The best baby shampoo you can buy

  • When it comes to baby shampoo, you want one that's gentle and soft on your baby's sensitive skin.
  • After much research and testing, we chose California Baby Calendula Shampoo as the best for most babies.
  • The shampoo's gentle, calming, and natural ingredients are great for sensitive baby skin.

Giving your baby a bath for the first time can be a daunting experience. You worry about holding up their head or doing it wrong. You want to use a shampoo that's gentle on their skin yet makes them clean and smell even sweeter.

The good news is that newborns only need a bath a few times per week, and as your baby grows, you become an expert at washing little fingers and toes.

But which baby shampoo is best? When you go to the store or shop online, you have a lot of choices. You have baby shampoos for sensitive skin, ones for eczema, others with essential oils, and baby shampoos with a long list of ingredients you can't even begin to understand.

As a mom, I prefer a baby shampoo that's free of harmful chemicals, gentle on the skin, and at a price I can afford. When we researched baby shampoos for this guide, we used these criteria, asked other parents what they look for, and read hundreds of reviews to find the best baby shampoos you can buy. I've also tested all of these shampoos with my own babies.

Here are the best baby shampoos you can buy in 2019:

Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.

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The best overall

The best overall
The California Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash is an ultra-gentle shampoo and body wash that's chemical-free.

I absolutely love California Baby Calendula Shampoo. I use it every day for my babies and can't say enough about the quality and gentleness. I first discovered the baby shampoo after a long search looking for a more natural option for my daughter. She has fine hair, and some baby shampoos tend to dry her hair out. A friend of mine told me about California Baby, and I decided to try it based on her recommendation.

The company was started by Jessica Iclisoy more than 20 years ago. Iclisoy was shocked by all the chemicals, fragrances, and additives in baby shampoo, so she found plant-based substitutes for the substances and developed her own baby shampoo recipes.

Now, California Baby has over 80 different personal care products, all of which are made in the United States. The California Baby Calendula Shampoo is made from 100% certified organic calendula and other natural ingredients including French lavender and clary sage essential oils and aloe vera. You won't find sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, or any harmful chemicals.

But don't think that its natural qualities impair its ability to gently clean. California Baby shampoos clean thoroughly while moisturizing and soothing skin. It even suds up nicely, making it a good body wash. The company also makes baby shampoos for sensitive skin, eczema, and cranky babies.

I'm not the only one who recommends California Baby. This baby shampoo makes the top baby shampoo list of almost every trusted parenting and baby product website, including Baby List, The Bump, and What to Expect. While you can buy the baby shampoo on Amazon, I found the California Baby website has better deals overall.

Pros: Pure (no harmful chemicals ever), organic calendula, fantastic quality, perfect for sensitive skin, smells great, woman-owned business, made in the USA

Cons: None

Buy California Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash (19 fl. oz.) from Amazon for $28.99

The best budget

The best budget
The Babyganics Shampoo and Body Wash is the perfect choice for budget-conscious parents who want a product that's gentle on sensitive skin and as natural as possible.

Babyganics makes certified bio-based baby shampoo free of chemicals and synthetic fragrances. When possible, the ingredients are organic and never tested on animals. The shampoo is also available at a price most parents can afford and costs about the same as other baby shampoos with all the harmful preservatives, fragrances, and chemicals.

Babyganics sells a shampoo that's scent free and a 3-in-1 Conditioning Shampoo & Body Wash, in addition to other baby products like diapers and wipes. Babyganics is widely sold online and in-stores, making it an excellent option to pick up on the go.

While I prefer California Baby or Puracy over Babyganics, I found it super convenient to buy anywhere I shopped. It's truly is a solid natural choice at a price that doesn't hurt the pocketbook.

When you look at the price, it may seem about the same as other brands, but you get a lot more for the same cost. Babyganics shampoo comes in 16-ounce bottles and others may charge the same price for 10 ounces. You can find it at .50 to .60 cents per ounce.

Plus, it makes a great bubble bath too. Kids love to play with bubbles from an early age, and nothing stretches out bathtime better than a sudsy playpen.

Other expert reviewers agree: What to Expect named it Best Sudsy Shampoo and Baby List called it a "Foamtastic Cleanser."

Pros: Super affordable, natural ingredients, bubble bath fun, widely available

Cons: Misleading name (not completely organic), some synthetic chemicals

Buy the Babyganics Baby Shampoo and Body Wash (16 fl. oz) at Target for $9.99

The best natural option

The best natural option
The Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo and Body Wash is made with natural ingredients, foams beautifully, and feels silky smooth on baby skin.

