The first few times you bathe your baby, you might be full of worries. What if they cry? What if the water’s too hot or cold? What if they slip out of your arms?
Here’s one worry you most certainly don’t want to have, though: What if the soap you’re using hurts their delicate skin?
You probably already know not to use any soap or products on your baby to begin with, but as they get older, there’ll come a point where you’ll want – and will need – to use them.
Maybe you’ll need to shampoo baby rice out of their hair or clean them up with something more than pure water after an especially disgusting diaper change. Who knows what possibilities might come up? This parenting thing is full of surprises!
We’re going to go through exactly what you need to know: when to start using baby bath products, what to look for when choosing them, and what you should definitely avoid.
For starters, have a quick look at what we believe to be some of the best baby shampoo and body wash products of today.
Best Baby Shampoos And Body Washes – A Quick Look At Our Top 10 Recommendations
*Note: Upon clicking on any of the links in this section, you will be redirected to the respective product listings on Amazon.com where you can learn about the product’s price, customer rating & customer reviews.
- Cetaphil Baby Wash and Shampoo
- Johnson’s Baby Tear Free Shampoo
- BareBaby Organics Shampoo & Body Wash
- Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Shampoo
- Dr Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo
- TotLogic Sulfate Free Kids Shampoo
- California Baby Eczema Shampoo & Bodywash
- Babyganics Conditioning Baby Shampoo and Bodywash
- My True Nature Baby Shampoo & Body Wash
- Aquaphor Baby Wash & Shampoo
Best Baby Shampoos And Body Washes – A More Detailed Look At Our Top 10 Recommendations
Ready to get your little one all squeaky clean with some of the best baby shampoos and body wash products out there? Here’s a more detailed look into our top 10 recommendations, as well as why we think these are worth a consideration from you and who each would be best for.
Cetaphil Baby Wash and Shampoo
Has your baby got dry or sensitive skin?
This hypoallergenic wash is free of parabens (essential to avoid) and mineral oil (debatable, but viewed dubiously by many baby experts). It’s made from the plant calendula – also known as the English marigold.
It also has a lovely smell. Let’s face it, parenting involves quite a few not-so-lovely smells … so who doesn’t want bath-time to smell gorgeous?
This is a great all-rounder, so if you want something pleasantly fragranced that will still be very gentle on your baby’s skin, give it a try. Just be careful when rinsing their hair as the “tear free” claims may not quite stand up to the test sometimes.
- Lathers up well, even if you only use a little
- Budget-friendly option, so is a good choice if you want to use it for all the family
- Softens and hydrates dry skin
- Smells great (without harming sensitive skin)
- Advertised as “tear free” – but not all parents are convinced this is the case
- Fairly strong fragrance for some, which you may or may not like – depending on personal preference
- May worsen rashes sometimes (though some parents also find it helps ease rashes). Can be a hit or miss sometimes.
Johnson’s Baby Tear Free Shampoo
Were you a Johnson’s baby? Many parents trust this long-established brand, and this is one of their signature products. It’s hypoallergenic (including the fragrance) and – like other products on this list – free of parabens.
If you’re traveling, or on a minimalist kick, this could be the perfect answer for you. It’s a safe, trusted option for your baby – but many adults also use it as well, not just as a shampoo but for multiple purposes too.
Plus, it’s Johnson’s. The iconic yellow bottle was probably a feature of your own childhood, so get ready for a burst of nostalgia!
- Great for adults, as well as kids (especially if you have sensitive skin/eyes)
- You can use it for cleaning makeup brushes, removing eye makeup, or even washing your or your pets’ eyes.
- Budget-friendly choice, and comes in multiple sizes for you to choose from
- New version is color-free (so no added dyes) – the bottle is still yellow, though!
- Formula changed in 2018, so if you were used to the old version, you may or may not like the new one
- Not an organic or natural option
BareBaby Organics Shampoo & Body Wash
This luxury baby shampoo and wash is packed with natural ingredients – including fairly standard ones like aloe vera and cucumber, plus more unusual ones like ginger, kiwi, parsley and spinach.
