Oct 29, 2018
by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
Cleaning babies is nearly a full-time job.
Dirty hands to dirty butts, we grab the baby wipes as a quick cleaning rag.
Those handy wipes may be causing blisters, chemical burns, and eye injuries.
Read on to find out why, and how to choose chemical-free baby wipes.
Baby wipes often contain chemicals that are used as preservatives, fragrances, whiteners, and skin softeners.
Used as a cleaning ingredient, glycols are added to baby wipes. This chemical helps prevent moisture loss and enhances preservatives, too.
Preservatives include chemicals such as benzyl alcohol and bronopol. These chemicals extend the shelf life of wipes. Another preservative used is iodopropynyl butyl carbamate, which is also a registered pesticide.
The signature baby wipe smell is often created by a synthetic fragrance. Fragrances can be made of any number of chemicals, combined to get just the right smell.
Reports of irritation pain, blisters, chemical burns, eye injuries, and infections from baby products were sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.(1)
One in five complaints was from baby wipes.
Sixty percent of those complaints (60%) were filed between 2014 and 2017. All complaints were voluntary since the law does not require these instances to be reported to the FDA.
In addition, other possible health effects include dermatitis, damage to the reproductive system, birth defects, harm to the immune system, feminization of US male babies, diarrhea and earaches, allergic reactions, and lifelong reproductive damage.
In order to possibly avoid negative health effects, consider using chemical free baby wipes. Here are a few tips for doing so:
1. Minimize conventional wipes. Save conventional baby wipes for times when convenience is a must. Consider minimizing the use of conventional wipes to use when traveling or having a babysitter watch your son or daughter. Use chemical free baby wipes while at home and whenever possible.
2. Use reusable cloths. Wipe hands with a reusable dishcloth or hand towel.
3. Cotton diapers. Historically, cotton diaper cloth was used as diapers and for wiping baby’s behinds. Cotton diaper cloth is still sold today and can be used in the same way.
4. Toilet paper. We use it as adults, so why not use it on babies? If needed, get a little water on the toilet paper to help stuck on messes.
5. Paper towels. Make your own wipes by mixing a small amount of water and castle soap in a stainless steel rectangular container, and folding paper towels to leave inside. They can work well as baby wipes.
6. Organic cotton wipes. Look for organic cotton wipes to reduce the amount of pesticides used on cotton crops, for farming, and in cotton products.
Babies are continuously messy. We often reach for the conventional baby wipes to clean hands and little butts. However, these wipes may contain chemicals that possibly cause chemical burns, birth defects, feminization of US male babies and others. Consider using chemical free baby wipes to clean hands and bottoms instead.
(1) EWG 2017. https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2017/07/fda-vomiting-burning-and-pain-using-baby-wipes-other-kids-cosmetics
Would you like to join a community of like-minded conscious consumers as well?
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