In our family, this is a season of babies, as we welcomed two grandsons to the family this year. Gabriel, born in April, has been somewhat of Grandma’s guinea pig, but he hasn’t minded too much. Lincoln arrived Thanksgiving morning, just like his mother did 28 years ago!
My daughters used to harass me endlessly about my enthusiasm for herbs and essential oils. I have to hide my smile every time one asks if I can make this or that. It would seem that my girls now prefer to see less ingredients listed as well, now that they are experiencing motherhood. So along with some other holiday ideas, I thought I’d share some of our favorite recipes.
I love making this baby powder both for the grands and myself, using herbal powders rather than talc or corn starch. The recipe values are in parts rather than straight out measurements. That way you can make as much or as little as you want. (Just remember that if you use, for example 1 cup as 1 part, then ¼ of a part would be ¼ of a cup. But if you use one part as one cup, you will end up with 4 ½ cups of powder!)
White Clay, or Kaolin Clay, is a very fine, white, powdery clay. Because of its suitability to all skin types, it is often found in cosmetics. The clay has absorbing properties and is said to stimulate circulation.
Arrow Root comes from the Maranta arundinacea plant. The root is grated and used as a starch in gluten-free cooking, rather than corn starch. Like corn starch used in body powders, Arrow Root combats moisture. Though it has no anti-fungal properties, it does help keep bottoms, feet, and other areas of the body dry.
Slippery Elm Powder is made from the bark of the slippery elm tree, Ulmus fulva. The powder coats and sooths irritated skin and membranes.
Comfrey Root Powder, of course comes from the Comfrey plant, or Symphytum officinale. It is often used to relieve tender or inflamed skin.
Rosemary Gladstar’s Baby Powder:
2 parts white clay
2 parts Arrow Root Powder
¼ part Slippery Elm Powder
¼ part Comfrey Leaf Powder
In a large bowl, mix the powders together. I actually ran them through a food processor to make sure I had them mixed well, but this is not necessary. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil and/or chamomile, and mix well, assuring there are no clumps in the powder. Place in clean, dry containers with a tight lid. (Note: a great container for this is either a large parmesan cheese container, or simply save the lid from the container to apply to a canning jar (or peanut butter container??) for an attractive gift.
I love using this powder myself, as it is silky smooth rather than scratchy like cornstarch. For the pampered adult, exchange the essential oils suggested for sandalwood or patchouli or a favorite blend of your own that is skin-safe.
(Please note, there are some who have some concerns about the use of comfrey in any form with babies. If you share these concernes, or if you have difficulty sourcing powdered Comfrey Leaf, just omit it.)
For the new mom who is breast-feeding, it can be joyous experience that bonds mother and child in a way like no other. It can also be a challenging time for the new mom, dealing with chafing and cracking of an area already dealing with major changes, especially if the baby doesn’t catch on immediately to the concept of latching on. We knew Gabriel would be arriving earlier than expected and anticipated that this might be an issue. Thankfully, even though he was 5 ½ weeks early, he had no issues with latching on. Non-the-less, we were prepared with a balm to protect and sooth in between feedings. My daughter loves this balm, and has not had any problems.
Marshmallow root comes from the perennial herb Althaea officinalis L. It has been known historically to sooth and coat tender skin and mucous membranes.
Soothing Balm for Moms
In a double boiler, combine the following:
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 oz shea butter
1 oz. calendula flower infused oil
1 tsp. marshmallow root
1 oz. beeswax
Melt shea butter and combine to other oils. If you have a small crockpot, transfer oils to crockpot on low setting, otherwise, apply lid to double boiler and lower temperature to maintain warmth. Add marshmallow root and allow to steep in oils (4-5 hours).
Strain herb from the oil and place oil back on burner on low heat. Add beeswax and allow to melt. Add lavender oil at 2% dilution. Pour into clean, dry 4 ounce container and apply lid. For best results, provide mom with a package of Popsicle sticks or other method to remove balm from jar in order to prevent contamination, and advise mom that she should wash it off before nursing.
We have found that on the rare occasion that Gabriel does experience diaper rash, this balm comes in handy.