A baby’s skin is far more sensitive than an average adult’s skin. It is also drier than adult skin. Hence a gentle soap that moisturises the baby’s skin is a better choice than any off-the-shelf commercial soap.
A wide variety of handmade soaps are available in the market exclusively created keeping in mind the baby’s skin texture. Soaps that are high in olive oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and almond oil are highly recommended. Essential oils of lavender, chamomile and mandarin are also suitable. It is advisable to stay away from handmade soaps which contain coconut oil. However, coconut oil, itself, is a good massaging agent.
Castile soaps, which are made up of 100 percent olive oil, are also a good option for new-borns. They do not lather much, but are gentle on the skin. It is best to avoid transparent soaps as they contain sodium laureth sulphate, a chemical that is effective as a foaming agent and may cause skin irritation. Body washes and shampoos should be avoided as they contain a number of chemicals and surfactants.
Adults need to use a wide variety of cleansing items because they are exposed to different kinds of bacteria and dirt and their body odour needs to be countered with scented products. But for babies, a gentle soap, which may or may not lather, works fine as long as it does the basic job of cleaning the body.
Apart from soaps, there exists an entire variety of bathing and massage oils that can be used to clean and comfort the baby. Sesame oil (contains anti-oxidants; also has an SPF power of 2-3), coconut oil (a protective, soothing and regenerative coolant for the baby’s skin) and rice bran oil (a good source of Vitamin E; neutralizes the skin and protects it from UV rays) are the age-old choices for massaging babies.
It is important to note that the bathing ritual for a baby changes as the baby grows old. For the first few weeks and months, a simple sponge bath without any soap or lather works fine. Once the baby becomes three to four months old, baby wash or a very mild soap can be used. Remember, your baby needs simple cleansing more than deep lathering. And as a simple rule of thumb, keep in mind that lesser the number of chemicals and inorganic products that you use, better it is for your baby’s skin and body.