DIY Baby Care for Your Cheap Bum

A dear friend of mine had six children. She stayed at home with them, and her husband had an average-paying job. She once told me that one secret to their financial stability came in the form of making their own toiletries and bathroom items, specifically those for diapering the baby. Here are a few of her tried and true tricks, along with some additional information to get your started!

Baby wipes are grossly overpriced. While they are so convenient and come in many different scents and varieties, I sometimes think they add up to a higher bill each month than my diapers! Here are the directions for making your own baby wipes:

Using the strongest paper towels you can get (Viva are my favorite), cut one roll in half. Remove the cardboard roll. Make a solution of 1 cup boiling water, 1 T baby lotion, 1 T baby soap (I like any No More Tears variety), and 1 T baby oil. Place ½ roll of paper towels in a reusable container (an empty baby wipes box is ideal.) Pour solution over towels and allow to cool before using.

Do they work? Sure. But they have their drawbacks. They aren’t as strong, and they dry out easier than regular baby wipes. You also can’t use them in a wipe warmer (that I know of.) But it costs less than $1 for a tub, compared to $3.50 -$4.00 for those you buy at the store. The savings may be worth the trouble for you! (Another option is to try reusable baby wipes. These are soft cloths that you can wet, wipe, and toss in the wash with your cloth diapers.)

What about diaper rash products? Most babies will get a rash sometime in their young lives, and there are many safe and effective options for parents to buy in the stores. Still, some parents opt for a homemade remedy for little red bottoms. Here are the most popular:

For an alternative to Desitin or those zinc-oxide-based creams, simply mix equal parts zinc-oxide (found in your sun health section of the store) and Aquaphor. This isn’t exactly cheaper, but some parents find comfort in knowing exactly what’s in their diaper cream.

I haven’t used this yet, but others swear by mixing Milk of Magnesia (Mylanta works well) and cornstarch. The Mylanta neutralizes the acid that can irritate baby’s bottom after a bout of diarrhea, and the cornstarch keeps baby dry! (NOTE: Due to the inhalation dangers associated with talcum powder, cornstarch has been considered a safe replacement for the talcum used years ago in most diapering powders. You will want to avoid using cornstarch on an area of yeast infection or irritation, as it will aggravate this condition.)

There are still mothers who swear by using good old Vaseline or petroleum jelly for their baby’s diaper rash. The cheapest remedy at about $1 for a generic tub, it can help to form a protective barrier against wetness and stools while the baby’s little bottom is healing.

Another natural remedy to consider is the gel from an Aloe Vera plant leaf. (Aloe is a handy plant to have around the house anyway, as it is highly effective in treating burns and other minor skin conditions.)

If you can save a buck here or there, parenting can be a little less painful for your wallet. But while there are all kinds of ways to save money on baby care, it is important to understand that your baby’s health and well-being are priceless. Check with your doctor first before trying any homemade remedy that doesn’t make sense or seems to good to be true, and if you have any other tips we haven’t mentioned, please share with us!

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Guest's picture

I totally used them for my 2 kids, when someone gave me the "recipe" years ago.
They worked just fine, and really cut down on costs!
I used Scott Paper Towels...they were the strongest, at least 8 years ago!
*I got REALLY cheap once, and tried econo brand paper towels, and it did not work, so don't bother!)*

I didn't boil the water first, though. And my kids lived! LOL.

Good luck!

Linsey Knerl's picture

I think the boiling was just to make sure the ingredients dissolved evenly.  But it's good to hear that these work for many people.  And thanks for the tip on not using cheap paper towels!

Myscha Theriault's picture

A good one. I love being able to make my own stuff and to know what's in the products as much as possible.

Another alternative to the petroleum based jellies is plain vegetable shortening. I've never used it on babies, but I've used it for night balm on lips, elbows, heels, knees, etc.

I think this will help a great deal of parents.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Funny you should say that!  I heard Crisco many times in my research.. I just can't bring myself to do it for some reason... but then again, I come from a generation of folks who claim Crisco works for everything.

Guest's picture

I use it on my baby, and I've never had a problem behind yet ;)

Guest's picture

LOL, if I added up all of the money I spent on diapers, etc., I could probably buy a Beverly Hills mansion. You've got some cool ideas here.

Guest's picture

Good tips :)

However, I don't know what baby wipes cost $4!!

The generic brand wipes cost about $1.50 or less for a box of 100+ sheets! Like Target brand, for example.

