In India, jewelry is not just for ornamentation; it also has a spiritual and religious significance. This is why it is worn not just by adult women but also by boys, girls and men. In fact there are certain types of kids’ jewelry that can be and are expected to be worn by babies as well. These are mostly spiritual or cultural symbols that are supposed to bestow protection and good luck upon the baby and in some cases, even promote good health. Nowadays, the trend of getting baby jewellery for ornamental purposes has become very popular the world over, because of the many Hollywood celebrities who choose to dress their children up in stylish clothing.
The primary thing to keep in mind when purchasing baby jewelry is the comfort of the child. It has to be made of pure and comfortable materials that will suit the soft and sensitive skin of the baby. The texture should be smooth to avoid creating rashes or abrasions. Apart from the health and safety of the baby, his/her comfort should also be considered when selecting baby jewelry. It should not be too heavy or clunky; the baby should not even know its present! Most designers today produce baby jewelery keeping in mind these considerations. Thus there is a plethora of safe, healthy and cute choices for parents and friends to choose for young children to wear. This includes both Indian and western accessories, though the former are available in greater varieties because they have been around for many centuries.
Indian baby jewelry consists of two major accessories: the anklet and the bracelet. The bracelet can be of many different types, from thin bangles to thick kadas and tinkling chains. Kadas or bangles are all time favorites with traditional Indian mothers because of their beauty and adaptability. They can easily be slipped on and off the baby and can be seen by the guardian at all times. Usually, a single bangle is worn on one hand, though sometimes each hand is adorned with a bangle. This type of kids’ jewellery can be worn by children of all ages, but the varieties for young children are usually made of silver, gold, bronze, copper and other such pure metals. The varieties for older children might be made of plastic or alloys but for babies, pure metals are the preferred choice. Sometimes a thin chain like bracelet is worn instead of the bangle to get a more modern look. Both bangles and bracelets are not just the preferred baby jewelry for girls; they can also be worn by little baby boys. In fact in some cultures, thick kadas are exclusively worn by boys.
The other important piece of Indian kid’s jewlery is the anklet. It is a simple chain that is tied around the child’s ankles and adds a subtle, ethnic charm to the baby’s dress. This type of baby jewelry is typically quite simple, consisting of a few bells at the most to create a pleasant tinkling effect. The presence of the bells also serves a functional purpose as it allows the mother to track her baby at all times and follow the movements of toddlers. Also called the payal, the anklets for babies, just like the Indian bracelets, are always made of pure metals. The only exception is gold which is not considered an auspicious metal for foot jewelry. Gold baby jewelry hence never refers to anklets but to other pieces like bracelets or bangles.
In Indian culture, babies also wear kamar-dhanis which are simple strings tied around the waist with a loose knot. They can come in a multitude of colors and can be worn over the clothes as well as under them. These are a very simple yet attractive way to add some color and vibrancy to the kid’s clothing.
When it comes to western baby jewelry, NYC, Paris and other western cities are the biggest producers. Here, fashion forward mothers choose to dress up their babies with simple, sweet accessories such as a thread necklace, metal chain pendant or light bracelet. Designer baby jewelry is the most formal and ornate looking, created using fine metals like pure gold and silver, with artistic designs like animal motifs, cute doll figurines and other age-appropriate additions for babies.
Wearing Baby Jewelry
The whole point of baby jewelry, especially in India, is that it should be versatile and adaptable enough to be matched with any outfit. Thus whether the baby is wearing a colorful onesie or a cute dress, a silver anklet or bracelet will look great. Sometimes for special occasions like weddings or ceremonies, babies are dressed up in Indian clothes like a kid’s pattu pavada or a boy’s kurta pajama. A simple gold chain can be added to match the outfit in that case.