The air pollution levels in Delhi have comparatively decreased but air quality continues to be in the “very poor” category. Ever since the massive drop in air quality post Diwali, parents in the national capital have had to overcome various challenges, from restricting their child’s outdoor activities to coping with their deteriorating health conditions.
Shruti Chaturvedi has a three-and-half-year old boy and was already prepping for the ensuing weather conditions in the city having experienced the same for the past two years. “I started taking measures early on. I gave him chyawanprash. I made him stay at home as far as possible, which was of course getting difficult for him,” she told Express Parenting. But last weekend, the parents noticed their house on the 15th floor was gradually filling up with smoke. Her son started coughing in no time. “We got very sacred when the reading on the air purifier went up to 999. We left the city immediately and stayed at Bharatpur for the next couple of days,” she said.
Over the past week, there have been a number of cases of infants falling sick due to pollution. The poor air quality also meant parents of kids with a history of respiratory issues had to be extra cautious. “My son suffers from a lot of allergies so his nose remains blocked during this season,” shared Sulagna Majumdar. Like many other parents, she has also taken necessary precautions to keep her child safe. “We have air-purifiers in the room that we monitor properly. We ensure that the windows remain shut and he does not go out to play on high pollution days. I also make chyawanprash and feed him daily. His school is also taking a lot of precautions to combat the effects of pollution. Their classrooms are air purified, kids are not allowed to roam around in the corridors for too long. Rest of the time, if he is outside, he wears a mask,” she said.
Another parent Priya Rajendran has been relying more on natural remedies than anti-pollution masks. “My son, five, suffers from allergic cough and has asthma. With the onset of winter, we start giving him turmeric laddoo with dry ginger powder, jaggery and ghee. Also, lime juice. This helps a lot and reduces the intensity of the cough and cold. Sometimes, it gets really bad and we have to give him a nebuliser,” she revealed.
Schools in the capital have resumed after being shut for a brief while due to pollution, but Kanchan Arora, whose child is in class I, is unsure about sending him back to school yet. Parents are naturally worried about how their kid’s health might be affected with exposure to pollutants. Kids are not being allowed to go outdoors and play, even though parents realise how crucial it is for their growth. Chaturvedi’s little one finally ventured outdoors after nearly 10 days. Arora added, “Due to pollution, I don’t feel comfortable sending my child to school or outside to play or for any physical activity, which is very important for any child’s growth. My son has been inside the house continuously since after Diwali, getting bored and spending time watching TV. I had to discontinue his basketball classes because of pollution. My son loves cycling but we can’t allow him outside much. If the goes on, people might have to leave the city and opt to stay elsewhere.”
To keep her child engaged, Majumdar plans activities at home like puzzles, reading or listening to music. “But the problem is that he is just 10 years old and really wants to go out and play with his friends. Kids at this age need free play. It’s very restrictive for my child and I feel sad to see him like this,” she expressed.
If kid are being restricted, they need to know why. Parents need to have an age-appropriate conversation with kids about the hazards of pollution so that they keep themselves protected even when adults are not around. “We have had a conversation about pollution with our child and he knows he has to keep himself protected. He always carries a handkerchief to keep his mouth and nose covered. I have also told him about the importance of the mask and he does try to follow it to a large extent. My child is more aware of the situation now,” added Rajendran.