It was a humid day when my baby chose to make her grand entry in my world. Mangalore was at a scalding 40 degree temperature on that day in summer. I groaned in agony as my daughter cried, rebelling against being forced to quit her safe cocoon and enter the harsh, cold world of ours. But as her pediatrician lifted her and showed her to me, I could only utter two words-“she’s beautiful”.
Advika when she was born and with her grandmother(my MIL) on the right.
And along with my small bundle of joy came huge responsibilities. A couple of days later, when I was all ready to leave the hospital with my baby, my pediatrician came and warned me not to
Give water to the baby. He said that the breast milk is 90% water content and other nutrients that are essential for the baby’s growth in the initial stages. He almost had me at gun point and threatened me against giving any other form of food to the baby ( other than breast milk) until she is 6 months old.Giving oil massages. Now here I was completely bewildered because I always had the impression that oil massages were beneficial for the baby’s growth. But the doc said that oil will clog the baby’s skin pores and may result in skin irritation. And he also warned that some ladies were over enthusiastic about massaging babies and they might do more harm than good. He conceded that if I had to give oil massage, then it was better that I opted for an Ayurvedic oil.Applying powder on the baby’s skin. Again I was baffled but he explained that the baby’s skin was very sensitive and that applying powder to the skin in a tropical climate like Mangalore’s, would block the skin pores and will not allow the skin to sweat.
These instructions made me a nervous wreck. How the hell would I manage with a small baby? How the hell would I know what was good or what could cause damage to the baby’s health. The things that I thought were beneficial for baby’s development were now considered as risky and unsafe.
To cause me more concern, when I mentioned the list of do’s and don’ts to my mother and my MIL, they pooh-poohed the doctor’s advice. They said that from donkey’s years they have seen babies being oil massaged and then given hot bath. They were ludicrous at the doctor’s suggestion and they planned together on my daughter’s bath routine.
Advika with her grandmother.
Now I was at a crossroad. On one hand I had the traditional and long-established knowledge imparted so generously by my mother and my MIL. And on the other hand I had the practical and sensible counsel from an established physician. The next day we had a visitor at our house. A lady whose profession for the past 10 years was giving oil massages for new-born babies! Latha aunty started her day as early as 6 o’clock in the morning and visited around 3-4 houses every day to give oil massages and bath to babies.
I was somewhat convinced but I was still in confusion on what oil to use for the baby.
“From my experience I can tell that Dabur Lal Tail is good for babies because it is Ayurvedic baby massage oil made from Ayurveda ingredients like Til(Sesame seed), Shankpushpi, karpur(camphor) and Ratanjyot and Urad. It has been proven that babies that are massaged with Dabur LalTail grow 2 times faster than babies which are massaged with other oils or have no massage.”
“What are these ingredients and how do they help in baby’s growth”, I prodded on.
“Sesame oil improves growth and helps in regulating baby’s sleep patterns, Ratanjyot protects baby from skin ailments and irritations, Shankapushpi cures general weakness, Camphor improves the blood circulation and Urad nourishes muscles and bones. Since Dabur Lal Tail contains only natural ingredients, the baby’s skin easily absorbs it and that’s why it’s especially meant for baby oil massages.”
I was convinced a little and the next day I went to purchase Dabur Lal Tail and along with it I also got Dabur Gripe Water since my daughter seemed to be suffering a little indigestion and acidity.
Latha aunty started her massage and I sat close, minutely scrutinizing my baby’s face for any signs of discomfort. She started with the legs and hands and gently applied oil and rubbed it without applying too much pressure on baby’s skin. Then she turned her onto her stomach and massaged her back with soft strokes. She finished the massage with the baby’s shoulders, stretching the hands and moving the tiny limbs gently to the back and front.
Advika soaking in the goodness of her oil massage
This, she explained, gave relief to the baby’s bones. The little tyke was thoroughly enjoying the massage and gurgled happily as Latha aunty sang soft lullabies while giving the massage. After a hot bath, she wrapped the baby in warm clothes and within few seconds, my daughter was happily sleeping in her crib. She woke up 4 hours later when I had to forcefully wake her up for her feed.
Advika sleeping soundly after her oil massage and hot bath.
Advika in her cradle
Advika's sleeping posture :)
The oil bath helped my daughter in regulating her sleep patterns and increasing her appetite. Her birth weight was 3.1 kgs and within few months she had achieved a weight gain of 3-4 kgs which, as per the doctor, was very good. Regular oil massages helped my daughter grow strong and she reached her milestones faster. Today at 1 year and 8 months, when I see my daughter prancing around, talking and grasping at words and understanding things faster, I realize that I had done the right thing by following my instincts. Of course the doctor had only advised what he sincerely believed in, but every baby is different and a mother needs to do what’s best for her baby. Sometimes traditional knowledge and natural growth are best for baby’s development.