Monday, June 6, 2011

Children and mental development

The education of a child starts right when he is born inside the body of his mother.  A 3-month-old fetus has quite a developing brain and if we nurture our child from that stage, it could be very useful for both the parents and the child alike.  Some people think that the right time to teach or "learning" for children is when they start going to preschool or school.  But that is not entirely true.  The developing brain of a fetus starts absorbing signals even though it is in the mother's womb, which explains the observations of various "would-be mothers" that their child kicks her in the womb or responds to her when she speaks to him/her.  When the child is born, his brain is the most developing organ and that is the time when we need to nurture it.

The best way to do this is to talk to the child right when he is in the womb itself.  This will not only create a bond between you and your child but also develop his language skills.  You may not be able to test it but it is true just like we can't see air but can feel it.  The results will be amazing and you will find that when your child starts attending school, you won't need to pluck your hairs off for teaching him how to learn ABC or 123.  You can even make him listen to good music as children love good music and respond to it.  But please don't put it very loudly as that can be injurious and also please do not put very rough music.  The music should be soft type - hope you get the idea clear.

And for those parents who think they have missed an opportunity by not speaking to their little one in the womb; no need to worry.  There is no better time than now to start.  Your child is a separate individual, a combination of both you and your spouse.  He will have the characteristics and abilities of both but it will have some uniqueness of his own too.  So, let it develop and blossom and don't push for anything.

One word of caution:  Don't be very pushy and start teaching your child each and everything you want or see in the hopes that your child will become an Einstein overnight.  This is not a rat race that we are participating in.  This exercise helps to bring out the mental potentials of a child to the fullest at an earlier stage rather than waiting for him to grow up and find it out himself.  If you become too pushy and put your ambitions on the child at such a young age and push him to learn, the entire system will not only fail but backfire and this may hamper the overall development of your child apart from other complications.  So, don't treat your child as a competition machine but treat him as a rose plant that you need to water everyday and wait for it to blossom.  When the right season and time comes, definitely it will.

Good luck and happy parenting!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A promise of a father to a son

I promise you, my son, with a gentleman's word that:

I will never let my ego come in between you and your dreams.
I will always guide you on the right path that I feel is the best for you but will never ever drag you to a path that I wanted to follow but could never.
I will never treat you as an investment.  You are not a fixed deposit or mutual fund for me that will mature after 20-25 years and will give me good returns.  You are simply my life and hence priceless.
I will always keep faith in you and your decisions because it is I who will be teaching you to take the right decisions in life, which means that if I don't keep faith in you, then I have no faith in myself.
I will always be with you, come what may, whatever be the difficulties, whatever be the tribulations, and whenever you want me to be there.
Your life is entirely yours and you DO NOT owe me anything simply because I brought you to this world. You are a free individual with your own free life and aspirations and I will never come in between them.
I will use my emotions only to strengthen you and never to weaken you or blackmail you.  Your emotions will always have priority before mine and I will be there to support you.
I will never blame you for not achieving something or failing in something just because I wanted you to win.  Your win is my win and your failing is my failing.  If ever you fail, I will be always there to lift you up and tighten your belts to help you fight again whenever you are ready.
I will never make you run a race that I have never won or even run.  In fact, it is for you to chose your races and even to decide if  you want it or not.
I will love you come what may, whether you are successful or not successful, whether you make me proud or not, or whether you win or lose, because my love and you, both are priceless to me.

I give you this promise because I know that you are my son and you are destined to do something great in life, to create your own niche in this world, and to leave it a better place to live.  I have faith in you because I have faith in myself and the Almighty.  I will simply let you blossom into whatever you want to be.  Just give everything your best shot - both with your mind and your heart.  Love...your dad

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The importance of hydration in children's health

Water constitutes more than 90% of our bodies and children are no exception. And any decrease in this quantity can adversely affect the body metabolism. Dehydration is a very serious condition that can affect the blood pressure, heart, and kidneys and can cause major damage if not addressed immediately. We learnt the lesson a very hard way.

