bordeaux DIY parenthood

DIY: Oil – limewater liniment – the French way to clean your baby’s butt

I admit there are probably more exciting topics worth talking about than cleaning your baby’s bum, but with so many friends being soon-to-be moms and dads I thought it would be useful to tell you about this quick baby cleanser recipe, which seems to be completely unknown outside of France.

Shortly before our first daughter’s birth, while preparing for the arrival of our tiny new housemate, we were recommended to use ‘oil limewater liniment’ for the daily diaper change routine. ‘Liniment oléo-calcaire’ in French.

Wait, oléo-what? I had absolutely no clue what everyone was talking about and headed straight to the pharmacy to find answers. I found about a dozen different brands of this famous liniment, which is basically made out of olive oil and limewater (a mixture of water and calcium hydroxide). Every parent here in France knows and uses this unctuous lotion, either to clean their baby’s buttocks or for other cosmetic purposes.

What does this liniment do?

The olive oil in the lotion is used to moisturize, nourish and protect the skin. The limewater has a very high pH level and is used to restore the pH balance of the skin and thus soothes rashes due to acidic urine and stool. The combination of the two makes an oily substance that works as a cleanser and a barrier at the same time and leaves your baby’s skin as smooth as silk.

Unfortunately, many of the store-bought products, even the organic ones, contain harsh  preservatives like Sodium benzoate, Phenoxyethanol or Benzyl Alcohol, which can irritate sensitive skin. Others still count allergenic substances and endocrine disruptors (chemicals that interfere with our hormone systems and can cause cancerous tumors and developmental disorders) on their ingredients list, such as Stearalkonium Hectorite, PEGs, Dipolhydroxystearate and other unpronounceable names. Knowing that baby’s skin is three to five times thinner than an adult’s and thus absorbs substances more easily, you don’t want any of those sketchy compounds on their skin.

Let alone the price: You can spend between four to nine euros for a bottle of 450 ml/15.2 fl.oz. liniment. One liter of limewater costs between seven and ten euros, so does a bottle of organic olive oil. You do the math!

To sum it up: homemade liniment is good for your baby’s skin, not harmful for the environment, cheaper than any other cleanser and it is really easy to make yourself.

All you need is:

– an empty and clean bottle of shampoo or body lotion, a pump bottle is great here (mine was 400 ml/13.5 fl. oz.)

– olive oil (organic if possible)

– limewater (you can buy it pre-made at the pharmacy here in France. If you can’t find limewater in your country, you can also buy calcium hydroxide, which is even cheaper, and mix 5 g/0.17 oz. with 500 ml/16.9 fl. oz. of water. Shake well, let sit for a couple of minutes and filter with a coffee filter.)

With the help of a funnel, pour equal parts of limewater and olive oil into the empty bottle (in my case 200 ml/6.7 fl. oz. limewater and 200 ml/6.7 fl.oz. olive oil) and shake vigorously. Voilà, that’s it!

The liniment is a bi-phase cleaner so you need to shake it before using it. 

Limewater liniment also helps 

– reducing cradle cap

– reducing eczema

– soothing superficial burns

– soothing cracked nipples (hello to all breastfeeding moms)

– removing make-up

– cleaning shoes and leather (no kidding!)

MARA // Bordeaux

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