December 8, 2009

Rule #6: Dr. Wolffe's 'Baby' Rule

First, an editorial note. I don't know if this is really rule #6. I think if I had called it rule #1 then it would seem to be the most important rule out of however-many rules there turn out to be. Rule #2 will have you wondering what is the rule that is so much more important than that. Rule #79 seems more like a guideline than a rule. I will post other rules as they arise, and will have to see where their numbers unfold.

6.  Dr. Wolffe's Baby Rule:  
Never apply any product to your baby that has “Baby” in the name.

Simple, right? Hospitals often give out free samples of products covered under Rule 6.  Feel free to use them on yourself. Don't start with that blame-the-drug-companies stuff, either. Pushed equally hard, and at considerably higher prices, are many product lines of 'natural' products targeted for use on babies. Are these products natural? In fact, they are designed to be marketed to parents who really want to use all the products covered under Rule 6, but who feel better about themselves by buying the products in a purportedly greener venue. I'll go through the usual suspects:

  1. Baby Shampoo. If your baby has any hair at all, how dirty does it get? Dreadlocks—I don't think so. Dripping with sweat from being overambitious on the stair-climber in the gym after work? Not likely. If your baby has cradle cap, especially if it's severe cradle cap, the baby might need a prescription shampoo. Baby shampoo won't help it.

  2. Baby Wash/Soap. You know that car that's jacked up on concrete blocks and wire milk crates in your front yard? The one that your neighbor applied for a court order to have you remove because it was bringing down property values? Let's say you're under that car replacing the starter motor that burned out when you let that dim cousin Dale (though everyone calls him LD which stands for 'Little Dale' because everyone calls his father Dale) use the car briefly in 1997 and he ground at least two teeth off the starter ring gear.  You're being a conscientious parent,

    watching the baby, who you have next to you on the wheeled creeper under the car. Loosening the transmission fluid cooling lines sends a gush of dirty transmission oil all over the baby. Now you're going to need some soap when you bathe the kid. Until that happens, however, nearly everything else that gets on the baby will come off with plain water and gentle wiping with your bare hand.

  3. Baby Oil. What is this stuff, anyway? How exactly are babies industrially processed to extract their oil? Is it refined? Crude? Extra virgin? It turns out to be mineral oil, refined from petroleum, plus fragrance. Your baby needs fragrance? If your baby smells unpleasant, that's a signal for you to be taking some sort of definitive action to remediate that issue.

  4. Baby Lotion. There's an old-fashioned expression: smooth as a baby's behind. How did it get that way? Not from lotion, I assure you. There are babies who have dry or problem skin. It's hard to imagine that a baby with very dry and sensitive skin is somehow going to be helped by a mix of heavily-fragranced, colored, saponified organic compounds. If you buy the 'natural' brand, it will probably also have calendula in it, which can really do some damage to sensitive skin. (See my post on this topic.) On a related note, the peeling skin of a newborn has nothing to do with the skin being dry. Everybody's skin would peel after a 9-month bath.

  5. Baby Powder. Powder is by definition dry, so is indeed a logical choice for absorbing liquids. Will it keep the baby dry? Do this yourself—put some in your hand and see what happens when you add a little liquid. Does it absorb much? Or does it turn into a strongly-smelling congealed abrasive? And what, exactly, happens to that cloud of particulates that seem to linger in the air that you and the baby are inhaling?
If this has left you feeling like you have to throw away your entire shopping list, don’t despair.  Here’s a Baby product to put on the list.
baby grand piano
And there’s always this.

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