I will admit I was a little cross with my mother when she insisted on buying Dabur Lal Tail even though there were around ten baby-grooming kits in the huge pile of gifts that my newborn was showered with; and each of those had a bottle of baby oil.
“Why buy more oil when there is already so much?” I argued, perplexed.
“They are not the same,” was her crisp reply. “Laal Tail it is.”
As I had gathered from twenty-nine years of experience, I wasn’t going to get anywhere arguing with her, so I just gave up and let her take over.
And every day, before bathing him in lukewarm water, she would meticulously and systematically massage him with Dabur Laal Tail – firm but gentle circular motions across the shoulders, the chest and the belly, uncurling the tightly closed fists, brisk rubs down the tiny arms and legs, folding and unfolding them, tugging at the toes; and then tummy-side-down, gentle strokes down the back. It was as good as a ritual.
And amazingly, all this time, the baby who was prone to howling at the drop of a mitten, would lie perfectly still on his mat, clearly soaking in the pampering along with the goodness of the Tail. As I would sit and watch and try to learn, mom would enlighten me on why Dabur Laal Tail, and not anything else, was the best for my baby.
“Never underestimate Ayurveda,” she would warn me. “You know, it has to be good to be around for 5,000 years.”
“But all these big brands…”
“They have chemicals in them,” she would assert, cutting me off. “Babies have very special needs. And believe me, Nature recognizes that and she has more treasure than they will ever be able to recreate at their labs. Ayurveda has a cure for everything, you name it.”
“What you give them today will affect them for the rest of their lives. And you do want to give your baby a healthy, holistic start to life, right?”
Well, there was no denying that, so I would choose to keep quiet.
“These foundation years are very, very critical,” she would explain patiently. “And Dabur Laal Tail is packed with all the goodness that a new baby needs to develop well. It will build strong muscles and super-strong bones. My sweety will be Superrmaaann.” And she would rub his belly a little more, and he would squeal in response.
“Granny used to massage you with the same Laal Tail, you know,” she would say, smiling reminiscently. “And you used to enjoy it just as much as he does.”
His eyes would droop at the first splash of water on his head, and by the time he was toweled off and clothed, he would already be in a deep, peaceful sleep.
“See, the Tail helps him sleep better also,” my mother would point out smugly.
Funnily, when I quizzed her, it turned out that my mother didn’t know what ingredients made up the Dabur Lal Tail! She was comfortable in her unshakable faith that it was ‘good’; and whatever was there in it was tailored just right to fit the growing baby’s needs. But my generation is not so easily convinced. We don’t rest till we have satisfied ourselves that any claim is scientifically proven (yes, that is our favorite term). And I didn’t have much ground for doubt when I found that it is actually backed by scientific facts. I now also know by heart the ingredients that go into the two Dabur products I use for my baby and the benefits of each. Thank you, Google.
She didn’t skip this routine even once in the four months that she had volunteered to help me with the baby. And after she went back to our hometown, I kept up the ritual, because by this time, I was convinced that a massage with Dabur Lal Tail was a sacred thing, something that was unavoidable if he was to take on the world as a strong, healthy person in the busy years ahead.
I will always be thankful for the brainwave that made me start giving him an additional light massage at night, before bedtime. By this time, both my husband and I were worn out from waking up intermittently over the night to his crying spells and we were ready to try just about anything for a good night’s sleep. And the massage worked like a charm. Calling new moms out there: When I say that my baby has been sleeping soundly through the night three months onwards, don’t feel jealous. Just try this simple recipe of a light massage followed by warm sponging before tucking the baby in, and see if it doesn’t make a difference.
His monthly visits with the pediatrician have so far been (touch wood) super smooth, never ending with us leaving his chamber frowning. The doctor always had the same report for him: perfect growth. Also, when he stood up at eight months holding on to the sofa and was walking independently just on the verge of completing eleven months, my mother had only one word for me – “See?”
