What’s the deal with Baby Detergent?

You might see on your newborn baby shopping checklists that you need to buy baby detergent. But many parents might wonder why you need special detergent for your baby – why can’t you just use the same detergent for your clothes? I did some research and will go in to all the answers!

Sensitive Skin

Newborn babies have sensitive skin. When a baby is born, their skin has not developed to the levels of adults or even younger kids. In utero, babies are surrounded by moisture, and also have no direct contact with the sun. Once they are outside, they will begin to strengthen their skin, but for a while they will be sensitive. They have particularly delicate skin in the diaper area.

It’s important to keep your baby’s skin protected in the early weeks. However, you should NOT give them sunscreen. Their skin is so sensitive that sunscreen (even baby sunscreen) can give them a rash. You should instead protect them with clothes at all times, including hats, so that their skin is not exposed to the sun for long periods of time. And make sure to keep your baby hydrated! You can use some baby lotion, but don’t go overboard, use it sparingly and primarily on dry areas like the ankles. Babies have special skin so make sure to use approved lotions!

You also don’t know if your baby may have some common skin conditions like eczema or allergies, so you want to be extra safe to start!

Baby Detergent

We know babies have sensitive skin, so it makes sense that you might need baby detergent to make sure the clothes are washed properly so it doesn’t irritate their skin. This is true, but actually for most clothes, it is fine to wash with regular detergent. It is true that baby detergent can be less likely to cause a rash for babies, but for most babies, regular detergent is fine. However, if your baby has skin problems, or you want to be extra safe, baby detergent doesn’t hurt! I would recommend to get some because you never know what will be needed in those early weeks, and you’re better safe than sorry if your baby has extra sensitive skin and you don’t have time to deal with it!

However, one key piece of clothing that you should use baby detergent on is cloth diapers. The diaper area is particularly sensitive and also combined with the mess that may end up down there, is a prime area for rashes (diaper rash). Hence, you should use baby detergent and wash cloth diapers separately from the rest of your clothes.

Cloth diapers are definitely more reusable, so many parents choose to have some. There isn’t a lot of data on whether they are healthier for the baby yet though!

When and What to Buy

So you decided to use baby detergent. How long should you use baby detergent for? Most people suggest transitioning to regular detergent around the first birthday. But as noted, you don’t actually need baby detergent for anything but cloth diapers, so for other articles you can transition any time you want! If your baby has very sensitive skin or allergies, then you may opt to keep using it for longer. Your pediatrician should be able to help in those situations.

Baby detergent can be hard to find in stores. The best detergent will be hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and dye-free. Other than that, just go with what you are comfortable with! Check out two options below – the dreft has some scent but is highly recommended – and some other products we mentioned.


Baby detergent might not be necessary for your baby, but many parents opt to get some to play it safe in the early weeks. You don’t want to stress if your baby has sensitive skin, and you’ll need detergent anyway, so it’s better to be prepared! If you use cloth diapers, then baby detergent is highly recommended!

Looking for more information on baby clothes? Check out the article below

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