This is a guest post about how to make your own soap for baby by Erin Odom of The Humbled Homemaker
I breastfed (until my first daughter was almost 2 and still going with my second at 10 months), I made most of my baby food and snacks with all-organic ingredients and I started using more whole foods while cooking for my husband and myself as well. (Baby image by Tasa)
Over the past few years, my family has slowly started reducing our waste/recycling, gardening, using homemade natural cleaning products, dabbling in alternatives to conventional medicines, taking our children to the chiropractor and using cloth diapers.
But there was still a step I hadn’t changed until recently–using a natural soap on my children’s skin. From day one of motherhood, I used a popular conventional brand’s head-to-toe body wash and shampoo.
Why change to an all-natural soap?
To be honest, I think I was so concerned about changing my family’s eating and other green living habits, that I ignored the fact that I was using a potentially toxic soap on my babies’ skin.
Yes–I said toxic.
The thought of changing one more thing overwhelmed me.
And I thought it would be much too expensive.
But the more I’ve researched natural living, the more I’ve realized the skin is our biggest organ–and it absorbs EVERYTHING.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, of Dr. Mercola’s Natural Health Center, says that we may actually absorb more toxins when we put something on our skin than if we were to eat it.
“The truth is, when you consume toxins in foods, such as pesticides in fruit and vegetables, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach often break them down and flush them out of your body,” Dr. Mercola said. “Food also passes through your liver and kidneys, so the toxins that make it through are detoxified to varying degrees by enzymes before they reach the remainder of your body.”
But when toxins are absorbed through our skin, Dr. Mercola said, “they bypass your liver and enter your bloodstream and tissues — with absolutely no protection whatsoever.”
If I am careful about every little thing my children ingest, why wouldn’t I take the same care with what I put on their skin?
What’s really in baby soap?
Although many conventional baby washes tout themselves on being “all-natural,” tear-free solutions, the ingredients list all kinds of substances I cannot even pronounce. Check out this list of some controversial ingredients you can find in the leading brands:
- PEG-80, which is potentially toxic to organs
- Sulfates, which can irritate skin, is potentially toxic to organs and could even lead to endocrine disruption or cancer
- tetrasodium EDTA, may cause some eye toxicity
- quaternium-15, may irritate skin allergies
- orange 4, may potentially be toxic to humans
In addition, I was horrified when I realized my 3-year-old’s bubble bath contained red #40, which can potentially lead to hyperactivity and lower IQ! (More about food dyes and children in this series.)
Will just bathing my children in this soap for a few years be enough to cause cancer and/or result in other harmful effects? I don’t know. That is not my point. My point is–If I can avoid ANY exposure to potentially harmful ingredients–even in small amounts–why wouldn’t I?
My children can put whatever they want to put on their skin when they are adults, but, for now, God has entrusted them to my care. I want to choose the very best for them—even if it’s not society’s norm.
Thankfully, there are several natural body care options available on the market today. I have used and really liked Burt’s Bees. My local Target also carries Earth Mama Angel Baby, California Baby and Yes to Carrots. I’ve also heard good things about Butt Naked Baby and CJ’s Carcass Cleaner.
If you are new to Vitacost, and want some easy options if you aren’t into DIY, you can get $10 off your first order through my link (first time customers only).
But my dilemma remained: If we were to afford to eat healthier, how would we be able to afford natural skincare products, too?
So I decided to start making my own.
Homemade Baby Wash/Shampoo
I found variations of this recipe in different places on the internet, but I tweaked it to fit my liking. I also use a foaming soap dispenser because the consistency is really too thin if just using an old baby wash bottle. There are also many options available on Amazon. You might need to tweak this recipe depending on the skin type of your children, but here is what works for my family:
- baby mild castile soap
- distilled water
- essential oils (
my favorites are tea tree and lavender)*
- foaming soap dispenser
*Katie popping in here: babies and children don’t really need the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil, and I’m more and more cautious with essential oils and babies and young children. If it’s not totally necessary, why bother? Read this 2014 post for more of my thoughts on EOs. The soap will work just great without any essential oils.
Mix ¼ cup of castile soap with ¾ cup of water. Mix in 8-10 drops essential oils. Pour everything in a foaming soap dispenser. That’s IT!
I use this soap to wash my daughters’ hair and body. I occasionally use it to wash myself, too—but my hair needs a little more cleaning oomph. (Anyone have a suggestion to a good natural alternative? I’m still looking!)
Warning: Do not get this in your child’s eyes. It is NOT tear-free. I sometimes just use warm water to wash my girls’ faces anyway. I recently read that newborns really only need to be cleaned with water anyway (it’s not like they’re out rolling around in the mud!).
An added bonus
My whole family is actually now using this formula as hand soap. I found a little tutorial for making a cute foaming hand soap dispenser out of a canning jar, and with my hubby’s help (I am SO not crafty), we made one for each bathroom and the kitchen.
Overall? I feel like this formula gets my babies’ clean, my hands clean–AND best of all–it’s not antibacterial and doesn’t contain the harmful Triclosan Katie warned about in the summer!
Don’t forget to check out this post on making homemade baby wipes.
- Jason Cosmetics
- Natural Health Information Center
- “How Safe is Your Baby’s Shampoo and Soap” from Trying to Be Greener
- “What are Sulfates” by Organic Skin Pro
- “Children’s Diseases Linked to Chemicals are on the Rise” by Dr. Mercola
- “Shampoo and the Planet” by Green Living Tips
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to blogger ebooks for Erin, MadeOn soap, Vitacost, and Amazon. One of us will get a little kickback if you make purchases there, but it won’t cost you any more. Thanks for allowing us to make a little money while sharing good info with you! See my full disclosure statement here.
*Disclaimer: This post is solely my personal opinion after spending hours of research on this subject. I hope I have laid out some facts that will spur you on to do your own research. I am in no way a medical expert, and you should always conduct your own research and consult your trusted medical professional before making decisions about your family’s health