Monday, March 30, 2009

What’s with the tiny bottles?

An open letter to the makers of Tempra, Infants’ Motrin, Infants’ Advil & Infants’ Tylenol:

One of the things nobody told me before I had children was that I would spend the equivalent of a small nation’s GDP on painkillers for them.

Mostly, I don't resent the dent that your products have made on my household budget. I love your products. More to the point, I need your products. Your products have saved my sanity and eased my children’s pain on innumerable occasions. And for this I thank you.

Four and a half years (and a couple dozen ear infections and 36 baby teeth and counting) into this parenting gig, however, I have, I feel, gained a certain, hands-on, expertise in the use and effects of your products, not to mention their packaging. And, I have a few issues suggestions for improvement. Herewith:

1. What’s with the tiny bottles?
It just seems clear to me that the people in charge of such things clearly have never lived with a teething 12-month-old with an ear infection. And diaper rash. Look: a container with the volume of a travel-sized bottle of shampoo is simply NOT BIG ENOUGH. We’ll go through that — layering the ibuprofen with the other stuff — in less than three days. And then we get pissed off when we run out of medication at three in the morning.

Why aren’t the bottles bigger? Are you worried that we will, in some fit of parenting hysteria, feed an entire mason jar of analgesic to our children? Or that they will find said analgesic and, because they are so besotted with its fruity taste, down it themselves?

Okay, maybe I just answered that one for myself. Moving right along (and this next point is bulletproof):

2. Why can’t you make syringes that actually suck up all the medicine in the already tiny bottle?
This is truly one of my pet peeves. It’s bad enough that we hardly have any medication to work with here, or that the tiny bottle costs $8.98, but the fact that the last half dose is virtually impossible to suck up with the provided syringe is unconscionable. Get a good mechanical engineer in there and figure out the ratios so that we can angle the syringe directly into the tilted edge of the floor of the bottle, and squeeze every last drop of our investment out of the (ridiculously tiny) bottle and into our children.

(Speaking of syringes, isn’t it kind of unhygienic to keep dipping the same one into the same bottle? Especially after it’s been in the germy little mouth of a toddler with bronchitis? And that of his baby brother? Could there be a better system? I’m obviously too tired and lazy to come up with one, but maybe that’s your responsibility.)

3. What’s with the tiny type?
This is perhaps an offshoot of the tiny bottle problem, but it’s virtually impossible to read the dosage information on a bottle of Advil that is the size of my thumb. Especially when one is bleary-eyed at three in the morning. And, frankly, despite the fact that Canada moved to the metric system when I was in second grade, I still don’t know how much my kids weigh in kilograms. Make the labels bigger, and the directions easier to read. (Hey! If you made the jars bigger, then the labels and type could be bigger too, couldn’t they? I’m just saying. Again. For what it’s worth.)

4. Start a recycling program.
Maybe this is too much to ask, but given that we seem to be rivaling the bottled water industry in terms of waste, would it be too much to ask that the bottles — and the syringes — be recyclable? Then, maybe, I wouldn’t end up with four dozen syringes in a glass in my cupboard because I felt too guilty to throw them away. (Again: bigger bottles = less packaging = less waste. Think about it.)

Anyhoo, just my thoughts, and, I'm guessing, those of a couple zillion North American parents. Anyone out there agree? Let me know.



  1. Amen! That last 1/2 dose thing has really bothered me. Like you syringe hoarding, I have been hoarding all those last doses as my back-up for that 3am moment of oh shit, we're out! Then I can hopefully handle waiting the hour it will take to drip enough of that stinky syrup into one bottle.

  2. Totally agree! About all of it.

  3. Good points! All of them! I have always wondered about the wisdom in putting those germy syringes back in the bottle. That can't be good.

  4. Oh hell yeah I agree! I have been through those teeny tiny bottles with the Mylic0n, which my daughter goes through at a good clip. Who needs only 1/2 an ounce bottle? Insane! And for an even more outrageous price per ounce. All of what you said.