April is going to start and so does the heat that is going to increase in the summers. This heat can be very dangerous to children who sometimes are very picky in drinking water and simply do not eat or drink anything when they are busy in playing. And we as parents sometimes miss out on taking stock of the water that our child drinks. We do take a note of the number of times he has taken his food but we sometimes miss out on the very important aspect of water which sometimes results in mild to moderate dehydration in children.

We had gone out to the restaurant on a Saturday afternoon but forgot to put a cap on our little one to cover his ears. That’s it. That was too much for his little body to bear and the hot winds blowing through the day got the better of him and he suffered a mild heat stroke; mild for us but horrible for the poor child. He started with a mild fever at night followed by some mild runny nose. But the next morning, his body was a mini furnace with high temperatures. Needless to say, we were scared out of our wits. Luckily our neighbor is a pediatrician and we never have to wait to get an appointment. We rushed him to her and she gave some initial meds to cool off his body and to give relief from the nose block but even she could not diagnose that it was a condition of dehydration.

His fevers continued for the whole day. I took off from work to take care of him. The next day our peds started him on antibiotic, azithromycin, 3 days course to be given once a day. She thought it to be some sort of infection that might be the cause of his problem. A whole day passed with the antibiotic and still the fevers were running high. The baby was getting very cranky and refusing to even eat or sleep, forget about drinking anything. The lack of food, water, and sleep made him very hard to console and he used to cry like hell making us very scared as to the underlying condition. Finally, we took him again in the night to get another checkup to see if the diagnosis was correct or if he needs any change of medications. This time the doctor was also concerned and she ordered an immediate malaria test. At 10:30 p.m. in the night, I virtually ran with my son in hand to the diagnostic center. I should thank God to give me such a wonderful child and wife that they never lost their cool even during such adverse conditions. My kid, despite being so small and innocent, he simply had an underlying determination and resistance and somehow seemed to understand the pain we were in. He was resisting the illness like a diehard soldier. We took him to the diagnostic center where the doctor, with the help of two of his associates, took his blood sample. It was a real torture for my kid but more so for us. We could not bear the picture of our child being held by three people and a big needle inserted into his veins to get a huge quantity of blood. I mean, does he even have that much blood to test? I know I am wrong and it is the father in me who is so afraid but my kid put up a really brave face. He did cry but as soon as I held him up in my arms he stopped somehow afterwards.

After half an hour the reports came and we all heaved a sigh of relief. The test was negative for malaria. It was then that I took the reports to the doctor and she finally diagnosed it as a case of mild heat stroke and advised us to give him plenty of water. Technically, a child should drink 100 mL of water per kilogram of his body, i.e. my son who weighs around 10 kg should be drinking 1L of water while he was drinking hardly the half that amount.

We started intensive oral rehydration program for him. We gave him ORS every 30 minutes. It started to show wonders. The thing that huge doses of paracetamol was not able to do, i.e. to reduce his fever, a simple bottle of water did in just 2 to 3 hours. Now that’s why we call water as nature’s gift, isn’t it? After one day of ORS, he showed a big improvement with his fever going out completely and his activity returning to normal. We both thanked the almighty for everything. I know, it might seem a little stupid for us to be so hyper on such small things, but the emotion of a love for our kid sometimes magnifies the effect of even common ailments which are otherwise harmless or sometimes even necessary for developing that immune system that will help him in the long run.

So, friends always remember the formula of 100 mL/kg of body weight and make sure your kid drinks plenty of water and don’t worry if he wets your bed. After all, that’s what kids are for. If he is not going to do it, then who is? Definitely not you!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How I brought a walker for my kid?

As parents, one of our best moments is when our child crosses any milestone in his/her development, which includes his first smile, first rollover, first time standing on his knees, first time standing up with support, and what not. The joy that he gets when he reaches his goal after falling innumerable times and again getting up without getting disheartened makes us feel like we are on heaven. Sometimes I wonder where that quality of bouncing back after falling down goes away when we grow up. As children, we are never bothered about defeats or setbacks, may be because we cannot think much and we concentrate only on trying harder and living the moment with the best of what we can do. But as we grow up and as we can think, the first thing we do is to think about different ways, different permutations and combinations of how a particular thing cannot be done rather than finding ways of doing it. In this matter, I strongly believe we should learn from children who simply start doing and don't think whether they can or not. getting to the point, we wanted to buy a new walker for our little one as he has started to climb over things and has started to stand on his own. Now as with all things in life, we want to give him the best and nothing less than that. So, we decided to do some good research on this topic on the net and with friends. We did find some good sources in the net about various criteria for buying a good walker. An excellent article on Hubpages was also there.

