Babies made-in-India - 7. The swaddle and the diaper
Another tradition going on strong is swaddling infants. The benefits are the creation of a sense of security for the baby (it reminds him the uterus), and comfort as it helps him control the reflex-movements that can bother him. For the mother, it's more convenient to carry the kid, a small quiet package. As a result, in India, infants are swaddled most of the time up to three months. On top of above mentioned advantages, it is also believed that it will enable the legs to grow straight. And the hip problems that can be created are royally ignored.
Since swaddling can indeed be reassuring and appeasing for some infants, you can choose an intermediate solution, like swaddling the baby only during sleep time – it is also interesting to know that this practice after being out-of-fashion in the past decades in the West is now doing its come-back (6).
If you decide to leave the baby legs free when he is not sleeping, then you must be ready, when you enter a hotel carrying your newborn 'monkey-style' to face the outraged looks of doormen, or even their comments: "you should not wear him like that! Poor thing! His legs!!”. Or to bear with the salesguy of Benetton who is likely to get offended and say so out loud, repeatedly, because you should not use a carrier during the first six months...
To get back to the topic of swaddling, I imagine that this practice goes hand in hand with the use of the Indian cotton nappy. Which is like a piece of cloth with a thread that you fill with other pieces of cloth. The advantages of this diaper is that it is softer for the butt of the child, cheaper and more eco-friendly (but I am not so sure because you need to do a lot of washing), and the child gets potty-trained faster since he quickly gets tired of having his ass wet all the time. Well, I tried several times at the hospital but I can’t help it, I don’t understand how poop and pee don’t spread everywhere on the child and about everywhere else! Maybe it works better if the baby is kept tightly wrapped (hence moving less)?
Anyway, the only cheap and eco-friendly solution is to leave the baby barebutt... A solution still preferred in the countryside where kids are left very early to deal with themselves or at the signal where babies make people feel bad and more inclined to depart with a coin (hence some business of baby trafficking, cf this post)...
(6) “Nine out of 10 infants in north America are now swaddled in the first six months of life. Sales of swaddling clothes increased in the UK by 61% between 2010 and 2011.” (Source: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/28/swaddling-babies-blankets-hip-problems-doctors-warn)
(To be continued...)