I started changing my cosmetics products when I was struggling to have a baby. It was super hard as at the time I couldn’t find much information. I had a great support group of women going on a similar fertility journey, we all shared brands and products as we discovered them.
It was a total detox from all the products I was using and having worked in the beauty industry for years I had A LOT of changes to make!
Now I am a mum! And although I know a lot more about products for me now I have had to start my research again for what to use on my baby. So many products specifically labeled for babies still contain many nasty chemicals but the good news is there are plenty of great products that you can use instead, you just need to know what you are looking for.
So I thought you might find it useful if I shared some tips as well as the natural baby bath products that I use on Xiaoxi (my 10 month old).
No need to start using baby bath products straight away
Firstly – I was in no rush to bathe Xiaoxi in the hospital when she was born. She only had her first bath after we got home. The WHO recommends waiting at least 24 hours post birth – firstly these poor little things have enough to contend with being thrust out so suddenly into this world!
Secondly, the vernix which is a waxy white substance that covers the baby when it is delivered should be left on or better still rubbed in, not rubbed off as is what happens most of the time! Inside the mum the vernix helps protect baby’s skin from amniotic fluid, it contains lost of antibiotic properties but it also has lots of uses out of the womb like
- Decreasing skin pH and helps form the protective acid mantle which is a slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin acting as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin
- Moisturises and keeps skin soft, and supple
- Contains that new baby smell to help mum and baby bond during breastfeeding
So don’t wash it off – rub it in. It will rub in just like a moisturiser.
After the first week we started to bathe Xiaoxi every few days although her bottom was washed much more regularly:)
But we didn’t use any baby bath products on her at all for several months. Newborn babies have seriously sensitive skin – it is very easily irritated and susceptible to infection. They have a thinner epidermis (the outer layer of skin) than adults do. This means they are more sensitive to soaps and detergents.
So water and cotton balls or a natural sponge is the best way to get the grime off.
Here is a great, short video that sums up bathing at the beginning:
As they start to move around more and eat solid food is when we started using some natural baby bath products to get that extra dirt off!
Read the product label – watch out for these 4 additives
- Artificial preservatives
- Potential carcinogens
1. Artificial preservatives
Artificial preservatives are one of the main causes of irritation and allergic reactions. Some are also known to release small amounts of formaldehyde which is an irritant, a carcinogen and neurotoxin. The following ingredients should be avoided on any products used on your baby as they contain, release or break down into formaldehyde:
- 2-bromo-2 nitropropane-1,3-diol
- Diazolidinyl urea
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
Example of common baby products that contain the one of the above ingredients: Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Bath
2. Potential carcinogens – they are everywhere!
There are many potential carcinogens used in baby bath products 1,4-dioxane is a very common one but it is a chemical byproduct, so it is not written on the ingredients label. 1,4-dioxane is linked to organ toxicity and skin allergies.
To avoid it, don’t use products that contain sodium laureth sulfate – SLS, PEG compounds and chemicals listed as xynol, ceteareth and oleth.
Examples of common baby products that contain the one of the above ingredients: Aquaphor baby wash & shampoo, Johnson’s head to toe gentle baby wash, Mustela gentle cleansing gel.
That yummy smell you get when you open a bottle of baby bubble bath…watch out! It is more than likely added fragrance, parfum, perfume and has been linked to allergies, skin irritation and eczema.
Also, on an ingredients list fragrance can be used to mask hundreds of other dangerous chemicals that by law in most countries do not need to be listed out on the packaging and often include parabens.
Scents made with natural ingredients can also cause skin irritation – bottom line you do not want to use anything on your baby that has a strong smell!
Most common baby products include fragrance – even quite a lot of the “natural”, “green”, “organic” brands have added fragrance. Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Bubble Bath for example.
It is wise to avoid synthetic colours. They are only used to make the products look more appealing but they can cause allergic skin reactions; some even contain heavy metals and are carcinogenic.
All colours, whether natural or synthetic, are listed as ingredients in cosmetics by their Colour Index (CI) Number.
Each number is unique to a specific colourant material and is shown by the letters CI followed by a 5 digit number, eg: CI 75810. Naturally derived colours from plants and mineral sources will have numbers greater than CI 75000 and as a general rule, to avoid synthetic colours in cosmetics you should not use any product with a CI number of less than CI 75000.
