UTI – Urinary Tract Infection

A couple of week ago I woke up to the sound of little Sucrose sniffling in the dark. She was feeling sorry for herself as she lounged in bed. When I made an attempt to scoop her into my arms, she started wailing and crying more. Slowly through hiccups and more tears she managed to convey that her ‘toilet place’ was burning.

The poor darling. The crying didn’t stop for much after. Her doctor advised immediately starting her on ORS (oral rehydration solution) and to give a pain killer if she complained of more pain. The minutes couldn’t have passed more slowly as we waited for her to pass urine. The urge was there but none was coming at all. I was stupefied and bugged. I had heard of other children getting UTI, but foolishly thought Sucrose would be above it.

After the initial scare of her crying in pain, I started to look for reasons for this problem, and promptly fell into all wrong conclusions as I discussed with other parents and well wishers. At last the internet came to my help. Here is a bit of info I gathered about UTI to dispel some myths and assumptions about it.

What is UTI?

UTI in children

UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is an infection in our urinary system – the place where four of our pals are hard at work getting urine out of our body – the kidneys, urinary tract, bladder and the urethra. When bacteria enter this part from our digestive system, the seemingly harmless bacteria cause havoc which include a range of symptoms.

Types of UTI:

Cystitis – Most of UTI happens when the infection is in the bladder, where the urine is stored, or in the urethra. The urge to urinate is more and it might also hurt when the child urinates. There might be lower abdominal pain and the urine could be yellow and smelly. (I suspect Sucrose had this problem). Other symptoms I have listed down.

If early detection and subsequent treatment is not followed, any of these can lead to Pyelonephritis which is an infection in the kidneys. It causes fever, shivering, vomiting and pain, and would need immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of UTI:

  • pain, burning, or a stinging sensation when urinating
  • an increased urge or more frequent need to urinate (though only a very small amount of pee may be passed)
  • fever
  • waking up at night a lot to go to the bathroom
  • wetting problems, even though the child is potty trained
  • belly pain in the area of the bladder (generally below the belly button)
  • foul-smelling urine that may look cloudy or contain blood (https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/urinary.html)

All of the above symptoms was accompanied by terrible crying and copious tears while urinating. After sometime Sucrose was scared to go to the restroom and had to be coaxed to even try. This can be quite nerve racking to the parent.

Risk factors of UTI:

Girls are more prone to getting UTI than boys. A girl’s urethra is shorter and closer to the anus and so unclean toilet habits can lead to infection spreading to the urethra.

Other than this, the reasons are to do most with genetics – malformed kidney or a block in the tract or an abnormal backward flow of urine from the bladder up (But this was ruled out for Sucrose).

Poor toilet hygiene is another reason for UTIs. For all us fussy mothers who worry ourselves sick thinking that unclean bathrooms or toilet seats might lead to UTI,  there is no cause to worry. The bacteria causing UTI can’t simply enter the urinary tract from sitting on dirty toilet seats, except that it is kinda gross for us. But poor toilet hygiene – like not washing the pubic region after passing stools or urine or wearing underwear that is not clean can lead to bacteria breeding. And that in turn can lead to UTI. Also, Sucrose started holding up her urine when she started school as she didn’t find the toilets clean. This could also lead to bacteria breeding and may have resulted in the problem. I never did find out.

So what is personal toilet hygiene?

Washing the genital area with water after urinating or passing stools is very essential. While at home, we may ensure that our toddlers are cleaned properly after they use the bathroom, that might not be the case when they are in school. In Sucrose’s school she has difficulty getting a care taker to wash her if she had gone potty. It is difficult for toddlers to wash their bum at this young age. So yeah, that is a challenge. Girls especially have to be taught to wash from front to back to ensure no bacteria from the back enters the urethra. Children should be encouraged to use the health faucet after using the toilet.

How can we treat UTI?

Firstly our pediatrician asked me to start her off on ORS and fruit juices immediately. We did just that and kept track of the number of times she urinated and how much. It was tough and difficult to see her struggling through it. We had to take off from school for the few days it took for her to get slightly better. It is easily a month before we can see improvement.

