Best Baby Oil
Leaving skin hydrated and soft with only a few ingredients and a subtle scent is the Earth Mama Calendula Baby Oil. There's value in keeping it simple, right? We think so. The formula contains calendula-infused oil (grape seed and jojoba), and the calendula's scent is light and earthy. The oil absorbs well into the skin without leaving unwanted stickiness like some contenders, and the bottle's pump is quick and easy to use, a helpful feature when dealing with a squirmy 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. So, if you're 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 with the 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 very light fragrance of sweet orange. Again, it is ever so faint. The formula contains vitamin E and other nourishing oils, like avocado, apricot, grape seed, and jojoba. The manufacturer, Baby Mantra, mentions this 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 transparency of ingredients, plus follows good manufacturing practices.
We cannot find any significant downsides to this product. The only element we don't fancy is the disc top, as it can pour out too much oil, whereas a pump offers more control. Besides the top, we think the oil's performance and very subtle citrus scent make this product a top-notch option and one that we recommend.
The California Baby Body Oil is one of our favorites and a "go-to" for baby massages. The packaging states it is free of gluten, oat, soy, dairy, nuts, petrochemical contaminants, and synthetics. It also uses cold-pressed vegan oils. We think the mild scent (a combination of lavender and clary sage) is soothing and relaxing, and the oil absorbs well yet provides enough time to massage it into your baby's skin.
As one of the most expensive products in our review, this product's price tag is a factor to consider. Also, according to California Baby's website, the formula contains French lavender and clary sage essential oils. Although these ingredients are likely in small concentrations, any essential oil increases the potential for skin irritations. Babies' skin may differ regarding sensitivities, so 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 bottle's pump top is easy to use, and the product absorbs well into thirsty skin, leaving it soft, smooth, and non-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 may appeal to those who strive to avoid plastic; but, glass is heavier than plastic and potentially less likely to survive a fall onto hard flooring. According to Badger's website, the Roman chamomile flower oil is obtained by steam distilling the white daisy-like flower to create an essential oil. In general, any essential oil can increase the possibility of skin irritations, so we suggest spot testing on your baby's skin before full body use. Also, we enjoy the mild and earthy scent but recognize that not everyone feels the same. Nonetheless, we recommend this oil to families who 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 the classic scent of Burt's Bees, 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 moisture, and the formula's ingredient list is short, listing only mineral oil, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, fragrance, and vitamin E.
Unfortunately, the Solimo's performance was disappointing as the oil did not quickly absorb and left our testers' 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. Although the product's price tag and size make this option appealing, we think the scent is too strong for babies and believe you'll be happier with another product in our lineup.
Featuring a tropical scent is 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 that will likely last for a generous amount of time.
Although it creates a moisture barrier, we noticed that the oil took a long time to absorb, leaving skin feeling greasy and slick in the meantime. Also, we prefer to take a fragrance-free or light scent approach when selecting products for babies and believe this product's scent may be too intense for most babies. If you feel the same, we think you may enjoy a different product in our lineup. However, if you like a tropical aroma, this may be a match.
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 each product for hands-on testing, and to evaluate performance among the competition, the contenders experienced side-by-side comparisons. Also contributing and influencing our overall ranking was feedback from testers who tested and applied the oils over an extended period.
Analysis and Test Results
With multiple baby oil products on the market, it's hard to know which options are best for you and your family. We have the details on ingredients, absorption, and bottle ease of use to help you select, 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 easily accessible for 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 ingredient transparency 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 factors influenced our overall 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 have stronger scents and rank lower. They also have ingredient labels that list "fragrance" or "natural fragrance," causing us to wonder what is hidden behind this ingredient.
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 various 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 multiple attractive options to a small selection 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 baby oil can be a wonderful way to hydrate and moisturize your baby's delicate skin. If you are ready to add oil into your baby's routine, we are confident our review provides you with the necessary details so you can find a product that meets your needs and budget.
— Molly Bradac