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You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Today's baby products contain safe, natural and effective ingredients.

Published November 9, 2005
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Gone are the days when parents had only a small selection of baby care products to choose from. Today there are so many choices-from market leaders such as Johnson & Johnson to small, start-up companies that produce natural ingredient-based baby lines. The products themselves are changing too. Where once shelves were lined with baby powders and diaper rash creams, now scented massage oils, calming lotions and cradle cap treatments have taken their place alongside the more traditional products. Even older products are getting a modern makeover with the addition of ingredients such as lavender, chamomile and tea tree oil.

According to Information Resources Inc., Chicago, IL, food, drug and mass merchandising store sales of baby care products, including lotions, oils, ointments/creams, powder, soaps and petroleum jelly, rose nearly 7% to $440 million for the year ended June 17, 2001. Baby soaps experienced a 27.3% increase from the prior year with sales of more than $96 million. Petroleum jelly sales fell -3.5% to nearly $65 million. The latest offerings contain natural ingredients, with aromatherapy and infant massage being named as some of the top trends in baby care.

Johnson & Johnson is clearly the leader in the baby care product category. While J&J has recently reformulated some of its classic products, the company still makes the traditional powders and creams that made the company a household name.

For example, J&J released a new lavender and chamomile baby powder. According to the company, it is a delicate and delightful new fragrance and a great alternative to the classic baby scent. In addition to the new baby powder, J&J has also launched Bedtime Bath and Bedtime Lotion. Both products are enriched with lavender, chamomile and other natural herbs known for their relaxing and soothing properties. Johnson's Bedtime Bath releases calming aromas when added to a warm bath. J&J's Bedtime Lotion is a soothing and relaxing lotion designed to relax fussy babies at bedtime when used with a massage.

J&J also offers Aveeno Soothing baby wash, Daily baby lotion, baby wash & shampoo and Creamy baby cleanser. The products contain natural oat and colloidal oatmeal formulas that are known for their soothing qualities.

Gerber, a fast-growing company in the baby care market, recently developed SkinNutrients formula, which contains a unique blend of seven vitamins and natural ingredients to nourish and protect baby's skin. SkinNutrients contain ingredients such as vitamin A for conditioning, vitamin D for enrichment, vitamin E for protecting, provitamin B5 for moisturizing, chamomile for softening, aloe vera for soothing and silk protein to add a silky feel to the skin. The SkinNutrients formula has been added to all Gerber skin care products, two new oatmeal products and a new lavender lotion.

"The baby products category-which includes items such as diapers, formula and pacifiers-grew by about 4% since last year," said Brett Merrell, vice president marketing, Gerber Baby Care/Wellness, Summit, NJ. "However, Gerber product innovation has driven growth in the baby skin care and health care segment. This segment has grown over 11%-more than twice the rate of the overall baby products category."

The Gerber Wellness line consists of 12 new products from hair and skin care to tooth and gum cleanser. The products are made with gentle and nourishing ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe vera and chamomile to gently soothe and moisturize. Gerber natural skin care and hair care products include Baby Shampoo, Baby Wash, Baby Lotion, Baby Powder, Baby Oil and Vapor Bath which contains menthol and eucalyptus. Each retails for about $3. In addition there is Gerber Diaper Rash Lotion and Ointment ($5), Gerber Vitamin Drops ($12) and Gerber Tooth and Gum Cleanser with natural apple-banana flavor ($4).

Gerber recently expanded its market presence by launching unique oatmeal-based products-Gerber Baby Wash with Oatmeal and Baby Lotion with Oatmeal-which have a refreshingly natural scent, according to the company. The wash contains gentle cleansers that leave the skin feeling soft and smooth. The lotion, which contains oat extract, hydrolyzed oats, sweet almond oil and carrot extract, helps keep skin moisturized and soft. Both products also contain Gerber's SkinNutrients formula.

"New skin care and health care products from Gerber are meeting customers' needs for innovation, value and convenience," Mr. Merrell added.

Playtex's Baby Magic Nourishing Hair & Body Wash with Vitamins B & E is a convenient all-in-one bath and shampoo, specially formulated with vitamins, which moisturizes and softens baby's delicate skin and hair, according to Playtex. It's tear-free, dye-free and hypoallergenic.