It also includes the orange and grapefruit essential oils, which may sometimes irritate the skin or even the lungs – so you may want to avoid it if you know your child reacts badly to those.
It’s not exactly what we would call a budget option, but it could make for a wonderful treat (not the ones you’d eat, of course) or gift.
It’s made with natural ingredients, so if that’s important to you (and your child doesn’t have especially sensitive or dry skin), then this could be the perfect buy.
- It’s gluten-free – which might be crucial if your child has an allergy
- Used as a shampoo, it leaves hair soft and frizz-free
- Packed with natural, organic ingredients
- Lovely citrus smell (though note that this comes from essential oils)
- Made in the USA
- Not our top option if your child has sensitive skin, due to the essential oils. Sometimes, it may end up drying out your child’s skin (even though that’s the exception rather than the rule) – so again, you might want to avoid it if that’s a huge concern of yours
Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Shampoo
Does your baby have cradle cap? This skin condition causes greasy, scaly patches on your baby’s head – it looks unsightly and could even become infected if not treated properly.
While it normally goes away on its own, products like this one can help it clear up pretty quickly.
It comes in a small bottle, but you’re unlikely to need to buy more, as a couple of washes could see a significant improvement.
Many parents claim this product helped with moderate to severe cradle cap – by scrubbing gently with a baby brush plus this shampoo, they removed the build-up of flaky scales within one or two washes.
- It really works – and not just on cradle cap: it can also help clear up baby acne
- Takes effect quickly – many parents see significant improvement after a single wash
- You can use it on your own skin too, to clear up acne
- It smells great (but it’s a light scent, so not too strong for your baby’s nose or yours)
- Could sometimes worsen eczema or irritate sensitive skin, so you might want to avoid it if your child is already prone to eczema
- Might cause drying: do a small spot test to check whether it’s suitable for your own baby’s skin or you notice something you don’t like
Dr Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo
Is your child prone to dandruff? This product, designed by a pediatrician, is formulated to reduced flaking, redness, scales, and scalp irritation. Unlike dandruff shampoos for adults, it’s suitable for children of all ages (including young babies).
It creates a rich lather and doesn’t have the strong smell that’s oftentimes associated with anti-dandruff shampoos.
Of course, you can also use it yourself. Many parents also find that it helps with other conditions like fungal acne.
- Effective but also safe for your baby or child – and for your own hair and skin
- Can also help clear up acne, facial dandruff, and other facial skin conditions
- Can help with cradle cap and eczema (if used as a body wash)
- Made in the USA
- Created by a pediatrician and clinically tested
- No strong odor – sometimes seems like it doesn’t have a smell at all
- Contains the active ingredient pyrithione zinc – so be careful to avoid contact with eyes, as it tends to cause irritation
- Small bottle, and not the cheapest, so you may not want to use it for the whole family
TotLogic Sulfate Free Kids Shampoo
All of TotLogic’s products are not only sulfate-free, but also (as you’d expect) free from phthalates and parabens. They’re vegan and cruelty-free, too, which may be of exceptional importance to many of you.
This shampoo is hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin. It doesn’t have any artificial fragrance, which could be a big draw if your child is allergic to fragrances or if you simply prefer to avoid them – you may not notice any smell at all, or you may find it smells pleasantly of lavender.
It’s also certified vegan and cruelty-free, so it’s a good option if those are especially important to you.
- Lathers well – so a small bottle could last a fairly long time
- Very light lavender smell that comes purely from the existing ingredients
- Free from any nasty chemicals
- A vegan-friendly, cruelty-free option
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Made in the USA
- Might dry out your child’s hair more than some of the other options on this list (or your own, if you use it on yourself)
- Premium price, so probably not an option for all the family if you’re on a tight budget
California Baby Eczema Shampoo & Bodywash
If your baby or child suffers from eczema, you’ll know just how unpleasant it can be: itchy, red patches of skin that don’t always clear up easily.
You probably don’t want to resort to steroids – and this premium shampoo and body wash could be a great way to help eczema clear up, or to keep it at bay.
It’s tear free, though it’s recommended that you avoid getting it into your child’s eyes (or your own eyes!) regardless.
