Nowadays there is increasing emphasis on the delicacy and sensitivity of babies' skin and this can cause parents to worry about the best products to use and how best to care for their baby clothes. Should they use a special detergent? Do they have to wash all the baby items separately from the rest of the family laundry?
Apart from a minority of families, the extra strain on the family budget of preparing for and bringing up a baby is significant. So any opportunity to eliminate increased costs such as special baby detergent is helpful. After all, raising a baby is expensive enough - not only is there the initial purchase of baby clothes and bedding, diapers, a crib, a stroller and other equipment, but the ongoing costs of medical expenses, food and everything else is material.
There are lots of detergents on the market that claim to be specifically for baby clothes but often they are little different than regular detergents. Although you need to be aware that some detergents may cause irritation to a baby's skin the same can actually be true for adults. Generally if you use a gentle detergent without added perfume or colors you should find that these are suitable and can be used for the family laundry as well.
One approach that is recommended is to make sure you have removed any special finishes that the manufacturer has used on baby clothes and bedding fabrics by thoroughly washing them before first use. And don't forget to do the same with any second hand clothes you are given by your friends and family. This should eliminate the chance of your child picking up a rash - but if he does, make sure a medical professional takes a look quickly.
Many new parents worry about whether it is safe to wash baby clothes with the rest of the family's laundry. I think this must be a fairly recent worry as it was something I never even thought about when I had my own children in the 1970s. Providing you use a mild detergent for the wash loads there should be no problems. After all you are cuddling and caring for your baby in the same clothes as you will be washing with theirs without causing any irritation!
The only articles of baby clothing that need to be washed separately are cloth diapers. These should never be washed with regular clothing and should be rinsed in the toilet bowl to get rid of any solid waste then stored in a bucket with a lid on until they are ready to be washed. A drop or two of tea tree oil in water in the bucket acts as a deodorizer and disinfectant.
Discontinue the use of any detergent that contains a fabric softener if you have any reason to be concerned about it. And if you do use a separate fabric conditioner, choose one that is formulated for sensitive skin and that the whole family can use.
Babies grow quickly and soon their clothes become too small - but you can avoid accelerating this process by selecting the right tumbler dryer setting. Use the low, gentle heat settings to limit the amount clothes shrink.
Finally, remember that babies have survived the rigors of childhood for many centuries without the marvels of special detergents and separate washing processes, so it is unlikely that today's infants will suffer too much deprivation if the same approach is adopted.
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