Not Your Mother's Baby Powder
Many baby care companies are moving beyond the traditional powders and creams. "Popular trends in baby care lines are taking a sophisticated approach to full line extensions for baby ranging beyond simple baby soaps, creams and lotions. As in Avon's new launch of beComing Mom, product selections for baby are offering multiple SKUs and sub-segmented extensions including bath time, hair/body care, skin care and sun care," said Cherie Boziak, retail product development manager, Avon.

Avon's beComing Mom is a new line of products created with the pre- and postnatal needs of a woman and baby in mind. The products, Lullaby Baby Calming Massage and Bath Oil ($12 for 8.4- oz.), contain the soothing sensation of lavender, chamomile and vanilla. Lullaby Baby is hypoallergenic, gentle and mild. Other baby care products in the line are diaper rash ointment, baby powder and lotion and gentle shampoo. Bringing fun and function together, beComing Mom also features terry cloth bibs, rattles, baby books and wash puppets. Prices range from $6.95-20.

"As we continue to move at a faster pace, taking time with baby, nurturing, calming and bonding will be key focuses. Future products will continue to be comforting and soothing for baby. Additionally, keeping mom comfortable before and after pregnancy will offer more to the baby line product mix as seen in beComing Mom's products that address specific needs," noted Ms. Boziak.

Products such as Spring Back Mom stretch mark reducing cream ($20 for 6.7-oz.), a blend of naturally emollient cocoa butter, shea butter and vitamin E, and panthenol, gently moisturizes skin to enhance elasticity and help prevent the appearance of stretch marks. In addition, there are soothing body lotions and cooling foot and leg treatments. According to the company the products answer the real needs of pregnant women that have long been overlooked by the beauty industry.

Smaller Upstarts Make Their Mark
Large corporations are not the only source of baby products. Smaller companies are getting in on the act and making their mark in the baby care market. Burt's Bees' Baby Bee Skin Care products are formulated with only pure and gentle ingredients, specially created for a baby's delicate skin, according to Burt's Bees executives. Baby Bee contains botanical oils, beeswax, vitamin E, ground herbs and flower petals for naturally rich, yet mild personal care products. The products include Baby Bee buttermilk bath 1-oz. designed to soothe irritated skin; Baby Bee Apricot baby oil,which contains no mineral oil, just pure apricot kernel oil and wheat germ oil ($7 for 4-oz.) and Baby Bee Dusting Powder, a highly absorbent product that contains cornstarch, bentonite and slippery elm bark to absorb and repel moisture ($8 for 2.5-oz. and $14 for 4.5-oz.).

Kids & Co., Staten Island, NY, is a collection of bath and body products for children under 12; launched in Europe in 1998, it is now available for distribution in the U.S. in children's stores, specialty boutiques, pharmacies, select Nordstrom's stores and online.

Included in the collection are shampoos, lotions, bath washes and oils. Kids & Co. products have been developed with children's gentle skin in mind. The pleasantly scented products, which follow the "edible scent" trend, thoroughly cleanse and moisturize children's skin. Kids & Co. products are safe for even the smallest users because they are non-toxic and non-irritating, and they do not contain any color or DEA, according to the company. All products have been formulated to match the pH of children's skin.

More and more parents are learning about the benefits of infant massage and aromatherapy; as a result, companies are responding to this demand with a host of scented massage therapy products. Mom's Kiss in a Bottle has become a strong market force in the area of infant massage products, according to Heidi Kluzak, president, Mom's Kiss in a Bottle, Taylors Falls, MN. "We offer four aromatherapy oils that are made from plant-derived ingredients scented with pure essential oils," she noted. The scented oils are called Vaporizing, Rejuvenating and Balancing; the fourth is an unscented Bonding Oil. "The caregiver can choose a scented oil that works best for the baby's physical or emotional needs, or choose the unscented oil for use in an infant massage class or to allow baby to bond with the caregiver's scent," Ms. Kluzak recommended. The aromatherapy set offers all four oils in 2-oz. bottles. The set also includes a how-to brochure, "An Introduction to Infant Massage with Vimal McClure."

Consumers who buy natural and organic food and personal care products for themselves, naturally want the same for their baby. Smaller companies touting the benefits of natural and alternative ingredients have started to make their mark in the baby care market.

"I think that the trend is a concern with ingredients. [More consumers] lean toward pure, natural, effective ingredients," said Ellen Davies, founder of Davies Gate, Irwindale, CA. The company recently launched its own baby care line called Davies Babies.

