If you’re a new mom or mom-to-be, you may already swap out junk food for nutrient-rich produce or reach for a jug of hormone-free milk. But you may not have considered that opting for cleaner pregnancy and baby body care products also supports your child’s long-term health. “As the body’s first line of defense, skin is uniquely designed to identify invaders like unhealthy bacteria and to mobilize the entire immune response,” says Kim Walls, a Los Angeles–based nutritionist, clinical aesthetician, and natural skin care formulator.

Protecting your and your baby’s “skin immunity” starts with choosing natural and organic plant-based products to prevent toxins from entering the bloodstream. Some research shows that ingredients a pregnant woman puts in and on her body may cross over the placental barrier, impacting the baby even before birth. The body absorbs topical products, and young children, whose skin is five times thinner than adults’, are even more susceptible to potential allergens and carcinogens such as 1,4-dioxane and quaternium-15 commonly found in body products. Avoid these and other common body care chemicals, while nurturing your and your child’s skin, with this advice.

Sniff out fragrance

Mom and baby need to avoid synthetic fragrances—which, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), have been found in infants’ umbilical cord blood and are linked to conditions such as skin irritation and chemical-induced immune system damage.

Even “natural” fragrance can be a concern because the term “fragrance” indicates only that a product may contain any number of 3,100 natural or synthetic ingredients. Pregnant women also should avoid many essential oils—including basil, rosemary, and cinnamon—which can have adverse effects on a pregnant woman’s body or the unborn baby. Opt instead for fragrance-free personal care products.