I don’t understand what happens to people when they see a baby in her mother’s arms. They are overcome with an urge so great to protect the child that they ambush the poor mother with a litany of advices. They can be senior female members of the family, maids, friends or simply first-time acquaintances; nobody spares you from their version of what they think is right for your baby. Though they mean well, not all advices can be carried well.
I remember how I was thronged with never-ending suggestions, anybody who came to meet us (the baby and I) would have their own list of advices that they swore by God. I refrained carrying out some as I found them illogical and impractical. But I admit, I did try a few, being an earnest first-time mother, only to find most of them back-firing at me.
- Wipe the baby’s lips with red colored hanky, the lips will become rose red – Never do that unless the cloth is dyed using natural colours like rose or kesuda flowers. You wouldn’t want harsh chemicals from synthetic colors to touch your baby’s soft lips. Though this is a myth, sometimes you need to do it just to keep the grandmom happy.
- Massage your baby for healthy limbs- Seriously, doctors don’t believe in this idea. They believe professional masseuses handle babies very roughly. In case, you believe in massaging your baby, do it yourself as it will deepen the parent-child bond (more so, if you are a working mother).
- Don’t use masoor (split red lentil) dal powder, wheat flour dough to remove excess body hair. It’s rough on the baby’s skin. And the excess hair sheds automatically. Use only plain fresh water to bathe the baby for the first few months, even refrain from using soap.
- Avoid giving your baby gripe water. Gripe water is usually a blend of healthy ingredients known to be beneficial for digestion. But recently, it has received a lot of bad press on account of many manufacturers adding alcohol in it. Better consult your paediatrician before using it.
- After each nursing/feeding till the time they are six months old, put the baby on your shoulder and pat his back till he/she burps. It’s very important that the baby burps as they take in a lot of air while sucking. Later, make them sleep on the sides instead of on the back. Babies tend to vomit after their feed, sleeping on the sides will help the curdled milk not to go into the air pipe.
- Elder members of the family advise the use of honey in janam ghutti or cleaning infant’s mouth with it. Avoid the use of honey in babies less than 12 months of age as it can lead to infant botulism. Infant botulism is an illness that can occur when an infant ingests bacteria that produce a toxin inside the body. The condition can be frightening because it can cause muscle weakness and breathing problems. Honey is a known source of the bacteria spores that cause botulism.
- To clean infant’s genital areas, either use baby wipes or use medicated cotton (tear and roll it into cotton balls or cut 1×1’’ strips) immersed in a bowl of water with a few drops of eau de cologne or Dettol antiseptic. For girls, always remember to wash the front and then the back, it lessens the chances of urinal tract infection.
- Don’t dust off baby powder on your baby’s skin liberally – infants inhale powder particles flying in the air. These particles settle in the lungs and cause harm to the baby. I know it’s difficult to imagine a baby not smelling of sweet baby breath and powder. If you must, there are liquid powders (from Mothercare) available too in the market. You can rub it in your palm and apply to your baby’s skin. Again, refrain from using the powder in and around the genitals especially girls.