Amazing New Baby Care Inventions

Last fall, after the birth of granddaughter Charlotte, I wrote a column about all the elaborate and expensive equipment parents “must” have in order to properly take care of a baby nowadays. The point was that “back in the day” we raised kids with just a pair of hands, some cloth diapers and a prayer, and they not only survived, but thrived.

Today I sing another tune. Here in Texas to help out with grandchild No. 10, Kinsie Kae, born July 19, I’ve come to marvel, appreciate and, in some cases, crack up at a few baby care inventions from America’s most creative entrepreneurs.

“…a diaper called Pampers Swaddlers has a ‘wetness indicator.’ No more sticking your finger up the diaper leg into who knows what.”

Soon after I arrived, I was sent on an errand to a store called BuyBuy Baby (the name alone should get business’s highest award for clever branding). But then, as I gazed around the massive 20,000-plus-square-foot store, my jaw went slack. Wall to giant wall were items I couldn’t imagine Kinsie needing. She only weighed 6.5 pounds.

But sure enough, being so tiny, she did need some preemie diapers. Shouldn’t be hard. A diaper is a diaper, right? As it turns out, not so.

If you’re a parent old enough to remember how we used to check if the baby’s diaper was wet, this will blow your mind: a diaper called Pampers Swaddlers has a “wetness indicator.” No more sticking your finger up the diaper leg into who knows what. When a yellow strip on the outside turns blue, your baby needs a change.

I had to patronize BuyBuy Baby more than once, each time seeing new items. I checked out the pacifier aisle. Who could imagine that a little rubber nipple with a plastic holder had so many variations? Since Dr. Brown’s brand was the only one that made a preemie size, that choice was a snap. Baby bottles were another story. After reading enough labels to earn a Ph.D. in infant farting, I settled on Dr. Brown’s gas-inhibiting six-part baby bottle system, which I would like to loan a few men I know.

Falling back on old habits, I began boiling water to sterilize the new bottles. My daughter-in-law Marcie was kind. “This is really simpler,” she said, showing me a gallon-sized plastic package that I had almost thrown away. “Just put the bottles in this bag, add two ounces of water, zip it up and microwave on high for a minute and a half. Everything will be sterile.”

Medela’s ingenious Ziploc bag system is called quick cleanTM micro steam bag and can be reused up to 20 times per bag, with one bag holding up to two bottles and accessories, and a couple of pacifiers.

When I had my babies, we didn’t have monitors either, but now these baby wakeup warning systems are commonplace. Summer Infant Inc. makes a little color video/audio camera system that includes a wireless remote monitor about the size of a smart-phone that allows mom to walk to the basement to do laundry with no worries.

Another one of my favorites for $7.99 is a baby food dispensing spoon called Squirt by Boon for babies 4 months and older. Put the pureed food into this 3-ounce bulb then pop on a plastic spoon. Just squeeze the bulb and out comes carrots or peas right onto the spoon for a no-mess feeding anywhere you may be.

And finally, another must-have that we never had – a product that keeps washing to a minimum: disposable changing pads. These are 16-by-20-inch absorbent sheets that can be used for diaper changing, burping and feeding (for any age?). The backing prevents furniture or laps from the formerly inevitable poo stains.

With these new inventions, having babies is so easy, I almost wish I could have another one myself. But don’t tell my children. They’re ones who will choose my nursing home – maybe sooner than later.

Note: It’s only the freedom provided by our nation’s sometimes demonized free enterprise system that creates the atmosphere for entrepreneurs to succeed. Let’s keep it that way.