-Miss DJ

Linsey Knerl's picture

I was thinking $4 and up for the bags of 280+  that you refill the dispensers with.  I don't buy the tubs with the dispensers anymore cause they are just too much packaging.. sorry for not clarifying that.

Guest's picture

We use small face washers and they go in the washing machine with the nappies. They're re-usable for this baby (and future babies) and I'm not spending money each week replacing them.

We also found that moist baby wipes actually made the cleanup process much messier than a wet face washer (we call them "bum wipes" :) ) as the baby wipes would just slick the mess around while the face washer collects it.

That's just our experience, though. Obviously it will be different for others.

Guest's picture

Personally, I bought some towelling and some microfleece (not microfibre) and overlocked them together in squares about the size of a facewasher. We put sorbelene cream on the towelling side, wipe off the mess, fold it in half and give the skin a quick going over with the microfleece. One clean baby, coming right up!

Oh, and they go in the nappy bucket after (we use cloth nappies, too).

Guest's picture

We also use microfleece, but we use it to line the cloth nappies. That way moisture is quickly wicked away to the cloth (we mostly have hemp and bamboo nappies) or pocket nappies and the boy is dryer, happier and less likely to need creams etc. In fact, we rarely used creams except for a couple of isloated incidents.

But I'll stop now before this wanders into cloth nappy discussion :)

Guest's picture

I always throw a little bit of baking soda (1/8 - 1/4 cup) in my daughter's bathtub. It is supposed to help with diaper rash and, so far (she is two and a half), she has not had much of a problem with that.

Myscha Theriault's picture

And also, certain dollar stores carry first aid items. I've seen name brand diaper rash treatment (which is also a budget alternative for zit cream, btw) for a buck a tube on numerous occasions.

Really glad you're covering the parenting topic so well, Linsey. Great job.

Guest's picture

MoM works wonders on sore bottoms. We -love- that hack for teething diapers and the runs.

Also, we used to use Target wipes, but they no longer reseal individually (you have to use the tubs) so Shoprite wipes are our best value.

Guest's picture

similar to fiona i made cloth wipes but i used recycled flanelette from old sheets , flat nappies and bunny rugs i made double thickness wipes and just hemmed them then turned and topstiched.
for a solution i used chamomile tea (infused) and a few squirts of sorboline which i buy in 2l bottles for around $5
when they are dirty i soak them in a bucket with water and eucaliptus oil untill i can stick them in a hot wash and make sure they stay in the sun to dry for a day or two :)

Guest's picture

About the cheapest route for me was to cut up a few of the thousand flannel receiving blankets I had gotten from folks when my daughter was born. Sewed, turned, top stitched. For a "solution" I have a small spray bottle from the $1 store (originally for spritzing your hair with water, I think) and filled it with distilled (to keep mildew/mold at bay) water and a sqirt of Dr. Bronner's pure castile soap (cheap travel size bottles at Target for a little more than $1 that lasts and lasts). Or a small amount of olive oil. That's all. Though, I do not use cloth wipes for poopy messes-I use disposable. I bought a jumbo pack (720 ct) at Sam's for $15 and the whole lot has lasted the better part of a year-still fresh when opened, too. So really, I only spent $15 for an entire year worth of wiping up messes :)

Guest's picture

I really like the idea of making my own baby wipes, I will try this and see how it works. As far as diaper rash cream, though, I stay away from Petroleum Jelly. My second son got a really bad rash that got so bad it was blistering and bleeding. As it turned out, the rash had been worsened because he had an allergic reaction to the diaper rash cream we were using. I talked to a nurse that specialized in home remedies, she told me to use a mix of 8oz of water and 1 tsp of baking soda, spray it on him, let it dry, then use A&D Ointment as it not only blocks like petrolleum jelly but also promotes the skin to heal itself. I have never used anything else since!

Guest's picture

i also use the viva brand, they're pretty strong. but, i use about a cup or two of distilled water, not boiled, and i use dr. bronners baby mild soap. its great, and you only need about 1/4cup or less. i then put a few drops each of lavender, wild chamomile and tea tree oil. lavendar and chamomile are soothing, and tea tree is anti bacterial.

Guest's picture

I've been making my own baby wipes for the past nine months and love it! We've saved a lot of money and have the piece of mind that the solution we are using is non-toxic. Here's the recipe I'm using:

Guest's picture
Kevin Cox

Excellent! These tricks are really helpful. Baby wipes and other toilet product are little bit expensive. The way she is managing all these for 6 children, is just hats off. I appreciate her sense of humor and intelligence. Well, I'll try to implement the things that you are doing. Thanks for sharing it.