Your baby’s first Holi is special. But as a new mother, you will find yourself looking at this festival of colours slightly differently. You will wonder how your baby can enjoy and join in the festivities and whether Holi colours are safe for your little one. Read on for answers to your questions and more.
How can our baby join in Holi celebrations?
How your baby celebrates her first Holi will largely depend on how old she is at the time. She might well be fascinated by the vibrant colours, singing and dancing. But you'll need to keep an eye on her to pick up on any signs that she has had enough. You might find that adjusting the celebrations to match your baby’s age and temperament will ensure that all family members enjoy the festival. Newborn babies that still sleep for most of the day will not really be able to join in the festivities as the sounds and excitement in the air will be too much to take in. You can play Holi if you feel up to it after having fed and put your little one to sleep.
Babies between one and three months of age might be attracted to the colours but they will get overwhelmed fairly soon. They will show that they are getting too stimulated by fussing or crying. At this very small age, it is best to keep your baby indoors and take her out for small periods of time when she is awake, rested and fed. The older your baby is for her first Holi, the more interest she will show in what is happening around her. But our paediatrician suggests that babies younger than six months should not have colour applied directly on their delicate skin. If you want your baby to participate in the celebration, you can apply a sandalwood tika on her forehead.
Babies between six months and a year might be able to participate more but even babies that are a nearing their first birthday may get overwhelmed by the loud noises and rowdy play! Your baby might be troubled by seeing your or your husband’s face smeared with many colours or she might get scared watching people throw water on you and hearing your shouts. She might see it as someone trying to harm you and not yet understand that you are having fun. If your baby is old enough to participate, she may feel uncomfortable with all the attention especially if everyone wants to apply colour on her. Here are a few tips to make this a special occasion for your baby and an enjoyable time for you too:
- If you are celebrating away from your home, try and plan your visits at a time when your baby is awake and well-fed. She is less likely to be fussy about meeting new people if her basic needs are met.
- If the celebrations are at home, your baby will feel more secure if she has a familiar face with her that is not participating in the celebrations. Maybe you and your husband could take turns to look after her or she might have a grandparent who doesn’t mind staying clean and dry.
- Your baby may want to touch and feel the colours, but it's best to keep her away. It could be dangerous if she accidently put some colour in her eyes or mouth.
- If friends and family want to apply colour on her, ask them to just put a small tika on her cheek. This will avoid the colour falling into her eyes.
- Older babies may be able to participate more, but do ensure they do not get colour on their hands or in their eyes or mouth. You could allow your baby to play with a tub of clean water. For little ones splashing and throwing water is as much fun as throwing colour.
What colours should we use for Holi with our baby?
Colours made at home with fruits or flowers are considered safe and are the only way of knowing for sure what is in the colour. Find out easy ways of making Holi colours at home. If you do not have the time to make colours at home, natural or organic colours made from herbal or vegetable dyes are also considered safe for your baby. But ensure that you buy them from a reputed brand since the term ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ can be used quite loosely. There are no regulations in place to control the production of Holi colours or to ensure that all ingredients are honestly listed out. Buying from a brand that has a reputation to uphold may guarantee a better quality.
Chemical colours are made of synthetic, industrial dyes or oxidised metals which can be dangerous, some even having harmful health effects. Some colours are toxic or carcinogenic. Some may irritate your baby’s delicate skin or cause allergies. Read more on what goes into Holi colours and what harmful effects the colours can have on your baby's health.
What should I do if my baby ingests some colour?
Your baby might reach out for the colour herself, or she might ingest the colour while breastfeeding. If you suspect your baby has accidently ingested colour immediately wash her mouth with clean water. If the colour was chemical based be sure to call your doctor immediately. Get your doctor's advice before trying any home remedies or making your baby drink water or any other fluids in an attempt to wash down or flush the ingested colour. Your baby’s reactions will depend on the kind of colour she has eaten and the amount. Your baby may be too young to express if she's experiencing pain, itchiness or a burning sensation. Look out for signs of accidental poisoning. Some symptoms may not show up instantly but do look out for the following:
- inconsolable crying
- itching or redness in the eyes
- skin irritation or rashes
- wheezing or shallow or irregular breathing
- swelling in the mouth
- upset tummy
- drowsiness or loss of consciousness
- If your child shows any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor and if needed take her to a hospital for a check-up.
What other precautions should I take for my baby on Holi?
- Never leave your baby unattended especially near crowds or strangers. Even in the house, there might be tubs or buckets of water or unsupervised colours lying around. Babies can drown in very shallow water.
- Keep your Holi celebrations at a known place – either at home or a relative or friend’s house. If you are celebrating at a public place or even in an apartment compound, there might be acquaintances or people you do not know whose actions might be unpredictable. Older children often throw water balloons or squirt their water pistols indiscriminately.
- If you have to move out, be extremely careful. There are often drunk people about and some even throw stones at unsuspecting people. Carry an umbrella to protect yourself and your baby from anything flying around. Be watchful when passing near high rises as anything thrown from a height can cause more serious injuries.
- Keep mithais, food, drinks, especially those laced with alcohol and bhang out of your baby's reach. Even if your baby is eating solid food, some foods may not be safe for her just yet. Only feed her food which is right for her age.
- Apply a thin layer of oil, moisturiser or petroleum jelly on your baby's face and other exposed parts before letting her join in any festivities. This will help protect her skin to some extent and might make it easier to wash off the colour after.
- Dress your baby in clothes with long sleeves and full length bottoms to minimise exposure to colour.
- Make sure your baby doesn’t catch a chill especially if she does get a bit wet. Even if the sun is hot, the air is usually still cool around Holi and staying wet for long can make your baby susceptible to catching a cold.
- Do not allow your older children to point pitchkaaris or a water hose directly at your baby. The sudden squirt of cold water may scare or even hurt her. Older children also usually have a trick or two up their sleeve. Speak to them and explain why they need to be careful with a small baby.
- You could keep a basket of rose petals at hand and allow older children to throw some petals at your baby instead of colour. Your baby might even surprise you by throwing some petals back if she can!
- Don’t let colour stay on your baby's body for too long, wash it off before it dries. Some colours may take days to come off. Use a mild soap and speak to your doctor if you see any rashes appearing.