I am a mother of two. My first baby was born in a western country while my second one was born in India. While co-sleeping is an Indian thing for various reasons including lack of space, the concept of close bonding, the comfort of breastfeeding and so on and so forth, culture in the west is mainly into keeping the babies in cribs or bassinets from day one. While I co-slept my first baby for a while before shifting her to a crib, I co-slept my second baby for a very long time due to lack of space and dynamics. A lot of people around did advise me to put my baby in a jhoola or get a palna-the traditional Indian baby cradle, I wasn’t very sure. I am sure a lot of you must be in the same dilemma since not many opt for using jhoolas and palnas these days especially in Urban areas.
What is the difference between a Jhoola and a Palna?
While both these words are used interchangeably, there is a difference between these two types of baby cradles. Rocking cradles come in many variations. Traditional Cradles or Palnas are made of wood with engravings or metal. Jhoolas are more like old fashioned hammocks made out of cotton fabric attached to a spring from the ceiling or strung up on ceiling beams. While it used to be that someone had to sit next to a palna or jhoola to rock it, some of today’s modern models have automatic or motorised options and come with a timer or even a musical mobile.
Is it safe to use a Jhoola or Palna?
Experts have recommended that babies should be made to sleep on their backs on a firm sleeping surface. While jhoolas and palnas have been used for ages across generations in India, there have been reported incidents of falls and injuries which has discontinued the preference of using the same.
Sometimes babies roll on one side and end up their nose against the cotton base or frame of the palna which can disrupt their breathing and result in death if left unnoticed.
Let's not forget that healthy babies these days are fast and start rolling early. They could roll in their sleep and roll on one side which can result in a fall especially if they are sleeping in a jhoola.
There is a risk that babies after rolling could hit their head or have their fingers stuck in the wooden engravings resulting in injuries. All these are typically distinct disadvantages that as a parent we cannot override.
Should we use Jhoola or Palna?
It is a known fact that babies love to be rocked to sleep. Babies may associate the rocking motion of a cradle with the movements they felt in their mother's womb. While Jhoola and Palna help them fall asleep easily, they could also get habituated to being swung to sleep and this could get challenging for parents when away from home.
A cloth hammock or jhoola makes a cozy wrap for babies like swaddle and makes them feel secure.
Things to keep in mind when opting for Jhoola or Palna
- Always consult with a doctor before opting for Jhoola or Palna.
- Always place the baby on his or her back in Jhoola or Palna
- Make sure the Palna or Jhoola are firm and strong enough to hold the baby’s weight.
- Never place pillows or soft toys or any clutter in Jhoola or Palna
- Make sure there is enough ventilation around the baby and the baby doesn’t feel hot or sweaty.
- Make sure the Jhoola or Palna have enough space around for free swinging
- Always keep the cradle in your sight and watch over the baby every now and then
- Never allow small children or pets around the cradle
- Always swing your baby gently
- Do not hang accessories or metal beads on the cradle.
- Never tie a mosquito net on cradle or palna.
- When opting for a second-hand cradle make sure it is cleaned and sanitized and disinfected for bed bugs. It should not be rusted if made of metal.
While we have already mentioned about advantages and disadvantages of traditional cradles, we are also aware of other modern baby bedding options like Crib, a proper bed with a firm, spacious sleeping surface and wooden frame or a bassinet. People in urban setup also use car seats for safety purpose so that babies can sleep comfortably and safely when on move.
Having discussed all the pros and cons of a Jhoola or Palna, let's not forget that you can be more peaceful if you place your baby on the bed with a firm surface at a safe distance from you. Whatever you choose for your baby, always ensure baby care demands safety first.
Also read: Co Sleeping: More Good Than Bad