“No eye contact, no talking to her, or any other form of interaction. She is on Auto Pilot so leave her alone,” warned my darling daughter who had recently graduated to being a mother and had been trying her best at wearing five hats at the same time!

She already had one of holding a job in a high profile MNC, was a loving wife, a social companion, a homemaker to which was recently added the fifth hat of being the proud mother of a baby girl.

“Auto Pilot,” I asked incredulously. “She can hardly crawl and you are talking about being on Auto Pilot? What is this, a joke or something?'

“No this is her ‘being on her own' time when she has to learn to amuse herself and not demand attention, which means wanting to be picked up, carried around, and generally kept amused,” shouted my daughter from the kitchen where she was busy sanitising the feeding bottles and other assorted baby stuff.

You know she is my ‘Pepsi girl', laughed my daughter who soon clarified it as, Poop, Eat, Pee, Sleep and Interact, that is PEPSI, though not in that exact order, she giggled!

Cracking the crying code caught my eye when I was recently leafing through one of the thick tomes on Baby Management, lying around in my daughter's tiny but comfortable apartment.

Yes, bringing up babies has become a serious business with some of the best known child specialists, paediatricians, psychologists and plain old grandmothers pitching in to give their experiences and views on how to bring up a baby. It appears that Dr. Benjamin Spock has become old hat and the over half a century-old ‘Bible for the new mothers' was no longer in favour with the nuclear generation!

According to experts, some of the many reasons why the baby is crying are she may be hungry, sleepy, sick, in pain, overtired, uncomfortable, or simply bored. What often starts as a whimper can soon turn into a wail and then ear-piercing shrieks requiring a mother's superb instincts or plain luck, to be able to distinguish one cue from the other!

While giving a body massage and bath needed more than a pair of strong hands, even feeding an overactive child can soon turn into a family activity, with one person holding the child, one feeding it and a couple of others showing toys and generally making a fool of themselves trying to keep the baby's attention from wandering while spoonfuls of goodies are being shovelled into her mouth by the determined mother.

“She is also my Cinderella girl,” confided our daughter. Her party time begins at 9 p.m. when she is wide awake and continues till midnight, when she just gives up and crashes into a deep slumber till 6 a.m. when her next feed is due. Thank heaven for small mercies, I mentally noted.

Of course, as doting grandparents, we have the best of both worlds. Acute sleep deprivation often accompanies the joys of being a parent, taking away most of the fun. Fortunately as doting grandparents we neatly avoid or try to avoid it, ending up with most of the fun time.

We also enjoyed the baby, holding her, playing with her or just watching her crawl around and promptly withdrew to the comfort and quiet of our rooms once the tantrums began.

It was amazing to watch our son-in-law suddenly blossoming into a professional photographer with a keen eye for the angle, lighting, mood, etc., churning out a dozen photos every day, all vying for the gold medal!

We are now eagerly waiting for her first words, though I am sure in a few years' time we will wish that she keeps her mouth shut, for some time at least, when the ‘but mummy why' becomes her standard response to all sundry instructions. Of course, being a girl child, that will be some wishful thinking!

(The writer's email is: acharya@bol.net.in)

Keywords: Baby Management

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