Best Baby Oil
The Earth Mama Calendula Baby Oil boasts a short ingredient list and subtle scent. There's value in keeping it simple, right? We think so. The formula contains calendula-infused oil (grape seed and jojoba), and it absorbs adequately, leaving skin hydrated and soft. The calendula scent is light and earthy, and we favor the pump top, which is easy to use when multi-tasking with a baby. The packaging states it is free of petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, artificial fragrance, or nut oils.
Although we think the calendula scent is pleasant, we recognize that not everyone shares the same appreciation. However, it is subtle and light, not overpowering. If you are a fan of calendula, we recommend this product and think it is an excellent addition to your baby's routine for keeping dry skin at bay.
Lock in moisture and keep baby's delicate skin hydrated with Baby Mantra Calming Massage Oil. This oil absorbs completely, forms a moisture barrier, and leaves skin soft to the touch, not greasy. It also has a light fragrance of sweet orange, but it is ever so faint. The formula contains vitamin E and nourishing oils, like avocado, apricot, grape seed, and jojoba. Baby Mantra claims the product is gluten-free and vegan, and the packaging states it is free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, or synthetic fragrances. The massage oil is EWG verified, meaning it avoids EWG's ingredients of concern, provides full transparency and follows good manufacturing practices.
We cannot find any significant downsides with this product. The only element we don't fancy is the disc top, which can quickly pour out too much oil, whereas a pump offers more control. Besides the top, we think the oil's performance and subtle citrus scent make this product top-notch, and we recommend it for your baby's skin, hair, and scalp.
The California Baby Body Oil is one of our favorites and a "go-to" for baby massages and hydrating baby's skin. The packaging states it is free of gluten, oat, soy, dairy, nuts, petrochemical contaminants, or synthetics. It also uses cold-pressed vegan oils. We think the mild scent (a combination of lavender and clary sage) is soothing. It absorbs well yet provides enough time to massage it into your baby's skin.
The product's price is a factor to consider as the most expensive product in our review. Also, it contains French lavender and clary sage essential oils, which may increase the chance of skin irritations. Since babies' skin may differ in sensitives, we suggest spot testing before marinating your little one. We recommend California Baby to families who don't mind a mild scent and seek an oil for massaging baby into sweet slumber.
Are you on a budget but don't want to compromise ingredients? The Honest Company Organic Body Oil may be a match. The formula contains nourishing ingredients, like sunflower, coconut, olive, jojoba, avocado, and tamanu oil to lock in moisture and soften skin. The packaging states it is made without silicone, PEGs, mineral oil, fragrances, dyes, and parabens. We experienced no issues with its absorption, and the scent is mild and citrus-like, likely because it contains grapefruit peel oil. The pump is easy to use (a top we favor), and a little oil goes a long way.
We consider the product's scent to be moderate - slightly more potent than light, yet not too powerful, and this is a factor to consider if your family is sensitive to fragrances. If not, we think this product is excellent, plus it offers quality ingredients at a budget-friendly price.
The Badger Calming Baby Oil stands out among the competition as the only contender to use 100% USDA Certified Organic ingredients. The pump is quick and effortless to use, and the product performs well by adequately absorbing into the skin, leaving it soft, smooth, and not greasy. The formula uses cold-pressed oils (olive and jojoba), and the manufacturer claims it contains no chemicals, synthetics, parabens, or GMOs.
The bottle is glass, which is not a deal-breaker. In fact, some users who strive to be plastic-free may appreciate this factor. But, keep in mind, it is heavier due to material and less likely to survive a fall onto hard flooring than plastic. Also, the product has a mild earthy scent and contains essential oil. With any product that uses this ingredient, we suggest spot testing before using all over your baby's body. Nonetheless, we recommend this oil to families who enjoy a moderate scent and value its organic ingredients.
Featuring Burt's Bees classic scent, the Burt's Bees Baby Oil performs well, leaving skin moisturized and silky. The formula contains apricot, grape, wheat germ, sunflower, and soybean oil, among other ingredients. The manufacturer claims it doesn't contain phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS.
Some users believe the Burt's Bees aroma is lovely, and although we think it smells nice too, it is strong, and we prefer products with less scent for baby. We don't mind that sweet baby smell. Also, the product lists "natural fragrance" as an ingredient and doesn't disclose this information. We value products with label transparency, even if it is their trademark scent or special recipe. However, if you enjoy Burt's Bees classic scent, this product might meet your needs and budget.
The Solimo Baby Oil boasts a low price tag, large quantity, and a strong scent, one that reminds us of Johnson's and Johnson's trademark fragrance. It effectively traps in moisture and leaves skin smooth. The formula contains mineral oil, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, fragrance, and vitamin E.
Unfortunately, the oil did not absorb as quickly and left our skin feeling greasy and slick for some time. The product also lists "fragrance" as an ingredient, and we prefer products with label transparency that disclose this information. However, this inexpensive product may be a good fit if you like a heavily scented product.
