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Using Baby Wipes on Newborns - All You Need to Know

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Baby wipes are wet wipes preferred in newborns to clean their soft and sensitive skin. Proper skin care is essential in babies. Read below to know more.

Written by

Dr. Ssneha. B

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Veerabhadrudu Kuncham

Published At June 15, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 13, 2024


The soft and delicate skin of newborns needs special care and adult products should not be used on infants. Only the products recommended for babies or those prescribed by the pediatrician (child specialist) have to be used. Lotion should not be applied to the baby’s skin unless it is dry. Similarly, talcum powders should first be put on the hands and then applied to the baby’s body. When the powder is shaken directly, the talc and the dust particles released could affect the baby’s immature lungs.

What Does A Baby Wipe Contain?

A disposable baby wipe comprises the following:

  • Base Sheet: The cloth layer that forms the wipe.

  • Formulation: The constituents or the ingredients that keep the wipes wet.

  • Package: The outer portion conceals the base sheet along with the formulation.

The base sheets differ in absorbency, thickness, and softness. The various types can affect the cleaning ability but are commonly composed of wood pulp, polypropylene, polyester, or varying combinations of all. With recent advances, ingredients that are responsible for causing skin irritation namely methylisothiazolinone (MI) and phenoxyethanol are removed. The European Roundtable Meeting on Best Practice Healthy Infant Skin Care states that the wet wipes used in babies should not contain any potential irritants or harmful preservatives. The baby wipes must contain pH buffers to regulate the slightly acidic pH of the infant’s skin.

What Are The Formulations In A Baby Wipe?

Manufacturing less allergic, gentle, safe, and efficient baby wipes that meet the regulatory, safety, and performance standards can be challenging. Water constitutes a major portion of the baby wipes but water alone is not sufficient to remove water-insoluble remnants from feces, microorganisms, and to maintain a normal pH. It also contains mild detergents or cleansers for improved cleaning, a pH system to maintain the skin pH of babies, preservatives that are tolerated by the skin to keep the wipes fresh and skin-benefiting ingredients. Alcohols that cause dryness such as ethanol and isopropanol are absent in branded wipes.

How To Choose Baby Wipes?

The following points have to be considered while selecting baby wipes:

  • Scented wipes should be avoided if the baby’s skin is sensitive as the fragrance can cause skin irritation.

  • Baby wipes with fewer ingredients should be preferred.

  • Baby wipes containing harsh chemicals like methylparaben, ethylparaben, or any other parabens, sodium benzoate, polysorbate 20, sulfates, and phthalates, should be avoided.

  • Opting for water wipes is best as these contain 99.9 % of water and are soft and contain a drop of fruit extract usually grapefruit seed extract which acts as an antimicrobial agent.

  • Scented wipes should be avoided in newborns since the skin sensitivity of the baby is not yet known.

  • Selecting baby wipes that contain antibacterial agents such as zinc oxide and lanolin can protect the baby from heat and diaper rash as these help to fight against any bacteria even if the diaper is soiled or if the baby is in a hot environment.

How To Use Baby Wipes?

Baby wipes should be used in the following ways:

  • For Girl Babies: After removing the dirty diaper, the baby must be cleaned with a baby wipe preferably a water wipe from front to back and not vice versa. Cleaning from back to front can transfer the bacteria to the urinary tract and cause urinary tract infections. The skin fold between the thighs and the buttocks can be cleaned with a fresh wipe.

  • For Boy Babies: The penis in boy babies should be cleaned first with a baby wipe and then under the testicles and the skinfolds between the thighs. The buttocks should be wiped in the last. Diaper ointment should be applied before putting on a new diaper.

It is safe to avoid using baby wipes in newborns till one month. During this time, the baby’s skin can be cleaned with an ultra-soft paper towel or a clean cloth and warm water. It should be kept in mind that the area must be dried thoroughly before putting on a new diaper.

What Is The Skincare Routine To Be Followed In Babies?

