Sunday, October 7, 2007

It's A Wonder Any Of Us Made It Beyond Infancy!

It has been fifteen years since I have had the occasion to shop for baby stuff. Boy has the world changed! There are whole stores, big ones, dedicated exclusively to the needs of babies. Okay, maybe, need is overstated. No kid needs all those things. And no young parents should let themselves be convinced that their kids needs all that paraphernalia, because they don't. How is it that babies haven't changed in forever yet the equipment to rear one of them changes on a daily basis?

I am all for pieces of equipment that lend themselves to keeping babies safe. Car seats are definitely good things. However, they are CAR seats. I am convinced that because car seats can be removed in no time at all, some babies never get out of them. I see mothers with their babies dangling at the end of their arms as they stroll through the grocery store or Target. The carriers are swinging back and forth. What these women seem not to notice is that the babies look like bobble heads. Because the mothers can't or don't see the infants, they don't know that their little heads are just bobbing back and forth - despite the fact that they have a color-coordinated roll thing in the seat. News flash: The roll thing keeps their heads from falling over to the side and making the baby look like an evil child's Gumby toy. It does nothing to keep a baby's head from bouncing back and forth to the beat of a mother's shopping feet. Whatever happened to carrying a baby in your arms? To holding them close and keeping them warm next to your own body rather than buying all those contraptions sporting different configurations of flannel and Velcro to swaddle your baby in so that it feels the security of being held? Just hold the precious little thing. In the big scheme, they don't want it for very long.

I was overwhelmed by my whole shopping experience. The "Baby Care" section may have been the worst offender. There were shelves that extended from floor to ceiling of soaps, lotions, shampoo, oil, powder, and other household cleaners. Whatever happened to the one liquid cleans all? You can buy more lotions and potions for infants than I ever thought possible. Then there are the nail clippers with the LED light on the end. Are babies like dogs? Do you have to sneak up on them in the dark so that they won't bite you when you trim their nails?

Speaking of biting, mouth and tooth care occupies another whole wall in the baby superstore. You can find toothbrushes with every TV character, Disney princess, and endangered species, toothpaste that claims to be endorsed by Big Bird (I don't think Big Bird even has teeth!), Barney, and Cinderella, ointments to sooth teething woes, rings, and sticks, and balls to freeze and then shove in the kid's mouth. Popsicles do the same thing and taste a whole lot better.

But the one baby care item whose possibilities just amaze me is the thermometer. Every mother needs a thermometer. If you call the pediatrician"s office to make an appointment they will always ask you if your child is running a fever. (Do they run a fever when they have bones sticking out of their arm, Doc?) So, there is no question that a thermometer is a must have. This is one of those pieces of equipment that has been improved vastly over time. Though you can still buy a rectal thermometer, who really wants one? Maybe some purist parent who has sadistic tendencies. Oral thermometers are definitely an improvement but it is hard to convince an infant whose natural tendency is to tongue thrust to keep that thing under his tongue for 60 seconds. Most babies prefer those soft squishy things in their mouths - even fake nipples are preferable to that poky thermometer. Enter, the armpit thermometer. Its accuracy has always seemed to be questionable. And like the dreaded rectal thermometer, the baby has to be half naked (you choose the half) to even use the thing.

The ear thermometer was new when my kids were babies. Those things are awesome. Ears are surely a preferred orifice over mouths, armpits, and rectums. I still use my ear thermometer. The only problem I have with it personally is that my temperature is different in each ear. Maybe fevers are like Shingles, they usually only happen on one side.

When you discover a good thing, and the ear thermometer is a good thing, you should just stop there. But no. Someone had to keep trying to invent the perfect thermometer. I don't know why they couldn't use their desire to create perfection by working on the perfect purse or knit bag or something. They had to mess with the thermometer.

Here comes the thermometer that masquerades as a pacifier. The baby sucks on it and the digital panel on the front displays his temperature. They kind of look like gasoline pumps with the prices changing every minute. Maybe these aren't such a bad idea. It solves the tongue thrusting problem and the biting (or gumming, depending on the baby's age) when you try to shove that thing in some opening that the kid was not expecting. Just as I was getting on board with the heat sensing pacifier, I came across the model that made me change my mind.

For all those people who are either unable or unwilling to read the digital display on the pacifier, here comes their heat sensing superhero - the pacifier that plays "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" if the infant's temperature measures greater than 99.9 degrees. How many other baby toys are there that play this song? Then there are the children's cell phones (real ones, not toys) that ring to Mozart's musical gem. Now the buzz in the mall play yards is going to be "Is that my pacifier going off?" "No, it is just the busy box on my stroller." "Hey, that kid has my fever tone."

I've got it! I'm not much of a business person, but this just might be my ticket to big bucks - Downloadable pacifier tones! What do you think?
I could start with "It Sucks To Be Me" from Avenue Q. . .