She was also given a pain killer to dull the pain she felt while urinating. I gave it only on need basis. Urine samples were sent for urine culture test to decide further course of action, but luckily it came back negative. If the culture had shown the presence of bacteria then according to the type, antibiotics would have been started. Once antibiotics are started, it must be taken compulsorily until the infection is completely gone. A urine test is taken again to rule out bacterial growth. Even if the child begins to feel better, they must be made to complete the course.

The best therapy was of course ensuring the child drank a lot of fluids – tender coconut water, butter milk (lots of electrolytes in both), ORS (oral rehydration solution), water, milk, fruit juices and such. Drinking a lot of water helps dilute their urine and wash out the infection. The parent has to ensure that her ward passes urine even if it pains.

It was a huge relief when she got back to normal after a week. Now, I am ensuring that she drinks a lot of water and have given directions on how to wash herself. I hope the pain and trouble caused by the infection would be enough to remind Sucrose to ensure clean toilet habits.


Five Children’s Books (0-2 years) your Child will Love

The saying goes that a Child who reads will become an adult who thinks, and since that has worked pretty well with the child’s parents (ahem!) I was determined to get Sucrose into reading books. But the journey didn’t start off like I expected. There were parents who were reading to their three month old child, and I was not doing that. Sucrose used to turn her head away distracted every time I tried reading a story for her. She didn’t seem interested when I read out stories even when she was as old as 8 months. It didn’t help matters that my husband Sanjay and my mother were master story tellers and would have her in rapt attention through out. I was happy she was lapping it up, but with books it was a slow journey. I really started buying books only after her first birthday and even then they were mostly to complement the books she received for her first birthday. In a way, I was thankful for all the books she received for her birthday as it took off the guessing from which book to buy for her and it did give me a chance to see what interested her.

Keeping that thought, here is a list of five books which kept her attention immensely to this day. I haven’t included My First Words or Parts of the body or Touch and Feel books, and have only concentrated on story books for children.

Spot’s Story Collection

Spot Books – One of my dear friends had gifted a set of Spot books for Sucrose’s first birthday which were just perfect for her. This is a classic, written by Eric Hill and is colourfully illustrated with just a line in each page to read out to your baby. Initially, I had used those books only for show and tell. I would point out Spot’s friends hippo, dinosaur, monkey and other characters like the inquisitive cat, bird, his family and such to Sucrose, in addition to the many things happening on the page. This exercise helped improve her vocabulary and formed the basis for future reading. These books bring to focus Spot’s family members and friends. Since your darling would be having a similar experience as a baby, she would be able to associate with the characters shown in the book. This is a good buy. Available on Amazon India as individual books.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – This was the first one that made me realize the potential of a brilliant book on a child. Sucrose took to it like fish to water. The fantastic journey of the caterpillar through the seven days of the week, cut -outs in the book to show how the caterpillar ate through food in its hungry quest, the colourful illustrations – everything made this her most favourite book in her 1st year. I used to mimic getting  a stomach ache as I read out the large fare the caterpillar ate on Saturday and she used to love it, making me read the list of foods again and again and laughing when I acted as if I got a stomach ache myself. Eric Carle has written this book with a great understanding of children that age. And that brings me to the next book in the list, written by him.

Brown bear
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr/ Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle – This book has whole page illustrations of single animals and birds in vivid colours. I love this book as a reader too. It is simple, rhyming and colourful. It is very cleverly designed to help children learn colours and names of animals and birds. Mine did it very easily and soon she started ‘reading’ out the whole story simply by seeing the pictures in the book. I have taken video of the way Sucrose reads the story and I am darned proud of her!

