News Commentary: Baby rearing – the most sensitive assignment for middle-class family


KATHMANDU: Shanti Sapkota of New Baneshwor, a lactating mother of an eight-month-old baby, is in no mood to accept a job anytime soon. Her priority right this time is taking care of her baby by giving her full time. As her husband is a literary figure and is engaged in many other assignments for the family’s sustenance, Sapkota believes that joining a job instead of giving time to her infant is something she does not prefer.
Given the nuclear size family which is economically in the middle-class strata, a large portion of city dwelling couples is undergoing through hard times these days for child rearing. For them, taking family management, continuing job, taking care of their kids (the non school going ones) and attending other social functions and preparing for career as well as haunting opportunities simultaneously is almost like a hard nut to crack.
Until mid 1990s, Nepal had the practice of joint family system where taking care of the kids the responsibility of grandparents, especially grand mom. But, economic, social and family dynamics of our society have witnessed a sea change in the last 25 years because of decreased fertility rate, rapid urbanization, low dependency on agriculture, the armed struggle, high volume of overseas employment and some others.
But, the infants of most of the busy parents– especially those engaged in fulltime job — in the metropolitan city are not getting proper care in the recent years thus are prone to poor health while loneliness in absence of the kids’ parents has become too common. According to Pediatrician Dr Pitambar Subedi, a good company of family members, a wider space for their mobility and games, and a great extent fun help the children to grow faster and steadier.
The less time devotion of the parents to their kids is directly associated to the poor health of the babies though a maid is managed to take care the babies. “Usually less immunity power of the children causes problems in their health, almost in every two months. Cough and cold are common among the infants. But, better care of them, warmth, breast feeding and pollution-free environment helps protect from such illness,” pediatrician Subedi said. “Mother’s love and company is the greatest treatment for the babies.”
According to a report of the Action Aid released in 2013, in Nepal, women spend 71 minutes a day on childcare whereas men spend only about 30 minutes. Besides proper caring and protection, the children are taken ill even due to systemic disorder and genetic problems as well, Pediatrician Subedi added.
Pashupati Panthi, a government employee working in the health sector, regrets for not having sufficient time to take care his baby boy. “We leave our baby in daycare centre in Singha Durbar in the daytime and take our baby back home at around 6 in the evening,” shares Panthi whose wife is also a government employee.
“The baby is tired and is reluctant to consume food, and has not gained proper weight. We have borne the brunt of the childbearing,” Panthi said distressfully.
So, the recent trends in family size, societal changes and economic relations have affected the childbearing as well as the career growth, freedom and mobility of the city dwellers who originally hail from out of the metropolis. The youth, both female and male, from upper and middle classes nuclear families struggling for their career are at the receiving end.
The government has unveiled some schemes for the new mothers and a 15-day-long leave for maternity care to the male government employees. However, it’s time to rethink about the maternity leave to the female and other facilities. This is because the future of the nation relies on the proper caretaking of the children at present.

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