I use Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Castile Soap on my baby, even though it is not “tear free”. Consider that babies have been washed with normal soap for a really long time before the advent of “tear free” stuff. In fact, most of us who are now washing babies were washed with non-“tear free” products ourselves, and we survived. We have to be careful to keep it out of the eyes.
To understand why I chose to abandon the realm of “baby friendly” products demands the question, “What makes ‘tear free’ products ‘tear free’?” “Tear free” products have a neutral pH. Irritation to the eyes is caused primarily from a deviation in pH. Our eyes have a very narrow window of tolerable pH, around 7.54+/- 0.01. This is ever so slightly alkaline (a pH of 7 is neutral). Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps are around 9.3, a pH not at all irritating to our skin. To lower the pH would neutralize the cleaning ability of the soap.
So, using a product with a neutral pH that doesn’t irritate a baby’s eyes but still gets a baby clean may seem like a no-brainer – until you look at what these products are made of. I never use the word “soap” regarding these substances because they are not, in fact, soap. Soap is a natural (i.e. directly from nature, not synthetic) product made by reacting animal or vegetable oils (in Dr. Bronner’s case, olive and coconut oils) with an alkali. Baby products that go by names such as “cleansers,” “baby wash,” “shower gel” or the like, are made from non-soap surfactants, which almost always means petro-chemicals, or derived from petroleum. They are very mild petrochemicals, but petrochemicals all the same. Additionally, such products will probably have synthetic preservatives which can be irritating to the skin. (We use Tocopherols, aka vitamin E.)
So, although it’s not good for the eyes, our Baby Unscented Castile soap is awesome for babies’ sensitive skin. It does not contain any of the essential oils that the other soaps have and it has twice the concentration of saponified olive oil which makes it even more moisturizing.
How to wash a baby with our Baby Unscented Castile soap:
First, I don’t use any products on my baby’s face. I use a wet wash cloth to wipe her face gently. Then, I add a couple drops of the pure castile soap to the washcloth. The washcloth helps immensely. First, you don’t use or lose as much soap. Secondly, it is easier to control where the soap goes, and you don’t have it running all over the baby. Thirdly, the soap is diluted on the wet washcloth and isn’t applied strongly to my baby’s skin. I use cup of water to rinse the soap off. It rinses very easily. To take care of her head, I tip her head back so that the water and soap run backwards off of her head. I’ve also heard that there are little bath visors babies can wear to keep the soapy water out of their eyes when rinsing their heads. I haven’t tried them, though.