Community Curated • Updated 03, 2019
Having a new member in the household will also require having some special stuff around the house, meant just for them. Yes, we’re talking about little babies and all the baby-sensitive products you’ll have to make sure to purchase. Babies have really sensitive skin and often require special formulas that will not be harsh and drying on their skin - and that includes baby hand soap.
Although when it comes to infants, it’s generally accepted that they can also be washed with water only in the earliest stages of their life, using a little bit of soap (the good kind!) won’t cause any harm either. Soap will help get out that extra icky stuff that may have been hanging around on your little one’s body - we all know how sneaky food leftovers can be!
But, choosing a baby soap can sometimes be a bummer though, since there’s so much stuff on the market. Picking out the right product for your little one from the sea of products in the baby market can sometimes seem like a full-time job on its own.
And so, if you’re in the process of looking for the best baby soap, you probably have some concerns over which soap would be best suited for that little one’s gentle skin. If that’s the case you can be at ease while browsing the products in our list below - we’ve taken great care to recommend only the safest baby soaps.
Want to know what to look for in baby soap? Head on over to our FAQ section, where we answer some of the questions regarding baby soaps people ask most often and address the most common concerns.
During your baby’s first year of life, it’s recommended that you use a baby wash or hand soap - of a very mild variety and one that doesn’t lather much. Hygiene products that lather often contain synthetic foaming agents such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), which have proven to be harmful both for the human body and the environment
Regular soaps are usually chemically stronger and harsher than baby soaps, and this has a lot to do with the fact that they’re designed to fight and dissolve the oily body odor. But, since babies’ skin and organism, in general, is still under development, and considering the fact that they don’t actually move that much, nor are they breaking up a sweat with hard exercise or getting their hands dirty, they don’t really need such products, which can cause unnecessary irritation and dryness.
Until your baby reaches the age of one, they don’t really need soaps or cleansers that much. You should use baby soap to clean their bottoms and the folds of skin around their arms and legs, areas where bacteria is more likely to accumulate and cause irritation or allergies.
This means that for babies younger than 12 months, you should use baby soaps and baby products only on parts of their body that really need them - and not everywhere. Babies younger than 12 months usually need a bath around 2-3 times a week, because frequent baths often dry out baby skin, especially in the winter time. Also, be careful not to soak them too much in a tub or soapy water, since it may cause irritation to the urethra and thus increase the risk of UTIs (this is especially important for girls).
When they start eating solid food, though, now, that’ll take some more baths and some mighty baby soap power to handle, since it’s very likely you’ll have a tad more areas to clean!
Babies often have trouble with onsets of rashes, allergies and other types of skin irritations - it’s quite common and it goes away as they grow older. But some of them really struggle with eczema (which manifests in patches of dry, red, scaly skin, especially present on the face and in the bends of the elbows and knees), as well as cradle cap (patchy, greasy, yellowish scaly and crusty skin rash that shows up on the scalp of infants), among other skin irritations. Using the right skin care product can actually significantly relieve some of these symptoms, and sometimes even get rid of the condition entirely.
Consult with your pediatrician for more information on how to choose the best baby hand soap for babies with hypersensitive skin.
Babies with eczema are often very sensitive to baby washes and baby soap ingredients, and if they’re too loaded with synthetic chemicals and fragrances, it can worsen their condition and cause additional itches and irritation spots.
For babies with hypersensitive skin look for products that don’t contain many ingredients in general, are certified organic and naturally derived, and don’t contain any fragrances. It’s recommended that you go for soaps that target specific conditions, like for example baby hand soaps for eczema, for cradle cap and similar conditions.
In the next two sections, you can read which ingredients you should look out for in baby hand soaps.
Always search for soaps that have fewer ingredients in the ingredients list, contain as fewer harmful chemicals as possible, are non-toxic (both to the baby and the environment), and are gentle on the skin. There are also some types of regular soaps that are mild and that can do the job of baby soap.
These are the main points you should pay most attention to:
Avoid soaps that lather - as we mentioned above, soaps and body washes that lather often contain additional synthetic chemicals that make them foam well. Although foaming may seem like a good strategy for more economical use of the product, in the long run, it’s not really that good of an idea, especially when it comes to health concerns.
Avoid soaps with fragrance/perfume - fragrance or perfume is something a lot of manufacturing companies use as an umbrella term for other shady ingredients that they include in their products since they’re not legally obliged to disclose what kind of ingredients they actually are. Fragrance can often cause irritation on gentle, baby skin, and it can cause some discomfort(and you may not find out, since they can’t verbalize it yet!). Soaps with fragrance can also cause more exacerbating reactions on babies with skin conditions such as eczema or cradle cap.
Look for hypoallergenic labels - chances are higher that baby soaps with the hypoallergenic label will have a milder formula suitable for babies with super-sensitive skin, or ones that have extra-dry skin and eczema.
When purchasing a baby soap, it’s always a good idea to go over the ingredient list in more detail, just so you can double check some of the front page labels. Check out the next section for more details on baby soaps and unwanted ingredients.
Lots of baby hand soaps contain unwanted chemicals in their formulas. Some of these chemicals are downright carcinogenic or deemed as neurotoxins, some of them are less dangerous but can cause skin irritations or allergic reactions, and some are just very environmentally unfriendly. These are the ones you should pay most attention to and steer clear from:
Alcohol - sometimes used as an anti-bacterial ingredient, alcohol can actually irritate your baby’s skin and cause dryness
Propylene Glycol - this is a synthetic chemical designed to keep the skin moisturized (it attracts and absorbs water). But, it can be really problematic for babies that often have outbreaks of skin allergies and issues with eczema.
Parabens - you can find these everywhere - soaps, shampoos, body washes, and moisturizers, and baby products are not the exception, unfortunately. But we say a big no-no to parabens since they’re considered as neurotoxins. Just make sure to keep away from anything that has ‘paraben’ in the ingredients list, as well as benzoic acid and propyl ester.
Phthalates - a similar compound to the paraben, this one is used as a preservative in a lot of skin care and body care products.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - we mentioned this one in another question above. A compound that’s often used as a foaming agent in shampoos and body washes. If you want products that lather, search for ones that contain natural and organic foaming agents.
Fragrance/perfume - we also mentioned this one above - the cover term that legally allows manufacturers not to disclose the grey zone chemicals they put in their products. These are, in fact, a lot of the time synthetic chemicals derived from coal and petroleum.
Triclosan - environmentally unfriendly and carcinogenic, can be found where there’s an ‘antibacterial’ label on the product.
1,4-dioxane and ethylated surfactants - by-product that emerge when ethylene oxide, (also very harmful) is added to other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. It’s recommended that you should avoid products with ingredients that include the letters ‘eth’ in the ingredient list, which is an indicator of 1,4-dioxane. Keep away from: polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate, ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG.
Instead, look for more natural or certified organic ingredients like:
Hopefully, we’ve provided you with just enough info to make the best baby hand soap decision - and we hope we’ve saved you some time too. You can get started with the products above - all of them good examples of how a quality, gentle baby soap should look like.
Skin care for babies is a very important issue and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Ingredients and their combination is what matters most in baby care products, and this is something one should always be mindful of, which means you shouldn’t be afraid of doing a little research on the chemicals that are present in your baby’s washes.
And even though baby skin is, in general, more sensitive than adult skin, it still varies from baby to baby and a product that might work perfectly on one type of baby skin, might just be bad for another one.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to try out a couple of baby hand soaps and see which one your baby is most fond of.