Narrowing Down Options: The Best Baby Wipes For Newborns
Getting ready for a new baby, and living with a new baby can be so overwhelming! There are just so many products and choices, it makes it hard to know what you need and what to choose. When you’re at the store, looking at a pack of baby wipes, how can you decide what are the best baby wipes for newborns?
Baby wipes seem like such an easy thing to buy… except once you’re dealing with poopy diapers, you’re going to want to know you’ve got one that will keep you out of big doo doo! (Haha! Pun totally intended.)
With babies, one minute you’re in the midst of your morning routine, fitting in some healthy postpartum fitness or doing some Kegels while you relax with your infant. Next minute, you’ve got a diaper to change.
Let’s face it. Baby diapers are gross. Poop stinks (especially if you’re formula feeding, and once your babe is eating solids).
You need a wipe that can handle all that poop.
What’s Worse Than a Dirty Diaper?
The worst thing about diapers, however, isn’t that they’re filled with smelly, germy, smushy poop.
By far, the worst thing about diapers is when you go to wipe that dirty little bum and your finger goes through the wipe and you end up looking like you were trying to chocolate dip your fingers. Ew! (Yuck, yuck, yuck! One little “Ew!” isn’t nearly enough.)
There’s all the different brands, scents, and other features noted on the packaging. But what is really important when choosing baby wipes? And how exactly do you find one your fingers aren’t going to rip through?
When Cat (22) was a baby, there weren’t as many options to pick from, which made the decision a little easier. I used one of the big name brands that I saw in all the stores that my mom recommended.
It had a convenient package that was easy to remove just one wipe at a time. But on the other hand, it was full of unnatural ingredients, and the wipes dried out even when the package was closed.
Fortunately, baby products have improved a great deal since then.
When Monkey (4) was born, I had to go through this process of choosing the best baby wipe again.
So. Many. Choices.
There were the major brands, the store brands, the small brands, the natural, organic, scent-free versions. The wipes that were safe for faces as well as bums. Baby wipes with different scents, sizes, textures, and just so many variables.
By the time I had Fang (2) I had tried out so many different wipes, that I’d finally figured out what to look for as the best baby wipes for newborns.
Narrowing the Choices
So how do you go about narrowing your choices when deciding on which pack of baby wipes to buy. Which of the hundreds of options are the best baby wipes for newborns? For your newborn.
It took me a couple of babies to realise the best features in a baby wipe, and hopefully, by sharing, you’ll be able to skip the trial and error I had to go through.
So what’s important in a baby wipe?
Partly that depends on what’s important to you. Do the environmental impacts of baby wipes matter to you? Does using a natural wipe, or organic ingredients matter? What about perfumes? Do you want something with a strong scent? No scent?
Partly it depends on other factors. You know, the things that actually make the baby wipes clean poop (and prevent poopy fingers).
There are many toxic ingredients that can be found in baby wipes that you’re going to want to be aware of as well.
Let’s take a look at all these considerations.
What the Best Baby Wipe is Made From
Do you know what a baby wipe is made out of? You might be surprised… I know I was!
Most of them are made of plastic fibres – microfilaments, long strands of polyester or viscose (rayon) that never disintegrate completely. Sometimes those plastic fibres are mixed with cotton or cellulose (from wood pulp), no doubt so the brands can claim it’s made with cotton or natural products.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution.
Limit your choice of wipes to those that don’t contain plastic fibres.
What that means is the best baby wipes for newborns (or any age, really) must be made of natural fibres. Primarily, you’ll find just two natural fibres used in baby wipes: bamboo and cotton.
Natural Fibres Are Best for Baby Wipes
A choice between bamboo and cotton seems like it would be easy. There aren’t nearly as many of either when you’re shopping around for the best baby wipes for newborns, so choices are more limited.
Except there’s a little more that needs to be considered when deciding between the two.
Bamboo is a sustainably grown crop that grows quickly, doesn’t require fertilizer, and regrows from its own roots. Cotton, on the other hand, is often grown with several synthetic pesticide treatments, lots of water, and is labour intensive.
So now you’re likely thinking that bamboo must be the right choice.
I don’t blame you, because I thought the same.
Unfortunately, my love of bamboo plummeted as I learned that although the cultivation of bamboo crops is sustainable and environmentally friendly, processing it into fibres to make cloth typically is not environmentally friendly.
