Wise up to the weird and way-out customs that are carried out on brand-new babies the world over!
Lee Yang Yi
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When an infant arrives, parents are often thrust into the weird and wacky world of family customs and practices.
Every member of your family — including well-meaning in-laws — will have their own take on newborn rituals ― fromconfinementpractices to ingenious newborn hacks that have been passed down through the generations.
Indeed, the rest of the world is also filled with equally unconventional newborn traditions. Scroll through our gallery to see how your own customs stack up…
During a ceremony called Agra Hadig, the infant is placed on the floor and a few symbolic items like a spatula, a pencil, a book and medication are placed around him. The child is left to play with the items for a bit before a cloth containing cooled barley pearls is held over the top of his head. Whichever item he picks when the cloth above his head symbolises his future career. If the infant chooses a measuring tape, for instance, it means he'll be an architect or engineer. (Photo: TopTenz.net/Pinterest)
On this Indonesian island, it is Balinese tradition to clean the placenta following birth, store it in a box and bury it underground around one’s house. It is believed that doing so will ensure the placenta transforms into a “guardian” or a twin that’ll continue to protect the child. Much like how the placenta is a vital organ that meets bubba’s needs when he’s in utero. (Photo: iStock)
Denmark and Norway
While we avoid going outdoors because of our swelteringheat, parents in several Scandinavian countries often leave their little ones to nap out in sub-zero temperatures. It’s common to spot buggies lined outside on the freezing pavements in Norway and Denmark, while parents sit in a cosy café, sipping their lattes. These toddlers are often dressed in warm woollen clothes and tucked into thick sleeping bags to prevent frostbite or from catching a cold. Scandinavians are big believers of outdoor napping, because it allows their babies to be exposed to the crisp fresh air, which makes them sleep longer. (Photo: iStock)
Ecuadorian men will usually give their wives a sweat-soaked shirt — often the ones they wear while working on the field — as they go into labour. Doing so will give your wife strength during childbirth. (Photo: iStock)
Paulownia trees, known locally as Princess trees, are planted whenever a baby girl is born. Once the daughter marries, the tree is cut down and made into a dresser for her wedding gift. It is also local lore that a phoenix will visit the tree and bring prosperity and wisdom to the family. (Photo: iStock)
Shortly after a baby arrives, no one outside the immediate family circle is supposed to see it for the first 100 days ― in the past, it was common for Korean infants to die in infancy. The hundredth day is also celebrated with a big party called a baek-il. The placenta that would have been saved following delivery would then be burned. The ashes will also be saved and used as a powder ― it would be mixed with water and used as a healing potion whenever the child falls ill.
Korean mothers also take miyeok guk ― seaweed soup — daily during their month-long confinement, after every meal. High in calcium and iodine, the dish is believed to enhance postnatal healing while stimulating one’s production of breastmilk. The soup is also served at birthdays as a reminder of baby’s first day of life. (Photo: iStock)
Compared to the rest of the world, Mongolians have a very different attitude toward extended breastfeeding. In a land where wrestling is considered a national sport, it’s often said that the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least six years. The World Health Organization notes in a report that the number of Mongolian mothers who exclusively breastfed for six months was 66 per cent in 2010. Ruth Kammnitzer, a Canadian mother who relocated to Mongolia, notes that if a mother’s breasts are engorged and her baby isn’t on hand, she’ll ask a family member of any age or gender if they’d like a drink. Often, the woman will also express a bowlful of milk for her husband to have as a treat, or leave some in the fridge for anyone to take. (Photo: iStock)
It’s customary for Muslim infants to taste something sweet after they are born, just like other Islamic countries around the region, including South-east Asia. Juice from dried dates are rubbed onto the infant’s gums, while their parents and visitors will also be given dates to eat. A week following delivery, baby boys will be circumcised, in line with Muslim beliefs and practices.
A celebratory gathering is also conducted either on the 7th, 14th or 21st day after birth. Although, it’s not uncommon for the get-together — called Aqiqah — to be held any time before the child hits puberty. One or two sheep or goats — sometimes cows and camels — are also routinely sacrificed during the ceremony. A third of all the meat is given away to the poor as charity, and the rest is served as part of a community meal shared between relatives, friends and neighbours. (Photo: iStock)
In Singapore, we have the baby sarong to rock your infant to sleep, in the Philippines, they use the duyan, a baby hammock. These inexpensive cradles are made from rattan and fishnet material and thin mats and mattresses placed inside the cot to plug any gaps and holes. This babycare essential is often passed down from one generation to the next. (Photo: Currystrumpet/Flickr)
It’s believed that it’s bad luck to call a baby by its name before it has been christened. The Scottish also practise what’s known as “silvering the baby” when they meet the infant for the first time. A silver coin — normally a one or two dollar piece — is given by hand to the infant. If the child holds on to the coin, he will be thrifty and prosperous, but if it drops, the child will never be rich. (Photo: iStock)
The custom has always been for baby to leave the hospital wearing her first set of earrings. It is considered to be a traditional symbol of femininity. (Photo: iStock)
The child’s umbilical cord isn’t haphazardly thrown away after birth as this may have a negative influence on the infant’s future, employment and life, in general. It is…
* Buried in the courtyard of a mosque, so that the child will become a devout person,
* Thrown over a wall or into a school garden, so that junior will become an educated person,
* Buried in a stable, so that the child becomes an animal lover, or
* Thrown into water, so the child will be able to search for his or her destiny everywhere.