Ayurvedic Newborn Care Tips for Modern Parents
Ayurvedic newborn care became famous worldwide thanks to prominent international gynecologists and pediatricians who travelled to India and discovered the amazing Indian babycare traditions. Whether it is Indian style baby massage, Ayurvedic weaning, or traditional Indian baby bath, Indian traditions can be a great aid for modern Indian and non-Indian parents. In this very special article, The Indian Rose will cover a number of baby care Indian tips, from breastfeeding in Ayurveda to how to make Ayurvedic baby massage at home. Read on to learn all about Ayurvedic newborn care.
Tip # 1 – Massage Your Baby: Baby Massage Indian style
Indian mothers have been massaging their babies for centuries and baby massage is one of the Ayurvedic newborn care practices that became the norm in Indian society. When the famous French gynecologist Frédérick Leboyer travelled to India, he discovered the ancient art of Indian style baby massage by observing a young Indian mother named Shantala. Inspired by Shantala, he wrote a poetic guide on how to make Ayurvedic baby massage at home for Western women, and named the technique of baby massage Indian style “Shantala”.
How to make Ayurvedic baby massage at home
The Indian style baby massage consists of vigorously rubbing the baby with coconut or sesame oil. The tips of her fingers are stimulated to enhance body awareness. The mother then helps the baby perform some basic yoga poses, a truly great exercise!
If you are interested in learning how to make Ayurvedic baby massage at home, we highly recommend buying Leboyer’s book Shantala, which is amazing both in terms of content and images.
To get an idea, watch this video of Shantala made by Leboyer himself
Why should you give your little one an Indian style baby massage?
Pediatricians and neuroscientists now tell us what Indian parents have known for generations. Giving your baby a massage can:
- enhance their senses
- make them sleep better
- boost their immune system
- make them mindful of their body
- make them happier
- relieve colics
- develops muscle tone
Indian mothers knew a lot about how to raise healthy babies, and the baby massage Indian style is surely one of the baby care Indian tips parents should follow.
In Ayurvedic newborn care, the Indian style baby massage is followed by a special bath. The following paragraph will teach you how to give your baby a traditional Indian baby bath.
Tip # 2 – Indian Style Baby Bath
The Indian style baby bath is best given after the above baby massage. The entire procedure will benefit the baby in many ways, above all by helping her relax and rest well at night, so follow this baby care Indian tip if you want to help your baby sleep better.
The Indian style baby bath consists of:
- placing the baby on the outstretched legs of her mom, who is seating on the floor
- pouring warm water on the baby
- rubbing the baby’s skin with purifying pulse flour, besan is a favorite. However, it’s better to check when and if you can use besan for your baby.
- washing the baby with water again
- drying the baby with aromatic incensed fumes
The traditional Indian baby bath is performed by the mother, grandmother, or a babycare professional, but there’s no reason why the father can’t do it.
Watch this video to learn how to give your baby a traditional Indian baby bath
What are the benefits of the Indian style baby bath?
In Ayurvedic newborn care, skin to skin contact is of foremost importance. The traditional Indian baby bath boosts mother-baby bonding through skin to skin contact. Because the baby’s body is fully in contact with her mom’s, she feels happy and reassured.
The Indian style baby bath is safe. The baby is securely placed on mommy’s legs, with the head held between mom’s ankles. There is no possibility of slipping. There is no water container or deep water involved, so no chance of drowning either. Moreover, this position leaves the adult’s both hands free, should a problem arise.When time for washing hair comes, the baby is placed facing down, with her mom’s legs and left hand protecting baby’s face to prevent soap from entering the eyes. Try this baby care Indian tip to give your baby a bath in full safety!!!
The Indian style baby bath is very hygienic: because the water is poured over the baby’s body, and then goes down the drain, there is no stagnation. Making sure the body is clean is essential in Ayurvedic newborn care.
The traditional Indian baby bath is ecofriendly: it requires no plastic equipment, no bath tub, no sponge… just a a big pot, a small pot, and your hands! Plus, if you really want to use the traditional method, you can scrub the baby’s body using pulse flour, which is 100% natural, and benefits the skin in many ways. Another great natural soap for babies is Aleppo soap, which we covered in this article. A great baby care Indian tip for environmentally conscious parents!
The final step of spreading incense fumes has 3 benefits: it works as a natural hair dryer which, contrarily to electrical hair dryers, does not dry the baby’s nostrils; it prevents the baby from catching a cold, and leaves the hair pleasantly scented.
