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The Best Baby Shampoos for Your Infant

four bottles of Honest baby shampoo in a row

Baby shampoo, like regular shampoo, is a hair care product that helps remove contaminants like oils, dirt, dandruff, pollutants, etc., from the hair and scalp. The main difference between baby shampoo and regular shampoo is that baby shampoo, as the name suggests, is specially designed for infants, toddlers, and young children. Since babies have much more delicate skin than older children, teens, and adults, the formula in baby shampoos uses ingredients that are milder and gentler and thus less irritating to the skin and eyes. Many are further diluted and have a neutral pH balance to reduce the risk of creating a burning or stinging sensation should shampoo accidentally get in your baby’s eyes during a bath. Baby shampoos also tend to be unscented to further prevent irritation and to ensure the shampoo is hypoallergenic. Note that baby shampoo isn’t as tough on grease and doesn’t detangle in the same way some regular hair washes do since babies have such fine, short hair. So while it’s ideal for newborns, babies, toddlers, and young children, it’s probably not a great choice for most older children, teens, and adults. If you’re looking for a new baby shampoo for your infant’s bath time routine, here are a few we recommend.

What to Consider in Baby Shampoo

Here are a few things to think about before buying baby shampoo:

  • Ingredients: Since babies have such delicate, sensitive skin, you’ll want to pay close attention to the ingredients in baby shampoo. Natural, plant-based ingredients like fruit oils and chamomile extract are always a good choice. Note, however, that babies can have allergic reactions to even natural ingredients, so be sure to keep an eye on that possibility. You may want hypoallergenic baby shampoo to be safe. Also be sure to look for products that are free of parabens, preservatives, sulfates, phthalates, dyes, alcohol, soap, and added perfumes and fragrances. Baby shampoos labeled as “tear-free” and formulated for sensitive skin are good choices since they’re less irritating.
  • Baby Wash: Just as babies require specialty shampoo, you also won’t want to use regular soaps on their skin. They tend to dry the skin and often contain perfumes, fragrances, or allergens that will be too harsh and irritating on your baby’s delicate skin. Thus you’ll need a specialty baby wash as well. Many baby shampoos are actually formulated to be multitasking two-in-one products (shampoo and body wash combined). These can be a great way to save money and shelf space since you’ll only have to buy one product instead of two.
  • Quantity: The amount of baby shampoo you’ll want to buy at once will depend on several factors. Newborns don’t need a bath every day until they become more mobile, so you can probably get away with a small amount of baby shampoo if you have a very young baby. Older infants and toddlers will require more regular baths since they get dirtier faster once they’re mobile, which means using more baby shampoo. If you use two-in-one shampoo/baby wash, you may want to purchase in packs or bulk quantity since the odds are good you’ll go through it faster than shampoo alone. Even if you don’t go through baby shampoo very quickly, you may still want to buy in bulk to not have to purchase shampoo as often. And if you travel with your little one fairly often, keep an eye out for travel-sized bottles that are small enough to fit in travel bags or bring on airplanes.

Best Two-in-One: Cetaphil Baby Wash & Shampoo with Organic Calendula

curved white bottle of Cetaphil baby shampoo with a turquoise pumpA safe, reliable baby shampoo and body wash combo is a great way to save you effort, time, and money, not to mention valuable storage space in your home since you’ll only have to keep one bottle on hand instead of two. And not only do you get both products for the price of one, but you also don’t have to keep track of when it’s time to replace one or the other; just replace the one bottle when it’s empty. This baby shampoo and body wash is dermatologist-tested to be safe and gentle for infants and young children. It’s hypoallergenic and tear-free, with no parabens, colorants, or mineral oil that might bother your baby’s delicate skin. The formula contains marigold flower that adds calendula, which soothes, moisturizes, and softens while also providing a fresh, natural scent. Thus your baby will wind up smelling fresh and sweet without any dyes or fragrances that’ll cause irritation, and it won’t dry out their skin or hair. The formula creates a rich cleansing lather enriched with aloe vera and vitamins E and B to nourish, soften, moisturize, and clean.

Best Two-in-One

Cetaphil Baby Wash & Shampoo with Organic Calendula,Tear Free, Paraben, Colorant and Mineral Oil Free, 13.5 Fl. Oz (Packaging May Vary)

A baby shampoo and body wash in one convenient bottle that'll save you time, money, and effort.