Finally, we went ahead and brought a walker for him. It cost us around 600 bucks, pretty cheap if you look at the joy that he got when he found out that he can explore the house using his new vehicle. Now he can fulfill all his fantasies of getting up to that table which he also wanted to see what is on top of it, taking out the things on top of the computer table and throwing them down, kicking the ball and then chasing it, and even chase us wherever we move around. Some joys are really parasitic, they get transmitted easily...this was one of them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Diaper rash in babies - are diapers really required?

Diaper – is it really required?

As new parents, during our initial days we really blessed the companies that produced diapers because it saved us a lot of work and headache in managing our baby’s needs. He used to wet himself every half an hour, especially during his sleep and this led to his sleep being disturbed and he becoming cranky and starting to cry. We looked for the best brands of diapers available in India, searched all kinds of medical and genera stores, and consulted many of our so-called experienced friends who recommended an array of choices for us. We finally zeroed in on our first diaper – Wipro – a new one in the market that we saw in a supermarket store. We brought it home and introduced it on our baby. He felt a little discomfort in the beginning but he gradually adjusted to it. But we didn’t know that we were doing a mistake – a small one though!

Diapers are not essential for the baby. Diapers should not be used very frequently, especially in case of boys, because it seems to compress the scrotal area and increase its temperature. The scrotum is a very important organ of the reproductive system and it is kept intentionally “outside” the body so that it can stay a little cooler compared to the rest of the body. It should not be as warm as the rest of our body. Any increase in the temperature of the scrotum can adversely affect the production of sperms in the child which can lead to future complications like impotency when the child turns adult.

We got to learn about this late when during a consultation with our pediatrician, he scolded us left and right. One day, suddenly our baby started crying very painfully – yes, I can feel his pain in me, I could understand that he is suffering from some sort of pain that he has not experienced before. His tears were telling me what he was going through. To investigate the source of his agony, we removed his clothes to check if he was bitten by some insect or something. When we finally removed his diaper, we finally saw what was making my child, who seldom even moans and who didn’t even cry when he was being vaccinated, go into fits of agony. There was a huge rash in his scrotal area and his scrotum was hugely swollen. We immediately tried to remove the diaper but it was stuck to the scrotum because of the high level of moisture inside it. It might have so happened that he wetted the diaper more frequently than usual and the diaper was not able to absorb it all thus leading to his ultrasoft skin becoming loose and developing a big rash with high level of swelling. I was scared to my pants after looking at that scene and I cannot fully explain it in words over here. And add to it that my child was screaming in agony and I knew that it is time to throw that packet of diapers out of the window. I took off the diapers and put lot of baby talcum powder onto that area so that the moisture is absorbed and the area becomes dry. I kept the baby without diaper or any underwear or lower body cloth for around 1 hour so that the area is exposed to air and gets cooled off. After around 1 hour, the scrotal skin became dry and some dry flakes, which were actually dead skin, started to appear on the surface. One should never attempt to clean those flakes themselves as they will be removed by themselves as they dry off. Removing them by hand will cause huge amount of pain to the baby and s/he will start screaming like hell. It is then that we took him to the pediatrician the next day and we got the good scolding that we so deserved.

