Cotton Wool, Disposable Wipes or Washable Cloth Wipes: Pro’s and Cons for Nappy and Diaper Changing


Having a newborn baby is an enormous change, made more difficult by the fact that there’s so much information available. From feeding your baby to their sleeping habits, changing their diapers and nappies and the routine / attachment parenting debate it’s difficult to know where to start.

Here we’ll look at just one element of your baby’s daily routine – diaper / nappy changing. Once you’ve decided whether to use cloth or disposable nappies or diapers, you can start considering what to use to clean up that poop.

Cotton Wool & Water

In the UK, NICE Clinical Excellence guidelines used by midwives recommend that only water (and cotton wool) should be used for the first 6 weeks of baby’s life. This is to protect their newborn skin which is much more delicate than adult skin.

Pro’s: Cotton Wool is very soft and inexpensive to buy. Water is readily available from the tap and obviously it’s completely chemical free, so perfect for your baby’s skin. Cotton wool is bio-degradable also, so a plus from an environmental perspective.

Con’s: There are just a couple of small downsides to using cotton wool. Firstly, you have to wet the cotton wool each time before use, just a minor niggle, but irritating when you’ve sat down to change the baby and then realise that you need to run to the sink. In addition, the fluff from cotton wool can stick to poop and be a bit messy. Lastly, when you’re out and about with baby, you may not have easy access to water or a tap, so it can be a little inconvenient.

Disposable Wipes

Disposable wipes range from the big brand names to more boutique ‘natural’ eco-disposables. They range in price up to $5 per pack, depending on where they are bought.

Pro’s: There’s no doubt that disposable wipes are convenient. They can be used and thrown away with disposable nappies whether at home or out and about.

Con’s: The cost of using disposable wipes can really mount up. Even if you buy a supermarket own brand, buying just one pack per week could amount to $500 over two years. Then there’s the environmental cost to consider as you’re contributing to landfill with all those mucky wipes. Lastly, disspoable wipes have a tendency to smear poop around, and because they’re quite thin, it’s easy to find yourself with a poop covered hand. Yuck.

Washable Wipes

Washable wipes can range from old cotton washcloths to luxurious bamboo or minkee wipes. They range in price from a few dollars for wipes on their own to $60 for a washable wipes kit which includes soaking boxes and bags for using when out and about.

Pro’s: Using washable wipes is inexpensive when compared to the cost of disposable wipes. They’re also environmentally friendly as they are washed and reused. They are chemical free, using just water or water and baby-friendly essential oils to cleanse your baby’s bottom. Because of the nature of the fabric, cotton and bamboo wipes are quick and easy to use, removing poop with a minimum of hassle. The wipes do need to be washed, but don’t need to be dried and don’t require a separate wash. They can also be used when out and about by taking damp wipes out in a wetbag for ease.

Con’s: Obviously the wipes do need to be washed, so require a bit more effort than disposable wipes or cotton wool.

Whatever method (or methods) you decide upon, good luck with your new baby!


Source by Helen Blaber