This has turned into the monster of all baby wipe posts, so if your life or your future doesn’t involve wiping teeny tiny bots, then look away now, come back tomorrow and consider yourself saved by the bell ; )
Wipes for the newborn
Back in the day, I wiped newborn Heckle’s bot bot with water and a cloth. Water’s generally all that’s needed in the early days and a lot of bubs react badly to commercial baby wipes. A cloth can really be anything from the fancy bamboo cloth wipes the health food shop sells, washers, recycled bed sheets or microfibre cloths. I like the recycled fabric option stored in an old tissue box, because they’re soft and I can throw them away if I just can’t face dealing with whatever it is that day. You will need a back up option and super strong tissues or paper towel can do the trick. I go into this in more detail at the end of the post.
The logistics of water can seem tricky for the sleep deprived (unless you have a sink inbuilt in your change table), but it needn’t be and no, I’m not suggesting you leave your baby to Kamakaze off the edge while you sort the wipes ; ) The easiest option is to fill a pump bottle with water to squirt on the wipes as needed. You can get fancy and use a pourable thermos full of warm water. This means that somewhere in the morning haze, you pour warm water in a thermos and take to it to the change table. However, I do have to be a Nana and say, please, please, please don’t use boiling or really hot water. It’s just that when you’re really tired and fumbling around, the potential for an accident is really high.
Wipes for when baby starts solids
When Heckle started eating solid foods, I wanted to use something with a bit more grunt than water. Sorbolene squirted on cloth wipes or tissues was an option, but I must be the only person in the universe who has reacted to Sorbolene and then there is the issue that it’s a petroleum by-product, which makes me a bit suspicious about using it on skin, not to mention the environmental concerns.
When I got around to it, I used a recipe pretty much the same as the fabulous Wellness Mama’s homemade baby wipes, which are easy to make. The only problem was that I’m not the most organised person, so sometimes it just didn’t happen. If it was a choice between sleep and making my baby wipes for the week, sleep always won. At these times, I just added a squirt of liquid Castille or gentle liquid soap to a thermos or pump bottle of water and went to bed.
Since then, I have stumbled on wipe cubes in an online shop and they seem like an ideal solution to me, because they can be stored for a long time. This means I can make up a huge batch now in the hope that it’ll last me six months or more and they’ll be better and a whole lot cheaper than commercial baby wipes.
I will have to let you know how I go with my best-laid plans, but so far it’s looking good.
Baby wipe cubes
Makes about 40 cubes
You will need:
1 bar of coconut or other baby-friendly soap (solid Castille soap can work, but won’t dissolve in the same way) About 1 cup boiled water 1 teaspoon oil – calendula, coconut, sweet almond, macadamia or grape seed 1 tablespoon 100 percent aloe vera gel Optional: 1-2 drops of chamomile or lavender essential oil Deep-edged baking tray lined with baking paper or ice cube tray with small segments
1. Using a food processor or cheese grater, finely grate the soap. Pour the soap into a saucepan, add boiled water until just or nearly covering soap, heat slowly over a low to medium heat until completely melted and combined. Add all the other ingredients.
2. Pour the melted solution into deep-edged baking tray lined with baking paper or ice cube tray. Allow to cool and harden completely.
3. Cut hardened cubes into smaller cubes, using a thin sharp knife. Cubes should be about half inch square. Keep cubes in sealed container until ready to use.
Add one cube to about 2 cups of warm* water and shake until dissolved. (*Please don’t use boiling or really hot water, as it is just too risky around little people). This will work with a thermos, spray, pump or squeezable sports drink bottle to pour over cloths as needed.
Before using, please test on a small spot away from the more sensitive areas of bub (behind the knee is good), as natural products can be allergenic too.
There are a couple of reasons why I prefer to use fabric wipes, with a back up supply of over-sized, super strong tissues, paper towels or Rediwipes. The main two reasons being that it’s easier to do the actual wiping business and they’re gentle on bub’s skin. They’re also cheaper, better for the environment and all that.
Easier? I hear you ask. A big cloth can deal with a lot of situations in one fell swipe. Although, I don’t buy the fancy pre-made cloth wipes, mainly because they’re expensive and I’d feel bad throwing them out when the going gets, ahem, tough.
Similar to our table serviettes/napkins, I cut up worn out and unloved bed sheets, towels and washers that were destined for landfill, ideally using serrated scissors or pinking shears. This means that if the wipe is, shall we say, overwhelming I can throw it out, because I’m only using something that was headed for landfill, didn’t cost anything and technically, I just saved a tissue or three.
Back up option: My sack of pre-cut cloths will dwindle over the year and if you have a heavy couple of days all the cloths might be in Mt Laundry. That’s when the biggest, thickest tissues or paper towel can help, because if you’re used to using fabric the fragility and microscopic size of anything else will annoy you. I have also used the disposable Rediwipes as they’re called in Australia. However, the product called Rediwipe in the U.S. seems to be something very different and definitely not something you would want to use in this situation!
Washing cloth wipes
How you wash is something you will need to decide what you’re comfortable with. I was using the cloth wipes when I was using cloth nappies, so I threw them all in a sealable bucket, tipped them in the machine for the hottest wash and dried them in the sun for an extra dose of antibacterial treatment. I have a post on homemade laundry detergent, if you’re looking for something gentle and effective to wash with.
We have a big solar hot water system feeding our washing machine, so I haven’t looked into the extra cost both financially and environmentally of all the extra hot water. However, there are a lot of forums around weighing up all sides of the hot water versus cold water argument and some of them are quite entertaining.
Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine