. Even organic baby powders can irritate their sensitive skin.

Moisturized skin = healthy skin

Sitting in a moist, dirty diaper is the most common cause of diaper rash. That said, moisturized skin differs from “moist” skin from a soiled diaper. Keeping your little one’s skin clean and hydrated prevents irritation and supports a healthy skin microbiome. 

The belief that the diaper area must stay dry is actually detrimental to the health of a child’s skin. In fact, dry skin is more prone to chafing and irritation, which in itself leads to rashes. 

What should you do instead of using baby powder?

There should be three steps in your diaper-changing routine: 

  • Gentle cleansing
  • Moisturizing
  • Rash treatment and prevention

Checking each of these boxes may seem simple, but it can quickly add up to a changing table cluttered with tubes, bottles, and wipe containers — plus lots of questionable ingredients. 

Our 3-in-1 diaper care cleansing cream handles all three of these steps with one non-toxic product. 

After wiping their diaper area with a pump of cream on a disposable organic cotton pad, simply apply a fresh diaper — no need to rinse, apply baby powder, or juggle creams and lotions. Made with just five non-toxic ingredients, It’s the best way to keep your diaper-changing routine simple and healthy. 

Ta-ta talc and powders

Although talc-based baby powder has been used for years to keep the diaper area dry, we’re now aware of several harmful side effects associated with its use. While cornstarch is relatively safer than talc-based powders, babies’ lungs can still get irritated if the powder is inhaled. 

Luckily, you don’t need baby powder to manage rashes or change a diaper. Simply keep the area clean and moisturized, and use a gentle cleansing cream that soothes away redness and prevents diaper rash.

Talk about easy-peasy diaper care! 


1 comment

  • April Scott

    This has totally SAVED my littlest skin! We went from open bleeding sores on her diaper area and had tried EVERY cream and remedy on the market and then some. Within less then 2 days of using Noleo it was completely healed. I just wish I would have found it sooner!!!


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