Blunder of joy

Horrified by a blooper you made with your baby? Not to worry. You're in good company

Don't be fooled by newbie parents who talk about being "very hands-on" and never letting their precious little blunder out of sight. Babies are a slippery lot, and every parent has had terrifying moments that turn hilarious with the passage of time. Fortunately, babies are a resilient lot, built to withstand new parents. Three mothers share their parenting bloopers to prove that you are in good company.

Illustrator Priya Panicker got off on an absent foot to motherhood. "I forgot my glasses on delivery day, and I'm really short-sighted. I asked for everything from an epidural to euthanasia, but not my glasses!," says the mother of now four-year-old Ved. "So I couldn't see the baby the minute he was born, which is supposed to be the most awesome moment of your life, or the baby's; or something like that. Everyone, including the sweeper saw him, while I could only see a blob!"

It didn't end at that. At the end of Priya's 17-hour-long labour, everyone was understandably exhausted. "Everyone (moms, nurses, doctor) said they were exhausted and left," she says. "The baby slept; and his dad slept in my bed! So I decided to pick up the pixelated blob. Suddenly he puked and choked! I screamed for the nurse, who hung him over her arm and patted his back till he could breathe." Turns out, it was gas from not being fed for a few hours; not an averse reaction to his mother's loving touch!

Turning in
When the baby turns on his/her side, it's cause for celebration and tension, as blogger Lalita Iyer found out. "I used to often leave Rehaan lying on the bed when he was an infant and go in search of a towel, a nappy, wipes, etc., and sometimes return to find that he had rolled off onto the floor. The first time it happened, I was horrified, but then it became like a thing that happens, you know!"

Priya too, found the milestone concerning. "Ved baby-rolled over in month three," she says, "The next day, I forgot he could roll over and put him on the usual diaper changing spot at the edge of the bed. He rolled over onto the floor!" Much screaming took place, quickly followed by checking if the motor skills were affected. Lesson: Babies go from Phase I to Phase II really quick. And they like to practise.

Crawling brings its own pitfalls. When Lalita's now twoyear-old Rehaan started crawling, she left him alone in a room for a while, with the bathroom door ajar. "So he crawled into the bathroom, and into a bucket full of water," she says. Understandably, she "went nuts looking for him everywhere" and finally found him immersed in a bucket of water "happy as a bird!" There were nagging fears of the what-if-he-haddrowned-variety from his father, but then, that's only natural.

On the crawl
The pre-crawling phase brought its share of fears to the Panicker household. "Everyone will tell you that the best place to leave a baby, once they start moving (before the crawling phase), is on the floor," says Priya. "So that's where I left him on a play-mat, while I made a quick visit to the loo." When she came back, he was gone. Much panic ensued. She ran to the neighbours, called her husband at work and imagined the worst possibilities... until Ved wiggled out from under the bed. Moral of the story? Check for babies under the furniture.

Expert speak
Clinical psychologist Salma Prabhu, stresses on the importance of not leaving a baby unattended, but emphasises that these moments are a part of growing up and not as tragic as they seem. For sure, you'd want to mind a baby around heavy and sharp objects, in the kitchen, around electrical points and near stairs, but more importantly, you should monitor your response to such situations. "Babies don't know fear or danger until they are trained to recognise it," she says. "They get the cues from your tone and eye expressions." So don't react very strongly by gasping or shouting as this instils fear, and the baby can become overly cautious.

The line to draw is between being careful and over-protective. The tricky part is that you cannot be vigilant based on age. Her own son, Anmol, rolled over unexpectedly at two months and landed on the floor. And since she wasn't expecting this, she didn't even think of checking on the floor and was horrified that he had been kidnapped.

"Babies reach milestones at their own pace, some sooner than others, and without warning. So always place cushions around them if you are leaving the room," Prabhu says. Also, babies are quite hardy and can take falls better than we think. "These moments, (after initial shock and fear has abated) are quite cute," she says. Once, her family, including the baby, was all dressed up to go out, when she left Anmol unattended for a while. "When we came back to the room, he was nowhere to be found until we found him playing in a bucket of water, dressed to the nines! We just took a picture!"