For the past one year, I have been giving a herbal tonic to my baby, which we Indians like to call as Ghasa/Gutki (different in all regions). Every morning, when my baby’s oil massage is done, I make him have this. Ideally, you should be giving him this tonic in the morning time. Now if you ask any doctor here or anywhere, he will not encourage this. But to many the traditional Indian mothers and grandmothers, it is a usual thing.
So, basically, you have to give a wee bit of almond, turmeric, nutmeg and terminalia chebula to the baby. These are given to the baby right after a few days of when he or she is as it is said to be good for the baby, and at least I didn’t see any side-effect of it on my baby. Which is the reason, I would like to share it with you guys too.
For this tonic, we start rubbing each ingredient on a small stone-like plate mixed with a tbsp of water or mother’s milk (for an infant). Gradually, we increase the amount of the mixture. When my baby was a few days old, we only rubbed a small bit of almond for this tonic, but now that he is an year old, I use two almonds for this. In totality, the tonic was about 1/4 tsp only when he was a few days old, but now, it is 3-4 tsps (there’s a good quantity of water in it now). So, basically, increase the quantity gradually and stop when you like. I’m still planning to give him this homemade tonic for the next few months, and then stop it. One can also give it only when the baby has cold or constipation. But, first, you need to understand the role of each ingredient.
Almond: This is great for baby’s development, and especially for his brain. But you need to avoid going overboard with this as it can cause constipation. When your baby is one-week old, you should start with the smallest amount of each ingredient, so take a single almond, rub it a bit, clean it and store it. This almond can go on till many days. When the baby is three months old, start with 1/4 of an almond, and gradually increase it. When the baby is seven months old or so, start rubbing an entire almond and for that, you can soak it too, as it will be used entirely anyway. In the above video, I’m rubbing a soaked almond without skin. Yes, you will need this stone plate as it’s easy to make this tonic then. I’m using two Mamra almonds for my baby as he’s one year old now, but if your baby is younger, decrease the quantity. We want to give this tonic almost everyday till the baby is one or 1.5 years. Also, almonds add a milky texture to the mixture and it tastes better with this.
Turmeric: This is a known anti-bacterial ingredient that is great for our bodies. I might skip Harad or Nutmeg depending on his health but turmeric is something I don’t skip. When my baby has cold, I rub it a bit more so that this protects him for infections. In the video, I have taken a dried piece of turmeric. This is also called Amba Haldi in Hindi. My mom says any dried version of Haldi is fine that is available at Indian stores (sometimes, we also try those Pooja stores (places where you get supplies relating to religious ceremonies and prayers).
Harad: This herb is known to cure constipation. It’s commonly used in Indian homes. Now, babies have constipation too, so with a wee bit of Harad, I can stay assured that his stools are cleared everyday. For an infant, it’s important that you rub it slightly only. Too much of this ingredient can cause heat in your baby’s body. When your baby is eight months old or more, you can rub the piece of Harad a bit more. But overall, the quantity of this ingredient shouldn’t be changed. Not too much, not to less.
Nutmeg: This ingredient keeps the baby away from cold; well, at least old aunts at home say this. So I go by them. When my baby is under the weather and has a stubborn cold, I make sure I don’t skip this one. Jaiphal, as we commonly call it, doesn’t need to be rubbed too much. This can cause side-effects like the baby might not pass his stools in a day. So, rub a slight bit only when the baby is small, and when he is one, you can slight increase the quantity, but overall, just like Harad, you need to maintain the quantity. May be rub it an extra time if he or she has cold. In the video, I have shown how do to go about it.
Lastly, it’s important that you clean the stone plate everyday and keep the box of these ingredients at an hygienic place. Also, clean each ingredient with water, keep them in sun/open air to make them dry and then store them. You can also store them in the fridge to avoid fungus build up. But always see what colour they are, because sometimes, if done negligently this can overlooked.
Remember, breast milk is the best thing you can give to your baby. Being a newbie mother, you cannot make this tonic everyday and do other things too. Do it if you have someone to help you. And you may skip it entirely too. Your baby will be fine without it as well. I do it because I belong to a traditional Indian family, and my aunts suggested so. And I didn’t find any harm in it. I will stop it though, when my baby is 15-18 months; will check with my mother for guidance, of course.