I come from a big family. So does my husband. This means that when it came to having and raising a baby, we got more advice than anyone needed (or wanted – let’s keep it real). So much of this “advice” is linked to superstition or simple old wives tales that I thought I would collect as much of it as I could and fact check same for amusement. So, enjoy this list of baby sayings/ tips that your crazy Trinbago/ any Caribbean island heritage relatives are going to share EVEN if you never ask them for same. Be sure to share the facts with them if they do. I take no responsibility for any “buffs” or “cut eyes” you receive when sharing facts.

  • Don’t Pass the Baby Through Windows: Found this one out from my aunt. Why? They will grow up to be thieves. Thoughts on this? #nonsense
  • Make sure de chile have on hat and socks to keep warm: Asked my
    Save your money…
  • doctor about this one. Her response? Laughter. She says this one comes from “slave days” when plantation owners were from cold climates. Hats in the Caribbean for Baby = not necessary. Unless you sleep with very (extremely= cold air conditioning and let the child sleep bare back in same hold on the hard and socks. 

  • New mothers not supposed to bathe for 9 days after giving birth: Well, this one is based in some pseudo medical truth but the time frame is simply made up. I bathed at the hospital for crying outoud!  If you give birth naturally with not cuts or complications – shower away. Just be careful of becoming light headed and keep the shower short. If you had a C section, a bath/ shower will have some instructions from your doctor. It may indeed be easier to clean yourself by being wiped down rather than trying the shower which can get cuts wet etc. Again, listen to YOUR DOCTOR. If you had an episiotomy (yes that word is back again) you will need to take sitz baths but indeed a shower is OK. FYI parents, most women bathe/ shower in the hospital – right here in good old T&T so ignore granny with this one (politely) and listen to your doctor’s orders.
  • Don’t hand baby to anyone backwards: The child won’t have a good future or will turn his back on his parents. Thoughts? #lol
  • Don’t hold the baby under their armpit: Allegedly this can affect hearing. This one is just odd. Armpits and hearing?  Who comes up with this stuff? 
  • Tickle their ‘bumsee hole’ (aka anus) with a feather to help fight constipation: Ummm. Please don’t do this. Try talking to your doctor first or reading tested home remedy advice…
  • Put a string/ matchstick on the forehead for hiccups: I understand you can use tape to help with this. Now, my cousin swears by this. I tried it – my son…  no le gusta (did not like it) and, ah-may-zing (read in your best Machel Montano voice) this did not work.
  • Don’t let the night dew fall on the baby: This is supposed to make the baby poo green. FYI dew does NOT fall from the sky. My view here? #nonsense
  • Walk the baby in the early morning light to avoid jaundice: Ok so this one apparently has some merit. The Mayo Clinic gives this one some truth. Light therapy as jaundice treatment is real. I mean, its not like the baby should be going for a stroll in midday “hot sun”.though – heat stroke is real too.
  • If the baby’s second toe is longer than the big toe they will rule their spouse: I think my husband would protest against this one as would many other spouses of men/women with not so cute feet. #confession
  • If you drink milk of magnesia water (ie…soak the magnesia block in water) the child will be born fair skinned: This one may have had ties with the caste system in India or was possibly tied to the house slave vs. field slave skin complexion fixation that still lives in our culture (get vex with that nah). Indeed, for this one,  both medically and socially,  I’m pleased to say is #nonsense 
    Coconut oil is good for skin…in small quantities (image source coconut-merchant.com)
  • Coconut oil on the baby’s skin/ hair will lead to softer skin/ hair: Coconut oil is good for many things (especially lately). Its a good moisturizer but be let’s all be careful before we grease down our kids with this oil. Too much can make a child’s hair/ scalp smell pretty bad if it’s not washed properly so remember even with this apparent miracle elixir, a little goes a long way.
