Different generations raised their kids differently. We, as parents of today – often get advice from the elders on how to raise children. While we mostly benefit from their wisdom and experience, sometimes their advice can be outdated or irrelevant in the current environment. Here are some differences that come up –
- Give the child some water– One of the common advices received from our parents is to give the child some water. This is even more common if it’s a summer baby and is crying out loud and you cannot figure out why. They suspect the baby will get dehydrated! However, doctors advise parents today that water is just empty calories. Giving milk may be better since it helps weight gain and builds immunity. It is believed that all the water a baby needs is in the formula or breast milk itself and additional water is required only with the introduction of food.
- Baby’s crying because he’s hungry– The moment the elders hear a baby wailing, they start commenting that he’s hungry. However, we should be comforted by the fact that babies and toddlers will stop eating when they are full, with very few and rare exceptions. You can be assured that as long as baby has sufficient wet and dirty diapers daily and is putting on the appropriate amount of weight between check-ups, it’s getting enough to eat. Babies cry for all kinds of reasons – hunger is just one of them!
- Old clothes for new baby– Our parents often believed in using pass on clothes for the little one especially in the initial months. There is wisdom in this since baby’s skin is too soft and tender. However, these days we may not be able to depend on others to provide old clothes. Gone are the days when one would stock them up for the next one – since everything is so spread out now – geographically and chronologically. Hence, it is okay to purchase new clothes as long as you wash them before first use. One useful tip from our parents, which I followed religiously, was to wash baby clothes separately from ours with a dash of antiseptic liquid to keep them sanitized.
- Alternate between breasts in each feed– I remember having a conversation with an aunt who said feed a little from one breast and little from other – alternating constantly during a single feed. Whereas books recommend emptying milk from one breast completely then moving to the next. It is believed that first and last few sips of breast milk have nutrients that should definitely be consumed by the baby and by alternating constantly we may waste them. However, it is recommended to switch breasts in each consecutive feed.
- Give that baby some real food– While introducing solids is important nutritionally and developmentally – it has to be done at the right time. Before four months, solids can pose a choking hazard and may increase the risk of allergies. By about four months, some babies show signs of readiness – they can hold their heads up pretty well, and they’re starting to lose the tongue thrust reflex. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready. You can check with your doctor and introduce solids between 4-6 months. You can satisfy grandparents by telling them they can be the first ones to feed the baby – but only when the doctor says it’s okay!
- The baby’s too little to go outside– Yes, the thought of germs around your new baby is terrifying, but so is the thought of being confined to your home for so long. And isn’t fresh air a good thing for kids? It’s true that taking a baby into public places increases the risk of infection but keeping him inside and inviting people over does, too. There is nothing about being ‘outside’; that increases the risk of illness. It’s an issue with exposure to lots of people and lots of germs. New-borns have a fragile immune system and may have more serious illnesses than older children would. So, it’s fine to sit in the park with the baby or go for a quick stroll but we should just follow the basic hygiene routines like washing the hands and cleaning up once back home.
- You can’t change a diaper without using baby powder– Nowadays doctors say diaper ointment or cream is better. Baby powder gets wet and forms sticky glue that adheres wetness to the skin and might cause a rash. Also when we apply the powder it may fly in the air and cause irritation. So best to avoid powder for babies – even though you may be craving for that baby powder fragrance. Infact, cleaning with sanitized wipes and applying cream works best even when you are on the go.
- Sweet treats to lure the child– These indulgences may ruin the healthy eating habits you’re trying to promote at home. However, infrequent treats are better than completely not allowing them. It is good to teach children to prefer a healthy diet to junk, but if you make something entirely off limits, a kid will go completely berserk when he finally can get his hands on some. Nutritionally speaking, an occasional french fry isn’t going to harm a kid. Request people who want to pamper the child to offer both the fruit and the sweets and in moderation. Also, encourage the child to brush twice a day to maintain healthy teeth.
There is no one size fits all answer in parenting or any proven method better than the other. I see the availability of greater information, sharing of knowledge and the advent of technology as great catalysts for parenting to undergo changes. Our parents raised us to the best of their abilities in a different age and we are raising our kids now. Every viewpoint is valuable but the decision should be based on your comfort and the need of the hour. It takes someone brave to become a parent, someone strong to raise a child and someone special to love someone more than you. So imbibe relevant advice and trust your own instincts since a parent knows the best!
This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids) sponsored by Dettol.