baby taking bath

You want to give your baby the very best of care, right? Taking care of their skin is a daily practice. But sometimes the most common products, such as baby oil, aren’t the best for baby’s skin. The primary ingredient in almost every brand is mineral oil, and if your purpose in using baby oil is to keep your baby’s skin soft and moisturized, then mineral oil is the wrong kind of oil to use.

What Mineral Oil Does

Sure, mineral oil feels soft and silky, but it doesn’t function as a moisturizing agent. Instead of penetrating the pores to moisturize the skin, mineral oil forms a barrier over the pores, preventing anything from getting in or out. In some cases, a protective barrier over baby’s skin can be just what you need, but is mineral oil really the best choice? Mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum; in fact, liquid petroleum is its synonym.

Mineral Oil Alternatives

Fortunately for those of us who don’t like the idea of smearing a petroleum by-product on our baby’s skin, there are plenty of other options. You can use any of these as a base oil in one of the baby oil recipes below, and be confident knowing you are actually doing something good for your baby’s skin. I haven’t specified organic for these, but you can find organic versions of almost any of these options at a local health food store, which is, of course, even better for baby.

Base Oils

  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil, unlike many other oils we commonly use, is a solid at room temperature. That makes it a great substitute for Vaseline (another petroleum by-product) and also super as a baby oil that’s easier to use without spilling. You can find coconut oil, usually organic and non-organic, at almost any grocery store in the baking section.
  • Almond Oil: Almond oil is a light, fabulous carrier oil. It has a mild, sweet smell and has some antimicrobial properties.  
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin, cold-pressed and organic olive oil is one of the best things you can use on your skin. The complaint most people have is that they don’t really want to walk around smelling like an olive press. Understandable, but still, if you don’t mind the scent, this is a great choice for skin. It’s full of antioxidants, super moisturizing and full of vitamins. This might be a good choice to use at night right before you put baby to bed.

Baby Oil Recipes

Basic DIY Baby Oil

The easiest and simplest verison of homemade baby oil is to simply use one of the base oils mentioned above, straight up. Any of the base oils will keep for a long period of time at room temperature. Decant a small amount of almond or olive oil into a squirt bottle and keep it on the changing table, or put coconut oil in an airtight container and keep it handy with the diaper-changing supplies. Use any of these base oils in place of baby oil or diaper creme for naturally moisturized and protected skin.

Lavender and Vitamin E Baby Oil

If you want a little something more than just a base oil, try this recipe. Mix about 3 capsules of Vitamin E and 10 drops of lavender essential oil (available at health food or herb stores) with 6 ounces of your liquid base oil. Test on a small part of baby’s skin for any sensitivity or reaction to the lavender. Lavender is an awesome additive for your baby oil; it’s full of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and adds a delicious, delicate smell.

Herbal Infused Baby Oil

The most complex recipe out of the group, this one involves a little bit of cooking. Heat up 6 to 8 ounces of your base oil (solid or liquid) in a pan on the stove. When the oil is warm all the way through (or, if solid, it has melted all the way through), add 2 tablespoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried herbs. You can use a single herb or a combination. Let the herbs and oil simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain through cheesecloth, and let cool. Some herbs we love are lavender, calendula, chamomile, rose petals, rose hips and lemon balm.

Image: Dean Wissing.