  • Iron tablets will give the baby a darker complexion: As many above, this is not true. This one may have been tied to the fact that anemia is more common in black people than white people and as such it is more likely for a woman of colour to be placed on iron tablets during pregnancy than a Caucasian person (I’m no doctor). Thus, due to the likelihood of a black woman to more likely have to take iron tablets, it may have, albeit completely erroneously, been concluded that iron tablets lead to darker babies. Gotta love that anasi story!
  • Stretching the baby will make him/her be tall: Yoga and massage for baby is a good thing. There are many benefits to parents and baby from baby massages but I have learned this is not what is meant by stretching in the “Trini” way. Try to be careful with this one. Ask your doctor before you start to stretch your child all ‘any ole how’ please
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    Dried soursop leaves
    Drinking soursop tea when nursing will help the baby sleep: Tried this one. I actually tried giving my homemade soursop tea to my wee one. He did not sleep a minute more and actually rejected the milk when I mixed it with soursop tea. Trust me, we even gave him some in a dropper (hey – sleep deprivation makes you do crazy things) and it did not work AT ALL. This said, I know others that this did work for so there may be some truth in this. Worst case? Its herbal tea, no caffeine and sugar so it won’t harm the baby. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Drinking vervine tea increases milk supply: This one I tried and, I have to say, this worked for me. After two days of drinking the tea (two large cups a day) my milk supply appeared to increase significantly. Look for my post on making vervine tea.
  • Drinking coconut water ‘doubles’ milk supply: Tried this. Did not work. That said, drinking loads of regular water certainly helps with milk supply.
  • Drinking lots of coconut water when pregnant gives the baby good skin: Hydration is important but alas, no medical tie to this. If my son ends up with great skin, I’ll sign off on this one as I drank two gallons every weekend from months two to nine.
  • 49912-Adorable-Curly-Haired-Baby
    Long hair don’t care? Image source: lovethispic.com
    Don’t cut baby’s hair before they are two years old or they won’t talk: Um… even a basic understanding of anatomy will let you know  that logically this is not at all possible or based in any fact. My great grandmother used to say your hair is your beauty so maybe this one is more tied to aesthetics? That said, most babies in my family have pretty ratty hair so it ain’t too cute.
  • Eating bacon when pregnant will give the baby a pig nose: Hmmm. Really? #nonsense to this one .
  • Don’t bend any branches when pregnant or bend any leaves as the child will be born with a cleft palate. Wow if only this challenging medical birth defect was so easy to prevent. #nonsense Find out the facts about what causes cleft lip here. 
  • Don’t look at an eclipse when pregnany or the child will be born deformed. Eclipses don’t happen often so they are subject to many an old wives’ tale. This one is indeed untrue also.
  • Don’t eat anything spicy when pregnant or the child will get bad skin: Ok… during pregnancy many women get heartburn and spicy food can aggravate this condition BUT  there is no medical evidence that spicy food = bad skin in babies.
  • Eat pineapple and mango to bring on labour: Interestingly, this one has a few
    Can you eat 7 pineapples? Image source: Dirtcheapjuice.com
    shreds of medical truth though evidence still appears to be lacking. It seems pineapples and mangoes contain the enzyme bromelain, which is thought to help soften your cervix and bring on labour. Eating large amounts will probably stimulate your tummy, which could also help to get things going. According to one post by health writers, large amounts of these fruits (as many as seven) whole pineapples would be required to get things going but its hard to tell – a pregnant woman consuming that much fruit would likely get a tummy issue but hey, that kinda pushing could help get things going too!
  • Women carrying girls get lose their beauty to their daughters: My mom was pretty good looking sooo….
  • Women carrying boys get more beautiful during pregnancy: Come on people! This stuff is crap!!!

Luckily the plethora of “old wives tales” surrounding pregnancy, birth and babies is not unique to Caribbean people. I had quite the chuckle reading through these pregnancy myths.

Biggest take away from this story? TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR before trying anything that is not medically recommended. #truth

What other Old Wives Tales have you heard about pregnancy and birth?