Baby Bathing Products, Good or Bad?
October 2, 2010 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Is baby soap bad for babies? Commercial brands seem loaded with chemicals and alcohol, does that matter?

Bonus Question: What do you use to wash your baby's hair and body? (in addition to water, of course)
posted by pick_the_flowers to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I really loved the California Baby products when my boy was little. A little bit on the expensive size (for me) but I gladly paid extra to avoid all those ridiculous chemicals.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:58 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Newborns? I'd be more careful. My 2 year old? I don't bring baby soap on a weekend.

We used Method baby stuff because I liked the smell. California Baby is more natural.

2 items of note:

Our daycare is so nut-free that we had to use soap and lotion with no nuts.

Dreft is evil. Full of chemicals. Use 'free and clear' detergent instead.
posted by k8t at 6:09 PM on October 2, 2010

Nature is made of chemicals. My kids seem none the worse for having been washed in J&J head-to-toe baby wash (combination shampoo and body soap) up to about age 6.
posted by lakeroon at 6:18 PM on October 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

One thing about baby shampoos etc is they are made to not sting if it gets in the baby's eyes. So that's one trade-off if you use a more "plain" soap on them - the stuff with fewer chemicals may sting if it gets in their eyes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:22 PM on October 2, 2010

I can't remember the site, but there is a database out there that ranks the toxicity of different compounds in health and beauty products. When I looked it up, Johnson's and Johnson's was just as 'good' for baby as Burt's bees, etc. Saved me bunches of cash.
posted by ms.v. at 6:34 PM on October 2, 2010

I think it matters... I use the Environmental Working Group's SkinDeep database for cosmetics toxicity, and they have a whole section for baby products. Check it out.
posted by smalls at 6:37 PM on October 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

We use the Dr Bonner's baby soap for our daughter. When diluted and put into one of the foaming handsoap containers, it lasts forever, and is pretty cheap. It doesn't seem to sting the eyes, and she tries to eat it, so it must be pretty benign tasting as well.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 7:03 PM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

Seconding Johnson & Johnson's (just the regular, original "No More Tears" formula). It's just as gentle and safe and the expensive niche brands.

Ivory Soap (the plain old white bar) is baby-friendly too.
posted by amyms at 7:42 PM on October 2, 2010

Nature is made of chemicals.

Cyanide is all natural, as is arsenic. That does not make them healthy.

On the other hand, normal soap has sodium lauryth sulfate, the purpose of which is to make suds. Those suds do not get things clean, though.

I would say, get some Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, in bar form. Can't lose with that stuff.
posted by Sukiari at 7:54 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dr. Bronner's and Cetaphil were my go-to for washing my babies (and myself, when I had babies who were skin-to-skin with me on a regular basis). I didn't use any special kind of laundry detergent, since I already used fragrance-free as-natural-as-possible detergent, but if you aren't already, consider switching--and Oxy Clean as a laundry booster/stain soaker did not have any adverse effects on my babies, though your mileage may vary.
posted by padraigin at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2010

We use the California Baby products too. They sell it at Target round these parts.
posted by gnutron at 8:23 PM on October 2, 2010

We use Ivory soap. No problems so far.
posted by gaspode at 8:56 PM on October 2, 2010

Here in Japan we use Miyoshi foaming baby soap on our 4 month old daughter. It seems to work great. I use their adult soaps and swear by them. It is for sale in the US at some Japanese supermarkets.
posted by sleepytako at 9:20 PM on October 2, 2010

I don't think babies need to be washed with soap - not unless they managed to roll around in mud or have a giant poop explosion. So we mostly use just water.

When we need to use soap, we use Dr. Bronner's liquid soap for babies, which is unscented (I am not a crank about "toxins", but I think that scents can be really sensitizing) and rates a 1 on the EWG list. Also, a bottle will last pretty much forever, and since a bottle isn't that expensive to begin with, it's cheeeeeep.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:30 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

California Baby Calming smells wonderful!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:56 AM on October 3, 2010

Johnson and Johnson shampoo gave our kid severe cradle cap - so, yeah, just because nature is full of chemicals doesn't mean the highly refined and processed ones in health and beauty products are A-OK. Avoid generics and mass-market name brands unless they have a rock solid rep - Aveeno works, but it leaves the kid's eyes puffy and swollen, so we're switching around to try different soaps and shampoos like the ones listed upthread.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:42 AM on October 3, 2010

I had two kids and was a nurse in the newborn nursery at a hospital. All of which we used regular baby soap, from Johnson & Johnson or even generics. The newborns did fine, but admittedly they weren't there long. My kids also did fine, and they're grown now (18 and 21). No rash, no problem.

Cradle cap usually happens only when you DO NOT bathe them often enough.

This is really a hard question to answer. Some people are more sensitive to certain products than others, to include babies.

A lot of people are afraid of these things, but there is no evidence to suggest that they should be. For example they're sure that cradle cap came from the soap, when usually there is another reason. There are never any absolutes in life.

My best advice is that if you're really uncomfortable, then don't use it. Find something more natural that fits your lifestyle.

Cheers and good luck!
posted by magnoliasouth at 10:29 AM on October 3, 2010

The kid was fine for months using fancy boutique oatmeal something-or-other baby shampoo we got at the baby shower. When that ran out, we switched to Johnson & Johnson, as it was cheap and available everywhere, and we're frugal sorts of people, but also prudent, in that we decided to stick with a non-generic. The kid developed cradle cap.

We switched to Aveeno on the advice of a pediatrician's nurse we know who works at the hospital, the cradle cap went away. J&J has this affect on a lot of kids we find out. We tried the J&J stuff again when the Aveeno bottle got knocked over, and the cradle cap came back, at pretty close to a year old. So now we're back to Aveeno, and planning to try other things, as her eyes get puffy and red at bathtime.

I think it's just the water splashing into her eyes doing it - mine do the same in the shower, but my wife is still upset about the J&J causing that nasty mess on her scalp.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:03 PM on October 3, 2010

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