Do you need to wipe your baby’s bottom after they pee? In this article, we’ll give you an answer to whether you need to wipe baby after pee and if it’s necessary.
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When starting out on your parenting journey, there are many things to make you worry that you’re not doing enough for your baby. But in trying to do things perfectly, there might be an overabundance of caution regarding even the little things like changing your baby’s diaper. I have found that wiping your baby after pee is a question that stirs a lot of debate among parents, so let’s take a look at the facts.
Wiping your baby after pee is not necessary unless you want to freshen up your baby’s bottom after a soaking wet diaper, and not doing it might in fact save your baby’s skin from getting irritated from excessive wiping. The reason for this is that disposable diapers absorb all the pee away from your baby’s skin so it hardly ever stays in contact with the pee, and even so, urine is rarely irritating so it won’t cause any issues for your baby unless your baby has very sensitive skin.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) also recommends against the use of wipes at every diaper change because of the potential for diaper rash. That’s not to say you should never use wipes, just be judicious about it and try giving your baby a quick rinse or wipe down with a wet cloth whenever possible.
Why Wiping your Baby After Pee is (Usually) Pointless
If you’re skeptical about whether to wipe your baby’s bottom after pee and think that wiping your baby at every wet diaper change is the hygienic thing to do, then it’s important to note that you may be doing more harm than good to your baby by wiping them too often! Here is why:
Reason #1 Disposable diapers are super absorbent
The first reason why you don’t need to wipe your baby’s bottom after a wet diaper is that disposable diapers are so absorbent that there is really no pee left in contact with your baby’s skin (unless it’s extremely full like an overnight diaper).
A common thing I hear from moms who believe that wiping baby after pee is mandatory is this: “I wipe with toilet paper after every pee, so the same goes for my baby“. My response to this is that the point of using toilet paper after peeing is to absorb all the excess pee left over, it doesn’t actually clean. In the case of your baby, the diaper does a great job of absorbing every last drop of pee so wipes are really unnecessary in this case and even add moisture instead of absorbing anything since they are already wet.
The point is that your baby is not sitting in a pool of pee like many people seem to suggest simply because (disposable) diapers are ridiculously moisture-wicking, they do the wiping on their own.
Reason #2 Your (Healthy) Baby’s Pee is Rarely Irritating
While recent studies have debunked the myth that says urine is sterile as it does naturally contain (likely low) levels of bacteria, it is very rarely irritating (unless your baby has very sensitive skin).
Urine can only be an issue in the event that it pools around your baby’s skin for great lengths of time, enough to provide a moist environment for bacteria to proliferate. But in a healthy diaper-wearing baby, this almost never happens as diapers are designed to absorb all of the pee away from your baby’s skin the moment it is expelled.
The implication of this is that if you’re changing your baby’s diapers regularly, they will hardly be ever in direct contact with pee and therefore it’s rare that wiping your baby after pee is going to make any difference.
Reason #3 Excessive Wiping is More Likely to Irritate your Baby
Excessive wiping can cause redness and chafing of your baby’s skin, especially when using scented wipes or wipes with additives. Even wipes labeled as “sensitive” or “mild” can still contain a ton of fragrances, alcohol, and other chemicals that can irritate your baby’s skin.
Many babies develop terrible rashes as a result of their parents’ efforts to keep them clean (by wiping them too often) when all that is needed for your baby’s bottom is a bit of air to dry off the moisture from the diaper and regular baths. And this is why the AAP recommends against the use of wipes for every diaper change.
To reduce your baby’s exposure to chemicals, you can try using cloth wipes or cotton wool balls with just water (if you’re not already doing so). While it may take longer to do, it will definitely be a much gentler alternative to regular wipes.
Do Wipe Your Baby after a Wet Diaper If…
Now that we have discussed the reasons why you don’t need to wipe your baby’s bottom after every wet diaper, there are some cases when it may be a good idea to give your baby’s bottom a little wipe even if it’s only pee. Here are the main ones :
- Your baby has “sharted”. Passing a small amount of poop along with a fart is a common thing with babies, especially during the first few months. If you suspect even the smallest amount of poop in your baby’s diaper, it’s a good idea to wipe them clean and let them dry before putting on a new diaper.
- Your baby is wet. If your baby’s diaper is soaking wet, after being in it all night or for a long stretch of time without changing, wiping your baby with a dry wipe is a good idea to remove any moisture left on the skin especially if you’re going to apply a diaper cream (you don’t want to “lock in” any moisture on the skin).
- Your baby has sensitive skin. The acidity in the pee can (in rare cases) irritate your baby’s sensitive skin, so wiping them can be necessary to avoid breakdowns.
- You’re using cloth diapers. While disposable diapers are crazy absorbent, cloth diapers are not as effective at wicking away moisture, so if you notice that your baby is wet when changing their diaper, wiping (with a dry wipe) can help too.
To wipe or not to wipe at every diaper change is a polarizing subject and can quickly become a source of conflict in many families. I hope that this article has provided you with good arguments to explain why it’s not always necessary and has made you realize that there may be times when wiping your baby can actually do more harm than good.
The best approach is to take a look at the facts and do what works for your baby. It’s also important to take into account your baby’s individual skin sensitivity and be respectful of other parents’ choices when it comes to taking care of their babies.
The purpose of this article is informative and educational only. It’s not a substitute for medical consultation or medical care. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babycious may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content.