The other day my daughter-in-law requested me to get her a packet of diapers as I was going out to the store for some medicines. The gentleman at the store was busy with other customers and as I waited, I glanced around I was surprised to see so many brands of disposable diapers lined neatly on the shelves.

When I asked for the required brand my daughter in law uses the shopkeeper asked in a matter of fact tone “Basic or dry?”. I had not the faintest idea! “Beg your pardon,” I said, feeling totally confused. “Madam, I mean which diapers do you want, basic or dry?” he repeated his question. Feeling a bit foolish I mumbled something like I would be back later and quickly left the store.

This is an age of baby products. From diapers to toiletries to feeding bottles to baby foods to bed accessories there is no limit to the choices one has. We seem to shower our babies with luxuries, things unthinkable about a couple of decades ago. Designer clothes, branded shoes, expensive toiletries, electronic toys and ready to serve food are becoming an obsession with most mothers.

I wonder if any of the young mothers have even seen the glass feeders with nipples at both ends (except perhaps in some old Hindi movie) which were used before the advent of the unbreakable feeder. It was weird how the bottle always chose to come down crashing at the oddest hour of the night. After many sleepless nights trying to console the wailing baby, glancing endlessly at the wall clock which strangely just did not seem to move, and waiting for shops to reopen did I have the sense to keep an extra bottle handy. These days every baby has at least half a dozen feeders of various shapes and sizes to choose from.

The cloth nappies, which had to be washed daily, have become a nuisance for the modern mothers and disposable diapers are an easy solution for them. I remember the days when the maid chose to take off and come what may the nappies had to be washed and dried. On rainy days, I checked out constantly on how many dry nappies I was left with and sometimes had to use an iron to dry them. Disposable diapers were used only when I went out and considered a luxury for the baby (or me?). I remember feeling a pang of guilt every time I threw a diaper in the dustbin as if I was throwing good money away!

Talking about baby food, I toiled endlessly to cook, mash and blend fruits, khichri, suji and vegetables when my children started solid food. Now store counters are overloaded with endless varieties of ready to serve baby food and juices. Restaurants, specially the franchises, serve special meals for children (at hefty rates of course), and to lure parents they offer play areas for children to keep them relaxed while eating.

In the (should I dare to say) good old days, the ailing child was taken to the doctor in the neighbourhood, who prescribed mixtures with pills to be powdered for easy administration, and the child was hale and hearty in a day or two. A child specialist was consulted only when the problem got out of control. Now we find paediatrics divided into many branches and different doctors for different health problems the children have. (Come to think of it, has anybody noticed how the terminology related to kids has changed? The child specialist is now a paediatrician, a cot is called a crib, a pram is now a stroller and the ayah has been renamed a nanny!)

Gone are the days when grandmothers saved pieces of cloth to prepare clothes for their expected grandchildren. The economical home made Jhablas and caps are considered totally old fashioned now. Mothers prefer to buy ready-to-wear children`s clothes (prices depend on whether the product is `local` or `imported`). Home made `bedding` with washable covers is a thing of the past as babies are pampered with fashionably designed sleeping bags, wrapping sheets, comforters and carry cots (rates depending on the embroidery, trimmings and accessories chosen).

As for colours, now it is blue for boys and pink for girls and mothers-to-be are eager to find the sex of the yet-to-be-born baby to make the right preparations. Even for school going children, in buying clothes, joggers, school bags, water bottles and other accessories the modern mother is careful about the pink and blue factor. Bedroom furniture specially designed for children with cartoon figures or shaped like huge toys is every child`s (or parent`s) delight and the colour scheme speaks for itself whether the room is for a boy or a girl!

Raising happy and satisfied children has always been the primary concern for parents, but somehow modern mothers have mixed up this concern with loading their children with every possible luxury. I call this generation `The pampered generation`. Much ado about the kids. As the parents are putting in so much effort (and money!) for their comfort, we can definitely hope that when they are at the helm of affairs, the little ones of today would make this world a better place to live in. Considering my age, I do not expect to be around until then, so I can only wonder and hope!