In Hinduism every event and change in life is starts with a ceremony and prayers to god. There are la lot of ceremonies performed for a child in the first two years as the child is changing the most in these years.
Naamkaran – Naamkaran is one of the first ceremonies done for a child. It is the ceremony to give a name to the newborn. It can be done after the 10th day of birth. The first 10 days of the child are considered impure. It is the first time the child is given a bath.
After bath the child is placed in the father’s lap. As any other hindu ceremony, its starts with a prayer to Lord Ganesha. It is then followed by the prayer to other gods and five elements. Some families also read out the Satyanarayana Katha or perform the homam, the ritual of offering prayer to Agni (fire god).
Then the chosen name is written on plate of rice with finger. The father then utters the name into the right ear of the child. Then little honey is put on the child’s lips.
Traditionally the name was picked based on the star the child born under. The priest can tell and every star is associated with some letters. The name is then picked starting with that letter. Some people like to put the grand parent or ancestors name as the first of middle name. People preferred to name the children on some god’s name, as every time they call the child they would utter god’s name.
To read more about Tips to pick a name, read this.
Note: The American association of Pediatrics does not recommend feeding honey in the first year. Consult your doctor before giving honey to the child.
Annaprasana : This is the ceremony of feeding rice to the child. The word comes from anna (rice) + prasana (feed). Till this point the child is only feeding on milk. This marks the begining of eating solids for the child. It is generally perfomed in a odd month for girls usually fifth or seventh. For boys it is done in a even month, so generally sixth or eighth.
It can be done at home with just the family members or with a priest doing all the prayers and rituals. It starts with prayers to gods followed by offering the prasad (generally rice pudding in this case) to god. Then the blessed prasad is fed to the child. It is generally followed by a game where lot of different items each signifying a career or nature are placed before the child eg money, gold, pen, knife(warrior), books etc. The child by this time generally crawling, the child then crawls to one of these objects and picks it. It is believed that the object that the baby picks symbolized its future.
Some Precautions to take care:
1. Make sure the baby is rested and some what fed.
2. Dont try to feed a lot of solid in the first time
3.Make sure anybody feeding the child has washed there hands, even better use spoon.
4. Consult the doctor if the child is ready for solids. Kids can develop rashes with new foods, so some doctors advise starting solids late if the child has sensitive skin or acne problem.
5. Some people like to have all the guests and members feed the child pudding or some honey. This may be a lot to digest a new food.
6. Make sure the child is not developing any rash or reaction to the solid. Hence feed very little.
7. Dress the child in something soft and comfortable. Some indian dresses are not very kid safe with bead work etc. By this age kids can pick or pull small items and can be a choking hazard.