Dear Zoo
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell – When Sucrose started Montessori, the school encouraged reading in children and so they happened to have a library going on with parents sending five books each. As per Montessori rules, the books should not be those of animals talking or doing what animals or birds wouldn’t do – so I couldn’t send the Spot books or Polly Penguin or the many Pepper books. As a result, we received books that were merely sent to fill up the token 5 books in a bag. Many were on Good manners, parts of the body and such. And then, we got a pack of books from one of her friends which had Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell in it. This was a flap book which told the story of a child sending animals back to the zoo because they were unsuitable as a pet. This book was a delight. It led to many interesting reading with the lil one opening the flap to see which animal was going to visit. I particularly liked the words used to describe the animals – too big, too tall, too fierce…and so on. This one was a keeper. I have since bought My Presents by Rod Campbell. And she likes it too.

Goodnight moon_1
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – After The Very Hungry Caterpillar, this was one book that was real value for money and an absolutely wonderful book for babies and toddlers. To this day, Sucrose asks me to read out the rhyming story of the bunny who says good night to all things in his room. Not only does this book have references to my favourite poem – The Cow Jumped over the moon, it also introduces the child to numbers in the form of words like – a pair of mittens, three little bears sitting on chairs etc. Also Sucrose loves the part where I would go, “and a quiet old lady who was whispering hush”, I would linger and repeat the word “hush” softer and softer just for emphasis. What I first thought as a publishing mistake, actually turned out to be a deliberate inclusion in the book, for as we turn the pages and as bunny says good night to the room and the light and the cats, the pages become darker and darker until at the last page, the colours are dim just like bunny’s room, The lights are off, the quiet old lady is gone and the kittens are sleeping peacefully curled up on a rocking chair while the mouse sits on the window sill watching the stars. I would recommend this wonderful book written by Margaret Wise Brown with illustrations by Clement Hurd which sits right next to our bed side table, to any parent who loves to read a good night story to her darling pet.

This list of course does not include the very many Parts of the Body, My first colours or 50 words to know or the touch and feel books. I have listed only story books which have held her attention during her first and second year as a baby. She still likes them but the dynamics has changed. She sometimes ‘reads’ these books herself, stringing a story from the pictures and illustrations, but what hasn’t changed is the timelessness of these books.

About Reading_1

Don’t forget to drop in a line about books you read out to your little moppet. It will help improve the list and bring clarity to the choices available in the market.

Nagarhole National Park Trip – with my 3 year old

My first post of 2019 and it is two months in! Wow, I didn’t expect that when 2018 drew to a close. 2019 started off with a mad rush to finish work assignments so that I could go on my very first trip of the year. A bunch of us friends had gone to Nagarhole Tiger Reserve or National Park. I have written about it in great detail here, but suffice it to say that it was invigorating to spend the first few days of the year chilling out in cool climes in a real forest, surrounded by wild animals, making safari trips in the misty mornings and cold evenings and pretty much managing a notorious 3 year old to be silent in the vast, sensitive, silent surroundings.

The pristine, beautiful surroundings – Nagarhole National Park. Pic – Rational Mum

This was a first trip of a kind with 3 year old Sucrose. The travel was long – we went from Chennai by car to Bangalore, stopped over for the night and started in the morning to Nagarhole which was another 4 hour journey. Also I couldn’t expect food and amneties that would suit a 3 year old, so I had to plan a bit. Here are a few of things I did right and things which I could have done in the trip.

  1. Travel – We love travelling by car if we can help it. Sucrose is pretty used to travelling by car alternating between watching the world go by, or talking to herself or sleeping through the journey. But this trip involved a lot of travel and there was another kid too in the trip, which was a good thing sometimes but not always. He had a toy with him through the trip (which I felt was a brilliant idea), but it led to fights between the two as I had not thought of bringing a toy for her. Calming the two down was quite a task and led to some running back and forth between the cars. I had packed books for her to read and a couple of board games which she loved, but those could be used only when we had checked in somewhere. For the car, I think a small, familiar toy or two would keep restless minds occupied. We had a lot of toilet breaks and coffee breaks that helped stretch our legs a bit and that is essential while going long distances. But the commodity that was most needed was – water. I always had her water bottle filled and ready as I didn’t want to substitute water for aerated drinks or packaged juices. They were full of sugar and carbonic acid anyway. For snacks I pack simple biscuits, salted pea nuts, and a simple bread-butter-jam sandwich. It has always worked. Sometimes when she is especially cranky or being difficult I give her a lollipop, because she likes them so much.

