Dr Bijal Shrivastava answers all your childcare queries
There’s no happiness greater than the birth of a child, that too a healthy baby. However, there are certain traditons when it comes to babycare that Indian families can’t seem to let go of, the result of which sees a growing number of infants coming to us with various medical issues. Incidentally, the most common reason behind an injury, is the apparently-indispensible ‘ maalish bai’.
Recently, a 25-day old healthy baby came into the clinic with breast swelling, redness and fever. The diagnosis was a breast abscess – the result of an extremly rouch massage by the bai. Upon further investigation, we learned that the bai was pressing the hardened breast of that baby to remove milk, leading to the infection. Incorrect information can lead to inhury. The fact remains that the hardening of the breast is normal and is the result of maternal hormones. Cases like this, and much more issues, can be completely avoided simply by being well informed.
Some other injuries caused by a maalish bai are seen by way of a fractured collarbone of the baby because of pressure used during a massage, penile skin wounds as they push the foreskin back to put oil into it, pouring oil into the ears causing ear infections, putting oil in the nose of these babies causing oil instillation pneumonia. Some more injuries are a result of applying kajal in the baby’s eyes leading, to infections as well as using flour and breadcrumbs to massage the baby to remove hair. Hair will shed naturally once a baby turns five or six months old, as the growth rate is genetically determined. The use of flour only results in dryness and abrasions.
The fact remains that an oil massage and skin care of a newborn is supposed to be just like going to a spa for adults. It’s meant to relax the newborn and aid in helping the parents connect and bond with their child. A massage cannot make the babies’ bones strong, or change their physical features. A gentle massage with any oil or lotion in a comfortable room temperature without extra pressure, followed by bath with a gentle top-to-toe cleanser, and a moisturiging lotion, is all that your baby needs.