Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Let us learn about the right method of dressing the baby, seasonal regimen for the baby, oil massage, different rituals that are followed for the physical and mental well being of the baby, as per Ayurveda.
Table of Contents
Can we do oil massage on a new born baby after a week?
Dr JV Hebbar:
Let me tell you an instance. I prescribed Kumkumadi thailam, a very famous, traditional, international brand to an adult male client. He applied just once. In a matter of 30 minutes, developed allergic skin rashes with itching, had to cancel his office meetings and take rest at home.
It is not the fault of the company or the oil. It is just the nature of herbal oils. This is the reason, I, time and again advise allergy tests of oils, before applying any oil to the children.
We need to be very cautious and take a lot of care.
To perform an allergy test, 2 – 3 drops of the oil is applied over the soft skin of the forearm, the area is marked with a pen and watched for 20-30 minutes. If there are itchy red rashes, then the skin is allergic to the oil.
In a new born baby, skin is very soft and there is no real need for massage at least for initial 1 – 2 months.
Read: infant care – first six months
After 1 – 2 months, based on your doctor’s advice, a gentle oil massage can be started with just a few drops of coconut oil or sesame oil.
Coconut oil is suitable if the baby is underweight, has a warm body and during summer and autumn seasons, to beat the heat and Pitta Dosha. Coconut oil is a coolant.
Sesame oil can be selected, if the baby’s body feels cold to touch and during winter and raining seasons. It is slightly warmer and balances Vata Dosha.
Some people mix sesame oil with equal quantities of coconut oil for a massage, which is also fine.
It is best to avoid mustard oil.
Read: Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Mustard Oil – Comparison
So, start with just a few drops and week by week, very slowly increase the quantity of oil applied.
After 1 – 2 months of this, based on your doctor’s advice, you can start introducing herbal oils, slowly. Usually Bala Ashwagandha oil, Kumkumadi oil, Chandana bala lakshadi oil or Mahanarayana oil are used.
Do an allergy test.
Mix 10 ml of any of these oils with 90 ml of sesame / coconut oil and start applying.
As the baby’s skin starts adjusting to the oil, you can increase the proportion of herbal oil and decrease sesame / coconut oil.
Better to go for very high-quality coconut oil and sesame oil, if possible cold pressed, virgin, organic.
Avoid accidental oral ingestion. If you are using castor oil, it may cause severe diarrhea and stomach irritation to the baby.
Avoid eye contact, as much as you can.
Vastra Dhaarana (dressing the child)
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/36
The cloth of the child should be clean, washed and sterilized, dry, free of frills and wrinkles, light, perfumed and smooth in texture. This is applicable for clothes used for bedding, seating and blanket
Charaka Shareera 8/50
The clothes, bedding, blanket etc which have been contaminated with sweat, have become dirty, soiled by excreta and urine should not be used. These clothes shall not be reused. Instead, they should be discarded and new clothes should be used in their place.
By any chance if new clothes cannot be used, the dirty and soiled clothes should be washed, dried, sterilized and fumigated thoroughly and used. Fumigation gives fragrance to the clothes and will also disinfect them.
The clothes used for bedding, blanket and clothing should be fumigated with disinfectants like Sarshapa (mustard), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Atasi (Flaxseed), Hingu (asafetida), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul), Brahmi (Centella asiatica / Bacopa monnieri), Shweta Durva (Cynodon doctylon), Jatamamsi (Nardostachys Jatamansi), Ashoka (Saraca asoca), Katuki (Picrorhiza kurroa), Sarpa Nirmoka (scales of snake skin) etc
Read related: Ayurvedic Care Of The Neonate: Initial Four Weeks
Mani Dharana (wearing gems and precious stones to the child)
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/40-41
Mani Dharana means wearing of herbal roots, stones and gems.
Auspicious stones and gems should be blended with pieces of horns of living animals like rhinoceros etc and tied around the neck of the child. Auspicious herbs like Aindri (Bacopa monieri), Brahmi (Centella asiatica), Jeevaka (Malaxis acuminate), Rishabhaka (Manilkara hexandra) etc should be tied around the neck, wrists, head and foot of the child.
These will enhance ayu (life span), medha (intellect), smruti (intelligence) and swasthya (health) of the child. They will also protect the child from the rakshasas (evil spirits).
