I became a first time mom at the age of 24. It was the pre-internet age. I also gave birth in a foreign country where the primary language was NOT English. Calls to India costed 50cents to a $1 a minute, and there were barely any Indians around.
If you are wondering, yes, I survived. The Husband survived. More importantly, the baby did just fine, and the baby had a kid brother 17 months younger who also did just fine!
Calling that phase of my life as an adventure, would be putting it mildly.
As my good small built Poirot look alike pediatrician in Brussels said in kind understated whisper when I asked him in all my innocent scared state, “If you are doing something wrong, the baby will tell you.” He smiled benevolently at me, raised my hand to his whiskered face, landed a quick peck on top of my palm, and off he disappeared behind closed doors.
That was that, and we went home, holding onto our bundle in my hands, and his words equally nestled in my mind. The heart having complete faith in ourselves to believe that our baby, all of a few weeks old will most definitely, somehow tell us if we did something she didn’t like.
Seems quite the oddball way to go about parenting, but really think about it. Since humans existed, regardless of our origins, we have procreated, and there were babies, and dads and moms and the cycle continued. Did we really think that babies came with manuals? Or were there hand holding nannies and doctors? Or was there a constant barrage of information on the dos and the don’ts of raising a child? You get the point.
Ultimately, in retrospection, Ive realized that parenting is such an instinct. It’s intuitive and it rides on a lot of common sense and learning from what works and what doesn’t and observing the reactions and signs and tweaking our actions as we go along is our only best shot. There is comfort in also knowing that no one else is an expert, coz no child is like the other, and the combination of one singular adult and one child is none like any other.
How do I know this? Coz my babies are as much alike as they are different. From their temperaments, to their eating habits, to how they squinted at me while they fed to how they walked to which brand of diaper I used to how their skin reacted to what they ate or the lotions I lathered them with.
And I lived and learnt and am going to share what I learnt with you:
- The baby’s skin is super soft. It’s delicate and anatomically speaking, it is still building tenuous cells and growing tough to survive the dry environment as opposed to where it grew, in the water.
- No matter what you do or don’t do, the skin will react. It will go through a period of becoming worse or ugly with peeling, bumps of all colors and there would be rashes and it would go alternately pink and brown and flush with your touch, your facial hair, with the bacteria that may transfer from your lips and well, everything else that they come in contact with.
- The skin will get worse before it gets baby soft! You don’t have to believe me, but that’s the truth. The skin will go through a period of adaptation, and that could be really quick for some and will take a month for some others. There will be areas where the skin will be softer than others, and it’s a period that you just have to ride it out, patiently. Like we have a choice, but that’s what it is.
So despite knowing all this, it is not like we wrung our hands and throw them up in the air and say, “Okay Nature, you do your thing, we’ll just sit around here and watch!”
Figured I just as well list things out and Blogadda’s #SoftestForBabySkin campaign for Pampers came in handy.
“Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy. ”
So, here are a few things that worked for me to protect my babies’ skin:
- Baby’s soft skin starts way before the baby is actually born! That’s what my Polish classmate told me at French class at the Brussels University. I was 6 months in and showing and among all the other advice that I got, she insisted I ate an apple a day and also load up on spinach. The apple with skin she claimed had nutrients that the baby would get and will help in the development. I followed her blindly, coz what did I have to lose, it was apples anyway, so I did, and I have to say, think it works.
- Once baby is born, and if the mom is nursing, then what the mom eats goes into the baby’s stream. Being vigilant helps, and keeping a food diary on what one ate and seeing if there is a co-relation to the baby’s movements including skin helps. Sticking to as natural a diet as possible goes a long way, including eating foods rich in water.
- Bath times. This is such a procedure in the good old days and they had their reasons. Using warm oil (we used olive oil coz it was readily available, and we only later knew that worked best!) and massaging the baby helps in so many ways, and helps retain natural moisture in the skin. Keeping the skin naturally moisturized goes a long way in allowing it to breathe and retain its natural softness. Again, staying as close as possible to natural ingredients works best. Your baby is hardly out of doors, and is not exactly laboring in the fumes or smoke or dust, so do you really really need that fancy soap and shampoo? Maybe not. So regular lukewarm water, with very little natural soap and a quick rinse helps abundantly!
- This will sound counter intuitive, but try and keep the skin as dry as possible. Not bone dry or scrub them dry, but dry without having a layer of visible moisture on their skin. That means wiping them dry after a bath with a soft cloth (Mulmul towels, old, well worn saris and moisture absorbing Egyptian cotton towels) and changing diapers as soon as they’ve soiled it, and wiping them down after a feeding. Using baby powder is an option, but not always necessary. Depends a lot on the climate and room temperatures.
- Which brings us to diapers. Back in the day, cloth diapers were used. They were made of heavy absorbent terry/soft cotton materials and needed constant monitoring and well keep up. With disposable diapers, the convenience helped but it also brought in the issue of non-breathable material and that only suffocated the baby’s skin and brought rashes on. Pampers was my choice back in the day, coz we tried a couple local brands and ultimately landed with this. They retained and absorbed the moisture quickly and locking it in so the baby’s skin stayed moist for a very short period. Ive always loved their diapers through the 2 year period of my baby’s growth and after watching this video, I do believe they know what they are doing, and are a good choice without a doubt.
So, there you go. Parenting is a tough job, but some parts are no-brainers and it’s just smart thinking to pick up on what others have already done and tested, so your baby’s skin and sleep is not disturbed.