Fasting may be the most obvious way of observing Ramazan but one that children will not be able to participate in. That doesn’t mean that they have to stay out of the month-long spiritual celebrations, however. There are a host of activities to kindle the true spirit of Ramazan in your child.
Tell your child why we fast: Teach them the rationale behind fasting and its spiritual rewards. Rather than focusing on the material aspects, explain the importance of empathy and charity.
Make a good deeds list: Ask your child to make a list of good things that she wants to do, then try to help them do at least one each day. Alternatively, you can just list the good deeds that your child performs each day, whether it is sharing a toy with a younger sibling or helping you with chores.
Make a Ramazan bookmark: Your child may not read the Quran everyday but he can make a bookmark for you to use as a placeholder.
Involve your child in iftari preparation: Give him responsibility of putting the dates on a platter and distributing them to each fasting person at iftar, pouring glasses of water or making sherbet. Make him feel proud of what he’s doing by telling him about the rewards of feeding someone .
Wake her up for sehri: Even if your child is too young too fast, she will love the excitement of waking up at sehri and taking a meal at an unusual hour. On at least one night during Ramazan, make your child participate in sehri.
Teach your child the value of dua: Ask your child what she would like to pray for and get her to set aside a certain time each day to pray for what she wants.
Encourage sharing and charity with the less fortunate: You can make a sadqah jar and get your child to collect coins from around the house to give to a needy person. Alternatively, if you have a reward chart system for your child on a regular basis, you can ask her to use her points to get a reward for a needy person instead of herself. This will drive home the importance of giving.
Make tin can luminaries: Use an empty can, hammer and nail to make the holes, perhaps in the shape of a crescent and stars. Light the luminary during the last nights of Ramazan with your child.
Fizzy drinks are ubiquitous on the iftari table and a constant temptation to the expectant mom. Although the diet version is often labeled safe, they are generally considered to have adverse effects during pregnancy because they contain caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
According to BabyMed, the different types of artificial sweeteners used in different sodas can have varying effects on a pregnant woman. While Aspartame is considered safe if taken in moderation, Saccharin is known to produce birth defects during lab testing and hence should not be consumed during pregnancy. Sucralose is the least researched sweetener and should be avoided for safety. A study of 60,000 Danish women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming diet sodas increased the risk of pre-term delivery. Women who had one serving of artificially sweetened soda a day were 38 percent more likely to deliver preterm than women who drank no diet soda while women who had at least four diet sodas a day were 80 percent more likely to deliver preterm. Researchers thought the sweetener Aspartame, which is generally considered safe if taken in moderation, was to blame.
The verdict: While diet sodas can’t be beneficial since they have no nutritional value, they do have caffeine and artificial sweeteners which might harm you and your baby. So it’s best to stay away from them. Give into your temptation once or twice a week but try substituting beverages such as milk and fresh fruit juices for a healthier pregnancy.
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, July 21st, 2013.
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