I glanced around nervously as I pushed my tiny precious cargo down the sidewalk in broad daylight. I couldn’t shake the thought that someone could run up and steal her at any minute. At the time, it felt like my stroller contained a priceless possession that was just begging for a thief to come and wrestle it away from me.
It may have been completely irrational, but this is how I felt the first time I took my newborn baby girl out for a walk around my quiet neighborhood. It is such a crazy feeling to become a parent, and all of a sudden to have this amazing little one who you are entrusted to care for and love more than anything.
If you’re a mom, I know you’ve felt it too. Whatever it was that surprised you over your own protectiveness (checking on baby 100 times during the first nights or during the first ride in the car come to mind), you know the feeling of wanting nothing more than to keep your newborn baby safe.
It is this mama-bear protectiveness that led me to seek to rid our home of toxic chemicals. I switched to natural and homemade cleaners, and more natural bath and skin products, especially for my babies. But what I didn’t realize when I first began my crunchy journey was that products marketed as natural can actually be FAR from chemical free and harmless.
It is hard to tell at first glance whether a bath product is safe and healthy, since there is no legal definition of how companies can use words like “natural,” “herbal,” or even “organic” on cosmetic products! These products can contain neurotoxins, reproductive toxins, carcinogens, and other known toxic chemicals. This is even true for products marketed for babies and children, which seems like it should be a crime!
An attempt to find “clean” baby soap
I recently headed out to a big-name store to check out the infant bath products, and found some surprising results. I chose Target for this review, because they are found all over the country and carry some more naturally-marketed products. Hopefully this will make it easier for you to find the top products in this review as well (I am all about easy)!
I also chose to use the Think Dirty app, which gives each product a score on the “dirty meter,” with zero being the cleanest, and 10 being the worst. It also rates each ingredient individually, so you can see exactly what is in the product, and which ingredients are toxic. You can read more in this full write-up of the Think Dirty app, and this article about natural shampoo for adults.
The baby aisle at Target actually had a very large section that contained what looked like natural baby bath products. For this review, I compared ALL of the soaps in this section. All of them were liquid body wash and shampoo-in-one products. Here is what I found in my attempt to find “clean” baby soap …
The worst offenders
There were two products mixed in with the “natural” section that ranked very poorly and contained harmful chemicals. It is a shame these products are allowed to be advertised as healthy and natural for babies.
The worst was Aveeno, which advertises things like “natural oats” and lavender, and could be seen as a more natural alternative to other baby soap. However, it contains synthetic fragrance and some chemicals that I would not want to subject baby’s skin to, and ranked VERY poorly:
Possibly a more surprising result was from a product that tries to appeal to crunchy moms, and markets using part of the word “organic.” Here were the results from Babyganics Shampoo + Body Wash, which ranked a 5:
The Middle Ground
The majority of the products I scanned came in at a 3. This comes up as a green (or fairly clean) on the Think Dirty app. While I might occasionally use a product that ranked a 3 for myself, I am pickier for my baby, so I would personally steer clear of these products as well.
Products with a 3 rating included: California Baby Shampoo and Bodywash – Super Sensitive, California Baby Calming Shampoo and Body Wash, The Honest Company Honest Shampoo + Body Wash in both Sweet Orange Vanilla and Dreamy Lavender, Seventh Generation Foaming Shampoo & Wash Coconut, Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash, and CeraVe Baby Wash and Shampoo.
The Best Options
A few products stood out as “cleaner” than the rest, according to the app. It is worth noting that all of these products also received a rating of “1” (best) on EWG’s product guide.
Here are our rankings for the best products:
SheaMoisture is one of my favorite brands for my own shampoo, and their products smell amazing and are very moisturizing. There is a possible concern with this one though, and that is Japanese Honeysuckle. This ingredient is natural and known to be beneficial for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, but could act as a natural paraben. Read more here: Japanese Honeysuckle Extract: parabens in ‘paraben free’ shampoo and conditioners?
This product ranked a zero, and is a very clean choice if you go with the unscented version. The highest scoring ingredients ranked a 3, which is why we ranked this product slightly behind the California Baby product listed below.
This soap has a lovely soft scent, and received a 2 on Think Dirty, but it is also worth noting that none of the individual ingredients ranked above a 2! The price was a bit higher than some of the other options, but this is a good choice if you want something scented (or maybe just to use occasionally).
For this final product, I actually had to leave the baby aisle. I would have missed it completely if I did not already know they carry it at Target! I found Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap with the more natural face and body products near the cosmetics, and the Baby Mild was with the rest of their varieties.
This is personally the soap we use at home. All of my kids and my husband actually use it, and the giant bottle lasts FOREVER, because you only need a few drops (it is meant to be diluted). I use Dr. Bronner’s too, but the lavender scent.
The ingredients were the cleanest of all the baby products in the store! I just wish they carried it in the baby aisle, so more people would know it was an option.
Best for your baby
I hope these results can help you find “clean” baby soap for your precious and valuable little one, and ditch any of the toxic products that are marketed as “natural.” The mama-bear in you can rest easy knowing you’ve picked safe and healthy products to put on their skin.
Shop these products
If you don’t have a Target Card, you can skip the shipping costs by ordering online, and picking up in the store!
You can also get free shipping on orders of $35 or more without a Target Card.
Again, here are the top four products from this review:
While you shop, you might also want to check out these adorable soap dispensers and toothbrush holders I stumbled across in the store! <3 Maybe your kids need this reminder sometimes too … ?
Feel free to share your comments below, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.