Brett Ortler never could’ve imagined the magnitude of messes a toddler can make. Thank goodness for Babyganics.
If you’re reading this, you have young kids, or maybe you’re a new parent, or a parent to-be. First of all, congratulations! Parenting is undoubtedly the greatest job you’ll ever have. It’s also pretty messy, so here’s a bucket and a mop and a few pallets’ worth of cleaning products, because you’re now a full-time janitor. But if you’ve got the right child-friendly cleaning products, messes are no problem.
Putting Clean to the Test
You know how food companies have test kitchens? Well, your average house with a toddler is a test kitchen for childcare items and cleaning products. My house is no exception. This morning, my wife and I decided to go all-in on this toddler mess experiment: we took our toddler out to brunch. Brunch, as those of you without children may recall, is a wonderful meal that features one of the most perfect combinations on the planet: a mix of lunch and breakfast foods and mixed drinks.
But when you bring children along, the calculus changes entirely. When my wife and I decide where to take our children out to eat, we don’t just take price or cuisine into consideration, we also consider how likely our toddler will end the meal looking like a front-row audience member at a Gallagher show. After all, taking a toddler to a brunch buffet is essentially giving them a Super Soaker full of strawberry sauce, fruit juice, and Hollandaise sauce and saying, “Here! Feed yourself!”
Because of this, you hardly get to eat anything yourself, spending $12.95 for about three bites of food, one of which was intercepted midair when the child demanded to “try it” and then slobbered all over it before thumping it down onto their plate “for later.”
Along the way, you spend most of your time cajoling them to actually eat the food, rather than smear it onto the table. When you look up, the toddler is licking jelly off of their shirt and you actually have to utter the words, “Tongues are not napkins.”
Wipes to the Rescue
As a parent, wipes, paper towels and napkins are your arsenal, but you’ve got to choose your items carefully, as it’s hard to find products that are both effective and safe.
Paper towels and cheap napkins are certainly safe, but they literally disintegrate in the face of toddler gunk. But I worry about random wipes from the store, too; I don’t love exposing my kid to products I don’t know, and when I do, I almost always cringe, in fear of a bad reaction to the chemicals in the product.
Some of the more famous names seem so astringent that I worry my tot’s little adorable face will suddenly melt off like the bad guys at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Babyganics products, on the other hand, are baby-safe and free of harsh chemicals. They helped us clean up the post-brunch kid in a hurry, but they were easy on the skin. They worked hard, but played safe.
Of course, there’s only so much that hand face wipes can fix. Despite your best efforts, there comes a point where your kids will accumulate enough gunk, crud and outright schmutz that even the best wipes will only end up smearing the dirt around like some sort of horrible etch-a-sketch.
Eventually, bath time becomes a necessity. Now, I don’t know about you, but I sort of freak out about bath products. If you walk down the shampoo aisle blindfolded at your average department store—this is especially true for women—you’d probably think you were at some destination for high-end foodies: You’d smell shampoos with coconut, avocadoes, mangos, and of course, some sort of so-called “Reconstrucing Hair Shampoo,” which has honey, hibiscus, and at $26 per 6 oz. bottle, subtle hints of “I can’t afford that.”
When it comes to products for children, things are no different. Scented products abound, especially when it comes to bubble baths, but fake fragrances can cause allergic reactions, and astringent chemicals can turn an already difficult task—trying to actually clean your kid—into a scream-fest straight out of a Wes Craven movie. (This is especially true if you inadvertently get some bubble bath or shampoo in their eyes.)
To avoid this, I opt for tear-free formulations, and I only purchase fragrance-free products. But I can’t go without bubbles. I am not monster. My kid loves them. (Heck, so do I. Hearing my toddler demand “Make a bubble beard like Abe Lincoln!” will never get old. (And no, he doesn’t exactly know who Honest Abe is yet; all he knows is that he has a funny beard that consists of bubbles.)
After reading some reviews and trying out Babyganics Fragrance Free Bubble Bath on myself (on my skin, not in a bubble bath), I ran bath for my two-and-half-year-old and dropped him in amid his Rocket Ship Rubber Duck and his toy boat. He disappeared with a splash and emerged, giggling wildly, bubbles cascading up the wall (and onto my face).
I opted for the bubble bath for two reasons; first, there are two dads leading the company (and they were childhood best friends), and second, they designed their products to use on their own families. Because their own kids were going to be using their products, safety was at a premium, so they opted for natural ingredients and plant-based cleaning power.
My kid loved the bubble bath. He immediately demanded several bubble beard sculpting sessions, and then proceeded to bathe his Rocket Duck, saying, “It gets dirty, daddy! It needs a bath too!” Wanting to get a first-person perspective, I asked him what he thought about the new bubble bath, and he asked, “We use it next time!?” I told him that we would, and he was happy, and then demanded that I give him the bath scrub brush. When I asked why, he smiled and said, “There are too many bubbles, I need to sweep them into a pile!”
In the end, the bath was a resounding success. Somewhat amazingly, he went to bed without a fight, ending up clean, healthy and happy, and ready to make the next mess.
Published in partnership with the awesome dads (and moms!) at Babyganics.
Photo: Flickr/Donnie Ray Jones