Parents know that baby wipes are an essential for newborns, babies, and toddlers alike. From cleaning up messy diapers to wiping skin after meals and snacks, they are a staple in nurseries and diaper bags. Having a pack (or two) on hand is a must for all kinds of situations with young kids. But how do you find the best baby wipes – particularly the kind that’s good for their skin?
“Baby wipes should be gentle, effective, and affordable,” says Homer Swei, PhD, senior vice president of Healthy Living Science at The Environmental Working Group (EWG). “Many medical experts advise choosing baby wipes that don’t contain alcohol, parabens, phthalates, foaming agents, and dyes.”
“Baby wipes have become much safer recently with the removal of harmful preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone that caused a number of facial and diapered eruptions in unsuspecting children,” says Jeff Yu, MD, pediatrician and member of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology. “The industry has also gotten away from other potentially allergenic preservatives like formaldehyde releasers.”
However, no baby wipes are preservative-free – which is actually a good thing. “Baby wipes are wet towelettes that are kept in plastic bags for months if not years on end before use,” Dr. Yu says. “Any wet product will grow mold, bacteria, and viruses without an adequate preservative system in place to prevent this from happening. Therefore, all baby wipes will have preservatives.”
When choosing the best baby wipes for your child, it’s important to look at the ingredients label. “For my child, I personally look for baby wipes that are fragrance-free because fragrances are one of the most common triggers of rashes in children, whether they be irritant or allergic contact dermatitis,” Dr. Yu explains. She also prioritizes those with fewer additives. Sometimes brands will add different active ingredients like oat extract, chamomile, etc. to “enhance” their wipes, Dr. Yu says. “Personally, I just find these to raise the potential for the child to react to it. Best-case scenario, nothing happens, worst-case scenario, they are sensitized to a new allergen,” he says.
Moisturizers are also important to keep in mind when searching for the right baby wipes. “Babies are not little adults. Their bodies are still developing. Their skin loses moisture more quickly, and are more prone to allergens and irritants,” Dr. Swei says. “Look for gentle cleansers such as amphoacetates and glucosides, and light moisturizers and emollients such as glycerin and plant-based oils.” (He recommends checking out EWG Verified baby wipes.)
Now that we’ve got the basics covered in terms of what to look for, we’ve rounded up nine of the best baby wipes, according to pediatricians and parents’/caregivers’ reviews. You can also shop other must-have baby gear for 2023 right here.