The Ayurvedic ritual baby bath and massage will be of great help to your baby’s health. Let’s now see some baby care Indian tips regarding feeding.
Tip # 3 – Breastfeeding in Ayurveda
First things first, breastfeeding in India has been traditionally influenced by Ayurveda and Hindu religion. In the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures) breast milk is considered a powerful liquid that boosts longevity. The first breast feed, as well as many other baby milestones, is sacred and is an occasion for celebration.
Two useful baby care Indian tips when it comes to breastfeeding are: feeding on demand, and prolonged breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in Ayurveda typically means demand feeding for at least 3 months and breastfeeding until age 2. India, in fact, has one of the world’s longest durations of breastfeeding. Such Indian traditional breastfeeding practices are part of the Ayurveda newborn care and have been backed by medical professionals all over the world.
Indian baby care tip number three with regards to breastfeeding is: connect with the baby. Indian grandmothers encourage their daughters to have sweet thoughts about their baby while breastfeeding. Distraction, including talking on the phone, is to be avoided. While this is not a medical tip, trying to connect with the baby while breastfeeding helps mothers bond with their baby and helps prevent postpartum depression.
Tip # 3 – Ayurvedic Weaning – what do Indian babies eat?
Ayurvedic newborn care is the foundation of Indian weaning practices. Let’s look at the most valuable baby care Indian tips when it comes to weaning.
Late weaning Weaning in India traditionally starts quite late, when the baby is 6 months or older (but always before 12 months). Before 6 months of age a baby’s digestive system is considered too immature for solid food.
Health and digestion Weaning foods in Ayurveda are healthy and easily digested. One of the most popular weaning foods in India is ragi (finger millet), soaked and toasted to make it more digestible, and then served as a porridge. The result is the same as the packaged powdered cereals available in pharmacies and supermarkets, only richer in nutrients. If you are interested in Ayurvedic newborn care, you can try make cereal powder for porridge at home.
In Northern Indian, babies eat khichdi – a kind of rice porridge mixed with lentils and turmeric – which is one of the main weaning foods in Ayurveda. Bananas mixed with homemade rice powder are popular babies’ first solid foods in the South.
Try Ayurvedic weaning as part of your Ayurvedic newborn care to feed your baby healthy, digestible food.
Tip # 4 – Happy Messy Eaters
Another important baby care Indian tip regards babies’ relationship with food. Many non-Indians are amazed at the range of food Indian children eat, and at their love for vegetables. What is their secret? It all comes down to establishing a love for food since babyhood.
Eating is at the centre of Indian family life. It is not just intended for surviving; food is meant to be flavorful and tasty, and the whole family happily shares the same meal together. In this kind of environment, it is not surprising that babies learn to enjoy eating from a very young age: it is not just about the great food, it is about the togetherness!
The second reason why Indian babies are such happy eaters is that they are allowed to use their hands to eat and experiment with food. That’s a baby care Indian tip that has recently been adopted by pediatricians, who now swear by baby-led weaning and letting the baby touch their food.
The result is that by 9 months old most Indian babies eat whatever their parents eat, including spicy food, minus the chilies.
Eating together with the rest of the family, enjoying the same meal everyone else is eating, and being allowed to make a mess make Indian children happy eaters. Go on and try this baby care Indian tip with your own babies, and let us know the result!
Tip # 5 – Skin to skin contact
As we have seen throughout this article, most Ayurveda newborn care practices promote a close relationship between mother and baby. A relationship that has its basis in a close skin to skin contact established through breastfeeding, massaging, and bathing. This early contact awakens the baby’s senses, and promotes a sense of wellbeing similar to meditation. Later on, the mother continues to use her hands to prepare healthy food for her baby. Baby food is made with love by hand, it is fresh, natural and alive. Looking for this kind of special skin to skin contact is one of the best baby care Indian tips for modern parents.
Tip # 6 – It’s a celebration!
Maternity and babies are joyfully celebrated in India. The birth, baby naming, first breast feed, first bath, and first solid meal are all met by traditional rituals. Among the Hindu traditions for newborn babies, Annaprasana celebrates the baby’s first solid food intake; Namakarna is the naming ceremony; Mundan celebrates the first haircut and so on. This might well be what India has to teach the world when it comes to newborn care: enjoy every moment of it, as this is such a unique, special time.
Let us know what Ayurvedic newborn care practices you follow, some other baby care Indian tips, or baby related practices that are popular in your home country.