Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Better Living Through Chemistry

I’ve blogged before about the advantages of technology in raising a baby these days. But my generation also has the advantages of huge chemical and medical knowledge. The list of health and hygiene products that never existed when my parents were children – and even during my own childhood – is immense. And I don’t mean just the biggies like immunizations and antibiotics that save babies’ lives. I mean all those “minor” products that save parents’ sanity.

When my mother was a baby, the accepted remedy for teething pain was to rub whiskey on her gums. I very much doubt that my staunch Baptist grandmother ever did this. But there have been rumors of homemade elderberry wine that may have been put to medicinal use! When I was a baby, my mother kept a tiny vial of oil of cloves in the medicine cabinet to rub on my gums. I’ve smelled that stuff, and I admit that it may or may not have dulled the pain, but it certainly would have created a sensory distraction. But when Ryan seemed to be in pain from teething yesterday (I know, I know, I’ve been claiming he’s teething for two months now – but I’ll keep saying it and eventually I’ll be right), I had my own magic vial of infant Tylenol that numbed his pain and allowed him to finally get some much-needed (as much by me as by him) rest.

Another problem that I, fortunately, have not had to deal with is gas and colic. I have no idea how my grandmother dealt with it, but my mom’s best resource for me was to plop me in the car and drive around the neighborhood for hours, usually at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.

For my generation of moms, however, not only do we have the option of the late-night drive (with much safer and simpler car seats, to boot), but we have a cabinet full of products like Mylicon drops and infant Tagamet, Prilosec, Prevacid and Zantac to calm and soothe those tender tummies.

Cough or cold? Forget about sitting on the side of the tub with the shower running full blast to create a steam room. We have warm mist, cool mist, high mist, low mist, with medication, without medication humidifiers. We have twenty-seven brands of cough drops and cold liquids. We have products to loosen a cough, dry a cough, prevent a cough, prevent a cold, unstuff a nose, and stop a runny nose.

And even on the non-medicinal side of things, we have shampoos, skin creams, diaper rash creams, powders, body wash, and bubble bath. Hypoallergenic, organic, aromatherapy, vegan, non-animal-tested – whatever you want, you can find it out there.

Gone are the days of a single bottle of Johnson & Johnson No More Tears shampoo that served to wash everything. These days you can find a specialized product for every conceivable body part with every conceivable twist – moisturizing, drying, anti-itch, softening, and on and on.

So although it may be a little overwhelming to look at those store shelves full of thousands of products, I’m glad to have all those options. Because somewhere amidst those bottle and vials and jars and tubs is one item that will make my baby happy and contented. And when baby is happy, everybody is happy!

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