February 13, 2013

Misty Watson: Use common scents for babies

I had to remind myself the manners my mom taught me when I opened a gift to find a sun dress or shoes made to fit a newborn.

“Why?!” I thought. “What are we going to do with this?”

I would look up smiling, though, and beam “Isn’t that adorable? Thank you so much!”

My daughter Sophie was due in late October, and a sun dress in a newborn size was a very impractical gift. Actually, given the history of how big babies were in my family, anything in a newborn size was impractical. Sophie might have worn newborn clothes for two weeks.

(I know some of you think I’m being ungrateful at this point. I’m not. I appreciated the thought. But I also appreciated that most baby stores let you exchange items without a receipt.)

When it comes to babies, there are a lot of impractical items on the market, items much more frivolous than my sun dress in late October. Well-meaning baby lovers everywhere can’t resist the cuteness of tiny baby products.

I still don’t understand baby shoes or their purpose, and I didn’t start putting shoes on Sophie until this winter. (She’s now 15 months old). A mom recently told me that she received a sterling silver storage container for her child’s first lock of hair and for her child’s first lost tooth. Several moms say they received silver baby spoons, silver plates and engraved silver sippy cups.

That takes the phrase “born with a silver spoon in the mouth” to a whole new meaning. Get your silver baby supplies, not just for the wealthy anymore.

But not even those things seem so incredulous to me as when I heard recently that Dolce & Gabbana had launched a baby perfume.

Baby perfume?!?! At least the silver items could be considered keepsakes.

I had received a text from my mom — and I swear to you she was joking — that said Dolce & Gabbana had developed a baby perfume and she thought Sophie should receive some for Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t believe it.

A quick Google search revealed, yes, as a matter of fact, there is such a thing.

Apparently babies’ putrid stench needs to be masked. That newly bathed baby smell that mothers everywhere pause to breathe in just a little longer just isn’t enough for some. If that sounds like you — it definitely isn’t me — then this product is for you.

Now you can buy a bottle of “the softness of baby skin, the freshness of baby breath, a mother’s sweet hug, the first smile,” which is what Stefano Gabbana has been quoted as saying was his inspiration for the fragrance. I’m not sure how you bottle a hug or a first smile, but I guess if anyone can figure out how to do it, it would be Dolce & Gabbana (says the girl who wears no makeup or perfume and wears nothing but clothes purchased from Old Navy).

I can’t even stand when adults wear cologne or perfume. I have bad respiratory-related allergies and even walking by a perfume counter in a department store can leave me sneezing and congested for hours.

So why would I want to put this on my baby?

The designers claim it is a unisex perfume designed to enhance a baby’s natural smell, adding notes of citrus, honey and melon to the mix. Sounds like my daughter after eating a fruit salad.

Discussions online are getting heated between the “babies stink like dirty diapers and spit up” people and the “babies have a wonderful fresh smell naturally” people. It’s great amusement to watch them go back and forth. And, of course, I don’t think either side is exactly correct.

If your baby stinks, then change him or clean the spit up. Your baby also doesn’t smell that wonderful naturally. The scents many equate with the fresh baby smell are brought to you by products containing added scents, such as soaps, detergents and lotions.

Even though the baby perfume is alcohol free, experts say other ingredients can lead to problems with a baby’s developing respiratory system or sensitive skin. TODAY.com quotes Dr. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica-based pediatrician and author of a forthcoming book on children and toxins, who says parents and children should stay away from all perfumes.

“Babies and people who have babies should not wear fragrance,” he said. “There are chemicals and toxins labeled as ‘fragrance’ in these products that can cause children to have respiratory infections.”

In my research on this particular product, I learned Dolce & Gabbana is not the only baby perfume you’ll find at your local department store counter. I couldn’t find a release date, but it will join others such as Bvlgari, Burberry and L’Occitane.

So I ask, in all seriousness, who is buying this? Who out there has $50 they would like to throw away on a bottle of baby perfume? Please, instead, give me the $50 so I can use it on something practical, like clothes to replace the ones Sophie outgrew yesterday or on the doctor bill from having a LEGO extracted from my foot.

Products like this make me sad. They make me sad because they make me realize the frivolity of our society.

We might as well go ahead and change the saying. Apparently being born with a silver spoon is pretty common now.

So what about saying “he was born with perfume on the skin” instead?

Murray County native Misty Watson is a photographer and staff writer for The Daily Citizen. She’s interested in knowing the worst baby gift you’ve ever received. You can follow her on Twitter, @mistydwatson, friend her at facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN or email her at mistywatson@daltoncitizen.com.

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