I Will Do Everything My Grandma Said, But I Won’t do these

I had visited my mom’s place when I was expecting my first baby, when a picture of a 6 month baby caught my eye. Her face cherubic, dimpled cheeks, but one couldn’t miss the eyes that almost popped out with layers of kajal smeared on them. I asked my mom who this little Kathakali dancer was and my mom said it was me!

Oh, how I loved my grandma for this.

I spent the rest of the evening listening to my mom talk about how my grandma had taken care of me till I almost had begun walking and I silently vowed that I definitely wouldn’t do some of the things she did for me as a baby to my little one.

1) I didn’t wish my baby to be chosen for a south Indian movie ( no offence please but that is how the babies look there) so I did not smear his eyes with kajal that almost dripped. And neither did I make those huge black spots that resembled like moles all over his face making him look like a pirate. When my mom was too insistent as they were evil eye ward offs, i made a small black dot with my kajal stick behind his ears.

2) Using cotton swabs in a baby’s delicate ear can lead to many catastrophes that include puncturing the ear plug and damaging the ear canal. My grandma used a piece of cloth twisted in the corner. But cleaning the baby’s inner ear myself was a big no. Firstly , one doesn’t need to clean the canal as it self-cleans, secondly, the outer ear can just be wiped with a soft cloth and thirdly if there is too much wax accumulation you need to see a doctor who uses peroxide to clean your baby’s ear effortlessly.

3) My grandma had hired an ayah to massage me as a baby and my mom complained that I cried a lot during those massages. Ayahs go around doing massages without any professional training and they use a lot of force on the baby’s body twisting and turning the limbs, causing a lot of pain to the baby. This they say strengths the body but there is absolutely no scientific backing for this theory. Moreover ayahs have cracked palms and they care carriers of infection that passes on the baby. Some of them also end up damaging the baby’s fragile bones. So I DID NOT hire an ayah but as a touch therapy for bonding with my baby and for him to sleep well, I gently massaged his body. We both use to love that time together.

 

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4) I have been told a million times that I slept like a log in a cloth cradle and I grew healthier and happier. My grandma used that cradle for her my mom and my mom used it for me. But I did not use it for my son. One very solid and valid reason I had to give it a skip was that babies though get the same cosiness and warmth similar to a mother’s womb in there, they are potentially at a big risk of getting suffocated if they end up sleeping in a particular position. My son was very happy in his crib.

5) My granny used Besan(ground gram flour) with turmeric powder to bathe me. This she believed would lighten my skin by gently scrubbing off the fine birth hair. I thought I wouldn’t have to argue about this for my son but she stressed on me using it for him too as birth hair had to be removed. I preferred the soft mild lingering delicious baby soap smell and I hated the way turmeric made the skin look as if it had jaundice, robbing off its natural colour.

6) Gripe water was like elixir for almost all moms and grand moms a few years back. But now we know of its alcohol and high sugar content. I went against the tried and tested norms to avoid giving gripe water to my baby. Whenever he had colic pain, making him lie flat on his stomach worked and so did rubbing a little vaporub on his lower belly. Of course when the pain refused to subside, I consulted the paediatrician. But contrary to my grandma’s warnings, my son did fine without it.

The rest I loved to follow. Especially the sweet lullaby singing, the silly but cute rhyming songs she sang while I fed him with Ragi (her favourite), and combing his hair just like how she did with her softy soft fingers.

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