So friends, just to sum up, I am not against diapers or anything. Sometimes, diapers are a necessity like when you are going out or you are not in a position to change his clothes when they are wet. But diapers should not be used as a regular feature in your baby’s wardrobe. The best thing to do is to plan your day so that the diaper is not used for more than 3 to 4 hours. And if you notice any sort of rash or redness on the perineal (the crotch or anal area), you should, as a first aid, put baby talcum powder on that area so as to dry it first; keep the area to open air so that the moisture is removed and the skin normalizes (remember that the skin is also an organ and it requires oxygen and breathing for normal functioning). And last but not the least, consult you pediatrician immediately the next day and be ready for a good scolding!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cute baby sleeping on the side

Colic pain in infants

So, finally you are free from the burden of pregnancy and your angel is now in your hands.  You don’t have to worry about your figure distortion, back ache, morning sickness, vomiting, nausea, and the host of symptoms that arrived as unwanted guests into your body along with pregnancy.  But now another problem has crept in (and I wish it has not but generally it does with all mothers).  The problem is that your baby becomes cranky and fussy in the evening and starts to cry uncontrollably refusing to feed or sleep and especially starts screaming with a high pitch when s/he is put in a supine position.  So guys, welcome to the dirty world of COLIC PAIN.

Colic pain is defined as a benign pain in the intestines that generally occurs due to spasms of the intestine whose cause is not clear.  But the take home point is that it is a pain in the stomach for your baby and a real pain in the *** (you know what – I guess Google does not ban me for this!!) for you.  So, then what is this thing and what can we do to control this thing.

So, first things first – you need to understand that this condition is benign, i.e. it is not a dangerous or life threatening condition for your baby.  It is a normal condition which most of the infants around the world suffer from.  The reason for colic pain are attributed to a variety of factors including stress or anxiety in the mother or in the household, diet of the mother/infant, abdominal gas or swallowing of air, and other vague factors which are not very clear to anyone.

What to do in case of colic pain in infants?
1.       The first thing to do is – do not panic; because panic causes stress in both you and your child and your child gets scared more than you and starts screaming more.  So, keep your cool.
2.    The next thing to do is to hold your child in the upright position and gently pat his back in the lumbar area (mid back where the stomach area is).  This helps in passing of the gas which is the major cause of intestinal colic pain.  Do not put or hold the child in the supine position because this generally makes the child more cranky and makes him/her scream further.  This is probably because of the reason that gas in the intestine does not pass when we lie in the supine position and it further presses against the intestines which makes the pain severe, especially for an infant.  Always remember, prone position is the best position to lay the child whenever s/he has a problem of gas in the bowels.  Gas passes easily in the prone position either through mouth or the anus.  It is also a good practice to make the child burp after having the infant breastfed or giving any other food including water so that the excess air or gas is removed from the stomach.  Not burping the child after food is many a times the primary cause of colic in infants.
3.      Generally patting the back and holding the child in the prone or upright position for some time relieves the gas from the intestine and calms the child.  But an easier way is to consult your doctor and get some meds prescribed for colic pain (Generally, your pediatrician will prescribe you this med without asking you and telling you to give it only when the child is cranky or crying excessively in the evening time).  This medicine is generally simethicone, which is used for treatment of bloating and other gas-related ailments (Note:  Please do not buy any medicine without consulting your doctor.  You can seriously harm your infant’s health if you do so).
4.      One home remedy that worked for our son which was suggested to us by our pediatrician was to apply asafetida (hing) paste on the abdominal portion (except the umbilicus of the infant) and make the child like prone for some time.  Simply dissolve the asafetida powder or solid in some hot water and make a paste.  You can also give this paste orally to your child (that is if you are successful in giving it because the taste is a bit tangy and hot and your child may or may not like it and secondly it is very difficult to hold the child supine and give anything when s/he is crying uncontrollably).  Giving the paste orally is a quicker way to relieve the pain.  Asafetida is a proven digestive compound used in both modern medicine and Ayurveda and has proven medicinal benefits.  It strengthens the digestive system and helps in preventing colic in infants.  If you are not able to feed orally, just apply the paste on the abdomen (leaving the umbilicus intact because it may cause irritation to the child) and hold the child prone or upright for some time and wait for the gas to pass.
5.      While holding the child upright, please take care not to keep your hand tight around the anal position of the child because this may lead to difficulty in passing of gas for the child.  Keep your hand either above or below the anus gently and leave the anal pore open so that the gas may pass.

That’s it guys, these are some things that you can do and you should take care in case of colic.  And remember, it is a benign condition, so no need to worry.  Simply keep your calm and let it pass.  Happy parenting!