Posted on April 21st, 2016



English Translation by Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

The late Dr. Buddhadasa Bodhinayake, was attached to Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children in Colombo as a senior Paediatrician and worked for many years in the UK for the National Health Service as a Consultant and achieved the highest honour of being elected to Emeritus status.

In 1975 he published a book in Sinhala, which can be identified as a ‘twin’ publication to the American Paediatrician Benjamin McLane Spock’s Baby and Child Care, published in 1946.

Dr. Spock’s message to mothers was: “You know more than you think you do”. Dr. Bodhinayake said “How to bring up your child from the date of conception up to one year“.

Dr. Buddhadasa Bodhinayake’s book deals with many a problem young parents come across in bringing up babies and acts as a guide on how not to run to a doctor every time the mother thinks something is wrong with the baby, thus saving time and money while making parenting less stressful.


The book deals in twelve chapters with instructions to ‘would be mothers’ during their pregnancy, on the condition of the new born and feeding during the first few days, about breast feeding, feeding babies other than breast milk, constipation, running temperature, epilepsy, treatment of dysentery and diarrhea, bathing techniques, colour of skin and importance of keeping the umbilical free of germs, reasons for puking, underdeveloped and over developed babies, weaning techniques, milk in preference to other baby food, how to gauge the constant growth, and the inoculations a baby should have. All in all, Dr. Bodhinayake has dealt with the vital subject of ‘How to bring up a child from date of conception until one year old’.


Professor C.C.de Silva, attached to the University of Ceylon, wrote the preface to the book. In his summary he said, an embryo develops from the time it is conceived in a mother’s womb and once the child is born the first year is regarded as the most vital period as the child proceeds to grow so rapidly. Then the growth pattern takes place increasingly during youth and goes through a process of development until the baby grows into adolescence and finally to adulthood. Therefore, it is the duty of the society to nurture and protect this growing process and look at how it could be done effectively.

45% of the population of ‘Ceylon’ is under the age of 18. Those who are under 30 years of age make up to 63.5%, which means that out of the whole population in Ceylon a major portion consists of the younger generation. Therefore it is vital to ensure that the young generation is kept healthy not only physically but mentally as well in order to achieve the best results for their own progress as much as the development of the country.

One has to remember that the ‘growing up generation’ is entirely dependent on the senior citizens of this country. This new generation depends on their parents for food, lodging, clothing, and medical expenses when sick, as well as for their education. These factors related to growing up will affect the adult community who are working hard to meet such expenses.

Take a small baby who is falling sick often, and the parents having to rush the child every time to a doctor or a hospital. The mother will not have anything else to do other than giving her full concentration and attention to the sick child. She simply becomes a mental wreck.

Quite often it is not only the mother who has to take the child to a hospital or a doctor. Child’s father too has to accompany them, which boil down to the fact that he will not be able to go to work on a regular basis. He will have to take days off frequently, at times with ‘no-pay’. Even if he were to go to work his concentration will be somewhere else because he becomes completely stressed out.

This will not only affect a single family unit, but such situations are going to affect the production lines of factories and work in offices which will push everyone in the whole country towards destitution. When such a situation is viewed in a dimensional perspective the whole family of that child can be classified as being sick.

Let’s concentrate on how important health would be in the ‘growing up’ generation and take a child who falls ill regularly as an example. First and foremost the child’s inability to attend school will affect his studies. Even if he goes to school he will not be fit to attend to his schoolwork properly. So there will be no future for that child who cannot receive a good education because interruptions become a wedge between his life and his school career. His opportunities to get ahead in life will be stunted under such conditions. This situation essentially affects our country today [1975].

In the circumstances, it is important to realise how parents in our society should look after their children’s health from the day of conception. It is imperative to mention, that we all should be ashamed of the mortality rate of newborn babies in ‘ Ceylon’ [1975 statistics].

Considering all these facts, one of our best students, Dr. Buddhadasa Bodhinayake’s book on how to look after your child within the first year will be extremely helpful to parents, medical colleagues as well as to anyone in the society. This is my honest feeling – Professor C.C de Silva, M.D., FRCP

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