When I had my first daughter, I thought how lucky I was, not only to have this beautiful child, but to have so many wonderful items and equipment to make raising her so much easier. I remembered tales from my mother about making formula every day; heavy glass baby bottles; washing cloth diapers and hanging them out on a clothesline; a bathinette—a rubber-type tub on legs that you filled with water in which to bathe the baby; a divided dish you put hot water in the base of to warm baby food; and the cumbersome stroller, carriage, wooden playpen, crib, and high chair that certainly weren’t take-the-baby-on-a-trip-friendly. Car seats were non-existent, unless you count the cloth seat with metal arms that hung over the front seat. They were definitely there to keep a toddler from climbing around the car and certainly not for protection in case of an accident.
Although I started out using cloth diapers with a diaper service, after using disposables on trips, I gave in to using them all the time—sorry, Earth! No matter how often I changed her cloth diapers, my poor daughter had a diaper rash due to the moisture and heat from the rubber pants which covered the diaper. For her comfort, and I admit, the ease in changing—no more diaper pins! Disposable became the norm. I bought a number of cloth diapers to use when I had used up all the ones from the service, with days still to go before the next delivery. They turned out to be great burp cloths and dust rags.
My mom loved, and was somewhat amazed at, all the items we had that made life with a baby so much easier than what was available with my sister and me. From the diapers and wipes to the car seats, portable cribs, strollers, high chairs, playpens, ready-to-eat formula, and disposable bottle inserts, mothers of my era did have it easier. I couldn’t imagine what my daughters could possibly get that would be better. I mean, what was there left that could be, or needed to be, invented?
Entering each of my daughters’ homes when there was an infant in the mix opened my eyes to paraphernalia that, although not necessary, certainly is handy. Baby monitors have come a long way. Not only are they wireless, so you can move them from room to room, but now with a video camera, you can watch your child(ren) sleep or know when they are starting to stir. My youngest, having a baby and a toddler, has a camera set in each of their rooms with a monitor that scans both. Certainly makes it easier than sneaking into the nursery to check on them.
It’s mostly the advances in technology that have made today’s parents a bit more at ease with their children. Instead of a swing that had to be wound up, now there is a cradle-type seat that can move in many different patterns, at different speeds, and play music from your phone. Even the simplest jumping seat now rotates, has lights, music, and attachments to keep infants entertained. Simple play mats have tabs on which to hang a number of fun toys that can easily be replaced. There are machines that mix powdered formula with water, delivering the exact number of ounces needed into the bottle. Another that makes making your own baby food a breeze—and the perfect serving-size containers to freeze them in.
So, my question is: What will they think of next? I’m open to most anything that makes a parent’s life easier. As long as it isn’t a robot that cuddles, rocks, soothes, and sings sweet grands to sleep. I don’t know about you, but that’s my job!
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