    Warm yet comfortable clothes – Nagarhole Trip. Pic – A Rational Mum
  2. Packing – This was a forest and the weather was cold, touching 17 degrees at night. So I packed thick, full-sleeved t-shirts and leggings, jeans and t-shirts, sweater and monkey cap to protect her ears. She already had a cold in the trip but the warm clothing helped her and didn’t aggravate her problem. Of course, books and board games were also added. She had her own bag for the trip and since we were going by car, the weight didn’t really matter. My rule of thumb while packing for her is to have two sets of clothes for a day and a night dress which could be repeated for at least two nights. One pair of sneakers and sandals, and a set of underwear for every day we were travelling. Since the weather was cold through out Bangalore and Mysore, I didn’t worry too much about giving her a bath in the morning. It was done whenever we reached our destination. Her travel clothes are always comfort first. So she was generally dressed in loose, cotton t shirts and tights.

    The two kids in warm clothes and sneakers. Pic – A Rational Mum
  3. Food – We didn’t expect much choice in the forest as we were staying in the guest house inside the forest. We would consider ourselves lucky getting something regular to eat, we decided. I, however, packed a compact steamer ( a life saver, generally) to make idlis or boiled eggs, potato or even make rice. But luckily that was not needed. The food was very homely – idlis, chappathi, rice, gravies, papads, curds and stuff. Between that and snacks the children were fine. We even got hot milk on all days, so that was taken care of too. I try to make Sucrose eat fruits during the trip as she wouldn’t get constipated. It was such a relief that she was fine through out.
  4. Safaris – If I had had a choice, I would have left Sucrose in the guest house during the safaris, but she wouldn’t stay put. She was up and about as early as six in the morning, jumping about excited. It was a challenge to keep her and the other 8 year old silent during the trip to the silent forest. In the still place, sometimes,  their squeal or talking could really ring through, warning animals close by. So we were not very lucky to see any tigers or other carnivores. If your child is restless or loud, it would be better to have low expectations from safaris.
  5. Safety – Safety is paramount when spending time in a raw jungle. Every walk or travel was not taken for granted. We didn’t want to startle the deers grazing near the forest guest house and the many boars and peacocks that had families set up near by. The children were asked to play within our sights and in the evenings they were herded inside to play those board games I had mentioned earlier. Since there was so much of activity in the day, the two fell asleep promptly by 9:00 – 9:30pm.

    Lot of things to do. Pic – A Rational Mum

Since Sucrose was going to be four and had a friend through the trip, it was easier for me to chill out with my friends. I didn’t have to keep checking about her comfort and safety. This was truly one of the advantages of travelling in a group. I am already looking forward to our next trip this year – a trip to Kerala by train. I have already done this with her when she was eight months old, but I am still looking forward to seeing how things will be this time.

The important thing to do of course is to keep travelling and getting her to appreciate the perks of travelling and to help her develop sensitivity to different culture and customs and appreciate God’s gift to mankind.

Happy travelling!

Activities To Engage A Toddler in Summer

I had great difficulty in maintaining this blog last month. Oh, the time! How it flies. I honestly don’t have anything to show for being busy in a day and it embarrasses me no end that I have no recollection whatsoever of what I had done in a day to be so busy. Sheesh!

Sucrose is enjoying her summer vacation and I am doing my two bits to keep her occupied and happy. It is truly two bits from my end as I rehash some of her loved games and toys to engage her, instead of going full out and taking her to summer camps, day to day activities, parks, restaurants, zoo, movies etc to keep her occupied. My time invested in her these days is much less than what I would have if she had gone to school. I have resisted the urge to buy educational/activity based games like Flintobox and have instead relied on time tested method of allowing her to do her own thing. So, she is actually forming and performing in her own imaginary world with a few of her soft toys, she whooshes about the house in her Magic car or rides her cycle around the house, sings something loudly and quite in tune as she scribbles on notebooks and colouring books, helps around the house a bit, watches me do some cooking or baking or simply just sits on the swing and stares into the distance.