If you don’t mind investing in a (fairly large) bottle of California Baby Eczema Shampoo Bodywash, it might be just what you need. Many adults report that it helped a great deal with their own eczema, too.
- Treats eczema, and may also help stop eczema flare-ups from happening in the first place
- No added fragrance
- Steroid-free and also avoids gluten, soy, dairy, and nuts (except coconut)
- Tear-free – though try to avoid getting it in your child’s eyes to begin with for maximum safety
- Isn’t exactly the best at lathering well – and may sometimes prove to be hard to rinse out of your child’s hair
- Some people may find the smell a bit unpleasant, it all depends on personal preference. The smell does come from the ingredients themselves, though – there’s no added fragrances in this product.
Babyganics Conditioning Baby Shampoo and Bodywash
This plant-based product is non-allergenic and avoids lots of common ingredients that you might want to steer clear of when it comes to just about any baby shampoo and body wash product you pick up (parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, artificial fragrances and dyes).
As it’s a conditioning shampoo, it should leave your baby’s hair feeling lovely and soft – and often does an amazing job at that.
It might prove to be a bit annoying when time comes for you to make a purchase, as it’s often only available as a pack of three bottles, which does mean committing to using a fairly large amount. But, do search around and see if you can find a single pack for sale from the manufacturer somewhere.
Some parents find that it leaves an unpleasant residue in their bathtubs, even when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions – so you may need to be prepared to do a bit of scrubbing after using this.
- Free from nasty chemicals like parabens and sulfates
- Doesn’t contain any mineral oil, artificial fragrances or dyes
- Softens your child’s hair (and it’s suitable for your own hair too)
- Should reduce tangling – making hair brushing easier
- Does a great job of cleansing and removing dirt
- May leave a residue in your bathtub
- Formula may have changed in 2018, so if you used it previously, you may or may not like the new version as much
My True Nature Baby Shampoo & Body Wash
Designed for sensitive skin – and gluten, nut and dairy free, this body wash does an excellent job at both cleansing and moisturizing.
You can opt either for the unscented version, which has a light natural smell that comes from the ingredients themselves, or for the citrus version.
It’s suitable for dry and sensitive skin, and even for eczema-prone skin. It does include essential oils, though, so if your child is sensitive to those, you might want to avoid it.
If you want a product that avoids as many nasties and allergens as possible, this could be a great option. It comes in small bottles if you want to try out both the natural and citrus varieties, too.
- Works well for dry or sensitive skin
- Can be used as a bubble bath
- Free from gluten, nuts, and dairy (crucial if your child has severe allergies to any of those)
- Cruelty-free and not tested on animals
- Made from natural ingredients
- Citrus version can be quite strong smelling – so if you don’t love lemons, you’ll want to go for the natural option instead
- A bit on the thin and runny side – so some people find that it’s easy to end up using a bit more than they wanted to if not careful enough with how much they apply
Aquaphor Baby Wash & Shampoo
This baby wash and shampoo, designed for sensitive skin, contains chamomile essence and Provitamin B5 to help moisturize. It’s unscented, so particularly suitable if your child is allergic or sensitive to added fragrances.
It’s an all-round great option for dry, sensitive skin, particularly if you’re trying to avoid fragrances. It isn’t certified cruelty-free like some of the other products on this list, though, and while it may help with issues like cradle cap, eczema, and rashes, it’s not specifically designed to deal with those.
It isn’t tear-free, and the manufacturer advises avoiding contact with eyes; if you have a particularly wriggly baby, this may be a tricky one to deal with!
- Suitable for children with sensitive skin
- Effective in cleaning
- Has a light, natural smell (no added fragrances)
- Can help with eczema or rashes, but not specifically designed to deal with these conditions (unlike other products mentioned on this list)
- Lathers well, and is quite easy to rinse off
- Comes in a pump dispenser – very helpful if you’re holding your baby with one hand!
- Not tear-free: avoid getting it into your child’s eyes at all costs
- May cause itching – do a small spot test to see if it’s suitable for your child’s skin before normal use
When Do I Need To Introduce Baby Bath Products For Washing Purposes?
