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Baby Superstitions From Around the World

A quick round up of some of the more bizarre beliefs surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. What should a pregnant woman not do in Guyana? What do you call your child in Japan to keep evil spirits away?

Your new baby is a bundle of joy and that’s the way it’s been for all of human history. But there are always plenty of issues to angst about.

While 21st century new moms think they have enough to worry about with picking attachment or traditional parenting, deciding on vaccination dates, or choosing the best baby jogger, our ancestors didn’t have it easy either.

In previous eras, pregnancy and childbirth were a maze of superstitions and odd beliefs, to be flouted at your peril!

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the most weird and wonderful old wives’ tales out there:

Before The Baby Is Born:

It starts pretty much in the first trimester. Moms-to-be need to behave.

For an easy birth:

Turkey:

If you want a problem-free delivery, the Turks say you should lock all the door locks in the house and unbutton all the buttons on baby clothes.

Early days

China:

If a newborn baby wears clothes passed down from an older baby, it won’t cry at night, at least in China.

It’s also thought in some countries that new clothes and toys are generally unlucky, so bypass the baby shower and head straight for the hand-me-downs!

Future Hopes

When your baby starts reaching for objects, a Maltese superstition suggests the first one she manages to grab signifies her destiny. Ambitious Moms might like to leave a doctor’s stethoscope, or a judge’s wig within easy reach.

Scotland:

Babies were presented with coins to see if they were a “grippie”, who would hold on to money all their life, or if they would grow up letting cash trickle through their fingers. Whatever your baby’s hands are doing, however, don’t tickle her feet, or she will grow up with a speech impediment.

Receiving Visitors

There are plenty of restrictions on letting strangers look at your child. Wait until the tot is two months, six months or even a year old before you let visitors in, depending on where you are in the world. If you do let anyone see your cherub, don’t expect compliments. Evil spirits are attracted to charming babies and might steal them away.

  • Russia:

    Fond baboushkas comment “oh, what an ugly child” without being at all catty.

  • India:

    Moms prevent compliments by smearing their newborn’s cheeks with lampblack.

  • Korea and Japan:

    Children were named using the character for “shit” for the first couple of years of their life, so evil spirits passed them by.

So, next time a new mom you know is feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the conflicting advice, remind her that old wives have always told tales to keep the young wives on their toes.

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