6 Ingredients to Avoid in Baby Products

Today I have the pleasure of having my dear friend Loriel from Healthy Roots, Happy Soul as a guest blogger. You may remember she visited once with her recipe for Shrimp Linguine with Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach. If don’t know Loriel yet, I hope you visit her blog, there you can find Real Food recipes like this Smoked Fishe Dip, or this Crispy Rosemary Pan Fried Chicken. Beyond food, Loriel really knows her stuff when it comes to GMOs, and has lots of great DIY nontoxic recipes!

Isn’t it amazing how many cute and cuddly bottles and tubes can be found in the baby section at your local store? I mean, it’s kind of overwhelming! Which one do you choose, the one with the cute teddy bear or the one with the butterflies and flowers?
Neither, until you read the ingredient label of each product! While many may feel that because these companies put so much time into creating such an adorable bottle they must have taken the time to formulate something incredibly safe for your baby — cute, fuzzy head to little, munchable toes.
I mean seriously though! You would think that the makers of these products are fully aware of how sensitive and delicate a baby’s is. They must know that babies are incredibly vulnerable to all environmental factors because of how thin their skin is. They must know that babies are more prone to irritations and rashes and that their skin absorbs everything much more quickly than ours do.
Well, it’s probably in your best interest to never assume anything when dealing with multi-billion dollar corporations — just saying!
The fact of the matter is this: Baby products are often worse than adult products because they are so much more sensitive and fragile. Baby products are filled to the brim with ingredients you wouldn’t even want to put on your body!
A huge percentage of conventional baby products that are marketed for delicate skin — and even some “green” products — contain recipes that will cause irritations, rashes, teary eyes, diaper rashes and more. All things you would never wish upon your new bundle of love.
To help you stay clear of putting your baby in that kind of predicament, here is a quick list of 6 ingredients to avoid in baby products.

1. Propylene Glycol

By definition, propylene glycol is a liquid alcohol used as a solvent, in anti freeze, and in the food, plastic and perfume agencies. Meaning, if products have the word “fragrance” in it, there is a large chance that propylene glycol is included.
It is used as a penetration enhancer and emulsifier and can cause intense burning in the vaginal and perianal area. In baby products, you can find propylene glycol in baby wipes and you may even find them in ointments, shampoos/conditioners, etc.
Propylene glycol may not have such high concentrations that it could seriously hurt your baby, but the fact that it does have irritating, allergenic properties should be enough to keep it away from your baby’s gentle, sensitive skin.

2. Mineral Oil

By definition, mineral oil is a distillation product, especially one used as a moisturizer, lubricant and laxative. Many companies use this product because of the low cost and because it is praised for it’s lubricating action (think lotion smoothly lathering). Involved in mineral oil’s production is sulfuric acid, absorbents, solvents, and alkalis which is not exactly what I’d want to put on my baby’s skin! The scariest part is that you can go from mineral oil to baby oil with one drop of synthetic fragrance. Yikes!
Unfortunately, mineral oil is considered comedogenic which basically means it blocks your pores and skin’s natural breathing process. It acts as a coating, basically suffocating your skin (think: having plastic wrap coated on your body) and, if there are any beneficial ingredients in the product, mineral oil will not allow them to absorb.
In baby products, you may find mineral oil in diaper creams, baby wipes and lotions. Studies have even shown mineral oil paraffins to bioaccumlate in both fat tissue and mother’s breast milk which makes it equally as important to be conscious of the things you are putting on your own body. This is of serious concern because mineral oil has been linked to 23 different diseases and is said that baby may receive about one percent of the mineral paraffin accumulated in your body and breast milk (source).

3. Triethanolamine (TEA)

By definition, triethanolamine is a strongly alkaline substance used as surfactant and pH adjusting chemical. Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid.
According to the Environmental Working Group, a moderate concern with TEA is that it may be linked to organ system toxicity or infertility and can be irritating to the skin. The biggest concern, in my eyes, is that it may be contaminated with the highly potent carcinogen, 1,4-Dioxane. You can learn more about this carcinogen by clicking here.
TEA — and it’s cousin’s DEA and MEA — can be found in a range of baby lotions and creams. Since this chemical is completely unnecessary, it is simply best to avoid products that contain this ingredient altogether. There are many green baby products available that do not have any members of the TEA/DEA/MEA family.

4. Parabens & Other Preservatives

By definition, a paraben is any of a group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and in the food industry. The whole reasoning behind using parabens is to prohibit the growth of any kind of microbe in cosmetic and personal care products. Parabens are found primarily any products that contain significant amounts of water, as water can inhibit the growth of microbes. Parabens can be found as any of the following ingredients: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben.
The biggest concern with parabens is they are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens have even been found in biopsies from breast tumors. Since a baby’s hormonal system is not yet mature, parabens can cause irreparable damage to the developing endocrine system! Can you imagine putting something like that on your newborn or growing baby??
To make matters worse, there have been no studies — unsurprisingly — confirming the safety of paraben preservatives for babies.

5. Fragrance

By definition, a fragrance is a pleasant, sweet smell. Unfortunately, fragrances in cosmetic and personal care products are anything but sweet. You may say, “Well, some scents really are sweet. I love the warm smell of vanilla.” Sorry to burst your fragrance bubble but the word fragrance is a trade secret, which means they are not required to disclose fragrance is. There can be up to 12,500 separate ingredients that make up the word fragrance, so that vanilla smell may be a concoction of who knows what or maybe beaver anus. Not so sweet anymore, huh?
Baby products are no different! It seems many companies put all sorts of “sweet” smelly ingredients to make mama’s feel all warm inside, which makes the product sell better. The bottom line is this, any synthetic fragrance is an irritant. It’s best to stick to unscented or products that use natural essential oils as the fragrance.

