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Unless a baby has a medical condition that requires scalp treatments, there is no medical reason to use shampoo. However, many people prefer to shampoo their babies’ hair because it helps the hair look, feel, and smell clean.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using shampoo once or twice a week on babies with hair.

Shampoo can help loosen spit-up, food, oils, and anything else that gets into the baby’s hair. However, because it removes oil, it can also cause the hair to dry out.

The right baby shampoo is gentle enough to use regularly and will not dry out the skin or hair.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products that clearly list all ingredients.
  • Skin concerns: Where appropriate, MNT selects products that target a specific skin concern, such as dryness, eczema, or allergies.
  • Safety: MNT chooses products that contain ingredients safe for topical use in infants.
  • Reputable: MNT selects products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best natural: Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash

  • Price: $9.99
  • Size: 12 ounces (oz)
  • Age range: From birth
  • Skin type: All
  • Pro: Multipurpose, hypoallergenic, vegan
  • Con: Some plant ingredients may irritate very sensitive skin.

Puracy’s natural shampoo is hypoallergenic, tear-free, vegan, and biodegradable.

This shampoo and body wash is free from gluten, sulfates, parabens, petroleum, perfumes, and dyes.

It has a gentle citrus scent.

Refill pouches are available at $24.99 for 48 fl oz. Customers can also subscribe for regular deliveries at a discount.

Best for sensitive skin: CeraVe Baby Wash and Shampoo

  • Price: $9.99
  • Size: 8 oz
  • Age range: From birth.
  • Skin type: Sensitive
  • Pro: Hypoallergenic, multipurpose
  • Con: Not cruelty-free.

This baby wash and shampoo is unscented, hypoallergenic, and safe for sensitive skin and hair.

It has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, demonstrating that it is unlikely to irritate sensitive skin or trigger eczema flares.

Ingredients include hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and essential ceramides. It is free from fragrances, dyes, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

A larger bottle is available at $19 for 16 oz.

Best for dry skin and eczema: Baby Dove Sensitive Skin Care Baby Wash

  • Price: $9.99
  • Size: 20 oz
  • Age range:
  • Skin type: Sensitive
  • Pro: Suitable for dry and eczema-prone skin.
  • Con: Not a dedicated shampoo.

This product is a dual formula that people can use on both the baby’s skin and hair.

This wash’s formula’s moisturizing properties may suit babies with eczema and very dry skin.

It is free from dyes, fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. The bottles are made of recycled plastic.

The tear-free formula will not sting eyes, and the prebiotic moisturizer helps promote healthy skin and hair bacteria.

Best organic: Nature’s Baby Organics 3 in 1 Shampoo and Body Wash

  • Price: $20
  • Size: 16 oz
  • Age range: From birth
  • Skin type: Sensitive
  • Pro: Multipurpose.
  • Con: Higher cost than other options.

Nature’s Baby Organics 3-in-1 baby shampoo and body wash contains 70% organic ingredients, including aloe, calendula, and chamomile extracts.

It is suitable for use on the hair, body, and face.

This baby shampoo is available in various scents, including vanilla tangerine, coconut pineapple, and lavender chamomile.

It is free from gluten, GMOs, sulfates, and parabens. It is also hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, and suitable for vegans.

Best for dry scalp and hair: SheaMoisture Coconut Oil Baby Wash and Shampoo

  • Price: $10.99
  • Size: 13 oz
  • Age range: Not stated
  • Skin type: Dry
  • Pro: May promote hair quality, multipurpose.
  • Con: Contains added fragrance, may not suit sensitive skin.

According to SheaMoisture, this shampoo and wash duo moisturizes dry hair and is suitable for delicate skin.

It contains 100% virgin coconut oil, shea butter, sweet pea, and murumuru. These ingredients are moisturizing and may suit dry scalp skin and hair.

This product is free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, propylene glycol, and mineral oils.

Best vegan: California Baby Calendula Shampoo and Bodywash

  • Price: $17.99
  • Size: 8.5 oz
  • Age range: From 1 month
  • Skin type: Sensitive
  • Pro: Vegan, free from many allergens, multipurpose.
  • Con: Higher cost than other options.

California Baby’s tear-free formula is 100% plant-based and suitable for vegans.

It is free from gluten, oat, soy, dairy, nuts, sulfates, betaines, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, and other harsh ingredients.

The scent is French lavender and clary sage.

According to the company, the light lavender scent is soothing at bedtime, and the hypoallergenic formula is free of common irritants and allergens.

A conditioner is also available.

Best for fine hair: Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo & Wash

  • Price: $14.99
  • Size: 21 oz
  • Age range: Not stated
  • Skin type: Sensitive
  • Pro: Low cost, multipurpose.
  • Con: Not suitable for vegans, age suitability not specified.

This product has a low-detergent formula that cleans fine hair without stripping it of natural oils.

