Changing a Diaper without Wipes [Alternatives at Home or On-the-Go]

Here’s the situation: You’re on your way out to go somewhere, you quickly grab the baby’s diaper bag, and off you go to your destination. Fast forward to an hour later, you have a fussy baby with a full diaper needing to get changed. So you grab the bag, get a clean diaper, rummage through it for the baby wipes and you suddenly realize that you used the last of the wipes yesterday and you don’t have any left. Is it possible to change a diaper without using wipes?

Despite what you may believe, not all diaper changes require wipes. Newborn pee rarely irritates the skin, and most diapers are made of super absorbent material that works as a barrier between baby’s skin and the pee. If you are dealing with a poop diaper, you always have to make sure that you clean your baby’s bum – even if you have to improvise. 

Read along as we take a deeper look into diaper changes without using wipes and get suggestions on what you can use in place of wipes.

Can I change my baby’s diaper without wipes?

As parents, it’s been ingrained in us that with every diaper change, we should always clean up our baby with wipes. Wipes are super convenient, highly absorbable, and disposable which is why they’re an absolute necessity for many parents.

But there are downsides to using baby wipes too often. There are some ingredients or chemicals that are present in baby wipes that can cause drying or irritation. Examples of such chemicals include ethanol, alcohol, or other antibacterial substances which can irritate your baby’s skin.  

If your baby peed, you can change his diaper without wipes. Most diapers nowadays are super absorbent and are designed to minimize the contact between the pee and your baby’s bum. Keep in mind that newborn pee is not dirty and will rarely irritate your baby’s skin. If you don’t have wipes, you can use other alternatives like a wet washcloth, toilet paper, or a moist cotton ball. You can also make your own homemade wipes and avoid using store-bought wipes altogether.

Some wipes contain fragrances that can cause allergic reactions. Baby wipes with fragrance use chemicals that might cause itchiness or irritation. If your baby’s skin is extra sensitive, wipes can cause a burning sensation. If you notice that your baby’s bum turns red after wiping, you should discontinue the use of wipes right away.

Another factor that you have to think of is the effect of wipes on the environment. Wipes are supposedly “flushable” like toilet paper but they are actually terrible for septic and sewage systems as well as the environment as a whole. 

Changing a pee diaper without wipes

If you’re dealing with a wet diaper and don’t have wipes on hand, it’s probably not that big of a deal.

Baby’s pee is sterile and most diapers are made of extra absorbent material that can completely absorb the pee which eliminates the need for your baby to be wiped clean with every pee diaper. Keep in mind that if your baby’s diaper is super full, you always have to clean your baby’s bum. 

There are alternatives to baby wipes that you can use to clean your baby. These include wet washcloths, toilet paper, moistened cotton balls, homemade wipes, or a quick rinse in the tub or sink.

Changing a poopy diaper without wipes

If it’s okay to change a pee diaper without using wipes, a poopy diaper is a completely different story.

You should always wipe clean or rinse your baby’s bum every time he poops to avoid irritation. There are a number of alternatives to baby wipes that you can use to clean your baby after he poops. The most effective way to clean your baby after he pooped is to quickly rinse him in the tub or sink using warm water and mild baby soap. 

If you are outside and have no access to a tub or sink, a wet washcloth will suffice. Another good alternative is brown restaurant napkins which are made of biodegradable materials. Just make sure you moisten it so that it’s not too rough on the baby’s bum. 

Never use Clorox wipes or antibacterial wipes on your baby’s bum. Your baby’s skin is extremely sensitive and these types of wipes have strong chemicals that can harm and irritate his skin. 

What can I use instead of wipes

Wipes are convenient and super easy to use which makes them a favorite of parents all over the world. The main disadvantages of using wipes are the environmental effects and cost-efficiency. In a month, your baby will use approximately 1,000 wipes, so the cost of wipes will surely take up a sizable chunk of your budget.

If you want to do your part in taking care of the environment – or if you just find yourself needing to change a diaper without your stash of wipes on hand – there are a handful of alternatives that you can use in place of baby wipes.

Most baby wipes are marketed to be “flushable” but this is a common misconception. Wipes clog the drainage system and can cause fatbergs which can damage the sewage. Once the wipes are disposed of and start to break down, they release plastic particles which are harmful to the environment and make it harder to decompose.

On the go

  • Brown napkins – I personally always have a stack of brown napkins or paper towels in my car because every restaurant I pick up food from always makes sure I have plenty. These napkins are biodegradable and when moistened can be soft enough to use on your baby’s bum. 
  • Bamboo washcloths – These Bamboo Organics Best Baby Washcloths are seriously the best. This washcloth is dye-free and chemical-free, and it is soft enough to use on your baby’s bum. When you’re out and about, you can throw a few of these washcloths in your baby’s diaper bag. The best thing about these washcloths is that you can easily reuse them after a gentle wash cycle in your washing machine. 
  • Water – If you are in a bind, you can always use bottled water to clean the baby’s bum. Gently wash your baby’s bum with water, air dry it for 10 seconds and then you can put a clean diaper back on.
  • Moist tissue – This is probably the closest thing to a baby wipe that you can use. Make sure that you are only putting a small amount of water, just to take the dryness out of the tissue and to keep it from dissolving during the diaper change. 

At home

  • Wet washcloth – A great alternative to baby wipes is a clean washcloth with a little bit of water. In terms of washcloth material, bamboo is a popular choice because it is eco-friendly and hypoallergenic. You can easily throw all the used washcloths in the washing machine and wash using the gentle cycle function
  • Cotton balls – Cotton balls with water are actually equivalent to using baby wipes in terms of their effect on skin hydration.  
  • Quick rinse in tub or sink – A quick rinse will benefit your baby especially after pooping. This ensures that your baby’s bum is cleaned thoroughly. 
  • Cut up flannel – Flannel is a super absorbent and soft material that you can use to clean your baby’s bum. 
  • Reusable cotton rounds – These Reusable Cotton Rounds are usually used for removing makeup but you can also use this for your baby. The cotton rounds 100% organic, machine washable, and can last up to 3 years. 

Making reusable wipes

Making your own reusable wipes has a lot of advantages which include not having to spend money on buying baby wipes ever again. Another advantage is peace of mind because you know exactly what you are putting on your baby’s bum.

You probably have a bunch of baby washcloths that were gifted to you during the baby shower. You can use these washcloths as a base for making your own homemade reusable wipes. If you don’t have a lot of washcloths to work with, you can also opt for flannel and cut it up in squares measuring 8 inches by 8 inches. If you have a sewing machine, you can sew the edges but if you don’t, you can always leave them as they are. 

You can also concoct your own solution to be sprayed onto your homemade wipes using:

  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons of your baby’s soap
  • 2 tablespoons of baby oil or light essential oil like lavender or chamomile (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Keep it handy the next time you need to do a diaper change. Spray a few spritzes on the washcloth or flannel squares and use them to clean your baby.

Another option you can do is to store the homemade wipes in a plastic container combined with the solution and you can store it wet. 

After using, place the used washcloths or flannel in the laundry and use the light cycle option. If you have time, you can also hand wash with gentle soap and warm water. 

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