Like every new parent, we faced innumerable tricky situations in the last fourteen months, which have been a whirlwind, no less. For the first couple of months, the biggest question that tormented our minds was ‘Why is he crying?’ And there didn’t seem to be any right answer. So, every time these crying spells hit, we would scurry and hurry and get on with what we called the ‘trial and error series’ or the ‘guessing game’ – picking up, cuddling, rocking, feeding, walking around holding him, and occasionally, we even resorted to taking him for a drive! Most often, we would hit gold with one of these, but the occasions when nothing seemed to work were times I now like to pretend never happened. He never qualified as ‘colic’, but even these occasional inexplicable crying jaunts were enough to send us into a nervous tizzy and set our blood pressure soaring.
The pediatrician sympathized, but he also did better than that. He prescribed a magic potion – also known as Dabur Gripe Water. He assured us that in case the reason for the crying was gas, indigestion, acidity or flatulence (much too common in babies), this would totally cure it. And the best part was, even if these were not the reasons, the Gripe Water would soothe his tummy anyway. Since then, the Gripe Water has been an integral part of our ‘trial and error series’ and with it, we have hit a lot more successful trials than errors.
We had heard so many horror stories about teething that we kept telling ourselves that the toothless smile was the most adorable thing in the world and hoped against hope that the arrival of the pearlies would be as delayed as possible. And then, at the seventh month, he smiled at us, showing off the tiny head of an oh-so-cute tooth, while three others followed suit in rapid succession. Though he used to bite down on everything apart from his teethers (our arms being the most favorite chew toys) he didn’t have a single day of diarrhea, and no sign of drooling or rashes. His teething process was unceremonious and very, very discreet. Either he is a super baby, or we have Dabur Gripe Water to thank. I would love to believe it’s the former, but I have a strong feeling it’s the latter.
My mother and mother-in-law confirmed that both my husband and I used to be given Gripe Water when we were babies and – will wonders never cease – my grandmother wonders if she would have remained sane if she didn’t give my dad Gripe Water when he was a baby! Looks like in over 60 years (at least, that is. I wish my grandparents’ parents were alive so I could ask them if they used it), they haven’t found a better cure for gassy fuss in babies. My baby’s ‘suited-booted’ pediatrician with an endless series of alphabets following his name (all phoren degrees, no less) prescribes the exact same solution as my dad’s local homeopathic doctor did 60 years back. Like it or doubt it, Ayurveda is here to stay.
And I can clearly imagine my child, in a few years, sneaking into my room for an extra spoonful of Chyawanprash like I used to sneak into my grandfather’s room at all odd hours, never satisfied with the single spoonful of the thick, yummy concoction he used to reserve for me every day after lunch.
When you think about it, we always vote for pure, natural things in every sphere of life. We want pure, unpolluted air; we don’t mind shelling out boatloads of money for pure water. Multani mitti in homemade face packs, tulsi and honey for cough, organic food, herbal gulal for Holi, herbal syrup for indigestion, herbal makeup, herbal shampoo, herbal creams … these are so big today because we have realized that Nature is ahead of us in taking care of us. And we have learnt to shy away from all that is synthetic, all that is chemical, all that is unnatural, because our bodies and our minds are not designed to accept them. So, what would you choose for your baby? The choice, when you move over big brand names and attractive packaging, is not at all difficult.
I was cynical about the benefits of Ayurveda at the beginning, and even today, if all the cynics in the world ganged up and challenged me to prove that my fourteen-month old son would be less healthy today if I didn’t use Ayurveda for him, I will have to throw up my hands and surrender. But all I know is, I did use Ayurveda for him and he is as healthy and happy and bouncy and active as a baby can be. The sheer conviction that Ayurveda is wholesome, and good, and holistic and the best for my baby has rubbed off on me from my mother and from the millions of people in India and worldwide who swear by it. And I am left to conclude that Nature knows best. And yes, mothers know best.
Image courtesy: Dabur and Google Images