The key to a happy baby is a full belly, lots of sleep and a clean bottom. So, learning how to wipe a baby is one of the first things you’ll need to do as a new parent.
From figuring out the best wipes for your little one to how to use them correctly, there’s lots to master. But the more you practise, the more confident you’ll get. And don’t feel like you need to be an expert right away.
Ask any parent and they’re sure to have their fair share of baby changing nightmares – whether it’s babies weeing on the changing mat to the dreaded nappy rash. That’s why we’ve put together some of the best wiping techniques to keep your baby’s bum healthy and clean.
Our easy-to-follow guide is the perfect way to refresh your memory and prepare for your newborn.
The three main products you can use are:
• Baby wipes
•Wipes made with 99% water
• Cotton wool with water
Find the one type that works best, even if that means using each of them at different stages of development – it all depends on your baby’s skin.
Remember, the first few poos can be much stickier than normal, as it’s filled with meconium, so go easy. Take your time and don’t be tempted to scrub at it.
While cotton wool is natural, chemical-free, and super soft on your baby’s bum, it’s often not the most efficient at cleaning. You normally need quite a few cotton balls to get their little bottom sparkling clean.
If cotton wool isn’t working, try soaking a washcloth and adding mild baby cleanser to the water for an extra freshen up, which shouldn’t damage the natural skin barrier. Or it might be time to consider an alternative.
How long should I use water based wipes on a baby?
There’s no time limit on how long to use water based wipes on a baby. Usually made with 99.9% water, they are ideal for sensitive skin. If you’ve noticed a rash or redness after using baby wipes, you may want to switch to gentler water wipes.
As the parent of a newborn, wiping baby bottoms will soon become second nature. Younger babies can need changing 10 to 12 times a day, while older babies often need new nappies six to eight times daily – that’s a lot of wiping.
It’s vital you change your child’s nappy regularly. If it’s a poo, you need to clean your baby’s bottom as soon as possible to avoid nappy rash. So, let’s learn how to wipe a baby
Prepare the area – Whether at home or in public, you need to set up a comfortable changing area. Lay a changing mat or towel on the floor in case of any accidents. Make sure you’ve got everything you need, including cotton wool and water (or wipes), a plastic bag for the dirty nappy, clean nappies, and a barrier cream.
Make sure they’re finished – Give your little one a moment to finish their business, to avoid an unwelcome surprise when you open their nappy. You don’t want your first experience of changing a baby to start with “they pooed on me”.
Strip them back – If you’re at home, it’s best to take their clothes off completely so they’re not near the dirty nappy. But if you’re outside and it’s cold, just undo the bottom half of their clothing and move it as far away as possible. You don’t want their new sleep suit getting stained.
Nappy off – When you undo the nappy, it’s a good idea to quickly open and close it back up as your baby is likely to pee when they feel the cold air. Once you’re certain they’ve finished, remove the nappy and hold their legs up in the air.
Time to wipe – Use a clean section of the nappy (if there is one!) to wipe away most of the poo and put it to one side. With the cotton wool and lukewarm water, or baby wipes, remove the rest for a thorough but gentle clean. Always wipe front to back to avoid spreading bacteria and make sure you clean the entire nappy area, including inside the folds of skin. If it’s warm enough, let your baby lie without a nappy to dry off and reduce the chances of nappy rash.
New nappy – If your baby’s skin is looking a little dry, use a fragrance-free moisturiser before putting the clean nappy on your little one and getting them dressed.
Dispose of the old nappy – If you’ve used a disposable nappy, wrap the dirty wipes or cotton wool in the dirty nappy and put them in a plastic nappy bag. Tie it up and put it in your rubbish bin. When using a cloth nappy, you just need to flush away the poo and put the nappy and liner in a bag to wash and reuse.
Clean your hands – Don’t forget about your own cleanliness. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
While changing and wiping your baby, talk to them so they feel comfortable. It also gives you the chance to bond.
For specific advice on changing a girl or boy’s nappy, take a look at our Baby Boy Care and Baby Girl Care pages.
Wiping Baby FAQ's
Do you need to warm wipes?
Warm wipes are not essential for wiping your baby – those stored at room temperature are fine. If it’s something you want, you can purchase a baby wipe warmer to keep them toasty. For those wondering how to warm baby wipes without a warmer – run a hair dryer over them for a few seconds or simply warm them up in the palms of your hands.
How do you clean baby poo without wipes?
If you’ve run out of wipes, there’s no need to panic. Cotton wool and warm water are a gentle option, while wash cloths soaked in water and a little baby cleanser are a great way to freshen up your baby.
Where should I put dirty baby wipes?
The easiest way to dispose of dirty baby wipes is to:
• Wrap them up in the old nappy
• Place them in a plastic nappy bag
• Put it in your outside bin
How do I stop wipes drying out?
Don’t leave them in hot temperatures for long periods and always check the lid or packaging is properly sealed. Some parents also add a few water drops to the container and store it upside down to keep the wipes hydrated.
Can babies be allergic to wipes?
Yes, baby wipes can cause an allergic reaction or nappy rash, especially on sensitive skin. This is common in baby wipes that contain alcohol or fragrance. If you notice your baby has a red rash on their bottom or thighs, it could be an allergic reaction. Stop using the wipes and switch to water and a washcloth. If the rash clears up by itself, you’re good to go, but if it persists, it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor.