Indian households (including mine) have an obsession with fair skin. The moment a lady announces her pregnancy she is bombarded with tips and tricks on how to deliver a ‘fair’ baby. The struggle to make the baby’s skin a few shades lighter does not stop even after her birth.
I received tons of advice on how to make my baby’s skin fair. Most of the advice was uncalled for. My son, was a happy, healthy and an energetic boy as an infant and yet all that a few people noticed about him was that he wasn’t as fair as his mom.
If someone passed a remark on my son’s complexion I’d snap and retort, but honestly soon learnt to give two hoots.
It’s sad how our society places so much emphasis on something so petty as the amount of melanin in a baby’s skin. Most of the ads and magazines nowadays feature chubby, fair-skinned babies. All the healthy, happy babies smiling and cooing at their beautiful, slim mothers are on the lighter side of the color spectrum. Are we propagating some kind of perfect mother-baby image??
coming back to tips on making a baby’s skin lighter. I bet you have heard these before :
Not only are they ineffective but also dangerous for the baby!
During pregnancy, I was told, “Eat a rasgoola everyday to ensure that your baby’s skin is fair.”
I kept wondering whether I should or shouldn’t eat carrots. You see, I did not want an orange baby! What if I ate blueberries; would my baby would look like a blue alien? Eating a balanced and nutrition packed diet during pregnancy is a must but how is the diet going to affect the baby’s skin colour? Isn’t it just ridiculous!
does a baby with not-so-fair skin look any less cute? Do we love a “dark” -skinned baby any less?
I am sharing some popular tricks that “guarantee” fair skin in babies and why I choose to stay away from them:
1) Homemade Thick Gram Flour Paste
One of the most popular tricks for a fair baby is making a homemade paste with raw milk and besan. This paste has to be applied to the baby’s skin every day. It is claimed that this paste improves and lightens the skin tone.
TRUTH: Although both besan and milk are natural, this thick paste tends to pull the baby’s soft hair and can cause pain and severe rashes! Worth it?
2) These Fruit Juices
According to popular old wives tales, orange, apple and grape juice definitely improve the baby’s complexion. The tip is to feed your baby these juices to make his skin fair.
TRUTH: According to the WHO guidelines, a baby is supposed to be fed nothing – not even water – apart from breastmilk or formula at least till the age of six months. Not adhering to these can cause serious problems in digestion, trigger allergies, and even interfere with the overall development of the infant. So was I going to take a chance by feeding fruit juice to a three month old, just to make him fair? NO WAY!
3) Homemade Baby Scrubs
This is said to be one of the most effective tips for fair skin in babies. Just make a homemade scrub using chickpea powder, rose water and turmeric and apply it to your baby’s face, arms and legs. The scrub is said to remove dead skin and make the baby’s skin fair and soft.
TRUTH: A baby’s skin is said to be five times softer (and thinner) than adult skin. Does it need scrubbing? Can it handle the rough feeling of a scrub? No! I decided to ditch the scrub to avoid any kind of pain and discomfort to my baby. The softness of his skin is far more critical than ‘fairness’!
4) Not Using a Soap
One of the most hilarious pieces of advice I heard to keep the baby’s skin fair was to not use a soap at all. According to some people, a soap spoils the texture of a baby’s skin and makes him dark.
TRUTH: A baby tends to perspire and get messy through the day (just think of all the poop, pee and spitting up). It’s of utmost importance to keep her safe from germs and bacteria. I agree that using harsh soaps on baby’s skin is not a good idea, but many babycare brands make gentle, safe and chemical free soaps and body washes for babies.
5) Hot Oil Massage
Finally, a hot oil massage is said to make a baby’s skin soft and fair. I was told to use hot oil and massage the baby to lighten his skin tone.
TRUTH: This is a very bad idea. A baby’s skin is much more delicate than adult skin. The temperature we think is hot is very hot for the baby. Her skin may get irritable because of the temperature of the oil.
A gentle and soothing massage done by mom is all that a baby needs. It relaxes the baby and strengthens the bond between mom and her child. I just stick to this. How much it helps in making the baby’s skin fair, I really cannot say and don’t care either!
I have never followed any of these tips for my baby. I just give him gentle care and keep his skin healthy. I would recommend that you too keep a wide distance from these ‘fairness tips’ as the health and safety of a baby is surely much more important than the colour of his skin!