Baby products you need – baby not included or necessary

May 21st, 2018

In our new Stonehenge Resident Blog Post Series, we ask our residents to write about a topic that's important to them. Yishan Cheng from The Ritz Plaza has been inspired by her work as a physician to find creative alternative uses for baby products. Check out her post below to learn some clever tricks for parents and non-parents alike! ----- I frequently walk down the baby product aisle in stores, even though I’m not a mom. And no, it’s not because my ovaries ache, nor is there a proverbial ticking clock inside my uterus. It’s actually to help me with my job. See, I am a pediatrician, and get lots of questions from parents about what to buy, and what products I recommend. As if they teach that in medical school. So when I go pick up some Tylenol or sunscreen for myself, I check out that happy, colorful aisle inevitably found next to the condoms. (Unclear if it’s to encourage or discourage contraception use…just sayin’.) The Children’s Hospital also has a wide array of baby products in stock – diapers, wipes, creams – and let’s just say that when you have a need in the middle of a night shift, you find creative uses for those items. As a result, I have amassed an eclectic assortment of alternative uses for baby products that I will share below. Baby wipes as multipurpose wipes Baby wipes are probably one of the gentlest wipes you’ll find out there, free of fragrances and harsh chemicals. After all, who would buy something irritating to use on their baby’s butt ten times a day? They are also much cheaper than the litany of specialized wipes they can replace. So why limit the use of this wonderful product to the derriere of a crying, squirming mini-human for the first two years of his life? Here are some other ways that I use baby wipes:
  1. All-over body wipes. Baby wipes are basically easy and safe to use on all areas of the body. I use them as: make-up remover (#AxThePinkTax), hand wipes, feminine wipes, body wipes (when unable to shower, such as on an international flight or a 24 hour shift), and wet toilet paper. You just have to get over using the same product on your face as you do on your behind. But it’s well worth it.
  1. Cleaning wipe. I use baby wipes to clean: kitchen counter messes while I’m in the middle of cooking, my vanity top, make-up brushes (for a quick color change, not for a deep clean), shoes, bags and inside the car. I’m sure you can find a whole host of other household surfaces to use them on.
As you can see, baby wipes just really need to be renamed “everything wipes.” Go to town. Diapers as absorbent pads and mops In the pediatric emergency department, I unforunately frequently see toddlers who fell and split open the skin on their heads. It’s called a scalp laceration, and is actually repaired with some quick skin staples. Before stapling it closed though, I have to clean it. This involves squirting up to half a liter of sterile solution on the child’s scalp. Other than numbing the injury and figuring out how to comfort and keep the upset squirmy child still enough, I also need to figure out how to collect the run-off. After all, it’s generally poor form to let your patient stay in a wet, bloody mess. What I figured out is, large adult diapers placed under the child’s head are wonderfully absorbant. In the household setting, you can use diapers to clean up spills and messes too. Now, someone without children may not have diapers laying around. But this tip will be applicable to families who have leftover infant diapers from the past, that no longer fit their spill-prone toddlers in the present. Baby products for adults
  1. Baby oil (or lotion or cream). If you have sensitive skin, or generally woud like to avoid fragrance and other potentially irritating ingredients in your skincare, try shopping the baby aisle for your moisturizer.
  2. Aquaphor (or A&D ointment or Vaseline). This is usually meant to be applied to baby’s butt during diaper changes. But they work really well as lip ointment, and as cuticle cream.
  3. Baby powder. Again, meant to be applied during diaper changes to keep that area dry, this powder is great at absorbing moisture and oil. Thus, it is the perfect DIY for dry shampoo, and for makeup setting powder. I like to apply this to my bangs and forehead at the end of my makeup and hair routine. That’s where I get oily, but of course, you may choose different locations. One cheap product, two expensive purposes. #AxThePinkTax
  4. Baby food. Generally made with simple ingredients and minimal sugar, these products make a great snack for adults too. These are two I’ve tried that don’t make me feel completely ridiculous: cereal puffs as an even-lower-calorie substitue for popcorn, and fruit pouches as a tasty on-the-go snack.
Baby products for baby (but with alternative uses)
  1. Teething ring as cool pack. Did your accident prone toddler outgrow his gel-filled teething toys from infancy? You can still store them in the fridge or freezer, and bust them out for those bumps and bruises.
  2. Bottle cap nipple as medication dispenser. If you have a baby who needs to take medications on a daily basis, don’t buy the overpriced medicine dispensing pacifier from Buy Buy Baby. But also, please don’t mix the medication into a bottle of formula or breastmilk, because if your child doesn’t finish the bottle, he also won’t get the entire dose of the medicine. Instead, detach the bottle cap and fill the nipple with your liquid or finely crushed tablet. You can add some formula or breastmilk up to the volume of the nipple. Then turn it over and offer the de-tached bottle cap nipple to your child.
  3. Desitin as sunscreen. That white pastey diaper cream you use to prevent diaper rash? It’s zinc oxide, which is also a physical sunscreen. Babies should always be protected from the sun while outdoors. But if you’re in a pinch and didn’t bring any baby-friendly sunscreen with you, you can apply some Desitin to exposed skin on your baby. Theoretically you could do the same for yourself too, but my guess is most adults don’t want to parade around sporting a lifeguard’s nose.
The moral of the story is: if you have babies, see if you can re-imagine what you use your products for; if you don’t have babies, check out the baby aisle anyway because you might be pleasantly surprised with what you find. With some creativity, we can outsmart the branding and marketing ploys of companies, and save money and live better in the process. What are some alternative ways you use baby products?