In Rural India and in folklore Ayurveda practice, they make a laddu out of dry fruits, called Gondh Ki Laddu or Edible Gum Laddu.
It is administered from 2nd week till 3 – 4 months to improve strength and immunity of the nursing mother.
Sootika Shashti (worshiping Shashti goddess)
Sutika Shashti means the ‘sixth day’s ceremony after the birth of the child’.
There are some rituals which are followed on the 6th day or 6th night of the child’s birth. They are called Sootika Shashti.
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/28
The child should be protected cautiously on the 6th night.
Bali (sacrificial rituals for welfare and protection of child) should be done.
All the relatives and beloved ones of the child should keep awaken during the night (entire night) i.e. conduct jagarana with pleasant and happy minds. They should be alert all night.
Shashti Mata (revati) goddess should be worshipped and the whole night should be spent in conducting prayers and singing hymns to please the goddess.
The goddess is said to shield the child from evil spirits, especially from shashti or revati graham and also provide good health and happiness.
Even after Sutika Shashti, Shashti Mata goddess should be offered prayers on every 6th day of every fortnight.
Read related: Ayurvedic Care Of The Newborn Baby: Jatamatra Paricharya
Prasoota Snaana (Bathing the mother)
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/29
Prasooti is the woman who has given birth to the child. Prasoota Snana means the ‘bathing ceremony of the woman’ recently delivered.
The woman who has deliverd the child should be given a thorough bath with all rituals on the 10th or 12th day of the delivery, on an auspicious date following the rituals of the family and clan (gotra aacharaihi).
On the same day, the father of the child should name the child (Namakarana)
Namakarana Samskara (Naming ceremony)
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/30
Namakarana Samskara means naming ceremony of the child. Namakarana of the child should be done on the 100th day of birth or after 1year from birth. (In Ashtanga Sangraha Vagbhata mentions Namakarana samskara to be done on the 7th day, this version gives the maximum time period in which this ceremony should be done).
On the day of Namakarana, the body of the child should be smeared or anointed with paste of Manashila (realgar), Haratala (Orpiment), Gorochana (gallstone of cow), Agaru (Aquilaria agallocha) and Chandana (Sandal wood).
Surya Darshana and Chandra Darshana (showing Sun and Moon to the child)
Kashyapa Samhita Khila Sthana 12/3
Surya Darshana means ‘seeing the Sun’. Chandra Darshana means ‘seeing the Moon’.
The Sun (in the morning) and Moon (in the night) shall be shown to the child in the first month itself.
After the birth of the child, Jaata Karma should be immediately done followed by auspicious rituals like Raksha, Homa (fire sacrifices), Mangala (auspicious rituals) and Swasti Vachana (hymns, enchanting and reading of Holy Scriptures, religious books etc).
After this, the Sun should be shown in the morning and the Moon in the night.
Nishkramana Samskara (going out ceremony)
Kashyapa Samhita Khila Sthana 12/4
Nishkramana means ‘going out’. This is a ritual of bringing the child outside the place of birth (ward, nursery, labor room) for the first time after birth.
The child should be brought out of the Sootikagara (labour room) in the 4th month (after the delivery)
This ritual or ceremony is explained in detail in Kashyapa Samhita.
After entering the sootikagara the Vaidyas (physicians) should wish welfare to the child by uttering or reciting the below mentioned hymn –
Kashyapa Samhita Khila Sthana 12/5
‘Dear Child, May you live for 100 long years being protected by Gods, sanctified by the blessings of Brahmins and being hailed by the Gurus’
Upaveshana (seating the child)
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/53
The procedure or ritual in which the child is made to sit is called Upaveshana (Seating the child). This is conducted in the 5th month.
The child is gradually trained to sit on the floor in the 5th month (after birth).
While Acharya Vagbhata tells that Upaveshana should be conducted in 5th month, Acharya Kashyapa opines that this ritual shall be conducted in the 6th month.
Anna Praashana (feeding solid food)
Anna Prashana means the ritual of ‘giving solid food’ to the child. According to Acharya Vagbhata Anna Prashana should be done in the 6th month and according to Acharya Kaashyapa it should be done in the 10th month. In the 6th month, Acharya Kashyapa advices to do ‘phala prashana’ or giving fruits to the child.
