Friday, March 01, 2013

Rock'em harder

The “thooLi’ as it is called in Tamil is still used by some mothers to rock their babies to sleep. As this old blogpost explains, “The thooLi is a traditional baby-rocker; it's an old, soft saree or veshti (dhoti) tied to a rafter beam, or a hook in the ceiling. Sometimes it comes with a cross-bar, sometimes not. It provides a snug bed for the baby, which the mother can rock, too; and it's simple and inexpensive”. The post carries some pictures of an ‘engineered’ thooLi.

What is striking about these thooLis is the extensive and almost violent rocking that is done by mothers. The faster the movement, the quicker the baby is subdued and made to sleep.

I was reminded of the thooLi when I was reading a book called “ How Eskimos keep their babies warm” by Mei-Ling Hopgood. In one of the chapters she quotes a child specialist who stresses the role of vestibular stimulation.

Deep in the inner ear, nestled next to the cochlea (the small shell-shaped organthat enables us to hear) there is an intricate maze of canals and ducts called the vestibular system. This crucial network contributes to our ability to balance ourselves, maintain our posture, fix our gaze and move in a coordinated way. Stimulation of this system – through rocking, spinning and other movements- has been shown to have a significant positive influence upon arousal level, visual alertness and tracking behaviour, motor development and reflex development. Some research suggests that vestibular stimulation improves cognitive skills and mother-infant attachment.

A child who is being carried, rocked or played with vigorously, or even carried in a sling, moving with his mother or father as they go about their daily business, gets more vestibular stimulation.

The baby’s head is being tipped right and left as the mother working in a plantation moves, for example, as she leans over to put seed into the ground. The baby is getting a lot of vestibular stimulation – a lot more than it would get if it were in a pushchair or pram, which tend to travel straight, more so because people don’t want to tip them as the child might fall out”.
So, bring those thooLis back. And abandon those strollers. In the interest of vestibular stimulation.


Vaidy said...

Glad to read your posts after a gap.
Interesting reading about thoolis.

Raj said...

Vaidy, interest in blogging generally seems to be down. I hardly get any readers these days and I write more for my satisfaction. Thank you for your constant encouragement.

Vaidy said...

Raj, When I was young (no, I am not THAT old :) ), I used to be voracious reader. My reading habit tapered off a few years ago but I have consciously resumed it! Besides reading fiction and (US) conservative online sites via (Google) Reader, I look forward to reading just a couple of blogs including yours. I am sure there are many like me who enjoy your articles and observations. Don't feel obligated on my count, but rest assured I continue to read your blog.

I assume you are based in Chennai and maybe I can buy you a cup of coffee (I love our kaapi) the next time I visit family there. I am always glad to make new friends.