Is It Safe to Use Talc Powder for Babies?

Parents continue using this “traditional” product, unaware of better alternatives.
Talc powder for babies: Is it safe to use or are there any better alternatives? (Representational Image: Unsplash)
Talc powder for babies: Is it safe to use or are there any better alternatives? (Representational Image: Unsplash)


Using talc powder for babies has been a time-honored practice passed from parents to parents. It has become a part of welcoming gifts for newborns. However, in recent times, authorities have advised against using it. This leads to the question, “Is it safe to use talc powder for babies?”


Let us see what Dr. Jushya Bhatia Sarin has to say about talcum powders:

Dr. Jushya Sarin, an MD dermatologist, has shared the risks of using talc powder on babies and the alternatives that can be used.

She strongly mentions that talcum powders are the worst products to use for both parents and babies. As she mentions, inhaling the tiny particles of talc can precipitate asthma and other breathing problems. Also, it blocks the tiny, immature pores of the baby’s sweat glands.

This takes us to the question: why do parents use talc powder for babies?

A study [1] published in 1984 asked parents why they were using talc powder for babies. The main justifications, according to parents:

  • To keep the diaper area dry.

  • To make the baby smell good.

  • To prevent or treat diaper rash.

Until today, these remain the reasons why many parents use talc powder, unaware of its risks. One parent said, “I don’t know. My mom advised me to use.”

Yes, talc absorbs sweat. But so does a dry diaper. And that is safer.

Dr. Jushya Bhatia Sarin

Dr. Jushya says that though talc absorbs moisture, a dry diaper does the same job and is safer. Changing the diaper every 3–4 hours and keeping that area clean and dry with water and cotton cloth will prevent fungal infections.

She strongly comments that there is no good reason to use a product that is both unnecessary and harmful. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using talc powder for babies in one of its articles [2]. The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) also recommends against the routine use of talcum powder.

Talcum powder can do more harm than good. It is better to avoid using them. (Representational Image: Unsplash)
Talcum powder can do more harm than good. It is better to avoid using them. (Representational Image: Unsplash)

Then what can be done to prevent diaper rash and infections?

The IAP [3] recommendations for taking care of the diaper area are:

  • Excessive moisture can lead to infections. So the diaper area must always be clean and dry.

  • Moistened cloth or cotton ball soaked in lukewarm water has to be used to clean the area after passing feces. 

  • Dry cloth should be used to dry the skin after cleaning.

  • The cloth should not be dragged against the skin while cleaning or drying.

  • Only a mild cleanser with a slightly acidic or neutral pH can be used in the perineal region.

  • Diapers should be changed frequently, every 3–4 hours.

  • Cloth diapers are preferable. These should be washed in warm water and dried in sunlight.

  • If frequent diaper changes are not possible, mineral oil can be applied to protect the skin.

  • Mild baby wipes can be used on baby skin, but they have to be free of fragrance and alcohol.

  • If disposable diapers are used, superabsorbent gel diapers can be used.

  • If the baby develops a diaper rash, apply creams with zinc oxide, dimethicone, and petrolatum-based preparations at each diaper change.

Talcum powder can do more harm than good. It is better to avoid using them. When it comes to baby skincare, it is always better to use products recommended by the pediatrician. Following the simple guidelines while caring for the diaper area may make powders unnecessary. 

References:

1. Baby Powder Use in Infant Skin Care: Parental Knowledge and Determinants of Powder Usage. (Cited on 02/07/2024)

2. Make Baby's Room Safe: Parent Checklist. (Cited on 02/07/2024)

3. The Indian Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for Pediatric Skin Care

By Shanjitha J Hussain

Talc powder for babies: Is it safe to use or are there any better alternatives? (Representational Image: Unsplash)
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