Guide to safer baby bath products
Tot Health & Fitness expert, Katherine McMackin shares her guide to safer bath products for tots.
When choosing bath products for your family, it’s important to think about the ingredients they contain and the effects that these ingredients may have on our bodies. This is particularly important when purchasing products for babies and young children because of their increased sensitivities.
How to Choose Non-toxic baby bath products
When considering purchases for skin and bath care, it’s important to think about how much time these products spend on our bodies. Babies and kids are especially sensitive to products and the potential toxic burden they carry. It is so important to be conscious of what you use on your tot’s skin on a day-to-day basis.
Many mainstream bath product brands use heavily processed chemicals to create cheaper alternatives to natural brands. The tricky part comes when you attempt to read the lengthy ingredient lists. Long chemical names are disguised on the front with muted colors and the words “natural” and “gentle” when in reality, they are anything but.
5 ingredients to avoid when choosing bath products
When choosing bath body wash, moisturizers, shampoo, conditioner and other bath products, its important to avoid the following ingredients:
- Fragrance/ Parfum
- Propylene Glycol
- SLS (Sodium Laureth/ Lauryl Sulfates)
- Parabens: Parabens are a group of chemicals used primarily as a preservative in skincare products. Any product that contains water as an ingredient typically needs a preservative to extend its shelf life and prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. The issue here is that these parabens have shown to have estrogen mimicking properties. On labels any ingredient ending with “-paraben” is part of this group of chemicals and should be avoided.
- Fragrance / Parfum: Phthalates are never listed on any packaging. They are disguised as “fragrance” or “parfum” on a product label. Phthalates are used to bind scents to a product and typically if there are no naturally occurring scents in a product such as that from lavender oil or shea butter, product makers need phthalates to make that heavy scent stick. These also have estrogenic properties which may disrupt hormone balances in the body, according to many independent studies.
- PEGs (Polyethylene Glycol): Avoid products with synthetic ethoxylated ingredients including those with strange names like myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth and other “eth”, PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol. These can be contaminated in the processing with 1,4 dioxane which is classified as a possible human carcinogen. It’s best to stay away from bath care products in general that are loaded with petroleum-based ingredients.
- Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol is a thickening/filling agent derived from glycerin and is in everything from store bought hair dyes to many of your natural deodorants. Propylene glycol has been determined as “generally safe for use” by the FDA for both food and cosmetic use, but something that is used to de-ice airplanes is probably best left off your baby’s skin.
- SLS or Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfates: Mainly found in shampoos and body washes, but also in toothpaste, mouthwash, and detergents. Sulfates are a foaming agent and give shampoos and the like that thick “luxurious” foam that makes a product feel more effective. SLS’s are also a penetration enhancer which means it creates a condition on the skin to allow more product to pass through it, and is a known skin irritant.
How to Choose Non-toxic Baby Bath Products
There are many natural baby bath products available that work great, aren’t overpowering and get the job done.
- The less ingredients the better: If the product features a huge list of ingredients, it’s best to choose something else unless you really understand what everything listed on the label is. Effective bath products and shampoos don’t need a mile-long list to work well.
- Choose eco-friendly products: Remember that soaps and gels get washed down the drain into our waterways. It’s important that your family’s shampoo isn’t hurting the sea and wildlife or polluting our drinking water. Choose wisely.
- Choose unscented products: Seek out unscented products to avoid problems with sensitivities and allergies. If you prefer something mildly scented, opt for naturally scented products that utilize essential oils instead of chemical components. But remember that pure essential oils can be quite potent, so always be sure to test whatever product you are using on a small patch of your tot’s skin first.
- Look for “all purpose” products: Even if your bath soaps and washes are natural, finding something that does it all can help keep your costs down and reduce the number of products you need to use on yourself and your kids. Shampoo makes a great bubble bath, body wash and hand soap.
3 Baby Bath Time Tips
Kids, and, especially babies don’t need a ton of bath products. Keep it simple and fun!
- Add baby safe oils: Add 1-2 drops of a baby safe oil (for babies over 3 months old) such as chamomile or jojoba to their bath water or to a washcloth in the shower to help calm and soothe before bedtime.
- Skip a day: Kids don’t get that dirty! Unless they’ve rolled in the mud on the playground, you can sometimes get away with just using a warm soapy wash cloth to do the important stuff like sticky faces, hands and bottoms. Their skin will thank you in the winter dry months!
- DIY bath products: Making your own bath products is really easy and can help you control what goes on your kids’ skin. A little castile soap and baby safe pure essential oils are all you need.
Our Favorite Non-toxic Baby Bath Products
Erbaviva makes a lovely gentle baby body wash made with chamomile, aloe, oat and calendula extracts to naturally soothe and clean without harsh chemicals or detergents. Safe for sensitive baby skin.
Completely free of laurel sulfates and unwanted chemicals, Erbabiva baby shampoo effectively lathers without drying using Quillaja, a saponin tree bark extract.
Gentle on sensitive skin, Erbaviva’s baby body lotion is carefully crafted with natural emulsifiers and organic oils to moisturize the whole family’s skin.
Perfect for hydrating baby after bath or an anytime massage as part of a daily regimen of care, Erbaviva’s baby oil is specially crafted with only the purest and safest organic oils for baby.
How to make bath time fun
When choosing bath toys for your tots, it’s important to ensure that the products are safe and sustainable. See our Guide to non-toxic bath toys for baby and toddlers.