The flip side is of course that she is bored many times. She comes asking me for “something else”, which according to her is an activity other than the one she is engaged with. Problem however is that there are not as many games or play things as her “give me something else” demands are. So I do what I suspect many rational mothers must be doing – turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to her demands. I allow her to be bored  for a while before I pitch in with a story or another distraction. After a while, she forgets what she is asking me and gets involved in some other activity.

There are a few things however that I try my best to involve her in everyday:

  1. Cycling or any outdoor activity – Everyday I take her to the ground floor of our building which is rather spacious and has natural light and good breeze. I let her ride her cycle, socialize with the old and the young and the pregnant cat to boot. She then runs around the building and makes me run too; sometimes it is the other way around. Altogether she is quite tired and hungry by the time we are back home.

    Loves to cycle…even if it is her older cousin’s.
  2. Reading a book together – I love books, but because of my middle-class upbringing and the schools I had been in, the opportunity to read a lot of books did not present itself. I want to rectify that with Sucrose; she was going to grow up reading a lot of books. For now however, I read for her and I love how she brings a book and we go through it together. She loves hearing stories from me and I grab an opportunity for telling a story as I later get to see her doing the same in her cute little way.
  3. Singing songs/ rhymes – Ana kutti loves to sing and dance. She has a sense of rhythm and tune. She remembers songs and rhymes and picks them up in a jiffy. So I do include a bit of dance and prancing about to rhymes sang by us or played on my mobile. IT sure does release a lot of endorphins and wow, what an exercise that is!

    Roughhousing with her father
  4. Cuddling and roughhousing – Thanks to S, Ana kutti gets serious roughhousing. I find myself grinning unconsciously when I hear her squeals and giggles as she jumps and tumbles and gets eaten by a zombie (in this case, her father). They have their post lunch play on the bed planned, so that on any day she would be the one to lead the way to the room for her afternoon nap which of course is the end result of all that play.  Research has it that children who regularly engage in rough play with their parents are able to be emotionally secure and resilient. I particularly liked this blog post about the benefits of roughhousing. I do a lot of cuddling as I can’t get enough of her. When I look at her I can only imagine the time slipping away from my fingers. Very soon she is going to be old enough to articulate her displeasure (hopefully not) at being cuddled, but till such a time I would like to make the most of it.

    Pretend play makes for good candid pictures too
  5. Pretend play – From time to time, as I mentioned above, I do let her have her alone moments. I try not to check or interfere in what she is doing and I do try to take care to hide an errant talcum powder, lotion or sketch pen from her vicinity so that it does not find its way to my creative daughter’s hands or body or bed spread or my just swept floor. I am one for pretend play as I believe it helps improve imagination, language skills, thinking and problem solving. She has the run of the house and the objects in her vicinity to include in her play. They make for many candid photos.

There you go! My ways of keeping my toddler engaged at home. What are yours? Do share. 🙂

This post is served with some deep mom-daughter bonding on the side. Lap it up!



Ragi Porridge – A Perfect Weaning Food

A few of my friends were amused that I was dispensing gyan on child rearing practices over the internet and asked rather cheekily, “If there was anyone reading these posts,” little knowing that adding the very Indian word ‘gyan’ to the link gave me an edge over choosing my url. Still, that is why I haven’t shared this blog’s link with any of the shenanigans. Since they don’t mince words much (and I love them for that), I thought I’d strike it out all alone in this vast repository of blog posts and revelations and reviews and…you get the drift and await your reactions and responses and discussions on the topics that are dear to me.

