Health problem? Just stop by the vending machine

Story highlights

  • Vending machines are used to sell everything from bike helmets to prescription drugs to baby gear
  • A vending machine in Las Vegas dispenses free, clean needles to drug users

(CNN)From diapers to needles to bike helmets, vending machines have been rebuilt to go beyond breath mints and cold soda.

These automated dispensers have come a long way since their invention in the early 1800s. Although snacks and drinks remain the most common items you'll find being dispensed, some are focusing on health, safety and medical items.
Here are a few you'll find around the world.

    Baby essentials, Long Island, New York

    Even the most well-organized parents can't plan for everything. WeGoBabies founder Vanessa Carrington found that out the hard way when her family got stuck in an airport and ran out of supplies.
    Now, with a few taps on the LED screen and a credit card swipe, users of the machine she created can unlock access to items as small as a packet of baby formula or as big as a travel booster seat, all available 24/7. The first machine is scheduled to open in May at the Broadway Mall in Long Island, New York.
    The creators of the high-tech machine hope to save parents some time by replacing off a frantic trip to a convenience store with a visit to a vending machine stocked with the essentials -- before a baby meltdown.

    Nursing supplies, Baltimore

    For breastfeeding mothers, returning to work often means toting around a breast pump. The devices require tubes, valves, storage containers and a number of small pieces that can easily be forgotten.
    A machine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore aims to support these breastfeeding moms. Vending machines in the employee lactation room sell nursing pump accessories, storage bottles, breast pads, nipple cream and other supplies.

    Cycling helmets, Melbourne, Australia

    Whether for exercise or sightseeing, locals and tourists alike populate Aussie roads, but local law requires that all cyclists keep their craniums covered.
    If you find yourself wanting to take a spin near Southern Cross Station in Melbourne but forget your gear, just look for the vending machine run by the local bike share. For $5, you can select your helmet size and get a new blue helmet.

    Prescription medications, various locations

    If you don't want to run to the store or you just can't make it to the pharmacy during business hours, InstyMeds machines might have you covered.