Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
Yes, you will need to buy separate soap for your new baby. The Irish Spring in your soap dish has too many chemicals and perfumes for your infant’s brand new, easily irritated skin. Aim for the gentle baby soaps with the lowest number of ingredients and ones you can recognize as natural. Dyes and chemicals are not your friend, no matter how nice it may make the product smell. Also, liquid soap it easier to manage than bar soap and liquid soap in a pump dispenser is even better when you’re trying to bathe a slippery infant.
We went with Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo & Wash and then, when Astrid went through a sensitive skin phase, we cut over to California Baby’s Calendula Shampoo and Bodywash. (They also make it in super sensitive, calendula and eczema formulas.) Both have minimal smell, are multi-purpose shampoo and soap, and are middle of the road on cost.
(If you were thinking of using the classic not very expensive Johnson & Johnson, as everyone did when I was a kid, you might want to reconsider in light of last year’s news that they still include cancer-causing chemicals in their US products.)
Most baby washes are also baby shampoos, so you don’t need to buy a separate product for little Alice’s hair. If she’s born with curly locks though, you’ll probably need to branch out pretty soon. When Astrid’s hair grew in and Burt’s couldn’t manage the tangles, I made the mistake of smelling Babo Botanicals gorgeous Berry Primrose Smooth Detangling Shampoo. Now we can’t go back to a less expensive product that smells less good. *sigh* (If your little one has serious tangles, they also make a detangler spray which works well and doesn’t leave super-fine baby hair oily.)
On the truly spendy end of the spectrum, Mustela also makes lovely products for baby skin and hair, but beware: they are super addictive. I have a couple of friends who got caught in the Mustela web and can’t get out!
Note on face washing: You can – and should – wash your infant’s face with just clean water. No face wash needed. As they get a little older, they may develop a little baby acne or other skin irritations at which point ask your pediatrician what she recommends. I treated the dry spots Astrid’s got as an infant with California Baby’s Calendula cream and moved to washing her face with Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser when she was about one and was getting dirtier.
Note on baby creams and moisturizers: Unless your pediatrician has said your baby needs it because of climate or skin conditions, my view is that you do not need to moisturize your baby’s already perfect skin. Someone will give you some very cute and possibly nice-smelling moisturizers at your shower, but, as with most things around infants (bright sunlight, loud noises, rollercoasters), less is more and you can just try out those pretty products on yourself. Or the cat. Whichever.