Adults aren’t the only ones experiencing a toilet paper shortage — many parents are also having trouble finding baby wipes on store shelves right now due to all the COVID-19 panic buying. Recipes for homemade baby wipes are making the rounds on social media. But are these solutions safe for your baby’s skin? Are they even necessary?
One pediatrician says if parents haven’t been able to find wipes in stores, there’s no reason to panic. You also don’t need to whip up a homemade solution to soak special wipes for your baby’s booty. “If parents cannot find wipes, I suggest using warm water on a paper towel or soft cloth,” says Matthew Wilber, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics Pearland, in an interview with Romper. “No other liquids are needed. The area can be cleaned once daily in the bath with baby shampoo.”
Tutorials for making baby wipe solution range from super simple — just mixing up some water, baby soap, and baby oil — to fairly complex, including pure aloe vera, grapefruit seed extract, essential oils, and more. Wilber’s main concern would just be preventing extra irritation to your baby’s skin where possible.
“I recommend avoiding coarse paper towels and cloths, as they are more likely to be irritating. Soaps that include a fragrance can be irritating as well,” he says.
GoDiaperFree.com recommends four alternatives to disposable wipes: repurposing soft washcloths around your home, cutting up old T-shirts or flannels, purchasing reusable cloth wipes online, or, if your little one is ready, to begin potty training. The website even includes a Facebook post from one mom who says, in dire circumstances, she’s fine with rinsing her little one in the sink and patting dry with a hand towel.
If you’re not seeing wipes in the baby aisles, Wilber encourages families to check all the usual online retailers, like Amazon, Walmart, and Target, and consider looking at the manufacturer’s website to find additional places to buy online. Ask a friend for an extra container of wipes in a pinch. And, if diapers are a challenge to find, he says not to be afraid to go old school with cloth diapers until you find disposable ones again.
Lastly, it’s not just the kind of wipes you’re using that prevents diaper rash. How you wipe, and when, is just as important for your baby’s skin. “I like to tell families that the most important things parents can do to reduce diaper rash are to change quickly after the child soils a diaper, and to be gentle with wiping,” Wilber says. “Sometimes the friction of wiping creates the rash, so patting is the best way to clean a tender bottom. Diaper cream applied thick like cake frosting is helpful also for baby’s red bottom.”
If you’re trying homemade or reusable wipes at home, just keep an eye out for diaper rash. Wilber says if diaper rash begins bleeding, it’s time to call your pediatrician. WedMD.com agrees, adding that it’s worth a call to the doctor if your baby’s rash doesn’t respond to diaper cream treatments within two to three days.
Matthew Wilber, M.D., FAAP, pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics Pearland