Baby Wipes – the good, the bad & the really bad

You may have noticed I’ve been very poor on the posting lately, entirely due to me being completely distracted by my new family member. For that, I’m not sorry! He’s adorable! But whilst I have been spending these last 4 months with my little guy I haven’t stopped thinking about what we’re putting on our skin though. Obviously it’s not all about fake tan and mascara’s now, we’ve added nappies, baby wipes & creams to the mix as well.

I got it in my head whilst pregnant, that baby wipes were a massive gimmick. I had decided to shun toxic, wasteful, non-biodegradable wipes in favour of wet washers. I was simply going to moisten a washer, wipe clean baby’s bum and then throw used washer in with all my cloth nappies to soak, wash & reuse. I bought a small travel pack of wipes to use while out of the house, but other than that I was going full eco… hahaha! We hadn’t even left the hospital before I sent my partner out to go buy some more wipes!

Not all wipes are created equally though. Baby wipes have been linked to dermatitis (SMH, 2014) in babies, thanks to their cheap & nasty chemicals. So many products on the market designed for babies and their incredibly delicate skin are completely full of dangerous, nasty chemicals. This really makes me mad! Of all people we should be taking extra care of, the companies continue to put known carcinogens in their products.

little innoscents baby wipesBaby wipes are designed for cleaning babies skin – especially during nappy changes. So as far as ingredients go, you expect to see some sort of cleaning agent and water. Unfortunately, water helps bacteria grow so you also need a preservative to stop that from happening. The worst preservative, in my opinion, that can be found in baby wipes is a preservative that releases small amounts of carcinogenic formaldehyde into the baby wipes over time.

Taking a look at the ingredients in one very popular brand’s wipes, I ran them through the EWG’s Skin Deep, Cosmetic’s Database to see what they had to say:

  • Butylparaben – Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes
  • Methylparaben – Endocrine disruption
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1-2-diol – This releases formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. It is also an irritant to the skin, eyes and lungs.
  • Phenoxyethanol – Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards, Use restrictions, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Allergies/immunotoxicity
  • Mineral Oil – Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), and not to mention it’s also a bi-product of oil. Also, mineral oil gets touted as being a great hydrator, but it actually strips your skin of moisture
  • Fragrance  – Where do we begin! Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Ecotoxicology. Yuck!

If you want to learn more about the specific ingredients to avoid, here’s a great article from “I read labels for you” which explains them really well. You’ll also learn about formaldehyde-releasing preservatives too.

natural baby wipes

There’s no need to use these, or similar, wipes when there are so many wonderful alternatives. And of course we’ve tried them! In no particular order, here’s our favourites:

1. Naty by Nature Babycare, Unscented

No fragrance and one of the cleanest formulations around. with a good, soft, strong construction they do the job very nicely.

Easily purchased from Woolworths stores for $5/56 wipes or $8.93/100EA.

2. Tooshies by TOMs

Probably the plushest of the wipes with their thick, embossed design. These are thick, strong a sturdy so great for cleaning up explosions. These are my partners favourites! They’re also made from sustainable plant-based materials meaning they are 100% biodegradable/ compostable which is just awesome!

Buy them from Chemist Warehouse and some selected Coles supermarkets for $4.69/70 wipes or $6.70/100 EA.

3. Little Innoscents Baby Wipes

No fragrance and lovely and strong. The wipes are super soft and can be used on practically every body part, including faces and bums. They even double as a refreshing makeup wipe.

I buy these from either Nourished Life or Chemist Warehouse. Great value too, at $6.50/80 wipes or $8.13/100EA

4. WOTNOT Biodegradable Baby Wipes

These are the safest nappy wipes I’ve found on the market. They’re soft, strong and environmentally friendly (many wipes aren’t) and fully biodegradable & compostable. I’ve been using these long before I was pregnant and found them to be super gentle and great makeup removers! My baby seems to love them just as much as I do.

They’re the most expensive on my list at $7.60/80 wipes or $9.50/100 EA and can be harder to source. I’ve bought them from Nourished Life and my local health food shop.

5. Ecoriginals

We’re currently using these as I’ve signed up for a nappy subscription with these guys (you can too). What can I say – love their nappies and love their wipes! They tick all the boxes for me – naturally derived ingredients, thick embossed sheets for easier wiping and biodegradable and compostable. Love!

I buy straight from Ecoriginals for $6.75/70 wipes or $9.53/100 EA.

Note: you can get them cheaper by buying in bulk or ordering as part of a nappy subscription, like I did.

Tip: don’t get tricked by the marketing of some brands which claim they’re natural, organic. Even if ‘organic’ is in the brand name; like one suspect brand I found! Double check the ingredients before buying, every time.

Note: just because something’s compostable, doesn’t mean you should add it to your compost. If it’s unused it’s fine, but once it’s got excrement on it you don’t want to be adding it to your garden compost for obvious reasons :-)

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