I first discovered Puracy as I was researching naturally-derived and chemical free baby shampoo. I decided to try it on my kiddos, and I liked it a lot after the first use. I liked the way it lathered up in my hands because sometimes, organic plant-based shampoos don't foam up as much as others that use chemical-based foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate.

With Puracy, all the ingredients on the label are easy to understand. The formula is made from eco-friendly and skin-friendly materials like coconut oil, grapefruit essential oil, and natural sea salt. Puracy doesn't contain any harsh chemicals, eye-numbing agents, petrochemicals (made from petroleum or natural gas), or animal by-products. It's about as pure as you can get when it comes to baby shampoo.

In addition to the high-quality ingredients and commitment to transparency, Puracy also gives back to the community. With each purchase, the company donates personal care products to children in need through Austin's Children's Center and the Ronald McDonald House. The Puracy packaging labels feature hand-drawn artwork by local artists in Texas. All of Puracy's products are made in the USA.

Pros: Natural, plant-based ingredients with no harsh chemicals, ultra-lathering qualities, perfect for sensitive skin

Cons: Slightly higher cost

Buy Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo and Body Wash (16 fl. oz.) on Amazon for $12.99

The best scents

The best scents
The Honest Baby Shampoo + Body Wash will delight your nose with incredible natural fragrances of sweet almond, sweet orange vanilla, or truly calming lavender.

When my babies were newborns, I used the Honest Baby Shampoo + Baby Wash. I'm a sucker for anything with lavender because I know the essential oil is gentle on the skin and provides relaxation. The Honest baby shampoo with lavender does just that, and I've never been unhappy with the quality or cleansing abilities.

One thing I did find is that dried my daughter's hair out a little but not my son's. My daughter has really delicate hair. I switched to California Baby or Mustela for this reason, but I would definitely buy Honest's shampoo again for my son.

The baby shampoo is tear-free, hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested and made from naturally derived ingredients. In addition to natural scents, the company offers a baby shampoo without a scent for those who don't want a fragrance — natural or otherwise. I've even used the Honest shampoo as a bubble bath, although, the company does have some pretty good bubble bath options, too.

I did subscribe to Honest's diaper bundle and then got the shampoo and bubble bath 20% off. You can also subscribe to the Home Essentials Bundle and pick from a list of home and personal care products.

As New York Magazine said, "It's great for the whole family."

Pros: Smells incredible, natural ingredients, tons of foam, perfect for the whole family

Cons: Not great for dry hair

Buy Honest Baby Shampoo + Body Wash (10 fl. oz.) on the Honest Co for $9.95

The best for cradle cap

The best for cradle cap
The Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns is the perfect shampoo for sensitive baby skin irritated by cradle cap or eczema.

When it comes to shampoo for newborns with skin concerns, you won't be disappointed with Mustela. The French company makes an outstanding baby shampoo with mostly natural ingredients that are tested to be safe on sensitive skin. If you need a baby shampoo to cure cradle cap, you'll love Mustela.

The causes of cradle cap are unknown, but one contributing factor is the hormones passed from the mother to baby in utero. The extra hormones cause a build-up of oil on the skin. While the exact cause is unclear, the symptoms can be painful and itchy. The signs of cradle cap are crusty or oily skin patches on the scalp. The spots aren't contagious or a sign of poor hygiene.

The best solution is to use a gentle shampoo like Mustela and wait for the breakout to pass. Mustela washes away the dry skin cells to help usher in the soft baby skin underneath.

My daughter needed Mustela, and I found it worked great. The cradle cap disappeared in a week or so. Hers was quite mild, but still, I couldn't stand the scaly patches and would've bought anything to help her. Mustela also offers baby shampoo for eczema and shampoo for normal skin.

Some parents do say that it tangles a baby's hair, and I did experience this a little bit, but I used a high-quality conditioner afterward to ease this problem. As for curing cradle cap a verified buyer on Amazon exclaimed, "I only had to use this stuff once, and it cleared up my boy cradle cap instantly." When it comes to easing cradle cap, Mustela really is world-class."

Pros: cradle cap, natural ingredients, affordable, doesn't irritate sensitive skin, affordable

Cons: tangles hair some

Buy Mustela Foam Shampoo (5.07 fl. oz.) at Target for $12.50
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