The ancient Ayurvedic texts have stated
that Navjata Shishu Paricharya, or new-born care begins from the birth of the
child. It focuses on stabilising the health condition of the infant. This
includes the prevention of asphyxia, hypothermia, early grooming-in and
initiation of breast-feeding.

The development of the baby’s nervous
system is one of the most crucial aspects of their well-being. Here, we hope to
give you an insight into the growth of your baby’s brain.

Understanding the anatomy

The skull of a baby consists of five main
bones: two frontal bones, two parietal bones, and one occipital bone. These are
joined by fibrous sutures, which allow movement that facilitates childbirth and
brain growth.

Posterior
fontanelle
resembles a triangle. It lies at the
junction between the sagittal suture and lambdoid suture. At birth, the skull
features a small posterior fontanelle with an open area covered by a tough
membrane, where the two parietal bones adjoin the occipital bone (at the lambda).
The posterior fontanelles ossify within 6-8 months after birth. This is called
intramembranous ossification. The mesenchymal connective tissue turns into bone
tissue.

Anterior
fontanelle
is a diamond-shaped membrane-filled
space located between the two frontal and two parietal bones of the developing
fetal skull. It persists until approximately 18 months after birth. It is at
the junction of the coronal suture and sagittal suture. The fetal anterior
fontanelle may be palpated until 18 months. In cleidocranial dysostosis,
however, it is often late in closing at 8-24 months or may never close.
Examination of an infant includes palpating the anterior fontanelle.

Two smaller fontanelles are located on each
side of the head, more anteriorly the sphenoidal or anterolateral fontanelle
(between the sphenoid, parietal, temporal, and frontal bones) and more
posteriorly the mastoid or posterolateral fontanelle (between the temporal,
occipital, and parietal bones).

Closure

Human beings have the following sequence of
fontanelle closure:

The posterior fontanelle generally closes 2
to 3 months after birth; the sphenoidal fontanelle closes around 6 months after
birth; the mastoid fontanelle closes next from 6 to 18 months after birth; and the
anterior fontanelle is generally the last to close between 10–24 months.

At the time of birth, the fontanelles allow
the bony plates of the skull to flex. This enables the child's head to pass
through the birth canal. The ossification of the bones of the skull causes the
anterior fontanelle to close between the nine months and 18 months. The 'soft
spot,' also called the fontanel, is one of several gaps between the bones of
the skull. It not only allows the skull to expand, but also are produces a new
bone which develops at various stages. The gaps are arranged along the skull in
a functional pattern that allows the brain to grow symmetrically. The fontanels
are surprisingly tough. Pulsing will stop when the skull bones fuse (i.e four
to eight weeks for the one in the back, and nine months to two years for the
soft spot on top). The fontanel in the back of the head usually disappears by
one to two months of age. You may never be able to feel or see this one. The
one on the top of the head remains present until your baby is between seven and
19 months old. A baby's soft spots should be relatively firm and curve ever so
slightly inward.

Nutrition

Ayurvedic texts elaborate on procedures for
neural and brain development right from the child's foetal stage.

The monthly regime of milk decoctions and
ghee preparations advised to the pregnant mother is meant, particularly, for
the brain and nervous development.

Bala or Sida cordifolia,an important
constituent in the milk decoction, helps to develop the brain and increase the
neural synapses which help in improving the child’s cognitive and responsive
abilities.

Post
delivery child care

Experts have suggested a few supplements
that could be given to babies when they do not consume enough breastmilk. These
could be given by the mother during the first three days post the birth of her child.

After cleaning the child off its vernix
caseosa and aspirating the meconium, a cloth dipped in oil (medicated gingelly
oil) is kept in the bregma portion as a lubricant to the trauma that would have
occurred to the bones of the skull while passing through the birth canal.

Next, a pinch of a mixture made from brahmi,
sankhapushpi, vacha along with ghee and honey (no specific measurement) are given
to the child. Two similar recipes with gold, vacha, brahmi, kushta, abhaya with
honey and ghee; and another with gooseberry and gold with honey and ghee
havealso could also be administered.

Herbs, like Brahmi, have an adaptogenic and
neurotonic effect. Shankapushpi is a nervine stimulant and has a calming effect
while vacha (aconite) increases the cerebral circulation, gooseberry enhances
memory and brain cell regeneration.

Gold (in its pure form) is a nervine tonic
and enhances memory as well as intelligence. The medication helps to prevent
epilepsy and hysteric conditions that are common among babies that are prone fever,
excessive traveling, or are compelled to get accustomed to extreme weather
changes.

The honey and ghee act like ‘natural’
vaccinations. This is because the pollen extracts in honey prove as an
immunomodulator.

A
few more alternatives

A monthly regime of one of the herbs mentioned
below; with honey and ghee; also help increasing the brain neural networking
and thus raising the baby’s intelligence levels.

The herbs are brahmi , mandukaparni, triphala,
citraka, vacha, satapushpa, danti, nagabala and trivrt.

Each herb can be administered for one month
at a time.

Abhayaghrtha has been prescribed for babies
post
four months of age. This helps to prevent epileptic attack. It also helps
to capacitate the growth of the brain and keep it calm.

This is important for a child who is
exposed to a lot of new stimulations triggered from the six sense organs and
the mind.

Samavardhana ghrtha is prescribed for
children above four-months-old. It helps to develop the frontal, parietal and
occipital lobes thus helping the child attain dfferent milestones of crawling
and walking earlier and with ease.