An Introduction to Natural Baby Wipes

Healthier and Homemade Baby Wipe Options

Experts have estimated that close to 5 million tons of untreated human waste enter US landfills every year by way of diapers and baby wipes.[1] Well over 90% of all North Americans use disposable diapers and wipes for their babies on a daily basis.[2] But not only does the convenience of disposables add to your environmental footprint, they may also be posing some potential health hazards to your baby. Read on to find out more and to explore alternatives to conventional baby wipes.

 

Potential chemicals in baby wipes

Commercially-available baby wipes can contain potentially dangerous ingredients that could harm your baby and the environment. If you can, try to avoid wipes with the following problematic ingredients:

  • 2 Bromo-2-Nitroprane-1.3-Diol (Bronopol): This chemical is used as a preservative and has been given the highest hazard rating by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for its negative effects on immunity and baby’s skin. It can also form nitrosamines (carcinogens) and formaldehyde.[3]
  • DMDM Hydantoin: This is another preservative used in baby wipes, yet it is a known human immune system toxicant and a suspected skin irritant.[4]
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): This surfactant that also gives many products a foaming quality is associated with concerns about organ system toxicity, as well as skin, eye, and lung irritation.[5]
  • Synthetic fragrances: Any time you see that fragrances or perfumes have been added, put the package back. These can cause allergic reactions for baby’s respiratory and skin systems and contribute to poor indoor air quality since they are considered volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

If ever you’re in doubt about your baby wipes’ ability to irritate baby’s skin, try rubbing one on the back of your arm—if it burns, it’s likely to do the same to your child’s sensitive skin.

 

Natural baby wipes 

Thankfully, there are plenty of options for those looking for natural baby wipe alternatives. Whether you choose reusable cloth baby wipes, flushable, biodegradable baby wipes, or something in between, you’ll find that the options are both healthier for your child and healthier for the planet.

  • Make your own homemade baby wipes: There are many recipes online now for making your own baby wipes using natural essential oils and soaps combined with reusable flannel fabric pieces. Baby wipes that are homemade allow you to control what goes into them and how much waste you produce. For a few good options, check out: BabooBaby, Growing a Green Family, Natural Moms, One Love Livity, Natural Violet, or Natural Birth and Baby Care.
  • Compostable and flushable baby wipes: Flushable and compostable baby wipes are made with materials that will readily break down when they are thrown away, making them less of an environmental problem than conventional options. Some are even made from things like bamboo, which is highly renewable and has many natural benefits like built-in antimicrobial abilities. As with any wipes, you’ll want to look for options that eschew the ingredients already mentioned and just be sure you look for chlorine-free baby wipes, too. Brand options include: Bambino Mio Wipes, Clearly Herbal, Nature Babycare, GAIA, Seventh Generation, Broody Chick, or Earth’s Best.
  • Washcloth and baby soap method: One of the simplest solutions to the baby wipe dilemma is to just add a few drops of natural baby soap to a warm wet washcloth or burp cloth and use that for wiping up. This method is a big money-saver, especially if you just launder these with your regular baby wash loads.
  • Reusable baby wipes: Reusable baby wipes are a cheap solution. Of course, chlorine-free is important with these reusable baby wipes. Choose reusable cloths such as the following: Under the Nile, GAIA, The Natural Baby, BabyKicks, ImseVimse, bumGenius, New and Green, or Happy Heinys.





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References

1 Diapers, Diapers & More Diapers. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2010, from The New Parents Guide: http://www.thenewparentsguide.com/diapers.htm

2 Why Use Cloth? (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2010, from The Real Diaper Industry Association: http://www.diapernet.org/whycloth.htm

3 2-Bromo-2-Nitroprane-1.3-Diol (Bronopol). (n.d.). Retrieved from Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

4 DMDM Hydantoin. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2010, from Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Database: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=702196

5 Sodium lauryl sulfate. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2010, from Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Database: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=706110

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