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Baby wipes may trigger food allergies in children

Study finds link between childhood allergies and soapy chemicals in baby wipes

Baby wipes are a daily essential for many parents, but researchers have discovered particular chemicals used in wipes could increase the risk of your baby developing a food allergy. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) which is an ingredient found in soap in baby wipes, can remain on the skin and disrupt the natural protective barrier provided by the top layer of skin.

This can make it easier for allergens in dust to get through, according to research from NorthWestern University in Illinois.

It’s worth noting that SLS is not found in any baby wipes from major UK brands. But do you really know what’s in your baby wipes?

Read our guide which compares ingredients in baby wipes from all the major brands to find out exactly what is being used on your baby’s skin, and always check the label carefully when buying wipes for your family.

Chemicals in baby wipes

Baby wipes contain preservatives to prevent mould and bacterial growth, but some pose a greater risk than others.

One of the most commonly used preservatives is phenoxyethanol, which has been linked to conditions such as eczema and respiratory health problems. However, it’s only used in regulated concentrations below what is deemed as safe for use by the EU.

Most baby wipe brands also offer a fragranced option which can mean unnecessary chemicals.

Some wipes may contain ‘parfum’ which could refer to an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals. There are approximately 2,000 fragranced chemicals for manufacturers to choose from.

Be warned though, buying fragrance-free baby wipes doesn’t always remove the risk of fragrance chemicals. Sometimes fragrance chemicals can be used as preservatives and may not be labelled as ‘parfum’ on the ingredients list.

Are baby wipes safe for newborns?

Most baby wipes are advertised as suitable for use from day one of your baby’s life.

A newborn’s skin is particularly sensitive at this stage though, so many parents prefer to use a more simple solution that removes any risks associated with chemicals. Cotton wool dipped in water is a popular alternative.

Which brand of baby wipes is best?

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to choosing baby wipes for your little one and it can be difficult to know which to go for. Johnsons, Pampers, Waterwipes, Huggies and supermarket own-brand wipes all make various claims about their wipes.

We’d advise you to check the ingredients list carefully, and ideally the list should be as short as possible when selecting baby wipes.

We’ve found a couple of brands that list up to 18 chemicals compared to one brand that lists just two, so it is worth shopping around. Of the 12 brands we looked at in total only two had less than 10 ingredients.

The baby wipes with the fewest ingredients can sometimes be the most expensive. If depends on how liberally you use them, but if you are making your way through two packs of 56 wipes a week this could really add up. Take a look at our guide on where to buy the cheapest wipes to find out where to get discounts on the big brands.

You also might want to limit the amount of chemical preservatives you expose yourself and your child to, especially those with some evidence of potential health concerns, so use wipes sparingly and if possible opt for cotton wool and water instead.

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