The baby product aisle can be a bit overwhelming. Which ingredients work -- and which will hurt your baby's skin? Do traditional soaps strip developing baby skin of natural oils, leaving it dry and irritated? Do nonsoap washes really clean? Time to end this soap opera: We asked dermatologist moms for their take on the matter, and found out which brands out there are the best for your babe.
Mustela ranks as the top pediatric skin-care line in Europe, and Deirdre Hooper, M.D., a New Orleans dermatologist and a mom of three is also a fan. The brand focuses on "research and science, especially on the unique qualities of infant skin," she says, and chooses most of the key active ingredients from plants. This soap-free formula gently cleanses body and hair by preserving the skin's hydrolipidic film, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. Free of parabens and alcohol, this is a perfect choice for bath time. (6.76 oz., $10.00; www.mustelausa.com)
Vanicream's bar is loaded with the brand's signature moisturizer and is made without all the chemical irritants found in traditional soaps, which makes it a top choice of Latanya Benjamin, M.D., a pediatric dermatologist at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, California, and a new mom. Free of dyes, fragrance, lanolin, parabens, and formaldehyde, this cleanser is a winner for all babies and adults with sensitive skin. (3.9 oz, $2.79; www.pharmapacks.com)
Celeb mom Jessica Alba has made safe and natural baby skin care her business -- literally. This pH-balanced product features quinoa to fortify essential skin proteins, organic coconut oil for moisturization, and chamomile for soothing. Honest cleanser is hypoallergenic, tear-free, vegan, biodegradable, and naturally non-toxic. (8.5 oz, $9.95; www.honest.com)
This classic cleanser, which is one-fourth moisturizer, is recommended by Marta Rendon, M.D., associate clinical professor in the University of Miami Department of Dermatology and president of Skin of Color Society. Many docs recommend hypoallergenic and fragrance-free Dove for little ones with eczema or sensitive skin. (3.15 oz, as low as $1.87 in drugstores)
This relatively new line was formulated with pediatric dermatologists and features a mixture of essential vitamins and ceramides that help maintain your tot's developing delicate skin barrier. Easy to find at your local drugstore, hypoallergenic CeraVe is tear-, paraben-, sulfate-, fragrance-, and gluten-free. (8 oz, $9.99, www.drugstore.com)
Bethanee Schlosser, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in dermatology at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, uses Cetaphil on her own little ladies. One of the original nonsoap cleansers, this product dissolves dirt and grime while protecting the natural, healthy oils and emollients on your baby's skin. (16 oz, $11.49; www.target.com)