Natural Alternatives to Common Baby Care Items

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By the time our fourth child came around, I’d jumped on the minimalist bandwagon and gotten rid of everything but the essential items, including those skin care products specifically for babies.

Homemade For Baby

And you know what? He was perfectly fine! (Ok, he’s actually pretty silly, but I attribute that to his weird parents, not his lack of unnecessary baby products.)

Instead of rounding up a bundle of baby-specific products, we just used what we had on hand to take care of all of his needs:


At one point, we had more than 10 bottles of baby lotion – that we rarely used. So we got rid of them. Instead, we used a mixture of shea butter and coconut oil that rubs into the skin without feeling greasy. 

This combination is super hydrating and is even a multi-purpose remedy for diaper rash ointment! I’ll share the recipe below.

Diaper rash ointment

We used a store-brand diaper rash cream for a long time until I figured out that the reason my baby cried every time I put it on was because it burned. A lot! (I figured this out by putting it an irritated patch of skin I had. Ouch!)

So I set out to make my own ointment to use in the event diaper rash did occur (prevention is best, naturally). I needed something that was:

Soothing – Irritated skin needs something soothing, not a product that burns. After doing a little research, I decided that shea butter would be perfect because it penetrates deeply to hydrate the skin. It’s anti-inflammatory and soothing to the skin, in addition to promoting healing.

Anitfungal – One of the causes of diaper rash is yeast, caused by fungal growth. I knew my baby needed something that would knock out any yeast that might be growing and that would inhibit its growth in the future. Coconut oil was the perfect choice because of its antifungal properties.

To make a simple ointment that can be used to treat and prevent diaper rash and hydrate baby’s skin, you’ll need the following:

  • ¼ cup coconut oil, at room temperature (find coconut oil here)
  • ¾ cup shea butter (find it here)
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil (Please be sure to get essential oils that are free of any additives or pesticides that may further irritate your baby’s skin. See what we recommend here.)
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

In a bowl, whip together the coconut oil and shea butter for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix it up with a spatula a bit to make sure you get all the stuff off the bottom. Add the drops of essential oil and start whipping again. Do this for another minute or so until it looks like frosting.

Scoop it into a clean jar, slap a label on there and store it in a cool, dark place. Rub a little on baby after baths (get the diaper area!) for hydrated skin and diaper rash prevention.

Shampoo & Body Wash

Frequent washing can dry out baby’s sensitive skin, so we when we washed our littlest, we only rinsed him off with water every couple days. If he needed soap, it was usually because he smelled like cheese (milk + skin folds = yucky smell) or because a big brother or sister decided to put coconut oil in his hair.

In that event, we’d just use castile soap (I use castile soap for many purposes). In a foaming dispenser, I’d add the following:

  • 1 oz. liquid castile soap (we use an unscented kind)
  • 4 oz. filtered water
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil (find 100% pure essential oils here)
  • 3 drops orange essential oil (alternately, you can use 3 drops lemongrass and the combination will smell just like Fruit Loops)


Disposable diapers are expensive! After our second child was born, we realized how much it was going to cost us to have two kids in diapers at once, so we quickly switched to cloth diapers. We tried prefolds and covers for a while, fitted diapers and covers, and then finally settled on a one-size pocket diaper.

The initial cost of these diapers was more than the others, but the savings over time were unbeatable. They grew with the kids and were easy to put on them – even our babysitters were willing to use them. If you’re on the fence and cloth diapers just sound too intimidating, check out this great eBook, Confessions Of a Cloth Diaper Convert, which gives you all the information and tips/tricks you’ll need for cloth diapering.

If circumstances keep you from using cloth, or you need a heavy-duty nighttime solution, as we did with our youngest, try a disposable diaper that’s free of chlorine and other harsh chemicals that will soak into your baby’s skin (in a very sensitive area). (Find some here.)

I found these diapers cheapest online through a subscribe-and-save program, but I also watched ads from a local store that carries them, as they would occasionally have a sale that was cheaper than the online cost.


Diapers and wipes go hand-in-hand. Fortunately, it’s easy to make wipes yourself that don’t add to landfills and are free of potentially harmful chemicals. In our house, we just use small wash cloths.

When we need some, we get them wet (we’ve found two is usually the most we need) and use them as we would a disposable wipe. They’re far more durable and make it much easier to clean up even the worst messes. If you’d like to soak them in a solution so you don’t have to go to the sink before you change a diaper, try these easy homemade baby wipes.

Baby powder

Frankly, we never really needed baby powder. However, some babies do and I’ve found a great alternative that isn’t likely to cause an allergic response, as some commercial baby powders do. That alternative is bentonite clay powder.