There are certain topics which however, I can speak with some authority and one among them is on nutrition and health. I have done my Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics and though I did not pursue my career in that, preferring to meander instead into corporate soft skills training, I do remember my theory very well. It has been helped greatly also by posts shared on social media by other health conscious people. The challenge for any caring parent is to sieve through the deluge of data and pick the ones that are authentic and helpful in improving their health. I have made plenty of healthy choices once Ana kutti was conceived, which became a way of life once she was born. One such choice was her weaning food – the humble porridge or kanji as it is generally called in Tamil Nadu.

I have emulated my mother who has of her mother and we have a practice of feeding our 6month+ old child porridge as they get weaned from their mother’s milk. I have to date seen only benefits of this unassuming, humble concoction in the children of our family and I was sure to use it on my Sucrose. I have never once given her the many branded baby food like Cerelac, Nestum, Nan etc and have not regretted this decision ever.

There are many porridge mixes available in the market that are sold as health mix or sathu maavu, which does the job well if you are alright with the high sugar content some have. Porridge can also be made at home, like I initially did as I was unwilling to expose my baby’s tender digestive system to heavy proteins ( cashews, almonds other nuts that are added to health mix) and carbohydrates which the porridge was going to be filled with.

What is porridge made of?

Organic foods centre
Ragi or Finger Millet. Pic courtesy: Organic Foods Centre 



A porridge can be made of cereals and millets. In South India, we get a lot of millets and grains, so typically a porridge is made of either wheat or rice or ragi (finger millet) or oats to name a few. Some of my North Indian friends give wheat, daliya (which is broken wheat), corn and lotus seed porridge among others. Since I live in Chennai and the weather is quite hot, I gravitated towards ragi (which is a millet) and rice mostly. I did not overthink this choice much, except to ensure that the ragi I bought was from a good source or was organic.

Today I am concentrating only on Ragi or finger millet porridge.

NDTV food
Nutritious, fiber rich Ragi flour. Pic Courtesy: NDTV Foods

Advantages of Ragi Porridge:

  1. It is gentle on the stomach, especially ragi and oats. As I mentioned earlier, sathu mavu or health mix generally have a mixture of grains and nuts, whereas making porridge with single grains are better for a 6 month+ baby as it is tender on the digestive system and prevents gas.
  2. Prevents constipation. I am secretly proud that Ana kutti has never once had constipation in the days following her shift from breast milk. Even now, except for one odd day when she has gone out and eaten a processed food diet, she has never had problems with her potty. Ragi has a high source of fiber and as it is gentle on the stomach, it is an excellent choice for porridge.
  3. Nutritionally packed. These cereals and millets are packed with a lot of vitamins and minerals that will now be needed for our weaning baby. Ragi or finger millet is packed with calcium, which is good for the bones and has high iron content. Using sprouted ragi increases Vitamin C in it leading to higher absorption of iron in the body. The benefits of oats is recorded widely, thanks to Western research. Rice is rich in Vitamin B complex which is very, very important for the overall development of the body.


Manna’s Sprouted Ragi Flour. Easy to use and trustworthy.

As I said earlier, there are many ways to prepare porridge and I am sharing one of my life saver, Swasthi’s link here. She has a wonderful, informational blog on food choices and food preparation for babies, toddlers, children and so on. Her blog was invaluable for me while making the transition in Ana kutti’s feeding plan.

I am giving below the directions for preparing Ragi or Finger millet porridge the way my mother has taught me.


Ragi flour – 2 tbsp

Water – 1/2 cup

Milk – 1/4 cup

Palm jaggery – 1/2 tsp or as per taste or sugar – 1/2 tsp


  1. Mix the ragi flour with water in a thick bottomed pan. Take care to remove lumps if any.
  2. Cook this mixture gently over low to medium flame, stirring continuously.
  3. When the ragi mix starts to look shiny it means the flour is cooked. Now add milk and shaved palm jaggery to it.
  4. Once it boils remove from flame.
  5. Add a teaspoon of ghee to this and feed the baby.