"We have a couple of unique items in our line," explained Ms. Davies. "We have an innovative massage gel that turns into an oil. It has the consistency of a hair gel and then by the heat of the hand it turns to oil. The beauty is that there is no mess. It can be absorbed into the skin and you don't have to wash it off," Ms. Davies noted.

Products in the Davies Babies line are made with gentle, natural ingredients and are specially designed so that they can be used with one hand, an added benefit that many busy parents will appreciate. They include diaper rash protection cream ($14.50); baby massage gel ($15); All-over baby wash ($13), a foaming cleanser fortified with vitamin B5 and milk proteins; Baby balm ($15) and Natural glycerin teddy bear soap ($10), a vegetable glycerin soap enriched with kukui nut oil and rice bran oil.

Little Forest, Walnut Creek, CA, was founded by Deborah Osburn, a new mom who said she discovered that some traditional baby products can contain potentially harmful materials. By blending science with nature, Little Forest created a complete product line for parents who want a safer product for their baby.

Little Forest has three product lines: Therapeutic Botanicals contains treatments to help soothe baby's minor skin ailments such as cradle cap, infant acne, eczema, sunburn, insect bites and rashes. These products contain tea tree oil as a base to produce safe and effective natural care. Daily Botanicals is a three-step system that cleanses, moisturizes and protects baby's skin. Baby shampoo and soap cleanse baby with natural oils, vitamins and aloe vera and chamomile. Baby lotion is enriched with vitamins A, D and E to help keep skin healthy. The products contain ev-ening primrose, avocado oil and aloe vera. Outdoor Botanicals sunscreen and bug repellant, which is DEET-free is formulated with citronella oil as well as tea tree, lemongrass and eucalyptus oils. The product is effective yet gentle enough for a newborn, according to Little Forest.

Most executives at baby care companies agree that gentle and natural ingredients are important in a baby care line. "We feel parents are going more natural. They are concerned about harsh chemicals and want safe products," explained Barbara Murphy-Shannon, co-founder of Arizona Babies, Gilbert, AZ. She noted that essential oils, especially lavender and chamomile, are popular. "Of course you must be sure a product is gentle because a baby has very sensitive skin. In our products we use six times less essential oils in our baby products versus an adult product. We continually strive to develop new products to meet the changing demands of our market," she said.

Arizona Babies has been developing and manufacturing a complete range of bath and skin care products for babies and children called Nopales since 1999. According to the company, Arizona Babies' products have been designed to address the body, mind and spirit of children by using desert plant extracts and essential oils, a truly holistic therapy. Arizona Babies' products do not contain any artificial fragrances, harsh chemicals or sodium lauryl sulfate. They are cruelty-free, biodegradable and hypoallergenic, according to Arizona Babies.

Arizona Babies' latest offering is New Baby starter gift set which contains Desert Decongestant chest rub & bath oil, Soothing Nopales lotion and Tranquil Time shampoo & bath wash ($20). The set includes a 2-oz. size of every product with a white baby washcloth in a soft white organza drawstring bag. The company has also developed Natural Sunblock for Children with titanium dioxide. It is SPF 25 and provides both UVA and UVB protection. Natural Sunblock is water-resistant and allows the child to be in the sun 25 times longer than without sunblock, according to company executives.

Trends for the Future
Many companies are looking to sun care as the next hot baby care segment. Ellen Davies revealed that Davies Babies plans on developing a gentle, yet effective sunscreen for babies.

"In the future, emphasis on sunscreen products for not only mom but baby will be a key focus as ultra violet rays and the sun damage that occurs early on in childhood becomes more evident," noted Ms. Kluziak of Mom's Kiss. "Quick and easy products that make clean-up convenient yet effective will be key."

"New innovative products available for baby needs beyond creams and powders utilize new technologies to control natural but unpleasant baby odors. Coming down the pike for beComing Mom is a new room deodorizer incorporating new technology that neutralizes, instead of covering up unpleasant baby odors in the air, leaving behind a fresh scent," Avon's Ms. Boziak revealed.

Today's informed parents are demanding more from their baby care products than ever before. Not only must they contain the gentlest and best ingredients, they must also be functional and easy to use. Companies must respond to these changing needs, with mild, yet effective ingredients that not only care for diaper rashes and minor skin irritations, but also place a new emphasis on wellness products for babies with added calming and soothing benefits.

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