It’s just one simple, healing ingredient that can be stored in a shaker bottle for easy application. (Find bentonite clay here.)

Massage Oil

I love infant massage and at one point bought a special massage oil just for that purpose. Baby oil is also recommended for this use. Unfortunately, most are made with mineral oil and many include artificial fragrances that can cause skin irritation. My DIY solution? Coconut oil.

You can use it solo or add 1 drop of lavender essential oil per tablespoon for a relaxing effect that’s safe for baby. If you do opt to add essential oils, use it all up at once or store it in a glass jar.

What natural alternatives have you tried for your baby?


About Nina Nelson

Nina is a writer, student midwife, and mama of four. She blogs regularly at Shalom Mama and loves helping others create wellness through simple living. Check out her website for more simple wellness tips.

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  1. itmeehshell says

    I so love this baby article since I have a newborn at home. Thanks!!!

    Can I use plain coconut oil as a nipple balm while breast feeding? Is it safe for newborns to ingest? The one I currently use is a homemade balm I purchased from chagrin valley soap and salves. I love it but its kinda expensive and after looking at the ingredients, I wondered if I can just use one of the oils as oppose to a combination of a bunch of oils. Got any advice?

  2. martine says

    Just bred yesterday that Dr bromer castille soap contain GMO do you know another good brand?

    • Kaylen says

      Where did you read this? Because Dr. Bronner’s donated a lot of money for the gmo labeling proposition in california last year, and they are certified organic (which already means not gmo). Just look at their twitter page right now, most of them are about a gmo labeling initiative in washington up for vote this fall.

  3. Shela says

    I can’t wait to try these formulas for healthier baby products. Does the baby body wash and shampoo irritate or sting little ones’ eyes?

  4. amber says

    For baby powder, just plain old corn starch works wonders. I love it & use it for both girls. I don’t know where to get the clay, but I do know where to buy corn starch.

  5. Roxy says

    Can you use this diaper cream with cloth diapers? I’ve just been using coconut oil but I’m not sure how safe shea butter or the oils are for cloth diapers.

  6. Jamie says

    Also, whenever my daughter’s nighttime diaper makes her tushie get that dry skin/pre-rash feeling, I smear on straight unrefined coconut oil. Takes care of it immediately!

  7. Jamie says

    I have read that citrus EOs (like orange) can cause photosensitivity. So do you recommend keeping baby out of the sun for a few days after using this baby wash? I ask because I want to start making this for bathing my toddler, but we are outside A LOT and I don’t want to risk a sunburn. Thanks! Also, thank you for making a post purely about baby products. Very helpful to me as I am fairly new to this and have been trying new ways to take care of my DD without using all the harmful chems and such. I already cloth diaper anyway and make my own laundry soap due to the diapers needing a clean-rinsing detergent. When i started washing my hair with BS/water and conditioning with ACV/water, I did the same on my DD and her hair has never been better! Both of us have prettier, shinier, MUCH more healthy hair since starting this method. Loving the savings, too!

    • Nina Nelson says

      We haven’t had a problem with sunburn since using that soap. If you’re concerned, use the lotion above or plain coconut oil to help protect her skin from the UV rays.

  8. Janey McKeever says

    This, for me, is a perfect case of “I wish I had known then what I know now.” It’s been 15 years since I had a baby in the house. I was scared to death I’d do something wrong! LOL and to make matters worse I had a sarcastic overly critical MIL who would not touch her my baby unless he smelled like fresh out of the bath baby scent- which meant 2-3 baths a day. He rashed, he hived – and I understand now that all the chemicals and unnecessary were a great cause. I’d never have allowed it- if I could go back. Ahhhh, what we learn! I love love love the bentonite clay baby powder! And I can fully understand and support the diaper rash cream! You can guarantee I will be making that for my grandkids one day! Awesome article! Thanks for writing some sense in this crazy commercialized world!

  9. Hana says

    My daughter had very sensitive eyes when she was little baby. Here and there she’d have a little ‘gunk’ in the eye area. I’d make camomile tea to wash her eyes with it. Always worked!

  10. Shera says

    Great recipes! I have been wanting to make my own lotion out of the shea butter and coconut oil for a while! I am just wondering though, what is the shelf life? Also, when you say to store the diaper cream in a glass jar, will an old baby food jar suffice? Thanks for the recipes! 🙂

    • Nina Nelson says

      Yes! You can definitely reuse a baby food jar. Kept in a cool place, I’ve had mine last for several months. If it starts to smell bad or you notice anything growing, stop using it.

      • Shera says

        Thanks for the quick reply! I have one last question- to make the fruit loop smell for the lotion, would you add 3 drops each of lavender, lemongrass and orange? I want to make sure I understand correctly! I want the fruit loop smell 😀