Karna Vedha (ear piercing)
Karna Vedha means ‘piercing the ears’. This is also carried as a samskara (ritual).
Vagbhata opines that ‘karna vedha’ should be done in 6th, 7th or 8th month according to ones convenience.
Abhyanga, Udwarthana and Snana (Massage or oil smearing, reverse or upward massage, bathing)
Abhyanga means ‘giving massage with herbal oil or smearing the oil’. Udwarthana means ‘rubbing and cleansing the body with perfumes or fragrant unguents’ or ‘giving a massage in upward direction’. Snana means ‘giving bath’.
Acharya Vagbhata advices Abhyanga, Udwarthana and Snana be given on daily basis to the child. The below mentioned herbs are used for the same –
Taila (oils for Abhyanga) – Oil processed with Sahadevi (Vernonia cinerea), Shalaparni (Desmodium gangeticum), Harenu (garden pea), Shweta Kamala (white variety of lotus), Chandana (sandalwood), Bruhati phala (fruit of Solanum indicum), Tarkari (Clerodendrum phlomidis), Sarshapa (mustard), Kushta (Saussurea lappa), Saindhava Lavana (rock salt), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Erandamula (roots of castor plant), Tila (sesame), Apamarga tandula (grains of Achyranthes aspera), Kapikachchu phala (fruits of Mucuna pruriens) and Aja dugdha (milk of goat) should be used for massage. This oil provides shareera pushti (strength to the body) and keeps the child away from bhuta bhada (infections).
For Udwarthana – the same herbs mentioned for Abhyanga should be taken and their paste prepared. To this thrice the quantity of Yava churna (flour of Barley) should be added and mixed with curds and honey. This combination should be used for udwarthana. Alternatively udwarthan can be done with paste or powder of Murva mula (roots of Marsdenia tenacissima), Haridra (turmeric), Daruharidra (Berberis aristata) and Yava (barley) or only with Kulattha churna (powder or flour of horse gram) or with Ashwagandha churna (powder of Withania somnifera).
For Snana – Paste of Eladi Gana or Jeevaneeya Gana group of herbs should be mixed in water and that water is used to bathe the child.
Rutu anusara aushadha (Seasonal remedies)
If there is excessive salivation and the child is rejecting the food, powder of Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Shunti (ginger), Maricha (black pepper), Pippali (long pepper) and Bruhati (Solanum indicum, its roots) should be mixed in honey along with saindhava lavana (rock salt) and given to the child.
It becomes difficult for the child to adapt to change in climate and seasonal changes in the earlier part of its life. The child may be susceptible to catch up with some seasonal disorders. For this certain medicines should be collected beforehand as precaution. These medicines are multidimensional i.e. preventive and curative.
For Sheeta (winter) and Vasanta Rutu (spring season) – The Ghrita or ghee prepared by processing the ghee with decoction (kashaya) prepared using Aaragwadhaadi Gana group of herbs mixed with paste (kalka) of Vatsakadi Gana group of herbs should be given to the child.
For Greeshma Rutu (summer season) – Milk processed with Jeevaneeya Gana group of herbs should be served cold to the child in the morning. Alternatively ghee, sugar and sattu (nourishing herbal powder) should be mixed and fed to the child.
Ghee should not be given to the child who drinks a lot of water.
Ghee processed with Kakoli (Roscaea procera), Sharkara (sugar), Meda (Polygonatum cirrhifolium), Vamshalochana (Bamboo silica), Yashtimadhu (Indian licorice), Jeevaka (Malaxis acuminata) should be given to the child if plain ghee is not suitable for the child.
For Sharad Rutu (Autumn season) – Pundareekadi Ksheera Ghrita i.e. ghee processed with Pundareeka (Lotus), Yashtimadhu (Indian licorice), Mudgaparni (Phaseolus trilobus), Yavaasa (Alhagi camelorum), Kakoli (Roscaea procera), Vidari (Pueraria tuberosa), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Draksha (Raisin), Ajashringi (Gymnema sylvestre), Dugdhika (neem), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Karkatashringi (Pistacia integerrima), Madhuka Pushpa (Madhuca longifolia, Madhuka indica), Meda (Polygonatum cirrhifolium), Rushabhaka (Manilkara hexandra) and Jeevaka (Malaxis acuminata) and milk should be given.