When your baby is still very tiny, most experts advocate using plain water for the first month. Newborn babies have delicate, sensitive skin that differs from adult skin in important ways – and soap, body wash and shampoo can dry out your baby’s skin and damage it.
After a month, it’s fine to introduce baby bath products – though some parents prefer to keep washing with just plain water for much longer. If you feel that plain water is still cleaning your baby fine, then there’s nothing wrong with sticking with it.
Most parents find themselves turning to bath products at least by the point at which their baby is weaned and crawling. Water alone probably won’t be enough to deal with a tomato-sauce-covered face, or a mud-splattered body.
Plus, if you live in a hard water area, you may need to use mild cleansing products once your baby is over a month old. At this stage, your baby’s skin surface has become more like an adult’s: it’s covered with a thin, acidic film, called the acid mantle.
Hard water has an alkaline pH, so it can disturb this acid mantle, drying out your baby’s skin – and potentially leading to eczema.
Does My Baby Even Need Body Wash or Shampoo At All?
Your bathroom is probably already stocked with products that you use yourself – usually, you’ll have body wash, soap, shampoo, conditioner, body cream, and quite a few other bits and pieces.
So could you simply use your existing products for your baby? Wouldn’t that be cheaper and easier than going out and buying special “baby” products? (Are those just a marketing con as many people might claim?)
No, no, and no.
If you’ve ever had those thoughts, you’re not alone: there’s so much to buy for babies that it seems silly to pay for something that you already have in some form.
But the truth is, babies do need special bath products. That gorgeous-smelling body wash and shampoo that you use isn’t suitable for them: they need a mild, non-perfumed soap that provides gentle cleansing without hurting or irritating their delicate skin.
(Of course, if you don’t want to have a dozen different bottles cluttering up your bathroom counter, nothing’s stopping you from using the baby products too! You might find they work much better for you than you’d imagine.)
What Types Of Bath Products Are Available for Babies?
If you go into any large store and take a look at baby toiletries, you’ll probably find a bewildering array of different products. Some are more useful than others … and some you should probably avoid.
The key types of baby products available include:
- Baby soap
- Baby body wash
- Baby shampoo
- Baby conditioner
- “All in one” baby wash
- Baby bubble bath
- Baby emollients
If that looks like a pricey shopping trip in the making, don’t worry. You definitely don’t need all of those – and a couple are best avoided until the toddler years (or even later).
Here’s what you need to know about each of the different types of baby bath products you can choose from.
This is normally sold in bars, just like adult soap.
It should be very mild, and will normally be moisturizing to help prevent your baby’s skin from drying out.
Most soaps are slightly alkaline, though, which can damage your baby’s acidic skin with repeated use – and it’s also often easier to create a lather with body wash.
Baby Body Wash
This comes in bottles, and you can gently rub it onto baby’s body using your hand or a washcloth, before rinsing it off.
There are lots of different types available (we’ll talk about what to look for in a moment) and these can be used all over your baby’s body for gentle cleansing.
If you have a little one who’s prone to vomiting, you may find that a little body wash gets them properly clean and removes the smell.
Again, this comes in bottles and is used to clean your baby’s hair – just as you’d wash your own.
You won’t need it if you have a baby with very little hair, but if you have an older one who tends to smear food, a little bit of mild shampoo can be very helpful.
Most conditioner products (both the type you rub in and wash out and the type you spray in and comb through) are designed for older children.
You don’t need them for your baby: let’s face it, just shampooing their hair is probably quite enough for both you and them!
“All In One” Baby Wash (Sometimes Called “2 in 1”)
This combines the job of body wash and shampoo in one product, and can be used all over your baby’s body, including on the hair.
If you’re traveling or short on bathroom space, it can be helpful to have one product that does everything – though you may find that separate products do a better job in what each was specifically designed to achieve.
Baby Bubble Bath
You squeeze this into running water to make bubbles.
While this can be great fun for toddlers and older children, bubble bath formulas can irritate your baby’s urethra (where their wee comes out), and they have been linked to urinary tract infections (UTIs).
