Diaper cream, powder, tear-free shampoo: caring for a baby comes with a whole slew of new personal care products that most likely haven’t touched your skin since they were used on you decades ago. Every new parent wants to make the best and healthiest choices for their little one, but the baby care market is especially confusing. How can you be sure that you’re purchasing the safest products available? What products does a baby really need? And how do you know that you need a special ‘baby’ version of basic products like creams and washes anyway? This week, we’re sharing some info to guide you.

What differentiates a ‘baby’ product from another product? In some cases, a lot. But overall, like any personal care shopping experience, be skeptical of marketing and go straight to the ingredient list. Just because a product is made for babies in no way guarantees that it’s the safest and best choice for a little one. Babies, because of their size, have much smaller surface area of skin than adults, meaning that you can easily cover a large percentage of their body with a product, causing them to absorb too much of a particular ingredient. In many ways, less is more when it comes to baby care products.

That new baby smell

Many of us wax poetic on the smell of a new baby—diapers aside—but we’re really thinking of the soft, powdery fragrances added to many products designed for babies. When choosing a product for baby, ensure that it does not contain these kinds of synthetic fragrances, which are common skin and respiratory irritants and allergens, and often contain hormone-disrupting phthalates. Some natural fragrances may also be unfit for baby, however, since most essential oils should be avoided on babies unless used under the supervision of a registered clinical aromatherapist or licensed natural health professional. Overall it may be best to skip scents; after all, new babies have their own soft smell, which science has yet to fully explain.

Bathing and diapering

You may prefer to shower daily, but bathing a baby every day can dry out some of the oils that are naturally protective to their skin. When choosing a shampoo or wash for bath time, look for naturally derived and gentle surfactants that won’t damage baby’s developing barrier function, like coco glucoside or decyl glucoside. Post bath, you’ll find that babies often don’t need any lotion, oil, or additional moisture, even though we often apply it out of habit. Try letting your baby go without, or use natural products sparingly. While we typically don’t recommend petrochemicals in any products, it’s common to see mineral oil and white petrolatum, petroleum-derived ingredients, used in baby products moisturizers, creams, and balms; perhaps because they are considered by the FDA to be non-reactive to delicate skin. Pharmaceutical grade white petrolatum and mineral oil are non-reactive and non-allergenic, and are desirable to many manufacturers–even some natural ones–because they are far less expensive and less likely to cause a reaction than purified versions of natural alternatives like beeswax or coconut oil. However, be aware that even purified petrolatum can asphyxiate baby’s skin and cause reactions. If you choose to use a product containing mineral oil or white petrolatum, look for FDA approval on that product, which indicates that the ingredients are pharmaceutical grade.

Sun care

When spending time outdoors with a small baby, keep him or her shaded or covered up, since the current accepted guideline is that sunscreen not be used on babies until 6 months of age. After 6 months, apply a broad spectrum physical sunscreen of at least SPF 15 with active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. And keep covering them up—baby hats are adorable and effective, even if some babies just won’t keep them on!

Baby breakouts

Many new parents are surprised to find that a baby’s skin detoxes his or her mother’s hormones. This “baby acne” condition—also known as a form of milia—occurs in some babies due to a mother’s hormones reaching the baby through the placenta during the final stages of development at the end of the pregnancy. This hormonal activity stimulates baby’s oil gland production as baby’s skin attempts to detox these hormones. Using occlusive or heavy baby oils and ointments on baby acne can prevent the detoxification and healing process from happening and prolong the condition.


Shop for natural baby care and save! For a limited time, NAA members receive an additional 10% off LuckyVitamin.com’s already incredibly low prices on natural baby lotions, creams, powders, or washes. (Code cannot be combined with any other promotional codes. Honest Company, California Baby, and Earth Mama, Angel Baby excluded).

NAA members, log into your membership dashboard to reveal the special discount code.

Not yet an NAA member? Check out the long list of benefits and join us today!


CommentWe want to hear from you!

What are your biggest questions and concerns around baby products?

What products or ingredients have you found to be the most helpful or essential in baby care?