Baby care: Using kajal or surma to a new-born baby’s eyes is safe or not?

Kajal or surma is one of the first make-up products which most girls of all ages use. It is said that eyes are the window of the soul and so everyone tries her best to dress up her window. Kajal is used to highlight the eyes and to enhance the natural beauty of the eyes. There are many national and international brands of different types of kajal.

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Common beliefs of Indian families to apply kajal to a baby

Natural baby tips for infant care

It has been an age old tradition in India of applying kajal to the new-born baby’s eyes. It is believed that kajal is worn in the eyes of the new-born to ward off the evil eye or Bury nazar as it is commonly called. Kajal is also known as kohl or surma. According to the old wives tale it is also believed that kajal in the new-born baby’s eye will brighten the eyes and make them look large, bright and attractive. Kajal cleans and protects the eye from infections and sharp rays of the sun. But these are all myths and superstition.  This goes against the modern thinking.

Dangers from kajal for new-born baby’s eyes

Kajal is a thick black paste prepared at home by combining the soot from oil lamps with ghee or castor oil. Paediatricians do not recommend the use of kajal in the new-born’s eye.

  1.  According to them eyes should be kept free from any application inside the child’s eye. Kajal can lead to watery and itchy eyes and even to some allergy.
  2. During bath the kajal can be washed down the narrow opening between the eyes and nose which can cause blockage and infection.
  3. There is a possibility of the cornea being injured by touch while putting kajal with the fingers.
  4. Kajal contains high level of lead which is harmful to the baby’s eye.
  5. Prolonged use of kajal can also lead to excess lead storage in the body. This can affect the brain of the baby and in the formation of marrow in the bone
  6. Lead poisoning can lead to anaemia, convulsions and low IQ (intelligence quotient).
  7. While applying kajal with the fingers , dirty fingers, sharp or unevenly cut fingernails can hurt thy baby’s eye

How to make kajal at home?

Baby skincare tips in winter

There are several ways of making kajal in the Indian homes. Here are some simple ways of preparing home-made kajal

  • Take small piece of clean, white, thin muslin cloth and soak it in sandalwood paste and dry it in shade.  The  sip-and-dry process must be done four to five times during the day
  • Roll the cloth into a thin wick in the evening, lit a mud lamp filled with castor oil with this wick.
  • Put a brass plate smeared with garlic juice over the lamp with a with a gap for the oxygen to help in burning the lamp throughout the night.
  • Next morning scrape off the carbon powder from the brass plate in a small dry box and mix a few drops of ghee or castor oil. This can be stored for many days.
  • In some houses kajal is prepared by burning a plain wick in ghee or mustard oil and getting the kajal collected on an earthen or brass bowl. This has also to be mixed with few drops of ghee.

Homemade kajal if made hygienically has medicinal values and is not harmful to the eyes.

Options for use of kajal for a new-born baby

It is very difficult for Indian women to stop the age long tradition of using kajal to ward off the evil eye. It is a belief the child is prone to several evil eyes around him.   Safer options of applying kajal on new-born baby are to apply it on one side of the forehead, behind the ears or on the sole of the foot. There is again a possibility of some skin infection with kajal on any part of the baby’s body. To reduce allergy it is better to make kajal at home than buy it from the market.

Kajal is not safe for use in the delicate eyes of a new-born baby. You should avoid applying kajal over the eyes of babies for safety.

[Hindi tips for baby care]

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