Bathing your newborn is probably one of the best times to bond with your little one. The atmosphere is nice; the water is warm and comfortable. And chances are the bathroom will be full of giggling and chuckling sounds as you apply baby shampoo onto her hair and body for the first time.
However, as a word of caution, have you done your due diligence to ensure that the product in your hand is suitable for the newborn? And how do we know whether a particular baby shampoo contains chemicals that can be harmful to children in the long run?
Believe me or not, this is a really important part of being a new parent. Unlike adults, the skin of a baby is so delicate that it is extremely sensitive to irritation. Sometimes, even pure running water might be a better option.
But there are so many different types of baby wash and soap products on the shelf, how do we know which is the best baby shampoo to use for our kids? Well fret not, because here is a list of 6 most important factors to consider when shopping for a baby shampoo.
- Existing skin conditions
Yes, the first step, of course, begins with the baby. Generally, most newborns will be born with normal and healthy skin. This means that the best baby wash products are the ones that are as close to nature as possible.
However, if you or your other half has family history of skin conditions such as eczema, things can get a little tricky. Babies with dry skin or eczema will require special attention and typically will need to use bath products for specific conditions.
There are many different types and causes of eczema and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In such cases, it is best to consult a doctor or baby skin specialist for prescription.
Have you ever wondered why using some of the adult shampoo feels so refreshing and that they dry up pretty quickly? That is because most of these products for adults contain alcohol which makes them dry faster on our skin.
Children products, on the other hand, should not contain alcohol (although some still do) because that will be too drying on the baby’s skin, causing irritation or even rashes to occur. So be sure to look into the label and check that your baby shampoo does not contain any form of alcohol.
- PH neutral
The PH value refers to how acidic (pH 1 to 6) or alkaline (pH 8 to 14) a substance is, in this case, the baby shampoo. A substance that is pH 7 is neither alkaline nor acidic and is labelled as being pH neutral or pH balanced.
But why is this important to us? Our baby is born with skin that is near pH neutral (pH 7) and it may take a few weeks before her skin develops a layer of natural acid mantle that helps to ward off harmful bacteria. During this period of time, the baby’s skin is very exposed and vulnerable to anything that comes into direct contact.
Therefore it is important to choose a shampoo that is close to the pH level of the skin, to prevent irritation and dryness. PH neutral or mild products are the way to go even after the baby’s natural acid mantle has formed, so as not to disturb this layer of protection.
Now, let’s be honest. Every parent wants his or her baby to smell nice and sweet, who doesn’t right? But do you know that fragrances are made up of many combinations of unknown chemical that can be the cause of irritation, redness or even rashes?
Young babies have very sensitive and delicate skins that are really absorbent to anything that you use on them. Therefore, exposing them to so many chemicals at such young age can give rise to the possibility of allergies. That can be detrimental in the long run.
If it is me, I would rather play it safe by only using baby shampoos that are fragrance-free. Well, if you really have to use a shampoo that smells nice, go for natural fragrance from organic essential oil. At the very least, you know that it is chemical-free.
- Safety assessment by clinical test or peers
After you have checked through all the above factors but still require a little push to be satisfied with your product, try to look for the safe-for-babies assurance on the shampoo label.
Typically, a good company that is confident of their products will send them for clinical assessment. And if the results are good, rest assure that you will be able to find it on the label. Else, check out the product’s website to find any evidence of such tests carried out.
Alternatively, ask the neighbours or your friends! I am sure good products will be widely popular among mothers and they definitely have a lot to share about what they use.
And since you are already surfing the web now, do a search online. There are hundreds of mommy forums on the internet and definitely there will be tons of mothers who have tried and tested your desired product. Weigh out the pros and cons and you are almost good to go.
- Patch test
After filtering out the unsuitable ones, by now you should have decided on the right shampoo to purchase. But before you do that, you will probably want to ask for a sample pack instead of purchasing a full 20oz bottle.
Being the ultra-paranoid mom I am, I will conduct a final round of patch testing before deciding on a long term product. Well, at least it gives me a real peace of mind!
To do a patch test, apply a small amount of baby product onto a small area on baby’s skin for 2 minutes before rinsing it off thoroughly. I usually do that on the back of my baby’s hand.
Observe the part of the skin for one or two days for any redness or itchiness. Obviously, if redness occurs, you should stop the product immediately. If everything is fine, it shows that you have done a great job to source for the best shampoo for your baby.
Now, my baby Caleb can proudly say that he knows his shampoo like the “back of his hand”!
Anna C is the author of Parent’s Rights USA. She is a stay home mother who tries to make learning fun. She has one cute boy, Caleb, who is the main motivation for her to run a parenting website.
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Also published on Medium.