Get Wet: Baby Wipes Explained

By Emily Stewart. Published on September 16th, 2017

Choosing the proper tools for changing baby nappies and a diaper is not simple. One essential ingredient to nappy changing is the proper wipe. Considering how frequently wet wipes are used and in such close contact to delicate areas, picking the best baby wipes and associated tools is imperative. Here’s what you need to know.

Baby and baby wipes, how it should be
Photo by Sadık Kuzu on Unsplash

Basic Baby Wipes

The first baby wipes were developed in the 1970’s. Then and now mainstream wipes are made of a mixture of cotton, rayon, polyester, polythylene, and/or polypropylene. Their main ingredient is water; next, a mild detergent containing amphoteric surfactants. Some wipes contain chemicals to give them a fresh scent. Finally, preservatives are added. The high water content of baby wipes makes them a breeding ground for mould and bacteria. These combined ingredients are intended to make baby wipes mild enough so that the baby might retain their skin’s natural oils while being cleansed.

Organic Baby Wipes

It is important to recognise that many green, eco-friendly, and otherwise “alternative” terms are associated with baby wipes (and nearly every product on the market). For a product to be certifiably organic, it needs to meet USDA and Ecocert standards. Wet wipes may be pH-balanced, non-toxic, sensitive (Pampers carries one such line), unscented, hypo-allergenic, biodegradable, and alcohol-free. While all good options, this does not make them intrinsically organic, eco-friendly, or natural.

While basic baby wipes ensure that all fecal residue is removed, they also leave their own chemical waste on the child’s skin. When laid directly on skin, chemicals bypass the body’s digestive system. Potentially toxic ingredients may move directly to tissues and organs. Studies suggest that some sulfates, mineral oils, phthaltes, PEGs, and other additives cause everything from endocrine diseases to neurological symptoms.

The composition of organic baby wipes varies. Some eco-friendly types are made of wood pulp or bamboo; others are made of pure cotton. No matter what, the organic baby wipe fibers must be unbleached. Although most organic baby wipes introduce as few ingredients as possible, some contain traces of essential oils and herbs for scent, like witch hazel, aloe vera, and lavender. As explained before, the high water content of baby wipes makes them prone to bacteria. An antimicrobial factor, like grapeseed extract, is essential to a wet wipes ingredients.

Baby Water Wipes

Even organic wipes contain some additive ingredients, hence the emergence of baby wipes containing only water and a mild preservative. When used very carefully, these wipes can properly cleanse. On the downside, water wipes are highly likely to contract bacteria. Parents must keep the wipes in their original container; carefully remove wipes so as not to infect the wipe below the one being pulled out; avoid warming the wipes; and to use the pack within four weeks.

How to choose the best baby wipe

When choosing a baby wipe, many factors need be considered. Different countries carry different brands. Some countries have more strict certification processes for chemical and organic products. For a quick fix that benefits the local economy, pick up wipes from your nearest pharmacy. For the greatest choice in organic and bulk options, buy baby wipes online.

Baby Wipe Tools: Boxes and Warmers

So, you’ve chosen the best wipe for your petite one. Especially if you’ve purchased the wipes in bulk, you’ll want additional tools to use them. Two popular resources are the baby wipes box and the baby wipe warmer.

Baby wipe box

While many baby wipes come in handy carrying cases with plastic lids included, you can purchase boxes on the market that work better for large-scale use and travel purposes. These boxes are meant to sit on, near, or hang from changing tables. They’re designed in such a way that the user can keep one hand on the wriggling baby while maneuvering the box with the other. Rubber seals lock in moisture and keep bacteria out. After that it’s a designer’s desire. Some baby wipe boxes have see-through sides so that quality and volume can be monitored. Some are weighted at the bottom, so that only one wipe can be removed at a time. Some even have straps for hanging off the side of a pram.

Baby Wipe Warmers

While many parents think the baby wipe warmers an unnecessary and potentially dangerous baby wipe tool, others love the fact that their tot is subject to a more pleasant touch. Baby wipe warmers are basically baby wipe boxes with a warming pillow at the bottom. The pillow acts like a sponge to keep moisture in. Ideally, this sponge also contains an anitmocrobial addition, because introducing warmth to the wet baby wipe environment is a recipe for bacteria. Some baby wipe warmers work in such a way as to only warm the top towels first. Use the wipes in the box frequently, lest the top towel dry out. In addition, many parents complain that the bottom towels tun brown. The best practice is to store only a portion your normal wet wipe use in the warmer; store the others in a sealed plastic bag for regular replacement.

Emily Stewart calls herself a “Pi-Fit-Yogi,” teaching yoga, Pilates, and blended classes all around the world. You can reach her at ahumandoing.org.

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