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Are Baby Wipes Safe to Use?

For the first few monthsiStock_000015888125_Small, our precious babies are happy eating, sleeping, and pooping! And while this cycle is probably happening every three hours, it can seem endless. This translates into at least eight diaper changes a day. And with a diaper change comes baby wipes. Because of their convenience, baby wipes are not only used on our baby’s bottoms but also their face, hands, and other areas that need some cleaning up. With all this cleaning, what’s the down and dirty (pun intended!) on baby wipes? Are baby wipes safe to use?

The two most common concerns with baby wipes are their potential irritancy and contact allergy. A baby’s skin is more delicate and more sensitive than an adult’s. Because of this, repetitive use of baby wipes can cause irritation to any area where they are used. An easy tip to lessen the irritancy risk is to apply an ointment after every diaper change. The ointment provides a physical barrier against the elements of pee and poop, and also soothes the baby’s skin. Ointments will help whether or not you choose the kind with zinc in them. Pediatricians and dermatologists agree that baby wipes can be used with newborns.   However, if you choose to avoid baby wipes altogether, you can simply use a warm towel to gently pat, wipe or clean the dirty areas.

Contact allergy from baby wipes is becoming more common since parents are using baby wipes for overall cleansing purposes. Why do we become allergic to something? Contact allergy to a specific ingredient happens from repetitive exposure to that ingredient. The body’s immune system, which starts at the skin, can spontaneously decide it wants to be allergic to a specific ingredient. Some ingredients tend to be the culprits of contact allergies. These include the preservatives that are placed in products to prevent bacteria, mold, and fungus from growing in the product. While preservatives have an important role to prevent germ formation, they can be common causes of contact allergies. In a 2014 study in Pediatrics, a preservative used in approximately half of all baby wipes, methylisothiazolinone (MI), was found to be a common cause of contact allergy in children. This particular preservative is not new, and although it can be found in half of all baby wipes, it is still a rare cause of contact allergy. Just be aware! We can lessen the chance of our babies developing contact allergies to ingredients in baby wipes by reducing how much we use them, therefore reducing their exposure to the ingredients.

Bottom line (pun intended again!), baby wipes are safe and can be used from the very beginning. To reduce the risk of irritating those tiny bottoms, apply an ointment after every diaper change to help soothe and protect your baby’s skin in between diaper changes. To lessen allergy risk, avoid using baby wipes for cleaning your baby’s mouth, hands, feet, and whole body. Just use them for diaper changes to reduce your baby’s exposure to potential allergens.

We hope that these tips will help you to feel comfortable using baby wipes on your baby’s delicate bottom. Happy diapering!

 

Pediatrics. 2014 Feb. Six children with allergic contact dermatitis to methylisothiazolinone in wet wipes (baby wipes). Chang MW1, Nakrani R.

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