One of my fondest memories which I am certain will be etched in my mind forever is the birth of my daughter. The birthing experience, which thankfully was not as messy and painful as I had imagined it to be, is what contributed to this being a pleasant memory. When I was carrying my child, I had many dreams for her: the values I wanted her to imbibe, and the things I wanted to teach. I wanted to gift her courage, compassion, grit, determination, an unnerving spirit and an optimistic attitude.
Life does teach us many lessons and as bitter as some of the experiences may seem, we emerge stronger from the bruises. The person I am today is different in many ways than what I was 10 years ago. My identity is something that has evolved over the years and the life experiences which went into shaping my personality is what I would want to pass on to my child. While I would want her to carve out her own identity, I do hope I can pass on my learnings to her which will help in showing her a direction.
Right from the time she was an infant, one thing I gave utmost importance was her baby food: is she getting the right nutrition? Is her cognitive development at the right pace? Am I doing all that’s needed for her brain development?
Having a strong support system in the form of my mom and grand mom proved to be the biggest blessing and continues to be one after so many years. Their wisdom built over the years coupled with the information available through numerous sources helped in making the right choices.
When it came to baby food, my experience was its best to start early. Introducing food to babies at an early age, in my case when my daughter was 3.5 months is what helped in a smooth transition. We started off with fresh fruit juices, well cooked and mashed rice and dal, idli and slowly graduated to more solid foods. Plenty of greens, fresh fruits, rotis, juices, is what helped provide my baby with the right nutrition.
The best part was everything was freshly made at home and could be easily customized to meet the baby food requirements at various stages of her growth. Being non vegetarians and knowing the benefits of including fish, eggs, and chicken in her diet, we started off early – chicken soup at 4 months and well cooked fish at 8 months, egg white and chicken followed. The fact that eggs and fish help in brain development of babies, was the perfect icing on the cake. For haven’t you heard about fish and sharp brains going hand in hand?
In fact a baby’s brain development is based on environment, genetics and nourishment she/he receives in utero. The right stimulation i.e. infant brain exercises also boost infant cognition. So when a mother takes care of what she eats, she is literally feeding IQ to her baby!
Apart from making sure that our baby gets the right nutrition through food, we also spent significant time in thinking of and engaging our baby in age appropriate activities. Being a family of book lovers, we introduced books quite early to her. Her book shelf now is full of numerous books and it’s rare that she goes to bed without reading a book or two.
Asking her about the story she read or what she did during the day is crucial in making sure she is recollecting things and is able to express herself coherently. As a working mom with limited time with my child, this is one of our ways of bonding. A cuddle, kiss and a few minutes of talk before she calls it a night.
Becoming a mom changes your life in ways you can never fathom and it’s an identity you carry till your last breath. Any decision you take be it for your child’s food, nutrition, safety, wellbeing; heck even when shopping for yourself at a mall you often find yourself at the kids section – it’s always your baby that takes precedence over everything else. Trust your instincts, embrace your ecosystem and keep telling yourself and your baby “I am the best mommy.” Enjoy every bit of this magical journey; despite the bumps, it’s a wonderful ride.
Image Credit: University of California – Santa Barbara