Does Baby Powder Expire?

When your baby is born there is a good chance family and friends will give you a pack of essentials; a gift basket full of the staples we’re told we need for baby. You’ll get all sorts of baby shampoos and bath washes, more bibs then you think you will need (you’ll need all of them) and a stash of diaper related goodies – creams, wipes, and baby powder. Some items you will go through quickly, but some you may find are still near the change table 6, 12, or 24 months later.

Like most consumables, baby powder can expire. The thing you want to look for is what the manufacturer prints on the packaging; it’s all about the ingredients, and the manufacturer will often print an expiration date. One key ingredient to look for is cornstarch (often used to replace talc) which absolutely does have an expiration. Use your common sense though; if you still have products three years after they entered your home, it might need to go in the bin.

It feels like a bit of a waste though – To Throw out a product so thoughtfully purchasedBy your in-laws or The sample that you picked up at the baby Expo. Does it absolutely have to go in the bin ? Have a look at a couple of these pointers below, then you can make the right call for you and your family.

What is baby powder made of?

Mass produced baby powder tends to fall into one of two categories; talc based product, (sometimes simply referred to as talcum powder) and cornstarch based product. Once upon a time everybody used talc, but there are other options available now due to the ongoing discussion about the safety of talc.

Talc is a mineral, and is primarily made up of silicon, magnesium, and oxygen. When powederized It is fantastic at absorbing moisture and cutting down friction, so it is perfect for keeping baby’s nappy area dry, and reducing the friction that will make nappy rash worse.

Cornstarch baby powderIs predominantly literally that; the same cornstarch you might use in the kitchen. Many name brand baby powder based on cornstarch also include Tricalcium Phosphate (A naturally occurring mineral) and often Tocopherol. (Vitamin E) 

Why does baby powder expire? 

It’s all up to the ingredients the manufacturer chooses to put in the bottle; whether the ingredients are organic or not can impact how long you can keep the baby powder in your nursery.

Talc is non-organic. Simply put, this means it doesn’t come with an expiration date at a base level. 

Cornstarch comes from corn, which is organic matter. Due to the processing it has gone through it also doesn’t specifically come with an expiration date, but it is much more susceptible to environmental factors. Once out of the manufacturers hands, It is harder to rely on the stability of the ingredients, so you’re much more likely to find an expiration date on baby powder made predominantly with cornstarch.

How long does baby powder last?

The manufacturer will make a decision to print an expiration date on their product pending their included ingredients, the environment in which the baby powder was put together, and the recommendations on how it is stored once you have bought it home. To play it safe, stick to whatever is printed on the packaging.

The expiration date is at the bottom of this bottle on the back

Your home is not a scientific lab however, so generally speaking the advice is that baby powders which don’t have a manufacturers expiration date are kept for no longer than three years if you’ve not opened it, or 12 months if you have. Don’t forget to include the time that the product was in your possession prior to when baby arrived stop

How do you know if your baby powder has expired?

Apart from the obvious Printed date on the packaging, There are a few other giveaways.

  • You haven’t tightened the lid- Use your common sense here; if you haven’t used your baby powder in a while  and when you return to it you find that the lid hasn’t been properly tightened, consider putting it in the bin. If the packaging hasn’t been kept airtight, particularly in humid environments, moisture and other germs may have been able to get inside. Better to be safe than sorry, and pick up some new powder.
  • There are lumps in the powder – the most likely cause here is moisture, which comes with its own set of problems. Chunks of baby powder in a nappy are going to do more harm than good to your baby sensitive skin, so if you’re finding that your baby powder is no longer powder it may be time to throw it in the bin.

Is it safe to use expired baby powder?

It may be, particularly if the baby powder you have is only made up of one ingredient. It’s not worth the risk though; manufacturers have expiration dates for a reason (because they don’t want you to sue them!) And without  lab testing there is no way to know for sure. Baby powder is not expensive, particularly if you compare the ingredients list there is a good chance that you can find a cheaper formulation of the one the bigger brands use. Throw your expired baby powder out.

How do you safely store baby powder?

  • Close the packaging So that it is airtight
  • Keep the container in a cool dry place – The humidity of a bathroom is not appropriate
  • Keep it out of reach of baby either through height or behind other baby proofing

A last note about baby powder safety

Regardless of what it is made out of, baby powder is still a powder. If you or your baby inhales baby powder, it can cause significant respiratory issues. Be mindful about how you store and use your powder, keep it out of reach of young hands, and check the dates on the packaging.

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