Things to remember:

  1. Don’t overcook the ragi or keep it on the flame for long. Once it thickens and becomes shiny, it is done.
  2. I use sprouted ragi flour to improve the nutritive value of the porridge. I trust Manna products and I find this particular one very good.
  3. Palm jaggery is an excellent sweetener and it is so much healthier than white sugar. I have never used white sugar for Ana when she was a baby, preferring this quintessential Malayali sweetener more. This is nowadays easily available in stores, so do use that as a first option if you can. More on palm jaggery in another post.
  4. Palm jaggery can of course be substituted with jaggery or brown sugar or sugar. If using any type of jaggery for your baby, remember to dissolve it in a bit of water and strain so that stones if any are removed.

I still feed Ana kutti this concoction for breakfast. It is a sure way of ensuring she completes her potty before leaving to school 😀

What do you give your 6 month old? Please share your views in the comments box.


Indian Borage or Ajwain leaves or Karporavalli Leaves – For Common Cold

Say hi to my friend and saviour these days – the Indian borage, also called Karpooravalli leaves or Ajwain leaves. Its scientific name is  Plectranthus amboinicus. What a godsend this ubiquitous fleshy leaf has been.

Though I have seen this in plenty of houses in Chennai and have seen it in my mother’s garden, eaten it rather absently, I have been introduced to its fantastic medicinal properties only after Ana kutti’s birth. Since then I have diligently grown a pot of it in my balcony, nurturing this wonderful plant that has so much to offer.

During one of Ana kutti’s bouts of cold when she was hardly a year old, I was reluctant to keep giving her allopathic medicine which is mostly symptomatic treatment, not to say, comes with an overload of chemicals. The effect these chemicals would have on her tender body and the work her liver would have to do to get these out of her system was enough to make me look for natural alternatives. My cook suggested using Karpooravalli or ajwain leaves as a remedy. This leaf is widely used for treating cough and cold in South India and in winter it heats the system keeping it warm and so is a staple of bajjis and pakoras in North India. She made the first few concoctions for Ana kutti and the results were amazing.



As with many things in our wonderful country, there is no documented proof of this plant’s medicinal properties, especially its common cold fighting properties. All that people do is due to hearsay, like I did. The results have been consistent and amazing since the first time I have used it. I must mention that I still use allopathy medicines when the cold lingers and becomes particularly difficult, but what I have seen is that it gets controlled soon and is bearable by the little one.




How to use:

This can be given only to babies who have started taking liquids and semi solids. It is not advisable to give babies who are still completely on mother’s milk any external medicine without proper guidance. I have used this on my daughter since when she was eight months old.

Take a couple of leaves from the plant, wash gently but thoroughly and steep it in about 15 ml of hot water for a while. Gently mash the leaves with the back of a spoon or with your fingers so that the juice seeps into the water. Strain this juice and feed your toddler this juice in a tiny feeding cup (in Tamil we call it paladai) thrice a day and see the difference. Very soon the cold gets under control.

Though I had been asked to add pepper and honey to it, I have not done so. I have found good results with the leaves themselves. Sometimes I use a couple of tulsi or holy basil leaves with it for added strength in fighting condition. This wonderful juice can be drunk by adults too, except that they need to take a larger portion of the leaves and the water to steep it in.

Tulsi or Holy basil

Five Things I Miss of Ana’s First Year

Five things I miss of Ana kutti’s first year in this world.

1. Without doubt the feel of her soft, downy body encased in my arms. I enjoyed the feel of her slight frame, her complete surrender to my ministrations, the smell of her hair and the way it tickled my nose. I miss so much her little head resting on my shoulders, when her neck had still not strengthened enough. I felt like I had my own dolly to do things to, albeit a bit responsibly (lol).