6. Synthetic Colors

By definition, synthetic colors are made up from petrochemicals and Coal tar. Actually, I had to search around the web to find what synthetic colors were made from because when I looked for the definition, I found this: (Synthetic Colors) These are too often a major contributor to many skin irritations, synthetic colors used to supposedly make a cosmetic “pretty” should be avoided at all costs, along with hair dyes. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number.
Do you really think your baby really cares if the lotion that is being rubbed on them is a pretty pink or warming yellow color? I didn’t think so. Babies just want to be loved and comfortable. So the less chance of their skin becoming irritated from synthetic colors or fragrances, the better.
Some products may use natural methods of creating a color but more often than not, the color in baby bathes, washes and lotions is achieved by adding synthetic colors. Many artificial colors have been linked to a serious of health problems and can be considered toxic by many.

What Products To Use Instead?

As always, the best way to be in complete control of the ingredients you put on your baby’s skin is to make them yourself. There are many natural mama sites and recipes flowing the web
If you are not much of a DIY’er, a couple brands I have used personally, exclusively and that I really love are brands like California Baby, Weleda, and Earth Mama Angel Baby.
You can also go to the Environmental Working Group’s website and check to see what they think of the baby product you have considered buying or have already bought.

Meet Loriel

Loriel is the author of Healthy Roots, Happy Soul. She is a mother of one young boy who keeps her on her feet and motivated to continue to learn how to make her home and world a better place to live in. She enjoys writing about natural living, GMO’s, easy real food recipes and hopes to inspire people to think about their health, feel nourished, believe and create a radiating happy soul. You can follow Loriel on Facebook and Pin with her on Pinterest. Visit her at www.healthyrootshappysoul.com.


About Stephanie

Stephanie is a stay-at-home mom to her curly-haired two year old son, a nursing student, dog lover, and yoga enthusiast. She loves to share her tips on making green and healthy living attainable to families getting
started in the wonderful world of eco-consciousness. She believes in
real food and living as natural as possible…and why not, leaving behind a
better planet for our children.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget Cane/Kane, I’m not sure on how it is spelled; it is the active ingredient for no tears formulas but actually just makes it numbs their little eyes…so they feel the pain…

  2. It’s difficult to identify whether or not which type of fragrance (natural or synthetic) is in a product. Be careful if it’s unscented. Nothing is truly unscented. This means a chemical process has taken place to remove any scent that was in the product! Legally companies have to label products have fragrance even when only natural fragrance is present. I work in the cosmetic industry and have knowledge in this based on training. A good indicator is to look where the product is made. Europe/Canadian product standards tend to be higher than the US. Though, research should be done when buying products; especially baby products. I love Live Clean, an organic plant-based Canadian brand. Also, making your own products from ingredients such as essential oils is usually your safest bet. Then you know what’s in it!

  3. I love your post. I am an Ava Anderson consultant and we carry products free of everything you just listed. It’s so eye opening to see that companies can put these harmful chemicals in our baby products. Should be against the law. If you would like more info http://www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/ashleyspence

  4. Honest and Babyganics products are awesome!

  5. Great post! I’m an Ava Anderson Consultant and their baby stuff is AMAZING! It has a clean, light smell and is all 100% non-toxic and organic. It’s all I would ever put on a baby. I cringe when I see moms load their babies up wih Johnson & Johnson 🙁 thanks the sharing the information!

  6. Christine says:

    No wonder!! I Hate Johnson & Johnson lotion! It burns my face! Every time I’ve tried it, it burns to the point that I have to wash it off. I refuse to use it on my little one. If it hurts me, I couldn’t imagine what I’d do to my baby! Thanks for the list!!

  7. Amanda @ Erickson and Co. says:

    I also avoid SLS and things that sound like it, silicones, pet’s, etc. I hate that I have to read all the ingredients in everything before I buy anything, I wish that companies would just make their products safe and healthy. I love buying from small companies that use herbs and natural products and really care about their products.

  8. I agree. The EWG is a great source for info on baby products. I also find that we don’t really need to use nearly as many different baby products as they market to us moms!

  9. Super useful list. We have linked your page on our facebook page.

  10. This is such a helpful article, although I admit I am also a little overwhelmed! I have been making our own baby wipes to save money and be sure what I’m using on my son is safe. The recipe I use, however, calls for 1TB of baby oil and 2 TBs of baby soap (plus water). Should I be using different ingredients?

    • Hi Bonnie, it can be overwhelming. That’s how I felt when I first started learning about all this; the good thing is you are on the right path. As far as the baby wipe solution, I’m of the opinion that less is more. All you need is water and a squirt of baby wash or shampoo. If you use cloth diapers the baby oil may actually cause repelling issues. Hope that helps!

  11. Thanks for including alternatives as well!

  12. This is such an informative post! I agree completely!!


  1. […] you use any baby products that have these 6 ingredients that Stephanie of Naturally Mindful suggests we […]

  2. […] read the complete post and find out what 6 ingredients you should avoid in baby products, head over to my friend Stephanie of Naturally Mindful. I have guest posted for her to help her out […]

Speak Your Mind