Tag Archives: motherhood

Baby food in trains! Is it safe?

I remember whenever my sister travels in train with her two kids — one aged 11 and the other 2 — she carries with her a big bag of food supplies with her. It includes bread, thepla, biscuits, chikki, chocolates, some fruits, ceralac, milk, milk powder (just in case), juice, thermos and an electric kettle.

I won’t give my kids train food, she would say. She would carry one fresh meal like puri-sabji, and then use something from the above mentioned supplies till the time they reached their destination.

My mother-in-law once told me about the time their train got super-delayed and the small station where it was stuck at had no shops at all. Not expecting this 12-hour delay, she was not carrying any food with her, but my husband, then just a toddler, had to be fed! Kind co-passengers helped her with milk and bananas, and after that, she never leaves the house without food and water in her purse.

Rly Budget
Photo courtesy Railway Ministry’s twitter account.

So in Railway Budget 2016, it was annouced that trains will serve baby food and will have children’s food on regular menu. Also, baby boards will be there in the toilets. And I felt really happy that the Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, thought of the hardships that traveling mothers go through. But when I spoke to some mothers, it turned out the Railways still has a long way to go…

Mothers, who travel with their babies, have welcomed the Railway Minister’s move to provide facilities like baby food and baby boards in trains, but expressed apprehensions about the quality of food.

“Mothers, who travel with their infants or babies, often have to carry a lot of food items for them, specially if the journey is long,” said homemaker Priya Mohan Kumar, who often travels to Kerala with her 3-year-old daughter. “However, I would not trust it, given the overall hygiene conditions of our trains and stations.”

Almost every mother whom I spoke to had the same apprehensions about the quality of baby food, something they would not want to compromise on.

“I think twice before eating the food meant for adults and purchase it only if there is absolutely no other option. How can I feed it to my baby?” was 27-year-old Rahi Gupte’s concern, who travels from Pune to Jammu at least thrice in a year with her two-year-old daughter.

However, recalling Railway Minister’s gesture of providing milk to a passenger who tweeted about there being no food for his child in the train, she lauded the minister for keeping parents travelling with babies in mind.

Rakhi Parsai, a public relations professional working in the city, said mothers are very particular about the quality and hygiene standards of the food provided. “The pantry of a train is not exactly clean. Even if the food is packaged, I would be doubtful about the quality unless it is a very branded company. I don’t even trust boiled water from the pantry,” she said.

Rachana Jain, mother of a four-year-old, said she would prefer to carry her own home-cooked food or baby food powders along with thermos and electric kettles. She, however, felt introduction of baby boards in the toilets will help mothers while changing a baby’s diaper or clothes, as it will give privacy from other passengers.

This story first appeared as a report in Sakal Times, Pune, and was later scaled down on the ‘seriousness level’ to make it blog-worthy! 😀 

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On Paternal Leave: Food fit for new mommy

My sister just had a baby boy and I was immediately pressed into service (perils of not having a job). And I noticed that her diet after giving birth changed drastically — it was a diet meant to speed her recovery and provide nutrition to her and the baby.

I can’t claim to be an expert on pregnancy and birth related issues but here is what my brother-in-law told me about the food that women eat postnatal. He knows it better and is currently on paternal leave (hence the title of this post).

And mind you… it is different in different parts of India! See, that’s how diverse we are. 🙂

India's Olympic bronze medal winner, boxer Mary Kom with her kids. Photo courtesy: Mary's Facebook page.
India’s Olympic bronze medal winner, boxer Mary Kom with her kids. Photo courtesy: Mary’s Facebook page.

North-Eastern region: There are seven states in that region and Olympic bronze-medalist MC Mary Kom belongs to one such state.  This feisty boxer  has three boys (including twins).

She gave birth to her third baby recently and I asked her what was her diet like. She belongs to Manipur, a state which everyone in India knows to be a pork-loving state.

But Mary says she only had “boiled vegetables and food with no chillies, masala and very less oil”. Another friend tells me that in the state of Assam, women are given boiled fish and chicken in tomato or bottlegaud curry.

Southern India: The four states in Southern India — Andhra Pradesh (now divided into two states), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have more or less same type of weather. That predominantly decides what a woman eats, as that same food might not work for you anywhere else in the country.

Fellow blogger Sharanya Mohan Bala recalls what she was kept off when she gave birth to a girl. “I was kept off tamarind, coconut and gassy vegetables like potato, toor dal, cauliflower and cabbage.”

She remembers being given a paste of rice, ghee and six other ingredients, which is called “Ashta Choornam“.

“And then we are all given one paste which looks like Chavanprash, a tsp every morning in empty stomach for immunity, digestion and it helps lactation too. It is simply called ‘Prasava Legiyam‘ “Prasava meaning pregnant and legiyam meaning medicinal paste. It gives good resistance against cold and viral fever. I love it so much that I eat it even now whenever I feel like I’m going to catch a cold or when I suffer of digestion problems.”

Maharashtra/ Madhya Pradesh: A new Mommy is given simple food which has no masala or spices. Sheera or Kheer is a standard dish which is rich in fat and carbohydrates. Garlic is absolutely essential in all dishes.

Sheera/ Halwa
Sheera/ Halwa

Since the woman can’t eat pickle, an easy way to bring some flavour in an otherwise bland meal is to serve raw coconut chutney with garlic and jeera powder. Leafy vegetables in lunch everyday is a must. Dalia is also very popular.

Rajasthan: Ajwain (Carom seeds) is a herb which is supposed to help with digestion and so it is a new mommy’s preferred home-made concoction. It is boiled in water with jeera (Cumin seeds) and the woman is supposed to drink that every time she feels thirsty.

Another way is to mix Ajwain with ghee and sugar to make a thick paste. Gond ka laddoo is given in winters to give the body some warmth.