Being blessed with a baby is one of the happiest moments of our life. And with this, comes loads of responsibilities. At this point, we seek help and guidance of our elders, friends, relatives, acquaintances and others to ensure we bring up our little one in the best possible manner.
While all our known-ones advise us of some of the best child-rearing practices with honest intentions, there are still a lot of myths about child-rearing that get communicated and followed upon. Through this article, I would like to clarify some of these myths and the impact they have on the babies or the mothers.
Caring for the mother post pregnancy
Myth: Mothers should follow a strict diet post pregnancy. Preferred diet is Rasam-chilli powder, bland rice, less or no curd. Mother should also avoid fruits for one reason or the other. eg Bananas should be avoided as they may cause cough and it will pass on to the child through the mother. The water intake should also be restricted to 1 glass per day.
Fact: The mother is now responsible not only for herself, but for the baby too. Hence, she needs to take care of one-and-a-half people. As a result, the nutritional requirement of a mother increases and must be taken care of. Giving above-mentioned food, no fruits, and less water affects the nutritional intake adversely, resulting in less secretion of milk, directly impacting the growth of baby. A mother must be fed right amount of nutritional food, lot of fruits and clean and hygienic water in right quantity so that she’s well prepared to take care of both – herself as well as the baby
Myth: Mothers should avoid going out as they need to stay with the babies. It is recommended that they stay in their rooms
Fact: Restricting both mother and child in one room is not a healthy practice in any circumstances. An ill-ventilated room is an invitation to a lot of diseases for not only the mother, but for the child too. Both the mother and the child may be exposed to the natural environment so that they not only get a break from the mundane routine, but stay healthy too
Caring for the newborn
Myth: Child should not be fed the first milk (mostly in the form of yellow-gold colored thick liquid) that comes from mother’s breasts as it is not healthy
Fact: The yellow-gold colored thick liquid (the milk that comes out of mother’s breasts immediately after child birth) is known as colostrum and is high in nutrient that helps in developing baby’s immunity. Hence, it is highly recommended that the baby is fed the same immediately. Its high nutritional value sets the platform for high immunity of the child in the long run
Myth: Wrap the child well to keep him/her warm, even in summers.
Fact: Kids respond to environmental conditions as much as we do, and clothing them inappropriately makes them uncomfortable. Taking measures such as putting blanket, switching off fans/closing windows to keep them warm may result in the child feeling irritated, crying. These actions make the child exhausted and s/he needs more milk to gain energy. Again, if the mother doesn’t have enough milk, it results in a vicious circle
Myth: A baby cries only when s/he is hungry
Fact: Hunger is not the only reason for a baby to cry. A lot of parents feel the child is crying because of hunger, and since mother is not able to produce more (or extra) milk, they switch to formulae milk/cow’s milk. While hunger will make the child cry, there are hundreds of others reasons a baby may cry. Please try to understand the reason for crying, instead of trying to feed them milk, other than mother’s milk.
Myth: Putting oil in pores (ears, nose, eyes etc.) keeps them open and clean
Fact: Putting oil in nose may result in it being poured into the lungs and may cause pneumonia. As per a recent study that I came across, 30% cases of pneumonia that happened in new born, were because of pouring oil in the nose. Putting oil in ears also result in fungal infections
Myth: Myrrh – a practice of putting powder on burning charcoal and make baby inhale it so that the baby does not get cold should be practiced for baby’s well-being
Fact: Practicing Myrrh may affects child’s lungs adversely and may result in Asthma, and allergic rhinitis. In our traditional books, it is mentioned that babies do not cough. But I come across 2-3 babies every alternate days facing this issue, mostly because of practicing Myrrh
Myth: Extract milk from the baby’s breasts as it is bad milk, or “witch’s milk”
Fact: While breastfeeding, mother’s hormones are transferred to the child and hence it’s normal that some milk may flow if the child’s breasts are squeezed. Forcefully extracting this milk by squeezing baby’s breasts may result in abscess (pus) or infection that may require to be treated by a pediatric surgeon.
Myth: Giving a hot bath to the baby post applying oil helps the child to sleep well, grow well and stay healthy
Fact: A bath needs to be a comfortable experience for the child. But giving a bath in extremely hot water may make the child extremely uncomfortable. Since the child is well-oiled for half an hour, a part of it may be taken by the child resulting in aspiration. This aspiration is confused as phlegm and the nursemaid (commonly known as ayah or dai – a lady who takes care of the child) sometimes puts her finger (that may not be clean) inside the baby’s mouth to remove it, inserting bacterial infection
Myth: A paste of Baje (Calamus root), Jayekai (Nutmegs), Suttukara and almond helps in improving child’s speech, health and immunity
Fact: All the above-mentioned roots are unsterile roots and may result in diarrhea, stomach infection and even blood in stool. Hence, such home-made pastes should be completely avoided
Myth: Feeding the baby with donkey milk improves his/her immunity tremendously
Fact: Like breast milk is for babies, donkey’s milk is for donkeys. Kids may develop allergies if they are fed with donkeys’ milk and this must be avoided