It contains aloe, oat, safflower, and sweet almond extracts. The packaging is recyclable.

The company claims that this product contains 98.9% natural ingredients and is free of fragrance, phthalates, parabens, SLS, and petrolatum.

Best for curly hair: As I Am Born Curly Aloe Shampoo and Wash

  • Price: $10
  • Size: 8 oz
  • Age range: Not stated
  • Skin type: Dry
  • Pro: Multipurpose, vegan.
  • Con: Contains added fragrance, age suitability not specified.

Designed for curly hair and sensitive scalps, Born Curly cleanses the hair without stripping vital oils.

When babies have kinky or curly hair, the texture many Black babies have, caregivers should use a product specifically for their hair.

Learn about Black haircare here.

Curly hair retains less moisture than straight hair, and heavy shampoos can leave the hair looking dry and frizzy-especially if caregivers do not use a conditioner. To get the most out of curly hair shampoos, use them with a conditioner.

This shampoo and wash is suitable for hair types 3 and 4.

Learn about different hair types here.

Best for cradle cap : Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash

  • Price: $12.99
  • Size: 8 oz
  • Age range:
  • Skin type:
  • Pro: Contains medication to help with minor scalp conditions, vegan.
  • Con: People may wish to purchase a cradle cap brush separately.

This product moisturizes the scalp to reduce dryness, flakes, scaling, and dandruff. It contains pyrithione zinc, a safe ingredient for treating many minor scalp conditions such as cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis.

Cradle cap causes scaly patches on a baby’s head. It is not dangerous and usually goes away on its own. The right cradle cap shampoo moisturizes the scalp and helps wash away scales and flakes.

This baby shampoo and body wash is suitable for vegans and free from alcohol, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, dyes, fragrances, and colors.

To get the most out of this shampoo, use a cradle cap balm that moisturizes the scalp, then use a cradle cap brush to remove flakes gently.

A range of cradle cap brushes is available for purchase online.

Best travel-friendly: Mustela Baby Gentle Shampoo

  • Price: $11.50
  • Size: 6.76 oz
  • Age range: From birth
  • Skin type: Normal
  • Pro: Suitable for most skin types from birth.
  • Con: Not multipurpose.

Mustela’s Gentle Baby Shampoo is dermatologist tested and has a mild formula.

Mustela states that 97% of the ingredients are organic, including avocado extract and vitamin B5.

This shampoo is tear-free and does not contain parabens, phthalates, or phenoxyethanol.

The bottle is recyclable and has a pump. The shampoo is in gel form.

A larger bottle is available at $17 for 16.9 fl oz.

The table below compares the best baby shampoos in this article on key points:

PriceSizeAge rangeSkin type
Puracy$9.9912 ozFrom birthAll
CeraVe$9.998 ozFrom birthSensitive
Baby Dove$8.4920 ozFrom birthSensitive
Nature’s Baby$2516 ozFrom birthSensitive
SheaMoisture$10.9913 ozNot statedDry
California Baby$17.998.5 ozFrom 1 monthSensitive
Burt’s Bees$14.9921 ozNot statedSensitive
As I Am Born Curly$108 flNot statedDry
Dr Eddie’s$12.998 ozFrom birthDry,
skin conditions
Mustela$11.506.76 ozFrom birthNormal

Every baby is different, and no shampoo will work well for everyone. These tips can help caregivers choose the right shampoo:

  • Consider fragrance-free products. They may be less irritating.
  • Search for shampoos that are phthalate-free.
  • Consider a sulfate-free shampoo, which may be less drying.
  • Choose a tear-free shampoo, which is less likely to irritate the baby’s eyes.

Caregivers whose babies have very dry or curly hair may opt to co-wash instead of using shampoo. Co-washing involves conditioning the hair to loosen dirt and oil, then moisturizing it. If the hair responds well to this treatment, shampoo is not needed.

When choosing the right shampoo for a baby with sensitive skin, it is important to determine why and when the skin is sensitive. Does the baby have a specific allergy? Do drying shampoos irritate their skin? Consider keeping a journal of reactions to help with choosing the right formula.

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about baby shampoos:

When do you start washing a baby’s hair with shampoo?

The National Health Service advises that a person can first use shampoo on a baby’s hair at ages 4 to 6 weeks. This shampoo should be unscented.

However, a person should only use a small amount and should not do this more than two or three times a week.

Can a baby shampoo promote hair growth?

Shampoo will not cause a baby to grow hair or make the hair grow faster. The hair growth cycle is complex and has links with hormonal and genetic factors. Babies’ hair may grow, fall out, then grow again during the first year of life.

Shampoo can, however, keep the hair healthy so that it grows long and strong.

The right baby shampoo depends on a baby’s needs and a caregiver’s goals for the hair. Try experimenting with different varieties, using each for a week or two to compare results.

If a baby has sensitive skin or allergies, consult a doctor.