The process is comparable to the chemical-laden method of turning wood pulp into viscose fibres, and it is believed that most or all of the benefits of bamboo are lost during that heavy processing.
Because of the intensive chemical processes to turn bamboo into the soft cloth of a baby wipe, you really aren’t all that far ahead of those that are using baby wipes made from plastic.
Bamboo baby wipes are clearly not the best baby wipes for newborns.
So then I had a closer look at cotton. Since I was wrong about the positive aspects of bamboo, perhaps I was wrong about the negative aspects of cotton.
Unlike bamboo, cotton is a labour intensive crop that is treated heavily with pesticides. And although I wear cotton clothing, I just don’t feel right about wiping a tiny, brand new, little baby bum with a baby wipe made of something grown with so many toxic chemicals.
So where does that leave us? No plastics, no bamboo, no cotton?
What I also learned was that although cotton is typically grown in ways that don’t support environmental health, nor safety for farm labourers, organic cotton is a different story.
Less than 1% of cotton crops are organic, which is why it’s harder to find organic cotton products.
Organic cotton crops are grown without synthetic pesticides and so have fewer poisonings of farm workers from routine pesticide applications.
Additionally, organic cotton crops are generally grown using water conserving methods (taking advantage of the rainy season).
According to The Lifecycle Assessment of Organic Cotton Fiber relying on rainwater reduces the vast quantity of water used to irrigate conventional cotton crops and subsequently reduces the potential for global warming, acidification, soil erosion, water consumption, and non-renewable energy compared with conventionally grown cotton.
Additionally, because synthetic fertilizers aren’t used, the crops are rotated with various food crops, which ultimately improves soil quality and income streams for the farmers. It also doesn’t leach into the groundwater nor affect the fertility of nearby wildlife.
There are many other considerations between conventional and organic cotton, but too many to list them all in this post.
Maybe most importantly for us parents, it doesn’t risk contaminating all those little baby bums.
Now that you know the ideal material for the best baby wipes for newborns, you just have to find a pack of baby wipes that are made of organic cotton, right?
Let’s get back to what we should be looking for when deciding on which pack of baby wipes to buy. There are a few more things to consider before making the final decision.
Cleansing Solution Components
Now that we know organic cotton is best for the environment and for our little one’s tushy, we need to look at the cleansing solution ingredients.
The cleansing solution is what moistens the baby wipe, and typically contains water, cleansing agents (surfactants), preservatives (so bacteria doesn’t grow), and might also contain scents, moisturizers, emulsifiers, and other additives.
Water is a given. That’s the ingredient that keeps the baby wipes wet. No point in focussing on water.
Occasionally you’ll find a brand that uses aloe instead of water as the base. Sometimes you’ll see both.
You can’t go wrong with either option. Make that choice based on personal preference.
There are a variety of cleansing agents used in baby wipes.
Many brands use synthetic cleansers. Even in baby wipes for sensitive skin, synthetic cleansers are not uncommon.
Synthetic, however, doesn’t mean it’s inherently a bad choice. You just need to know what to look out for.
Whether you choose a wipe with synthetic cleansers or natural cleansers might depend on how big or small you prefer to make your baby’s environmental footprint. With the extra processing of chemicals to create the synthetic cleansers, the impact (and footprint) will be bigger.
If you decide the environment isn’t something you’re concerned about right now, be sure to pick a brand that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), or related formulations, which are harsh detergents more likely to cause skin irritation, and might have other negative health impacts.
It’s potentially a pretty hefty risk to your little one’s health. So why risk it when there are other options?
On the other hand, natural cleansers will typically have a smaller environmental impact and aren’t known to irritate or cause developmental issues in children.
Some of the best natural cleansers are saponified soaps (e.g. castile soap), which you likely won’t find in anything but homemade baby wipe solutions, and the glucoside family of cleansers. Neither of those options causes irritation, nor have a significant negative impact on the environment.
As you know, I have zero aspirations to be SuperMom, so I don’t make my own wipes. (Admittedly, I did try cloth wipes and water for a bit, but way too much extra for work this busy mom!)
That means the best baby wipes for newborns will use glucoside cleansers.
Because water (or aloe, or a combination of both) is the primary ingredient, preservatives are a necessary component of a pack of baby wipes. Without preservatives, the wipes will easily grow bacteria and mould.
