Best Budget-Friendly Baby Soap: Johnson’s Baby  Head-To-Toe Gentle Baby Wash & Shampoo

Let’s talk baby soap—we consulted top pediatricians and dermatologists to find the best soap recommendations for baby. And then we tested a dozen options by lathering up various newborns with different skin types.

Before we get to our picks, let’s talk about allergic reactions. Just about every soap for baby can cause a rash in some child—it’s just a fact of life. Even the mildest soaps can cause a reaction or rash. So if your child has sensitive skin, consider testing the soap on a small area before doing a full bath. And don’t worry if you see pics online with babies who broke in a rash when they used X soap.

Our top pick here is an excellent soap that did the best in our tests:  Johnson’s Baby  Head-To-Toe Gentle Baby Wash & Shampoo. Here’s why:

What We Liked

• No more tears actually means no tears. Yes, lots of baby soap says it is tear free, but this soap actually works.

• No parabens, phthalates; sulfates, dyes or heavy fragrances. Yes, we know Johnson’s Baby has been criticized in the past for the use of controversial ingredients and dyes. But they clearly got the message, as this soap hits all the right notes.

• Cleans well.

What Needs Work

• Pump can be hard to open and use. 

• Contains small amount of alcohol. This bothers some parents, so just a heads up.

• Scent has fans and critics. The scent is very mild, but we know some folks are sensitive.

Best Baby Soap for Dry Skin: Cetaphil Baby Wash & Shampoo

We know a thing or two about dry skin here at our Colorado testing lab. And a baby with itchy skin is no fun, for you or baby! So in our tests, we looked for the soap that was best for dry skin. The winner: Cetaphil’s Baby Wash. Here’s more:

What We Liked

 Made form an organic flower called calendula, which is used to treat inflammation.

• Aloe vera, vitamins E and B5 help with the moisturizing and soothing of itchy skin.

• Cleans well.

• Some folks love the fragrance.

What Needs Work

• Some folks hate the fragrance. If you prefer a scent-free soap, see our pick below.

• Could be better at the “tear free” thing. While this soap claims to be tear free, we think the Johnson’s Baby pick above does a better job at that.

Best Smelling Baby Soap: Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Bath

Scented with lavender and vanilla, this soap won the race for best scent in a baby soap in our testing. Folks just loved it. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Soothes skin with oat extract. However, this can also cause allergic reactions (see below for more).

•Paraben and phthalate free.

• That amazing scent!

What’s Needs Work

• Oat extract prompts a warning on the package: “Do not use without consulting a doctor if child has asthma or allergies or if there is a family history of either. Serious breathing problems would occur.” So, yes, this soap can cause a rash in some babies. Be sure to test it on a small area before going to full bath. And consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions.

• Tear-free claim could use work. We think other baby soap (like Johnson’s) is better at being tear free.

• Not a lot of bubbles. 

Best Baby Soap With No Scent: Baby Dove Tip to Toe Baby Wash Sensitive Moisture

We know many of our readers are sensitive to perfumes and scents, so we looked at several scent-free options for baby soap. After testing with parents and babies, we thought Baby Dove did the best job. Here’s an overview:

What We Liked

• Fragrance free yet still does a great job cleaning. Some of the scent-free soaps we tested just didn’t clean well.

• Works well for babies with sensitive skin, such as those with eczema.

• No dyes, parabens, phthalates or sulfates.

• Tear free formula did a good job. Yep, lots of soap claim they are tear free, but this one actually worked.

What’s Needs Work

• Not much in the way of suds. 

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing gear and bath items for baby since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews.

Photo credit: Henley Design Studio

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