In all the Rutus (in all the seasons) – Brahmi Ghrita, Saraswatha Ghrita or Vacha churna (powder of Acorus calamus) mixed with small quantity of Swarna Bhasma (ash of gold) and unequal quantities of ghee and honey mixed together should be given. All these are said to enhance the lifespan and intellect of the child. They make the voice of the child clear and melodious. They also are said to protect the child from rakshasas (evil spirits, infections).
Powder of Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Pippali (Long pepper), Kushta (Saussurea lappa), Haridra (turmeric), Sariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) and Nimba (neem) should be mixed with Brahmi churna (powder of Centella asicatica) equal to the quantity of all the other herbs mentioned. This churna should be given to the child, mixed in ghee, early in the morning. This formulation should be given for 1 year. This makes the child strong, intelligent and provides longevity. By taking this, the child is said to live a life span of 100 years.
Mrud Bhakshana Pariharya (Avoiding mud eating)
Mrud Bhakshana Pariharya means ‘preventing the child from eating mud or soil’.
Many children have the habit of eating the mud or soil. This is very dangerous for their health. This habit can lead to the manifestation of many diseases in kids like pandu (anemia, liver disorders), shotha (swelling), kasa (cough), shwasa (difficulty in breathing), atisara (diarrhea), krimi (infection, worms), vamana (vomiting), murcha (fainting), agnimandhya (indigestion) etc. Aversion or rejecting of breast milk and or food, pain in body parts and confusion can also occur in the child. Therefore it becomes important to prevent the child from eating the mud.
Danta dhavana nishedham (Avoiding brushing gums or teeth of the child)
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/103
Danta Dhavana Nishedam means avoiding ‘brushing of teeth’ in the child. The teeth of the child should not be brushed until the jaws (gums) of the child become strong. If weak gums are brushed, Vayu gets vitiated and will cause dental disorders in due course of time. The tooth also will get mal-formed.
Baalam prati Vayavahaaram (attitude and behavior towards the child)
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The sleeping or resting child should not be awakened suddenly, nor the sleep of the child be disturbed.
One should not toss the child high up in the air. This develops a constant fear and insecurity in the child’s mind (which the child cannot explain) and the child may develop being timid. Fear also blocks the natural process of defecation and urination in the child.
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/74
If the child is stubborn and not ready to take commands or if the child is repeatedly doing things which have been forbidden, the child should be counseled or spoken to in a soft and loving tone and made to understand things rather than punishing or abusing the child. The child should be taken into confidence with love and affection.
Harsh behavior towards the children makes them mentally weak. Mentally weak children become victims of graha badha (evil forces) and they are said to suffer from mental disorders.
The children should not be allowed to sleep by covering the blanket over the face.
The children should be protected from the contact or touch of strangers.
The kids should be avoided from high end activities like jumping etc. The kids get injured by these activities.
Raksha (Protection and extra care of the child)
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/65
The child should be protected and shielded to the best of one’s capacity until the child crosses 1 year of age.
The child and its activities should always be monitored and viewed by one or the other person around the child. The sensory and motor functions of the child will be weak and in the developmental stage during the Ksheerapa stage (stage of the child wherein the child is fed only on milk). In this condition, the child should not be allowed to go out of the house.
The child should not be allowed to see bright light and vibrant objects.
The child should not be allowed to hear harsh and harming sounds.
The child should not be exposed to odd smells and strong odors which are irritating.
The child shall be protected from damaging touches example, from touching hot substances, going near fire etc.
Just Before Finishing –
Childhood is a delicate period for both the child and parents. While the child is enjoying its milestones unaware and fearless of the happenings around, the parents are enjoying the parenthood. But the initial months and years of upbringing the child has its own challenges. Every aspect of the child should be addressed with top priority while allowing the child to enjoy its infancy. The upbringing of the child should be a responsibility surrounded with celebrities. Ayurveda has detailed every minute aspect of these things in ‘Nava Jaata Paricharya’. This article reflects the ancient wisdom of neonatal care as explained in Ayurveda.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)