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My little dolly. #The Rational Mum

2. Her silence. Yes, I know what I just wrote. She had not started speaking yet, though there were a lot of grunts and noises whenever she wanted to say something. And though I enjoy her gibberish and her cute baby talk now, I miss the way she would contemplate me with her large, black eyes. She seemed all knowing, almost as if she were older and wiser than me. No wonder people say Silence is golden; it sure can make you come across as a wise soul if you of course did not follow it up with nonsense. 😀

3. Her unconditional love for me. It’s a relief that she still gives me her love so freely even after two years, but now it’s peppered with a ‘Go! Mama bad girl’ or ‘Go! I won’t talk to you’. It sounds adorable,yes, but sometimes I do want that look from her which says that I was her whole world. I would love the way she’d perch on my lap and make noises to get my attention and when I still wouldn’t look at her she would gently turn my face so that she could look me in the eyes. Just like that. Nothing expected. Merely to just gaze at me. I think that was about the time I fell in love with the responsibility that tumbled into my hands.

4. Her penguin walk and all of those attempts to learn to walk. One fine day she simple upped and attempted to walk. There was no romanticising the event for posterity for us; we, her parents, did not have the pleasure of even holding her hands and coaxing her to take her first steps. She decided to start walking and I had to satisfy myself by playing goal keeper in trying to keep her off the edge of the bed. Her giggle when she fell as she took a few tentative steps, still rings in my ear.

5. Believe it or not, breast feeding her. Mothers who are breast feeding now and are moaning in frustration and irritation, for having to get up at odd hours of the night for what must feel like to be a milk dispenser, might probably want to whack me on my head, but having crossed that exasperating, desperate times I can safely conclude that I do miss cuddling my baby in my arms and watching her suckle. The rush of emotions that used to overwhelm me when I used to watch her tiny body encased in my arms, looking so helpless, greedy, playful, delightful and sometimes even cocky…will soon be buried under a million other emotions. No matter what society or others who think they know better say about limiting this phase and making it short (for a variety of reasons…all of which I pity them for) – as short as 6-8 months sometimes, I hope you have the privilege of holding the little one and nourishing her through you just a little longer.

I sometimes do think that the above listed stuff is what fools an unsuspecting parent to bring another of the cuddly bundle into the world. And then we know what happens – in addition to all of the above and so much more, you take on the poops, the burps, the crying, the vomit, the sleepless nights…oh yeah.

A Rational Mum?

If like me, you are bewildered by the innumerable options and opinions of what is good and/or is essential for your precious little moppet then this blog should help clear a bit of your confusion. Hell! I am not even aiming so high, I’m sorry. I am merely writing to record the choices I made/make and see how it will impact my darling daughter.

Which one

I am 39 years old – on the threshold of the big 40 and I am actually looking forward to the journey into the next decade. I had Ana kutti or Sucrose (a take off from ‘chakkare’ from my Malayalee roots) almost 3 years ago. She is now almost completing her first year in a Montessori school, which I selected after browsing so many options..rationally. :-D. Since I don’t plan to give her a younger brother or sister, I realized that I needed to be serious about this role I had gotten into. This is a big deal for me as this is my one and only chance to make her childhood count. I need to stay true to the promises and values I hold close to my heart and ensure that I bring her up to be a reflection of that.


All that somehow seems simple in my head, but when it comes to navigating the innumerable practices, choices and advice on child rearing, I am stymied. How does one control the urge to buy a big, lactating pillow which is really just an excuse to boost the maternity and child care industry, or plan a menu for a toddler that is not complicated and bread based; or decode the health drink market or wonder if the organic industry is truly a hype or otherwise or or… I can go on. There is tremendous pressure on a mom these days to purchase stuff that may not even be useful for her or her child or worse still is detrimental to the health of her little one. It takes a shrewd, radical and rational mother to navigate these potential landmines.

Oh well and how can I forget the one element in this equation that makes any sane, rational woman into a drooly, yes-saying automaton – that bug eyed, dewy skinned, receptacle of our gene. Even if we can oppose the temptations of the world, this little alter ego of ours should allow that to happen, right? I foresee a tough journey ahead…so let me roll up my sleeves, do some research and get going on the topics that plague us these days.

See you in the next post. Do stick around, please.