They're something we're all familiar with and have become reliant on to keep our babies clean and mess free. We use them to wipe their bottoms, wipe their hands, and to wipe their face. Heck, we even use them on ourselves! But have you ever stopped to question what exactly a baby wipe is? What's it made from and what ingredients are used to make a sufficiently cleaning baby wipe?
These were some of the first questions I asked myself when preparing for my baby and the answers simultaneously shocked me and didn't surprise me at all. I mean, they put carcinogens in our air, food, and water, so why not our baby wipes too?
Baby wipes only made their debut in 1990 so it's no surprise that our generation have become absolutely dependent on them. They were marketed to be used on us as infants to our parents for their "convenience" and we have taken them on as infant necessity ever since. Baby wipes are pre-moistened towels that are usually made of paper or a paper and polyester blend. Polyester is made from plastic and comes with an abundance of its own issues that I'll save for another post. It gets worse once you learn what they use as the cleaning solution for our sweet babies.
I took a trip to my local Boots here in London (in the USA, Boots is the equivalent of Walgreens or Duane Reade) to check out some popular baby wipe brands that are for sale and to read up on their ingredients. By the way, did you even know there was an ingredients label on baby wipes? Now you do!
Starting from left and going clockwise: Huggies Natural Care, Huggies Pure, Johnson's Gentle All Over, Pampers New Baby Sensitive
Both the Pampers and Johnson's baby wipes contain Sodium Benzoate and Citric Acid. When these 2 chemicals combine the possibility of a new chemical called Benzene is formed. Benzene is a known carcinogen.
Both the Huggies diapers contain Polysorbate 20. Polysorbate 20 is created when treated with 20 parts of Ethylene Oxide, which can be derived from petroleum and is also a known carcinogen that can cause cancer and other mutations.
Other ingredients of concern in these baby wipes are:
Phenoxyethanol- Used as a preservative. Side effects include rash, hives, kidney problems, drowsiness, diarrhea.
Glyceryl Oleate-Used as an emulsifier. Derived from oils, but could possibly come from GMO cotton and soy. It is difficult to know for sure.
Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides Citrate- Used as a skin conditioner. Derived from highly unsustainable palm oil.
Baby girls and women who use baby wipes are particularly of concern in this situation because of the exposed nature of the vagina. If using wipes that contain chemicals and toxins like these it will be more readily absorbed into the female body and can begin to accumulate and cause damage. Bad for a woman. Worse for a baby girl.
Most chemicals are monitored and tested on by organizations like The United States Environmental Protection Agency and The United States National Toxicology Program, amongst many others worldwide. They are then deemed safe to add to our everyday items, but they still should not be trusted. There are many times something deemed safe in the past has come back in the future as an unsafe chemical that, surprise! isn't so safe anymore and has caused all sorts of ailments.
The moral of the story?
Always check ingredient labels, even on diapers, and don't trust anything you can't read and pronounce or that sounds like a robots name, especially on your child.
Nature contains within itself all that we need to care for ourselves and our precious babies we just have to search for it.
Keep in mind that just because you don’t see the wipes you use pictured here, it doesn’t mean they are safe. Read the label, although I’m certain there are questionable additives.
Even the newly popular Water Wipes aren’t 100% great. They’re made from 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract which is wonderful, but they’re also made from 80% polyester (plastic), which means they are unfortunately not biodegradable.
Since my Daughter was born I have been making her wipes myself. It's so easy and I can confidently clean her up knowing everything touching her most gentle areas is organic, natural, and safe.
Here's the recipe to my homemade baby wipes:
1 roll of bamboo paper towels
1 cup of water
1 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp Dr Bronner's Baby Pure Castile Soap
Container for storing baby wipes
1. Cut roll of paper towels in half using sharp serrated knife.
2. Place 1/2 roll of paper towels into container. Store second half for future use. 3. Combine water, coconut oil, and soap into pot and heat until all ingredients are combined.
4. Pour mixture over paper towels
5. Remove cardboard middle
It's as simple as that! I usually make 1 container at a time and it lasts about 7-10 days depending on how big your paper towel roll is and how often they’re used. That would be my suggestion for you too. You can add essential oils like rose or lavender if you like a scent and you can add more or less water, coconut oil, and soap, depending on your preference. Feel free to use for yourself too!
*Video of me making these baby wipes on my Instagram story highlights here https://www.instagram.com/Laceinne/