The best baby shampoo 2018

Babies aren’t like the rest of us. Their skin is thinner, and often more sensitive. They’re not great at regulating their body temperature. They’re prone to skin conditions such as nappy rash and cradle cap. And if you get some shampoo in their eyes, they go off like air raid sirens.

The right shampoo can help with the latter two problems. Baby shampoos are made differently to adult ones. They’re milder, more gentle and often unfragranced, and in this age of constant health scares they’re usually free from anything that has a scary chemical name even if it’s perfectly safe. Unfortunately they’re often frighteningly expensive too, and it pays to shop around: what’s really expensive in one supermarket is often much more affordable in another.

In our round-up we’ve looked at the products parents actually buy and rate most highly, and as you’ll see there can be big differences in price between different brands even though they’re selling fairly similar products. The good news is that you don’t need to spend tons of cash to get a shampoo that baby likes and that won’t make them grow horns.

In addition to organic shampoos that parents love we’ve also included one that smells pretty bad and costs quite a lot, because it’s effective against cradle cap. That’s a harmless but unsightly and often itchy skin condition, and while adults get it too it’s much more common in babies. It usually stops before baby becomes a toddler.

1. Green People Organic Baby Wash and Shampoo

Mild and gentle without any nasties or added fragrances

Quantity: 150ml | Organic: Yes | Vegan?: Yes | Fragranced: No

No nasties
Fragrance free
Quite expensive
Use sparingly

Green People’s baby products aren’t just delighting babies. They’re helping mums too, because their lack of fragrance means they’re not going to upset pregnant mums who can’t deal with strong smelling products. As you’d expect from an organic product this baby shampoo is free from the usual chemicals and made with certified organic ingredients wherever practical, and its mildness means it’s a good choice for babies with dry skin or skin conditions that might not tolerate fragranced shampoos. It’s not the biggest bottle and the price is quite high for what you get, but if you use it sparingly it lasts for a surprisingly long time.

2. Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo

Cheaper than most and made from natural ingredients

Quantity: 235ml | Organic: No | Vegan: Yes | Fragranced: Yes (natural honey)

Good value
No nasties
Natural but not organic
Smells of honey

Burt’s Bees is a well known brand in baby circles, and while its products aren’t certified organic this bodywash is made from 98.9% natural ingredients and has the seal of approval from the Natural Products Association. It’s very mild, although the honey smell might put you off if you’re not a fan of it: we’re amused by the reviewer who warns a student that while you can indeed use the product when you’re an adult, “you will, however, smell like a honey coated baby.” The price tag is particularly pleasing, because all too often baby products seem to come from the same faraway place as printer ink. At just over £2 per 100ml Burt’s Bees is that rare thing, a baby product that isn’t ridiculously expensive.

3. Earth Friendly Baby Calming Lavender Shampoo and Bodywash

Cheap doesn’t mean nasty: this is organic and smells really nice too

Quantity: 250ml | Organic: Yes | Vegan: Yes | Fragranced: Yes (natural lavender)

Really good price
Lavender isn't for everyone
Avoid eye contact

The ingredients list here is a parade of virtue, with essential oils and organic ingredients coming together to create a mild and gently lavender fragranced shampoo and body wash that shouldn’t cause any skin problems and which might help relax baby near bedtime: lavender is claimed to aid relaxation. One thing you’ll see in the Amazon reviews is a handful of comments from people who think it’s uncomfortable if it gets in the eyes, and while of course anything in the eyes is going to annoy baby they say it’s a problem they haven’t had with other shampoos. However, most reviewers disagree and in our own experience we’ve never encountered any issues with the shampoo: it’s gentle, bubbly and smells good without being overpowering.

4. Weleda Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash

The baby shampoo that grown-ups use too

Quantity: 200ml | Organic: Yes | Vegan: Yes | Fragranced: no

Softens hair and skin
All natural and vegan
Smells lovely
Doesn't lather easily

When you read the customer reviews for this shampoo on Amazon you’ll notice something unusual: many of the reviewers talk about “my hair” rather than baby’s hair. That means one of two things: either babies are a lot smarter and more advanced than they’re letting on, or grown-ups are using the shampoo themselves. We suspect the latter option is more likely, and why not? It’s a soap-free, gentle shampoo made entirely from natural ingredients, formulated from plant-based cleansers and designed specifically for sensitive skins. So it’s a shame that every time you buy a bottle, the CEO shoots a moose. We’re kidding. It’s not the cheapest shampoo around but if it works for you too that’s one less bottle to take to the swimming pool.

5. Dentinox Cradle Cap Baby Shampoo

It doesn’t smell very good but it works very well

Quantity: 125ml | Organic: No | Vegan: No | Fragranced: No

Relieves cradle cap
It works!
It pongs a bit

In adults it’s called seborrheic dermatitis; in babies, cradle cap. Cradle cap is a skin condition that creates scaly, crusty skin and while it’s perfectly harmless - it’s essentially extreme dandruff - it’s not very pretty and it can get a little sensitive or itchy. Dentinox’s cradle cap shampoo is very effective at getting rid of it, and while it doesn’t exactly smell fantastic the scent fades quickly and the cradle cap is usually gone within a few days. If it isn’t, make an appointment to see your GP as other treatment might be appropriate. Despite the name cradle cap isn’t necessarily limited to baby’s head; it can also turn up on the face, ears, neck and in skin folds, and it’s safe to use Dentinox there too.