This post contains some affiliate links.
When Eden was born, I had full intentions of using cloth nappies and warm water with reusable wipes. I bought the whole kit but just didn’t get on with the nappies, and once I started using disposable nappies it then wasn’t quite so easy to manage the regular washing of the cloth wipes; I just didn’t have the volume for a separate wash cycle for wipes alone, and so I switched to disposable wipes. I used the Jackson Reece Natural Wipes since the label states that don’t contain benzoates or other harsh chemicals and I was happy with those. I did try Water Wipes as well but I found them too wet and they gave Eden nappy rash.
I continued to use the Jackson Reece wipes right up until Elisha was born when he had an allergic reaction to them on his first ever nappy change; I’m talking blisters all over his newborn bum! I was horrified. Whilst I had never had any issue using them on Eden, I stopped using them.
So, whilst more natural brands are definitely better, and I would certainly recommend using them over more conventional brands, I had to look for an even gentler alternative.
What’s wrong with conventional wipes?
As a general rule, conventional baby wipes (no differently to any other cosmetic and personal hygiene products) can contain a whole list of questionable ingredients; far too many to look at individually in this one post, so perhaps I will do something like that at a later date.
Some brands of wipes will however advertise that they are free from phenoxyethanol, parabens and fragrance. That sounds great, but what are those exactly and why should they be avoided?
Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative and/or stabilizer in many cosmetic products like make-up, moisturisers, soap, perfume, toothpaste, nail polish, baby wipes and baby lotions. Exposure to phenoxyethanol has been linked to reactions ranging from eczema to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions and infant oral exposure to phenoxyethanol can acutely affect nervous system function. That’s right, acute. Surely no-one would ever put that in nipple cream then..? Oh right. And have you ever tried keeping everything out of an infants mouth lately? Impossible.
Parabens are used as preservatives in a huge variety of personal care products and foods and are absorbed through the skin, blood and digestive system. Parabens are endocrine disrupters, which means they are toxic chemicals that interfere with hormone systems in the body. This interference can lead to cancerous tumour growth, developmental disorders and birth defects. Hmm…let me think – no thanks.
Fragrance sometimes labelled as perfume, parfum, essential oil blend or aroma sounds harmless enough; it must just be used to make the product smell nice, right? Not exactly. Whilst they do do that, the real problem is that fragrance is a vague and ambiguous term that could refer to a whole host of ingredients (3,059 to be exact) that the manufacturer doesn’t have to disclose, some of which are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.
How to make your own baby wipes
The great news is that making your own wipes is very easy, it’s not time consuming and is a great way to save money versus buying the ‘natural’ brands out there. As an example, I used to spend around £2 for a pack of 64 ‘natural’ wipes whereas this recipe costs me about £1 for an equivalent number of wipes. Better and cheaper – sounds like a winner to me.
You will need:
Makes 50 wipes.
- 200ml cooled boiled water,
- 1 tbsp pure aloe vera gel (check the ingredients) I have tried this one and this one and liked them both,
- 3 tbsp witch hazel,
- 1 tbsp almond liquid castille soap,
- A pair of scissors,
- 1/2 roll of ‘Plenty’ kitchen roll = 25 sheets (other brands WILL fall apart) or you could use reusable cloth wipes or cut up muslins,
- A container approximately 6″x6″ (or more) to store your wipes. A tuppaware container works well.
About the ingredients:
Boiled water will inhibit the growth of bacteria and help the wipes to last longer, it’s also helpful for steeping the teabag.
Aloe Vera is both soothing and ultra moisturising.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent, which means it helps to cleanse, it’s also soothing for the skin and contains a little alcohol that will help to preserve the wipes.
Castille soap is a concentrated natural soap that doesn’t contain any chemicals. I use Dr Bronner’s baby mild unscented but they also do other scents like citrus and almond that would also work and smell nice.
Add all of your liquid ingredients to the wipes container and stir.
Take your roll of kitchen paper and, without tearing off any sheets, fold the first sheet back on itself so that it’s folded in half and the outside edge meets the perforated seam. Continue to fold concertina style until you’ve finished half of the whole roll (25 sheets).
Cut your wad of folded sheets in half with a pair of scissors.
You can now just add the wipes to the solution and wait for the liquid to absorb all the way through, but I find this a bit time consuming and it sometimes leaves me with some wipes that are wetter than others. What I like to do is dip, flip and squeeze… I take about 1/3 of my folded wipes, dip it in the solution, flip it over, dip again and then lightly squeeze the liquid through the wipes with the excess running back into the container. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the piles. I then add all the saturated wipes back into the container with the solution evenly distributed.
And that’s it. Easy. Even easier if you use cloth wipes (less folding).
With a toddler and 3 month old these would last me about a week. Now that Eden is potty trained they last about 2 weeks and I’ve never had any problems with them going off or mouldy in that time. I don’t know for sure exactly how long they would last though since I always use them up.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on! I’d love to hear what you think.