Oatmeal is powdered oats made from whole oat kernels or groats. A finely ground version of the oatmeal called colloidal oatmeal is often used for dermatological purposes. Research shows that the topical application of colloidal oatmeal could treat and manage skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis (1).
Experts recommend using oatmeal periodically in an oatmeal bath to soothe and moisturize the sensitive skin of babies. As a parent, you may consider adding this product to your infant’s skincare routine. But before you do so, knowing the right way to use oatmeal is essential to reap its full benefits.
This post tells you about the possible benefits of oatmeal, concerns that it might cause, and the right way to have an oatmeal bath for babies.
Possible Benefits Of Oatmeal Bath For Babies
Colloidal oatmeal is an FDA-approved natural ingredient used as a skin protectant in several skincare products, such as soaps, moisturizers, and creams (2). Research shows that colloidal oatmeal has some unique properties that can benefit your baby’s skin.
- Emollient and antipruritic (anti-itch) properties: High amounts of lipids, starches, and beta-glucan present in oatmeal hold moisture into the skin by strengthening the skin’s protective barriers (3). Strengthened skin barrier safeguards skin from dryness, itchiness, and pathogens’ entry (4) (5). Its use is also prevalent as a home remedy to relieve itching caused by chickenpox blisters, poison ivy rashes, hives, bugs, and mosquito bites.
- Cleansing, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties: Saponins in colloidal oatmeal cleanse the skin and maintain its pH value. Flavonoids, phenols, and a-tocopherol (vitamin E) are other compounds that impart antioxidant, ultraviolet-absorbent, and anti-inflammatory properties (3) (5). These properties make oatmeal bath an effective remedy to subdue inflammation and itchiness due to sunburn, eczema, and dermatitis (6).
Besides these, colloidal oatmeal has prebiotic and antifungal properties (4), which may help alleviate or treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as dry skin, diaper rash, heat rash, cradle cap, and dandruff in babies. Consulting a pediatrician before trying an oatmeal bath for your baby is important to avert any concerns.
Concerns With Oatmeal Bath For Babies
Oatmeal allergy is a concern that you must evaluate before using colloidal oatmeal for your baby. Allergic reaction to oatmeal is rare but possible. A baby might be allergic or sensitive to oats if they have wheat or gluten allergy. Even minute traces of gluten in colloidal oatmeal can trigger allergic reactions in some babies.
Stay alert to signs of an allergic reaction, such as skin rash or redness, vomiting or nausea, wheezing, runny or stuffy nose, face or mouth swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you are unsure about the safety of over-the-counter (OTC) colloidal oatmeal, you can prepare one at home or consult a pediatrician for brand recommendations.
Note: Oatmeal doesn’t contain gluten, but it may get contaminated with gluten when grown and processed near wheat and other grains.
Making Oatmeal Bath At Home
You can prepare colloidal oatmeal at home using whole oats or steel-cut oats. Below are the steps to follow.
- Finely ground a tablespoon of oats groats using a grinder or food processor. Ensure the powder is fine with minimal to no large pieces visible.
- Test if the powder is suitable for the bath by mixing a tablespoon of the powder into a cup of warm water.
- If the powder dissolves into the water, turning it into an opaque white liquid with a silky feel, it is fine to use.
- If the powder gets collected at the bottom of the cup, grind the powder again, and re-test it.
- In case you are unable to grind the powder finer, grind it to the maximum fineness possible and then put it into a muslin or cheesecloth bag. You can use the bag in the bath since it can sieve out finer particles of oatmeal into the water.
How To Give Oatmeal Bath To A Baby?
Oatmeal bath is similar to how you bathe your baby usually.
- Put some oatmeal powder into a bathtub filled with warm water. Stir the powder with your hands until it dissolves completely. Check the bathtub’s base to ensure no oatmeal lumps or chunks are present.
- Carefully place your baby into the bathtub and let them soak in the water for 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, you can gently rub some oatmeal powder onto your baby’s skin directly.
- Alternatively, you can put the oatmeal powder into a bag and put that bag into the bathtub filled with hot water. Let the bag remain until the water comes to a temperature suitable to bathe the baby.
- Take your baby out of the bathtub after 20 minutes and pat them dry using a soft towel. Do not use soap after an oatmeal bath unless directed by a pediatrician.
Precautions To Take While Using Oatmeal For Babies
Oatmeal bath is a natural and safe skincare product for babies. Nevertheless, you must observe some precautions for added safety.
- Buy 100 percent pure colloidal oatmeal from a trusted and reputable brand to ensure good quality. Give preference to colloidal oatmeal made from organic oats groats.
- Check the ingredient list carefully for the presence of dyes, perfumes, or other additives. Some babies may develop irritation, sensitivity, or allergy due to these additives. Ideally, colloidal oatmeal meant exclusively for babies should be free from added compounds.
- Never leave a baby or toddler unattended while soaking in the oatmeal water. Oatmeal water is slippery and might cause the child to slip.
- Consult a pediatrician regarding the number of times a baby can bathe in oatmeal. Usually, a baby can have an oatmeal bath once or twice a day. However, the frequency may vary based on the purpose of use.
Oatmeal is a nourishing, natural ingredient that can play a significant role in your baby’s skincare routine. You can let your baby soak in oatmeal water or topically apply oatmeal powder, including in the form of lotions and creams. Before you try oatmeal to manage your baby’s skin conditions, consult a pediatrician to avoid any risks, and address any concerns.
2. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21; USDA
3. Ellen S Kurtz and Warren Wallo; Colloidal oatmeal: history, chemistry, and clinical properties; NCBI
4. Blair Allais and Adam Friedman; Colloidal Oatmeal Part I: History, Basic Science, Mechanism of Action, and Clinical Efficacy in the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis; Journal of Drugs in Dermatology
5. Kurt A Reynertson et al.; Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin; NCBI
6. Ellen S Kurtz and Warren Wallo, Colloidal Oatmeal: History, Chemistry and Clinical Properties; Journal of Drugs in Dermatology; Research Gate