Example of common baby products that contain the one of the above ingredients: Johnson’s tear free shampoo
Don’t be fooled by these popular products
I don’t even look at big brand baby bath products anymore because I just assumed they would be full of chemicals but researching for this article I looked at the most popular products in this category on amazon and all of them contain more than one of the above nasties. These are products people use on their tiny, little newborn babies and in some cases people believe them to be “natural”!!
See some of the most popular here:
- Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo For Hair & Body, Tear-Free: this product overall rates 2 on the EWG skin deep database which is pretty good but when you click in (which you always should!) it has ingredients that rate up to 5 including PEG-80 SORBITAN LAURATE, COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE, IODOPROPYNYL BUTYLCARBAMATE, SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE. This product is typical of great marketing – on the front of the packaging it lists that it has no parabens or phlates which is great but it does contain some equally questionable ingredients!
- Johnson’s Head-To-Toe Gentle Baby Wash: this product in its new formulation is not in the EWG database (see old formulation) although the new formulation is better it still contains several PEGs and also fragrance.
- Aquaphor Baby Wash & Shampoo: again the new formulation is not listed in EWG (old formulation) but these ingredients are still to be avoided – PEG-200 HYDROGENATED GLYCERYL PALMATE, & as above Cocamidopropyl betaine.
- Babyganics baby bubble bath: is a normally a good brand but even their baby bath contains PHENOXYETHANOL which although not as harmful as the ingredients listed above still to be avoided as it causes skin irritation. I recommend it be avoided in all personal care products.
So many of the popular baby products have nasty ingredients that there is no way I can create a comprehensive list here. If you are going to buy something or about to use something please check the ingredients carefully – it is not worth the risk!
4 of the best baby bath products – safe & tested
There are some great products out there you just need to know which ones they are. So here are my 4 favourites, do let me know in the comments what you think:
- Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Fragrance Free Shampoo & Wash: My no1 choice
- It is an EWG verified product.
- It is made with natural oat protein, shea and cocoa butter and many soothing organic plant-based ingredients.
- Designed for babies with extra sensitive, dry and eczema-prone skin which means it has a very gentle formulation and can be used on any skin types.
- Tear free
- Nice, pleasant smell without any added synthetic fragrance
- None so far!
- It is rated 1 on EWG
- 3 options – truly scent free, sweet orange or lavender.
- It is a pump mechanic that comes out in a foam making it easy and fun to use.
- New packaging looks much sleeker than the old one.
- Not tear free
It contains Potassium hydroxide which rates 3-5 on EWG depending on concentration and use. However, in Dr bronner’s liquid soaps the potassium hydroxide goes through a Saponification process meaning that what is left in the formulation that is used on your baby is only glycerin and salt.
- All the ingredients are certified organic
- Very popular, easy to find all over the world
- Needs to be diluted and therefore lasts a long time
- Bottle is 100% recycled material
- Quite a thin formulation, doesn’t feel soft or silky to use
- Not tear free
- Uses mild vegetable-derived bubbling agents that work well to create a fun bubble bath for your kids
- Nourishing herbal ingredients that help to protect delicate skin
- It contains SODIUM BENZOATE which is not a real concern but it does rate 3 on EWG and I prefer to only use products with all ingredients at 2 or lower.
Key tips for lovely, natural & safe baby bath time
1. No need to use any products to start with, just let your baby enjoy the sensation of the water on their skin – introduce products when you feel they are ready or just REALLY dirty!
2. Hope you now feel you know what to avoid in the baby bath product ingredient list – no artificial preservatives – this list is quite long, no carcinogens – PEGs, SLS, no fragrance, parfum, perfume and no colourants with a CI number below 75000.
3. Don’t trust the brand just because it says natural or organic – still check the ingredients
4. There are 4 great products above that are safe, clean and lovely to use on your baby so give one of them a try to let me know what you think.
I hope you now feel better informed to choose a bath product that you trust and are happy to use on your baby. I just don’t think it is worth taking the risk.
Leave me a comment – have you found any great products you want to share?