If you like a tropical scent, you may enjoy the Johnson's Shea and Cocoa Butter Baby Oil. This product contains mineral oil with shea and cocoa butter. It seals in moisture, softens skin, and comes in a large quantity.
Although it creates a moisture barrier, the oil took a while to absorb, leaving skin greasy and slick in the meantime. Also, the scent is powerful, and we prefer to take a fragrance-free or light scent route with babies. However, if you like a mighty tropical aroma, you may like this product.
Why You Should Trust Us
The BabyGearLab team has been testing baby products over the past decade, and it is safe to say that we have become baby gear experts. Leading our review is Molly Bradac, Senior Review Editor, professional Nanny, and Newborn Care Specialist with over 14 years of experience. Molly's expertise and knowledge of all-things-baby make her a pro at identifying top-notch products and offering recommendations. We purchased, and hands-on tested all contenders in our review to analyze and evaluate performance.
Analysis and Test Results
We have the details on ingredients, absorption, and bottle ease of use to help you select the right option for your family, plus feel good about what product you are using on your baby's delicate skin.
We value label transparency and applaud manufacturers who go the extra mile to make this information clear and accessible to consumers. Resources like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) can break down the health and safety of ingredients. But, keep in mind, some ingredients lack sufficient data.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, manufacturers are not required to disclose "fragrance" ingredients,, and they may contain hundreds of chemicals and complex mixtures. In our opinion, even the term natural fragrance leaves us with reservations as it lacks transparency of ingredients and can be misleading.
We believe a product with a long ingredient list and powerful scent can increase the probability of skin irritations and sensitivities. Therefore, we prefer products with fewer ingredients and little to no fragrance. Frankly, less is more, plus we think babies don't need fragrances to smell amazing. Both of these factors influenced our ranking of products.
Unfortunately, no oil in our review is fragrance-free, but those with a light scent include, Baby Mantra Calming Massage Oil and Earth Mama Calendula Baby Oil, and they were rated higher. However, the Solimo Baby Oil, Johnson's Shea and Cocoa Butter Baby Oil, and Burt's Bees Baby Oil rank lower. They have ingredient labels that list "fragrance" or "natural fragrance," and they have strong fragrances that we think are too potent for babies.
Some products in our lineup use flower oils and extracts, ingredients obtained through distillation, or soaking plant material in a substance for a long time. They provide a lovely aroma, an alternative to synthetic fragrances. Although they are in a carrier oil, the amount is unclear, and they can increase the chance of skin sensitivities, too. We advise discussing with your pediatrician what product you intend to use and when you plan on incorporating it into your baby's skincare routine. Also, test a small amount on your baby's skin to look for skin irritations before slathering.
Bottle Ease of Use
Having an easy to use bottle can make all the difference, especially when you have a wiggly baby. Our lineup includes a variety of bottle tops, and given the option, we prefer and gave credit to bottles with a pump top. It is quick and easy to use, plus it pumps an adequate amount of oil without the mess or hassle of holding a greasy bottle. Products that feature a pump include the Earth Mama Calendula Baby Oil, Badger Calming Baby Oil, and The Honest Company Organic Body Oil.
Disc top caps, seen on the Burt's Bees Baby Oil and Baby Mantra Calming Massage Oil bottles, don't provide as much control and require some attention to avoid pouring too much as oil comes out quickly. Also, the Solimo Baby Oil and Johnson's Shea and Cocoa Butter Baby Oil have child-safe twist tops that require you to push down and twist to open, a two-handed operation.
If you have narrowed down the options to a small selection of potential products that you are interested in purchasing, and they perform equally, consider how easy a bottle is to use to help your decision-making.
Science shows newborn skin anatomy is different than adults, mainly in structure (it is thinner) and function. It continues to change during the first year of life and tends to be more vulnerable than grown-ups. Therefore, the skin care products you apply to your baby's delicate skin commands attention. Indeed, dry and scaly skin is common among babies, and moisturizers, like oil, can benefit a baby's skin barrier.
Lotion vs. Oil
So, what is the difference between lotions and oils? Let us explain. A lotion contains a mix of oils and water, bonded by an emulsifier, and includes a preservative because water can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Oils contain no water, only nourishing oils. Thus, they have no emulsifiers or preservatives. Sometimes a formula may contain antioxidants, like vitamin E, to keep a product from going rancid and increase shelf life. A good rule of thumb for any skincare product without preservatives is to be mindful of expiration dates and use your best judgment.
So, how does it work? Oil works best when the skin is wet to trap moisture for ultimate hydration, leaving your skin soft and moisturized. After a bath is a great time to use oil, and after a few minutes of rubbing, oils should absorb.
Adding oil to your baby's routine naturally brings us to the topic of baby massage, which is highly beneficial. It can have a calming effect, increase baby's quality of sleep, and facilitate parent-child interaction and bonding. Honestly, the power of touch is incredible, and if time allows, we suggest taking a few minutes to incorporate therapeutic massage.
Babies' skin can be dry and scaly, and if you choose to use baby oil to trap in moisture to keep your baby's skin hydrated and soft, we are confident that our lineup includes a product that will meet your needs and budget.
— Molly Bradac