Although there is at least one brand out there that contains no preservatives, I can’t recommend it. Babies are just so susceptible to germs until their immune systems become hardier. It would be foolhardy, in my opinion, to subject them unnecessarily to mould and bacteria.
Sodium benzoate is a common preservative in baby wipes, including those designated for “sensitive skin”. Although it’s better than phenoxyethanol or benzyl alcohol or parabens (other common preservatives that you should definitely avoid when choosing the best baby wipes for newborns), it is a potential allergen.
Unfortunately, in 2017 the American Contact Dermatitis Society Core Allergen Series added sodium benzoate to the list of likely allergens.
So now that you know what ingredients to avoid, what preservatives are you going to find in the best baby wipes for newborns?
Naturally sourced potassium sorbate is a safe choice, but is very challenging to find.
Most products (including organics) use synthetic potassium sorbate.
This preservative isn’t linked to cancer, appears not to have any environmental concerns, and only causes irritation in very high concentrations (10% or higher) that you’re very unlikely to find in any baby wipe solution.
The synthetic version is also considered one of the safest preservatives.
You can read more about the safety of this preservative here, but be warned this study includes mention of animal testing, so pass it by if that isn’t something you’re going to want to read. (There isn’t any graphic violence described, in case that influences whether you read or not.)
Synthetic scents can be harsh on your baby’s bum, so you’ll want to avoid baby wipes that include “perfume”.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up a nice smell altogether.
If a baby wipe includes scent, look for a gentle option, such as essential oils. Do a bit of research to ensure it’s a pure essential oil, otherwise, the impurities can potentially cause irritation to the sensitive skin on baby’s bottom.
Additionally, I highly encourage you to choose a baby wipe that uses only organic essential oils, just for that added level of safety and environmental care.
After going to all the trouble of finding an amazingly natural, organic cotton wipe, with mild plant-based cleansing agents, and gentle preservatives, why would you introduce the toxic impurities of synthetic pesticides possibly found in the non-organic essential oils?
When you start eliminating the nastier ingredients (alcohols, parabens, SLS, etc), a lot of the “extra” ingredients don’t end up in the final product, either. The companies that set out to make a safer product for your little one aren’t out to substitute one nasty ingredient for another.
Emulsifiers help ingredients stay mixed so oils don’t separate. No matter which brand you choose, the best baby wipes for newborns include some kind of emulsifier.
Moisturizers help keep that little baby butt soft and supple… but I’ve found most of the baby wipes I’ve used with added moisturizers end up leaving a slick feeling, which I don’t find appealing. Fortunately, tiny baby bums are naturally soft and supple, no moisturizers required. (But feel free, if that’s what suits your preferences.)
When you add in other factors, outside of the material of the baby wipe cloth, and the cleaning solution ingredients there are a few more things to consider.
Your personal preferences will have an influence on your choices, as will your ethical and moral values.
Let’s have a look at each of those considerations separately.
Although baby wipes are sometimes referred to as wet wipes, you don’t want them to leave your baby wet.
I’ve found some wipes are terrible for this. You clean up your baby only to be left with a soaking wet bottom.
Who wants to have to keep a towel handy for drying bums?
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you want a baby wipe that stays moist enough. If it’s too dry, it’ll smear everything around, and that itty bitty bottom is not going to be clean.
Also to consider are the size options. Some wipes are tiny and others are huge.
When your baby pees a tiny wipe can do the trick, but what about when they poop?
Completely different matter. You’ll go through so many wipes to clean up even a small poop when you’re using tiny wipes.
On the flip side, you don’t necessarily want a huge wipe, either. They’re certainly a bit of overkill when cleaning up after a wet diaper. And in my experience, they don’t provide any real benefit over a moderately sized wipe, either.
Once you’ve made a couple of passes over the skin after a dirty diaper, you’re going to want to use another wipe. Otherwise, you’ll risk folding that giant wipe over just the wrong way and end up with dirty fingers. Yuck!
Speaking of yucky moments, we go back to the strength of the fabric… You definitely want a strong wipe that your fingers aren’t going to rip through.
Ethical and Moral Values
Something else to consider is whether the wipes (or it’s components) were tested on animals.
Ideally, you’re going to choose a pack of baby wipes that are good for your baby, and not tested on animals.