The skincare tips that can be followed in newborns are as follows:

  • Protective Covering: A newborn baby has wrinkly skin with a protective covering called vernix which peels off on its own during the first week after birth. This protective covering may be absent in babies born past the due date as the peel-off process would have been completed inside the womb. The protective covering need not be peeled off manually by brushing, rubbing, or in any other way.

  • No Frequent Baths: Babies do not get dirty often and need to be cleaned only when drooling or during a diaper change. Bathing the babies more than three times a week till the first year can remove the natural oils from the skin leaving the skin dry.

  • Sponge Baths: Giving sponge baths once a week is sufficient in newborns when the umbilical cords are still in place.

  • Avoid Scented Baby Products: Avoiding the use of scented baby products can prevent skin irritation.

  • Washing The Baby’s Dress: Washing the baby’s dress with a mild detergent that is fragrance-free and dye-free should be used. The baby’s clothes should be washed separately.

  • Massage Time: By placing the babies on a soft blanket or a cloth and massaging their chest and tummy with a lotion or baby oil can calm and soothe them. Talking, singing, and making eye contact with the baby can enhance the bond with the baby. Research shows that touch stimulates hormones, boosts immunity, calms the baby, and helps them to sleep better and cry less.

  • Moisturizers: Moisturizers that are safe for babies can be used as these form a protective layer on the baby’s skin.

What Is A Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is a common condition that arises as a result of irritation, infection, or allergy in infants following the use of diapers. The skin becomes sore, red, scaly, and tender. Irritation can occur if the diaper is not changed for a long time as the poop or the diaper can rub against the skin. Infections occur when the urine changes the pH of the baby’s skin which encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi. Also, the components that prevent urine from leaking can create a warm, moist environment for microorganisms to multiply. Certain baby wipes, diapers, detergents, or soaps can cause allergies leading to a rash.

Can Wet Wipes Cause Diaper Rash?

Baby’s skin is very soft, delicate and is just one-fifth the thickness of an adult's skin. The outer layer of the skin called the epidermis contains stratum corneum which is thin and loosely packed in babies. The sweat and the sebaceous (a small gland that secretes an oily matter called sebum) glands on the infant’s skin are less active. This creates a thin hydrolipid film (a combination of water and fats that do not mix and protect the skin surface) and a weak protective acid mantle (the water portion of the hydrolipid film which is mildly acidic).

Hence, harsh substances that come in contact with the baby’s skin can easily travel to the deep layers of the skin. Wet wipes can cause diaper rash if they are of poor quality or if they contain harmful chemicals.

Can Wet Wipes Be Used In Case Of Diaper Rash?

Soaps and wet wipes should not be used in case of diaper rash. The diaper area should be washed gently with warm water and wiped dry using a clean towel or a soft cloth. A diaper ointment should be applied and diapers should not be used for a few days. The baby must be made to lie on a waterproof sheet or a large towel. Diaper rash goes off by 2 to 3 days. If the rash persists, medical help may be required.

What Are The Instructions To Be Followed While Using Baby Wipes?

The following instructions can be followed:

  • Baby wipes should not be flushed. They must be disposed off hygienically.

  • Baby wipes need not be used often. Recent advances such as superabsorbent disposable diapers prevent leakage of diaper contents especially urine into the baby’s skin. Hence, baby wipes can be used to clean when the baby poops.

  • Let the baby’s skin dry completely after using a wet baby wipe.


Baby wipes are safe to use provided they are of excellent quality, branded, contain few ingredients, and have no harmful chemicals. Parents or caretakers must thoroughly read the composition on the packaging before selecting a baby wipe. It is preferable to use a baby wipe that is not scented. Cheap, chemical-based baby wipes should be strictly avoided. Doctors recommend purchasing unscented baby wipes to prevent rashes on the baby's skin.

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Dr. Veerabhadrudu Kuncham
Dr. Veerabhadrudu Kuncham



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