Nowadays we get so confused on what or who to follow on childcare. Do we follow parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, yayas, childcare books, seminars, doctors, our culture’s beliefs, or our own opinions and beliefs? At the end of the day, parents should know what’s best for their children at all times. They should learn to decipher which ones will be good and do no harm to the kids.
There are a lot of Filipino traditions up to this day that some people follow and believe in. Some say they are just myths while others say there is actually some valid basis and truth to those beliefs or “pamahiins” (what Filipinos usually call them). Up to this day, there are still a lot of pamahiins being followed by new and young moms. These have been passed on from many generations from our elders.
Here’s a couple baby beliefs I encountered since I became a mom (didn’t include pregnancy beliefs since there’s just so much!). I never really paid so much attention to them before:
- Do not look at ugly people or watch horror movies or zombie movies (those with ugly stuff) while pregnant. Your child may look like what you look at.
- If a pregnant woman’s tummy is pointy or has a sharp shape during pregnancy, she is expecting a boy.
- If you want to have twins, eat twin bananas or twin fruits.
- Eat as much as you can, you’re eating for 2!
- Pregnant women should not cut her hair when pregnant because there’s a high probability she will grow bald.
- Be careful what you crave for (also called paglilihi in Filipino) because the baby may get physical characteristics of the food , person, or thing you crave for.
- It is bad luck to stay or stand by the door (or near it) when there’s a pregnant woman because it will give the pregnant a difficult time during labor and delivery.
- While pregnant, a woman should avoid wearing necklaces or wrapping towels around her neck because the umbilical cord may get tangled around the baby’s neck.
- A pregnant woman should avoid going to funerals. It can bad luck to the pregnancy or worse, loss of life for the baby.
- If the stomach of the pregnant woman is bulging out in a “pointed” way, the baby’s gender is male.
- If a pregnant woman has dark underarms, she will be giving birth to a boy.
- Do not put nail polish while pregnant. The chemical of the nail polish may cause abnormalities to the baby
- Listening to classical music while pregnant will make the child very intelligent.
A breech baby (called “suhi” in Filipino which means baby came out from the womb feet first instead of the head first) will bring luck to the family. She will also have the ability or gift to remove fish spines (“tinik” in Filipino) stuck in another person’s throat by simply touching that person’s neck.
The end portion of the umbilical cord attached to the baby (which will fall off several days after giving birth) should be dried, preserved, and kept safely. This one’s said to be for good luck.
Stepping over a child while he is asleep will slow down his growth.
It is said that when a baby has a birthmark anywhere on his/ her body, it is lucky for the parents and the child. There are also different beliefs on the location of the birthmark. When you have one on your buttocks, they say it bring bad luck on small and big instances in the child’s life.
It is said that when the baby has a deformity or abnormality of any kind – like an extra finger or maybe is a special child-, it is considered to be very lucky for the family. Filipinos see this as a blessing.
It is said that the placenta should be buried so that the child will not become a problem child. I think this one is not really practiced in the city and other urban areas.
It is said that this is a discomfort to the child brought by a person having “usog” or hex- some even call it an evil wind/ eye. It happens when the person meets the child then becomes fond of him/her. The child will usually have fever and feel weak. The child may suffer extreme discomfort that he/she will cry a lot. The only way to cure the child from usog is when the person who has this usog will apply or dab his / her saliva on the child’s forehead or abdomen. To prevent usog from happening, people usually say “pwera usog” when people greet a child.
Some say that everyone may have this hex/ usog in us but it just varies in intensity. People who have darker gums and are hungry at the moment they met the child will pass on a stronger usog to the child. Another way to protect the child from usog is by wearing an anti-usog bracelet (usually with black and orange or red beads).
Hair and Lashes
- Cutting a baby’s eyelashes during their first month will make them long and beautiful while cutting the hair early on too will make them more beautiful in time.
- A child will be smarter if you trim his/ her hair when he/ she is exactly 1 year old then insert his cut hair between books.
- Another one is that the one who will cut the child’s hair for the first haircut should be intelligent so the child will be intelligent too.
Do not breastfeed when you’re tired. It affects the quality of the milk and you’ll pass the stress on to the child. Although this is not really followed today since if you think about it, moms are always tired because of their busy days at work and at home plus the fact that there’s a loud campaign on breastfeeding now.
If a child is sucking his/her toes, he/ she is asking for a sibling. Our pediatrician said that this one is a normal behavior of all babies at a certain month. If they do not do this, you should wonder why. This is the stage when the babies realize that they have toes they can reach.
It is said that babies are not allowed to go out at night because of hamog (cold air) that will cause baby to have colds or become sick.
A lot of people are saying it’s not just the outdoor cold air that causes baby to have colds. Any cold room or a hot room can provide discomfort and colds to the baby. That’s why the bonnet is important always.
- Use “bigkis” or a white cloth wrapped around the baby’s tummy so that the child’s tummy will remain small and grow up to be slim or sexy.
- Some use bigkis when they baby has colic / kabag (in Filipino). Some put acute de manzanilla on the tummy and bigkis to keep the tummy warm and avoid or remove colic.
It is considered unlucky to show a baby’s clothes before he/ she is born.
Always pull the babies nose to make it more defined and have a better looking shape. Some say that we can still modify the child’s nose while the cartilage are soft. But some medical experts say though that these things we cannot modify. We might just injure the nose by doing this and features of a person is based on his/her parents’ genes.
Bath Time and Nails
- It is considered unlucky to bathe and cut baby’s nails at night.
- Some even believe that cutting the nails should only be on certain days of the week. It is said to be unlucky to cut the baby’s nails on a Friday.
- The first cut nails of the baby should be wrapped in a white cloth or paper and kept well so baby will be a good boy or girl when he/she grows up.
When a baby has hiccups, put a wet small cotton ball or thread on his/ her forehead and the hiccups will be gone. Medical experts say the hiccups go away because the cotton and thread are keeping the child busy and curious that’s why the hiccups just go away.
If a baby cries during baptism, it means prosperity for the child. The louder the cry, the richer or more successful he/ she will be in the future.
Another one is that during baptism, a person with a lot of coins in his/ her pocket must carry the baby to bring good luck to the child.
- Those babies who nap a lot will grow taller.
- Babies must not be kissed during nap times or when asleep or else the baby will grow up to be a stubborn or naughty child.
If a child has two puyos, he / she will be naughtier.
Most of these I don’t really follow except for putting manzanilla to prevent or remove gas (colic) from the baby’s tummy. I don’t put bigkis after applying. I’ve seen how my kids experienced colic and it wasn’t pleasant at all. Anyway there’s no harm in putting some on the tummy and soles of the feet. It seems to help them somehow and we also don’t want to be too dependent on medicines for even the littlest things we feel or the kids.
I know there’s a lot more and these are just some of the beliefs that exist until today for some. Others have had modifications as they are passed on from one generation to another. Some modify them out of convenience.
“Belief is truth held in the mind, Faith is a fire in the heart.”