7 lovely ways to bathe baby naturally (and spend less!)

Babies may be exposed to several products at bath time, such as bath wash, shampoo, conditioner, and baby lotion every day, in addition to other chemical exposures in the home. Fortunately, says Wendyl Nissen in her book The Natural Home (Allen & Unwin $39.99), there are plenty of other natural alternatives to bathe baby with that are easy to use. Here are some suggestions for what to put in baby’s bath.

1. Use a very mild, unscented soap

Try Dr Bronner’s Baby Unscented soap, which comes in cake and liquid form. It is made out of coconut, olive, hemp and jojoba oil and I’ve had rave reviews from people with skin allergies after they’ve used this soap.

2. Add a few drops of olive oil to the bathwater and swish around

When baby is older than three months, you can also add one or two drops of lavender oil in their bath at night to relax them for sleep.

3. Put half an organic lemon in the bathwater

The astringency of the lemon makes a great cleanser, and it is also antibacterial.

4. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda

This helps to make the water super-soft and soothing. Especially good if baby has a nappy rash or heat rash.

5. Add 20 ml of full-fat milk to the bath.

The lactic acid in milk is a great cleanser and leaves baby’s skin smooth and soft.

6. Rolled oats

Tie a tablespoon of rolled oats into a piece of cloth the size of a small handkerchief and tie at the top with a piece of string. Add it to the bath five minutes beforehand, and just before you pop baby in give it a squeeze. The oats are very soothing for skin and you can use the sachet to clean your baby by rubbing gently with it. Also good for skin rashes.

7. Shampoo alternatives

Babies don’t need to have their hair shampooed, and many of the baby shampoos available on the supermarket shelves have ingredients such asartificial colourings and fragrances that I wouldn’t put near me, let alone a baby. Instead there are many other things you can use to keep baby’s hair clean. Here are some suggestions.

– Just wash it in bathwater to which you have added my baby bath wash (see recipe below).

– Use a drop of Dr Bronner’s Baby Unscented liquid castile soap.

– Mix 1 tsp baking soda and enough water to make a paste. Use this on your baby’s hair once a week.

Baby bath wash recipe

I invented this recipe when our granddaughter Lila was born because I knew that the commercial baby washes were dodgy. It is easy to make and it means you know what is going on to your baby’s skin.

  • 400 ml water
  • 4 tbsp grated 100 per cent natural vegetable oil soap (I use Dr Bronner’s Baby Unscented)
  • 80 ml rose water 20 ml glycerine 
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil (do not add this for babies under 3 months old)
  1. Bring the water to the boil in a small saucepan, then add the grated soap.
  2. Stir until all the soap is melted, then remove from the heat and allow to cool until just warm.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and pour into a squeegee bottle. Depending on the soap you use, this may cool into a gel or remain quite liquid. To use the wash, simply squeeze a little into the bathwater. It will not bubble, but it cleans and moisturises baby’s skin beautifully.
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