The lights, the colours, the noise, the sweets - your baby's first Diwali is bound to be one of the most stimulating experiences so far in their young life. And for you, it will be a memory to cherish for years to come.
And here's how you can make Diwali memorable, with healthy food and safe breathable spaces, while carrying on tradition!
A Safe Home
The best way of celebrating Diwali is without crackers, insists Dr Yogesh Gupta, head of Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru. 'The ash and smog from the fireworks can settle in your newborn’s respiratory tract. If there is a family history of wheezing, or lower respiratory tract infection, it may trigger an attack of acute wheezing in the baby,' he says.
So, however tempting the idea of taking your baby up to the terrace for them to look at the fireworks for the first time seems, it is best to avoid it. Even if you do burst crackers away from your baby, do not forget to wash your hands each time before carrying them.
While the bursting of crackers in your neighbourhood is not completely under your control, there are ways you can make your home safer.
'Keep your baby in a soundproof room with heavy curtains. An infant’s hearing can tolerate sounds up to 80 decibels, but firecrackers can be as loud as 150 decibels,' says Dr Pushkala MS, consultant paediatrician at Kauvery Hospital, Chennai.
Dr Gupta advises the use of air filters for the days before and after Diwali. In case you do not have an air purifier, another life hack is to use damp curtains: these will help catch some of the pollutants.
Dr Pushkala adds that a baby who is well rested will be calmer than an ill-rested, irritable child. 'If you know what time crackers will be burst, feed your baby before that, so that they are more likely to fall asleep through the noise.'
Time For Sweets
It is always a good time to remind ourselves to eat more native and healthier foods, but with an infant around, this becomes all the more true. Give the sweets available in the market a miss (if your baby is eating solids), advises Delhi-based dietitian Manjari Chandra. 'Do not give your baby sugar, as it is very easy for an underdeveloped child to get hooked to it, given its addictive taste,' she says.
Sweets from a shop can be adulterated and most are maida-rich, which means they have no fibre.
However, there are still a lot of sweets that can be made at home. Manjari suggests fig and other dry-fruit laddoos . 'You soak the figs, crush them in a grinder, and roast them in ghee, add powdered jaggery and roll it out,' she says. 'The same thing can be done with ragi and jowar laddoos . You basically have to fry the millets in ghee to give them that crunchiness, and then add powdered jaggery.' You can also use date sugar, or ground dates.
Desserts like halwa , gujiya , puran poli or obbattu , malpua , kheer and payasam can all be fed to a child, as long as they are mashed well, made without processed sugar and using fermented flour, which is easier to digest.
For mothers who are still nursing, it is important to take care of your calcium intake. 'Your baby’s milk is always of a fixed consistency; it is the woman’s body that gets depleted of nutrients. So if we don’t maintain the nutritional state, it could lead to long-standing issues post nursing,' says Manjari.
Moreover, lactation itself is hormone-dependent, she adds. 'To maintain the cyclical nature of feeding, your hormone levels need to be optimal.' During these festivities, excess sugar spikes insulin levels, which in turn affects the oxytocin produced that stimulates the milk production. 'It is a good idea for mothers to have things that are hypoglycaemic, such as cinnamon and fenugreek, which will help keep insulin low and maintain the production of oxytocin,' she says.
Celebrate With Your Baby
This is a festival of lights and colours, but it is unlikely your baby will remember it. You however, will. So, keep them close, as you draw out the rangoli or kolam . If they are a little older, they can even help you out with it. Make sure you use eco-friendly powder, made from gram or wheat flour.
You can also ‘paint’ earthen lamps with her, if you use edible paints, made from corn starch, and vegetable and plant-based colours. For decorations, use electric lights against wood (never metal) and keep the earthen lamps in high places, out of your child’s reach.
Celebrate a Safe Diwali with Safest Clothing on Earth!