#905 Thrifty Baby: Get Rid Of Baby Wipes

9 Apr

stack of washcloths

Our pediatrician told us to only use a washcloth and warm water to ease our daughter’s diaper rash. Photo via flickr by Steve A Johnson.

Pediatrician recommended: toss the baby wipes in favor of a washcloth and warm water. Not only will the switch get rid of the baby wipes expense, but it will also reduce the chances of diaper rash.

At our one-month appointment for our daughter, we were changing her diaper from the inevitable poop (or two) whenever we left the house in the first three months. We were putting on all sorts of stuff to soothe an rash when the pediatrician walked in and recommended clearing up the rash by not using baby wipes. “I used a washcloth and warm water for all my children,” she said. “It’s the best thing to do.”

pampers baby wipes

Even “sensitive” wipes have too many irritants for baby skin. Warm water is all that is needed.

We were using the “sensitive” nothing-in-them wipes, so it was surprising to us that the doctor indicated they were the most likely source of irritation. Even the most natural of baby wipes have too many soaps and additives that irritate a baby’s skin, she said. Baby skin does not need soap, and is often over-dried or irritated with soap products. Warm water is sufficient. I was in favor of not churning through packs of wipes. While it’s a relatively small expense, why not save $5 to $10 a pop?

At first it seemed like a challenge to switch. We were programmed to think that it’s the easiest thing to do to pull out a wipe and toss it. But immediately, it was clear that not only was a washcloth with warm water just as convenient as baby wipes, but the diaper rash disappeared and never came back again. The doctor had given us some great advice. And I realized, it’s only recently that baby wipes have become the norm for baby butt care. In the past it was always a little warm water and a washcloth. Everyone has at least one washcloth at home, which means there is no extra expense.

If you’re using packaged baby wipes, make the switch to a washcloth immediately. You’ll see how easy it is.

When you’re at home, just turn on the faucet to get the hot water going, and wet the washcloth when it’s a good temperature. Wring it out, and you’re ready to go. My baby hated cold wipes. I thought about a baby wipe warmer. How silly, when now I can always have a warm, soothing cloth without an extra gadget. For pee, I wash out and wring the washcloth to use again. It’s in the designated baby washcloth spot to use only for diaper changes. For poop, I toss the washcloth in the laundry after a quick rinse.

For poops I even got in the habit of doing a “baby bidet” where I stuck her poopy butt under the running tub facet while I gave her a good scrub with the washcloth. This was great during the breast milk, non-solid, often-explosive, many-times-a-day poop phase. I can’t imagine trying to wrangle that poop with a ton of wipes when I could wash it away quickly.

sink faucet drip

If you have access to a sink, you can refresh the washcloth when out of the house. Photo via flickr by Angelo Gonzalez.

If you’re out and about, put an already-wet or dry washcloth (depending on your optimism about facilities) in a zip lock bag. If you have a bathroom with a sink, you can wet the wash cloth with fresh, warm water there and proceed as normal. Zip the wet washcloth back up in the zip lock bag to take home with you after the change. Getting worried about poops when you’re running errands gets easier once your baby enters a once-a-day, predictable poop pattern. At this point they’re also much less of a mess to clean up.

I did carry around some repackaged wipes in a zip lock bag as a “safety” when I was out, but one pack of baby wipes lasted me more than a year. I mostly used the baby wipes to clean dirty hands and face, not dirty butts. Now I don’t even think about baby wipes. What a relief to eliminate one more thing off the list of baby stuff that is just as easy to do without.

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