The World According to Baby Wipes

Keep it clean but keep it simple


I just got home from a "Target Run." In addition to coat hangers and underwear, my main purchase was a whopping bag of baby wipes. Do I have a baby in the house? Nope, not anymore. What first time parents may not know is that baby wipes rule the world. No really. Once you pop open your first package, you'll wonder how you ever survived without them. I'm grateful though, that I already know my brand—Huggies Natural Care Unscented. Target had a half aisle dedicated to all kinds of baby wipes. There were too many kinds in too many scents with too many features. Good God, people, we're wiping butts here. Can't we simplify?

As with all baby paraphernalia, apparently simplicity is beside the point. Apparently we need to choose from 15 different kinds of every baby product. On one of those morning shows, they were complicating the matter further with a whole segment on baby junk like fashionable baby wipe covers for slipping them discretely in the purse or diaper bag. Discretely? Like, so people won't know you've got a baby whose butt needs wiping? Believe me, it's hard to keep that a secret once they've filled their diaper. The baby you're lugging around (in your arms, sling, back pack, car seat or whatever contraption they've invented, marketed and stocked the shelves with in the time it takes to post this blog) might clue people in. You've got a baby. He or she poops. He/She needs to be cleaned up and OMG, you'll need baby wipes. Do they need to be pre-warmed with an electric warmer that glows in the dark so you can find them easily? Uh no. No you don't.

My daughter (19 and full of insight and opinions) thinks using baby wipe warmers is the first step in spoiling your child beyond all reason. She got a little more riled up when she saw a line of "natural" baby products with chemically made-aloe and chamomile scents added. "If a baby can't handle a slightly cool baby wipe, what's next? Are they going to need custom designed and pre-warmed toilet paper? Wiping our butts is a basic skill. We don't need special accessories. This is what makes kids grow up to be whiny, self centered little brats who complain loudly in public about their chipped nails!" While I thought this was hysterically funny (and she meant it to be), I've got to admit, she might have a valid point. What are we teaching our kids about consumerism, dealing with mild discomfort (a cool wipe—the horror), and that "natural" comes in a can? That you need a whole lot of special conditions met before you can accomplish an essential and elementary task. I'm not saying these things aren't convenient—many of them are. I'm just saying, maybe we don't need to protect our children from everything that might be slightly inconvenient or, um, cold.

As I said, I think baby wipes are one of the greatest inventions of all time. Environmentally correct? Not sure. Probably more so than the dozen washcloths you'd need to wash just to get through a day. Beyond the diaper years, they're excellent for helping toddlers do a good job wiping themselves. They're great for cleaning up messy faces, runny noses, spills on the counter and make-up. They're absolutely genius at removing make-up. When you've got an adolescent boy who can develop rank body odor within minutes of getting out of the shower, a quick armpit swipe with a baby wipe and some deodorant cleans him up enough to make him presentable in public. Oh yeah, honey, this is what you're in for: a lifetime of reasons to use baby wipes. Go ahead and shove them in your purse without discretion because there's no point hiding them. Parenthood is messy. You're going to want to keep it clean. But please, keep it simple.

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