Toxic chemicals in sippy cups, heavy metals in baby food, potentially harmful preservatives in baby shampoos…in recent years, alarming reports about the safety of the products our little ones are exposed to daily have led parents to rethink their purchases. Melinda Olson, CEO and founder of Earth Mama Organics, isn’t surprised. “It’s simple,” she says. “Once a woman gets that positive pregnancy test, life is not just about her anymore. The choices she makes from here on out affect the baby.” As concerns about mainstream offerings mount, moms and dads are increasingly turning to green, clean and organic products with greater transparency in labeling.
A look at what’s happening on Amazon shows just how big the natural baby care category has become among mainstream shoppers. Top sellers in baby soap and bath products come from natural brands like Dr. Bronner’s, Burt’s Bees and Babyganics. “Consumers are at a crucial tipping point,” Olson says. “The big buzz around ‘clean beauty’ is a sign—and we’re seeing a record number of people looking for truly safe products from a trustworthy source.” More evidence of the booming trend comes from Statista, which reports that 32% of consumers aged 18 to 59 purchase organic baby care products almost exclusively; an additional 30% purchase mainly organic (1).
Even classic brands like Johnson & Johnson (J&J) are taking note. CNBC reported in May of last year that sales of the 124-year-old brand’s Baby Care Unit had dropped 20% since 2011; in response, the company relaunched its baby care line to include fewer ingredients and favor those that are more naturally derived (2). After that, CNBC reported in October that the relaunch bumped the company’s sales back up 20% (3).
“Consumers want to know that the ingredients going into their personal care products are safe, clean, and authentic,” says Olson. Natural products retailers have the advantage here: you already sell the best things for babies! The next step is to make it just as easy for tired, harried parents to load their carts at your store as it is for them to shop on Amazon. Consider a Baby Basics display, where customers can grab-n-go. Diapers, soap, balms and your best-selling baby food and formula, all in one place, so parents would rather pop in to your store to quickly fill their basket than to spend time hunting for items online.
Bath and body essentials
For a powder parents can feel confident sprinkling on their little ones, steer them toward products made with natural ingredients like arrowroot powder, baking soda and white kaolin clay, like Botanical Baby Powder made by Baby Carrot. For those who prefer a balm, ingredients like olive oil, shea butter and jojoba seed oil gently pamper skin—the balm from Earth Mama Organics contains these skin soothers.
Beyond powder, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that newborns only be bathed three times a week for their first year of life, in order to avoid drying out their skin (5). Baby soaps should be free of phthalates, triclosan, parabens and sulfates—Dr. Bronner’s makes one with olive oil, and Earth Mama uses calendula, shea butter and olive oil.
After the bath—or to soothe dry skin—babies can benefit from a chemical-free lotion like Poofy Supernaturals’ unscented lotion which, according to reviews, is as unscented as a thing can be.
Moving outside, mineral sunscreen is important for those baby faces. Reassure parents that, yes, it will most likely create a white film on their baby’s skin; unlike chemical sunscreen, which absorbs into the skin, mineral sunscreen creates a barrier on top of the skin. It doesn’t look pretty, but it helps ensure that man-made chemicals aren’t soaking into delicate skin.
For many of these products, it might help to have a tester next to the product—just the bottle if there’s a pump, or with swabs if it’s a jar. There aren’t many parents who will take a leap of faith with a baby product, but being able to pull at a diaper and see that it’s sturdy, or rub a lotion into skin and see that it’s creamy, makes it more a leap of love, and worth taking.
More diaper bag staples
Parents might come into your store for bathtime basics, but might grab other items as well. If you don’t sell bottles, it’s something to consider. The AAP recommends parents avoid Bisphenol A (BPA) and a number of bottles advertise as being BPA-free. The concern: After the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles in 2012, it came to light that some replacements—BPS and BPF—aren’t necessarily better, and could be worse (6, 7, 8). Philips Avent makes a borosilicate glass bottle that can go from the fridge to boiling water without breaking; silicone sleeves for glass bottles might alleviate fears of breakage. The Comotomo is 100% silicone, making it soft, flexible, and Bisphenol free. Or parents might opt for stainless steel, like the Pura Kiki—although if you’re going to stock them, reviews suggest it might be best to stick with straight stainless: users of the painted stainless steel bottles say the paint can chip. Alerting consumers to details like this will have them coming back for more. WF
News for expectant moms
Pregnant women are careful to take the best supplements and eat well, but may not be as mindful of their skincare routine. New findings suggest you may want to help raise awareness: Chemicals in personal care products that women used prenatally put their daughters at risk for early puberty.
- “Share of organic baby care products purchased by consumers in the United States as of May 2017, by age group.” Statista.com. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.statista.com/statistics/715907/share-of-organic-baby-care-products-purchased-by-age-group-us/
- Meg Tirrell, “Johnson & Johnson to relaunch baby-care line after its 20% sales decline.” Cnbc.com. Posted 5/16/18. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/16/jj-to-relaunch-baby-care-line-after-its-20-percent-sales-decline.html
- Angelica LaVito, “Johnson & Johnson beats expectations as cancer drugs, new baby care products help boost sales.” Cnbc.com. Posted 10/16/18. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/16/johnson-and-johnson-q3-earnings-2018.html
- Lisa Girion, “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder: A Reuters investigation.” Reuters.com. Posted 12/14/18. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/
- “Bathing Your Newborn.” Healthychildren.org. Last updated 11/2/09. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Bathing-Your-Newborn.aspx
- “Baby Bottles and Bisphenol A (BPA).” Healthychildren.org. Last updated 2/23/12. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Baby-Bottles-And-Bisphenol-A-BPA.aspx
- Sabrina Tavernise, “F.D.A. Makes It Official: BPA Can’s Be Used in Baby Bottles and Cups.” Nytimes.com. Posted 7/17/12. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/science/fda-bans-bpa-from-baby-bottles-and-sippy-cups.html
- Greta Stieger, “BPA substitutes and chromosomal abnormalities.” Foodpackagingforum.org. Posted 9/17/18. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.foodpackagingforum.org/news/bpa-substitutes-and-chromosomal-abnormalities
- “Vitamin D & Iron Supplements for Babies: AAP Recommendations.” Healthychildren.org. Last updated 5/27/16. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Vitamin-Iron-Supplements.aspx
- “Nutrition and Exercise During Pregnancy.” Healthychildren.org. Last updated 11/16/09. Accessed 1/3/19. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/Pages/Nutrition-and-Exercise-During-Pregnancy.aspx
- Taylor Wallace, et al., “Choline: The Underconsumed and Underappreciated Essential Nutrient,” Nutrition Today, 53(6), 240-253(2018). https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/Pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2018&issue=11000&article=00004&type=Fulltext