While your baby is still small, they’re definitely best avoided; with older children, they’re probably unlikely to pose a problem, though you should stop using bubble bath if your child does suffer from UTIs.
These moisturize the skin by helping trap moisture.
Most can be either added into the bathwater (as you would with bubble bath) or gently rubbed onto your baby’s skin (as you would with body wash).
Health experts often recommend them for babies who have dry skin or eczema, and they’re generally considered to be very safe.
This is massaged into your baby’s skin.
Baby oils made from mineral oil create a barrier to prevent skin losing moisture. There’s some debate about whether these are safe and effective or not.
You can use other types of oil, though they have different pros and cons.
So, Out Of All These Products, Which Ones Do I Really Need?
Ultimately, there are two key products you’ll probably want to have:
- Baby body wash (once your baby is more than a month old).
- Baby shampoo (once your baby is more than a month old, has sufficient hair, and plain water is no longer getting their hair clean).
What Should I Look For In Baby Shampoo and Body Wash Products?
There’s a bewildering array of different baby products out there: ones with cartoon characters on, ones that are made by trusted brands (Johnson, anyone?), ones that tout their organic virtues … so what on earth should you choose? And how do you know what to look for, to begin with?
When you’re looking for a product for your baby, especially shampoos and body washes, the three key things to consider are:
Is it designed for babies?
Do check the label! Just because a product is packaged in a bright bottle with a kids’ character on it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s baby-safe.
Is it fragrance-free/unscented?
For most babies, mildly fragranced products are fine: if your baby has sensitive skin or eczema, though, or if you want to be extra careful, opt for products that aren’t perfumed at all. (This goes for natural fragrances, too, like those from essential oils or plant extracts.)
Is it hypoallergenic?
If you’re worried about allergies (perhaps if there’s a family history of them) – or again – if you want to be extra careful, then opt for hypoallergenic products. These are designed to minimize allergy risks. However, keep in mind that the product won’t necessarily be gentler on the skin than other products just because it’s hypoallergenic.
There are other factors you might well want to check, though – and you can find these on the label. For instance, you might want to choose a product that is:
Products labeled as “sensitive” or “for sensitive skin” are less likely to irritate your baby’s skin.
This normally means the product has a pH level that’s close of that to skin (5.5), though there’s no exact definition. Keep in mind that most products today are pH balanced, so seeing this on a label may be mostly about marketing.
The product doesn’t include any ingredients that have been produced using herbicides, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. (Be careful, though, as some products that “use organic ingredients” also use non-organic ones!)
What Should I Avoid When Choosing Baby Body Wash and Shampoo?
As for the stuff you’ll want to stay away from when choosing body wash and shampoo products for your baby, here’s a list of the most notable “bad guys”.
For starters, avoid any products labeled as antibacterial. This means the product destroys bacteria, or stops them growing.
It’s a useful feature in, say, your kitchen cleaners – but antibacterial products can be harmful to babies (including via pregnant or breast-feeding moms).
So, avoid using skincare products marked as “antibacterial.”
You should also avoid products that contain:
Talc is powdered rock, and is used in some types of baby powder (also known as “talcum powder”).
It helps to dry moist skin, but it can also irritate the lungs and may even be carcinogenic.
Your baby doesn’t need talc, so avoid using products that contain it.
Parabens are a type of preservative that lengthen the shelf-life of skincare products by preventing mold and bacteria growing in them. On labels, you might seem them listed as:
- hydroxybenzoic acid
Phthalates are used in a staggering range of products, and also act as a type of preservative.
They are thought to affect human reproduction and development, and one particular phthalate, Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), can even cause cancer.
The full effects of phthalates are not known, but you definitely don’t want to be taking a risk by washing your child with any products that contain them.
Formaldehyde is another preservative. It’s a carcinogen, and it has been linked to reactions like headaches, nausea and breathing problems.
- DMDM hydantoin
- imidazolidinyl urea
- diazolidinyl urea
- polyoxymethylene urea
- sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol)
So, if you see talc, parabens, phthalates or formaldehyde listed on a label, avoid that product: it’s not going to be good for you, let alone for your baby.