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Nov 20, 2012

Ayurvedic Childcare

Ayurvedic Childcare

Ayurveda article-Ayurvedic ChildcareChildcare in Ayurveda begins a long time before the child is actually born. 'Kaumarbhratya' , one of the eight branches of Ayurveda, is dedicated to this subject. The aim of Ayurveda is not only to heal, but also to maintain health. Kaumarabhratya plays an important role in achieving this aim. If children are conceived and brought up in a healthy environment and receive proper guidelines for diet and lifestyle at an early age, the society will be more healthy and peaceful.

 
A lot of children in the modern age suffer from attention deficit disorder (vata prakriti), allergies (weak immunity) and deficiency diseases. These children sometimes have a hard time socially and act out counter culturally. We have seen such extremes in cases of  'school shootings'. Many of these conditions that manifest in the teenagers years or preadolescence can be traced back to improper pre-natal and post-natal care of a child.

Childcare is compared to planting a tree that requires preparation of land (healthy uterus), good quality seeds (sperm and ovum), proper time (fertile period) to sow the seed and watering and protecting the plant from harmful climatic conditions (prenatal care). Ayurveda emphasizes on importance of each one these four factors. Negligence in any one of these four can cause serious imbalance in children.
Conception
Both mother and father should carefully plan the conception, as that is the time when prakriti or Ayurvedic constitution of the child is decided. Healthy parents lead to a healthy and balanced prakriti. Prior to conception the digestion and all physical systems of both parents should be cleared of ama. Their doshas should be in a balanced state and they should possess high quality ojas. In addition, both parents should possess high quality of sattva guna in the mind and have a highly spiritual temperament. The mother should continue to adopt a wholesome regimen during pregnancy. Her diet, lifestyle and emotional stability are crucial factors in the growth of a healthy fetus and birth of a content strong child.

General Care

 
Instead of using vaccinations, Kashyap Samhita describes natural ways to build the immunity of the child. Oil massage (Snehana) is often used for increasing the immunity and vitality of children. Massage with bala taila (oil medicated with Sida cordifolia) is the first therapy they receive after birth. The child is then offered a mixture of ghee and honey and continues to take ghee for the first four days. Snehana (oil massage and ghee) is anabolic and increases mental capacity such as memory and retention power as well as general vitality. Infant skin is more permeable than adult skin so application of herbs topically with oils is a very effective method of treatment. In addition to snehana, general hygiene like a bath with medicated water, cleaning the mouth, proper clothes, bedding and handling the baby are part of Ayurvedic childcare.
Psychological care


The child must be protected from emotional traumas to ensure development of a happy and confident adult. The fears and insecurities of a child will change as it develops. Often the fears of the young child are based on its immediate environment like fear of the dark or being alone. If natural fears are not addressed in a supportive nurturing manner, trauma or anxiety may manifest at a later age. Therefore one should avoid frightening a child and always keep the home environment a place associated with safety.

Importance of play

 
This is a very important aspect of childhood and has been widely described in the Ayurvedic texts. A full description of a playground for children and the right kind of toys is given. Childhood is a carefree period in life and it is important the child is able to play freely in a safe environment. Play enables them to explore the world around them and learn some of the fundamental facts of life.

Ayurvedic Tonics or Vaccinations

 
The vaccinations are discoveries of modern age. In Ayurvedic Samhitas there are descriptions of various tonics that build up the child's strength to fight diseases. The tonics also provide supplementary nutrition. They enhance the child's intelligence and are useful in improving the learning of new skills such as speech. Some tonics found in ancient Ayurvedic texts are described below. They should always be taken under the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor.

    Gold Svarna bhasma with paste of brahmi (Centella asiatica) and sankhapuspi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), given with ghee and honey. This is good for general immunity and intelligence and given mainly to newly born children.

    The powder of Vaca (Acorus calamus), jatamansi (Nordostachys jatamansi), apamarg (Achyranthus aspera), satavari (Asperagus racemosa), sariva (Hemidesmus indicus), brahmi (Centella asiatica), pippali (Piper longum), haridra (Curcuma longa), kustha (Saussurea lappa) and saindhava (rock salt) with honey. This is good for general infections of chest, cold, cough, and asthma.

    Ghee medicated with the paste of ashwagandha (Withania somnifra) and milk. This is very nutritious and strengthening.

General childhood disorders

 
There are a number of diseases that occur in children. Conditions like tonsillitis, cough, asthma, sinusitis, ear infections, fever, skin diseases, diarrhea, indigestion, lack of appetite, attention deficit disorder and emotional disorders can be taken care through Ayurvedic treatments. As children have weak immunity and their body is very delicate, it is advised to give them small doses of herbs. Herbs are given in the form of decoction, fresh juice, powder mixed with honey or milk. Medicated ghee and oil are also used generally for external use. Rasa shastra medicines mainly those containing metal bhasms and mercury should not be given to children. It is important that a qualified Ayurvedic doctor is consulted before administering any Ayurvedic treatment for children.

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