Best Soap-Free: Aveeno Baby Gentle Bath Wash & Shampoo for Sensitive Hair & Skin

beige bottle of Aveeno baby shampoo with a white and blue pumpRegular soap is too drying on babies’ skin, so a baby shampoo free of soap and other harmful ingredients is always an excellent choice. This baby shampoo and bath wash combination is soap-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, phthalate-free, tear-free, and phenoxyethanol-free, as well as hypoallergenic and properly pH balanced. It’s been tested by both pediatricians and dermatologists to gently clean and soften baby hair and skin. Not only is the formula free of irritating ingredients, but it contains natural oat extract that moisturizes and soothes, so you know it won’t dry out your baby’s skin or hair. It also leaves behind a light, pleasing, natural fragrance without harmful added fragrances or perfumes. For more effective use, squeeze a few pumps onto a wet washcloth or hand, apply and lather on your baby’s hair and body, and then rinse. It’s suitable for everyday use if needed, and the 33-fluid ounce bottle will keep you well supplied for a good long while.

Best Soap-Free

Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Gentle Bath Wash & Shampoo with Natural Oat Extract, Hypoallergenic, Tear-Free & Paraben-Free Formula for Sensitive Hair & Skin, Lightly Scented, 33 fl. oz

A gently formulated baby shampoo and bath wash combo with natural oat extract and no soap for maximum nourishment and moisture.

Best All-Natural: The Honest Company Truly Calming Lavender Baby Shampoo

tall, narrow, cylindrical, see-through bottle of Honest baby shampoo with a white lidThis baby shampoo and body wash formula is tear-free and mild, made entirely with natural ingredients to clean your baby’s body and hair in the healthiest and gentlest manner possible. It cleanses, soothes, and nourishes all in one without drying out their skin or hair, so use it as often as needed. The natural lavender scent enhances the soothing and calming aspect of the shampoo. Unlike some other baby shampoo formulas, this one creates a thick and creamy lather to scrub up and clean your baby from head to toe to leave their skin moisturized and hair soft to the touch, leaving both looking and feeling fresh and healthy. It’s also been dermatologist tested and approved. The formula is not only tear-free but doesn’t contain any phthalates, parabens, dyes, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, formaldehyde donors, or SLES to ensure the formula is as anti-irritating and healthy as possible as well as all-natural. 

Best All-Natural

The Honest Company 2-in-1 Cleansing Shampoo + Body Wash | Gentle for Baby | Naturally Derived, Tear-free, Hypoallergenic | Lavender Calm, 10 fl oz

An all-natural baby shampoo and bath wash formula that cleanses, soothes, and nourishes from head to toe.

Best Pack: Johnson’s Head-To-Toe Gentle Tear-Free Baby & Newborn Shampoo

row of three pale yellow, tear-shaped bottles of Johnson's baby shampooIf you have several young children at home, find yourself going through baby shampoo very quickly, or simply prefer to buy your home products in bulk, this pack of baby shampoo and bath wash is the perfect choice for you. You receive three bottles with your purchase, each with a capacity of 16.9 fluid ounces, keeping you well-supplied for weeks or months at a time. The shampoo is hypoallergenic and properly pH balanced to clean without irritating or causing tears if it accidentally gets into your baby’s eyes. The formula is extremely mild as a result, nearly as gentle as pure water. It’s free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, dyes, and harsh fragrances. It’s never been tested on animals and is pediatrician tested. For best results, apply a few pumps with warm water to your hand or a washcloth, gently lather your baby from head to toe, and rinse with equally warm water.

Best Pack

Also Great: Baby Dove Tip to Toe Baby Wash and Shampoo

curved white bottle of Dove baby shampoo with a powder blue lidA baby shampoo and bath wash formula that is perfect for use just before bed. The natural chamomile scent is incredibly soothing and calming to help your baby drift off to sleep. The formula is made with nutrients and prebiotic moisture that supports your baby’s skin health in the most natural way possible since they’re identical to the nutrients that already exist within the skin. Rich and creamy to the touch, this gentle baby shampoo doesn’t contain any dyes, parabens, phthalates, or sulfates and is tear-free and hypoallergenic to boot. You’ll be amazed at how soft, cleansed, and hydrated it’ll leave even the already soft, delicate skin of newborns. And it’s been safety tested by ophthalmologists, dermatologists, and pediatricians, so you never need to wonder or worry if it’s safe for your baby or toddler’s skin and hair.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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