I don’t think I need to go into the reasons why. Animal testing is simply cruel and completely unnecessary for cosmetic and hygiene products.
Are you vegan or vegetarian?
Do the best baby wipes for newborns support your vegan or vegetarian lifestyle and values? If so, you’re going to want to choose wipes that use natural plant-based ingredients.
You’re also going to want to ensure that the ingredients are not only plant-based but also that the processing of those ingredients doesn’t include animal products.
Clearly, if you aren’t vegetarian, finding vegan-friendly baby wipes might not be a big concern.
That said, you might still want the natural plant-based ingredients, simply because the companies who create such products care for people and the environment.
Those environmentally responsible companies that show care and compassion for both animals and people do so because they have a passion and want to share that passion with their customers.
So, what brand fits the criteria for the best baby wipes for newborns (and older babies)?
The Best Baby Wipes For Newborns and Older Babies
The answer, for me, is Natracare Baby Wipes.
Because I think transparency is important I want you to know that I was compensated with one free pack of Natracare Baby Wipes after letting them know I would be writing a post outlining what to look for when choosing the best baby wipes for newborns and that for me, that was Natracare.
Put simply, I think Natracare Baby Wipes are amazing and I really think they’re the best brand you can buy for the little baby bums in your family.
Based on the information we’ve worked through you have some specific requirements to consider.
You want 100% organic cotton, natural cleansers, gentle but effective preservatives such as potassium sorbate, natural plant-based scents from organic essential oils, and possibly vegan-safe.
You don’t want parabens, alcohols, sodium benzoate, or SLS. And of course, no animal testing.
Additionally, you want a baby wipe that isn’t going to leave a greasy feeling on your baby’s behind, that will be wet enough but not too wet, and that is a moderate size, a perfect balance for cleaning up after either wet or dirty diapers.
Certification by Third Party Reviews
Natracare Baby Wipes are certified by the Soil Association’s Organic Health and Beauty standards and MADE SAFE, as well as EWG verified. All are very comprehensive third-party reviews on the integrity of and quality of product ingredients.
To meet the requirements the Soil Association Certification a product must have no animal testing, no genetically modified ingredients, no parabens or phthalates, no controversial chemicals, and no synthetic colours, dyes, or fragrances.
That Certification also means the wipe ingredients are sustainably sourced. They use natural plant-based fragrances, have transparent manufacturing processes, and biodegradable ingredients.
MADE SAFE certified products must pass rigorous screening to ensure product ingredients are safe. They screen for ingredients for known:
- Behavioral toxins
- Developmental toxins
- Endocrine disruptors
- Fire retardants
- Heavy metals
- High-risk pesticides
- Reproductive toxins
- Toxic solvents
- Harmful VOCs
You can find The MADE SAFE Hazard List of Chemicals, Materials and Ingredients (including what they are, where they’re found, and how they impact human or environmental health, and aquatic or animal life) here.
Similarly, to receive EWG Verified approval a product must not contain anything on the EWG Unacceptable List. They must also fully disclose all ingredients (including component ingredients such as what ingredients constitute “fragrance”).
Finally, they must follow current good manufacturing practices to be EWG Verified.
Not only are Natracare Baby Wipes 100% organic, but they also use minimal packaging with maximum recycled content, and protect wildlife and diversity.
Natracare Baby Wipes use lauryl glucoside, which is within the glucoside family of cleaners. They also use naturally sourced potassium sorbate and sodium chloride (salt) as gentle preservatives.
The baby wipes are infused with organic essential oils of chamomile, apricot, and sweet almond oil, plus other plant extracts. The result is a lightly scented wipe that helps keep that little baby bum soft and fresh, with no slick residue left behind.
Natracare Baby Wipes are vegan-friendly, biodegradable, and even compostable. (Yes, you can put them in your personal compost bin.)
They’re a perfect size, and perhaps most importantly, they’re really strong.
I have never had a finger rip through a Natracare Baby Wipe. (Please! Believe me when I tell you just how important that feature is! You don’t want poopy fingers.)
There’s a reason they won Best Organic Product in the Meilleurs Produits Bio Awards, and why I think they are the best baby wipes for newborns (and all babies).
What do you think is the most important thing to consider when deciding on the best baby wipes for newborns? Let me know in the comments.