Most new parents nowadays get confused when it comes to child care. Do we listen to our parents and relatives or follow what child care books, seminars, and doctors say? Do we follow what culture dictates or form our own opinions and beliefs? Whatever we choose, parents need to trust their gut instinct especially when it comes to Filipino pamahiins. Some say they are just myths, while others say there is actually a basis to these pamahiins.
We asked 10 random Filipino parents (per pamahiin, with children newborn to 10 years old) whether they believed in it or not. Here's what we found out.
#1 Usog causes fever. Called the "evil eye," usogis believed to occur when a person meets a child for the first time and becomes too fond of him. The "fondness" results in a fever, feeling of weakness, or extreme discomfort on the part of the child. The only way to cure the child of usog is to have the person dab his saliva on the child's forehead or abdomen. To prevent it from happening, people usually say "pwera usog" when they greet the child for the first time.
Filipinos believe we all have this evil eye in us; it just varies in intensity. People who have darker gums and are hungry when they meet a child will pass on a stronger usog effect. Meanwhile, to protect the child from the hex, those who believe make their babies wear an anti-usog bracelet, usually with black and orange or red beads.
Four out of 10 parents believe in usog, adding it was "better to be safe than sorry." The most logical explanation to usog, of course, is babies often cry when they encounter strangers.
#2 Breech childbirth brings luck. A breech baby (or suhi in Filipino, which means the baby came out from the womb feet first) will bring luck to the family. And, apparently, when the baby grows up he will have the ability to remove fish spines (tinik in Filipino) stuck in another person’s throat by simply touching and massaging that person’s neck. Three out of 10 people that we surveyed believe in pamahiins behind suhi. But there is no known scientific explanation that a breech baby will do either one of the things mentioned above.
#3 Placenta should be wrapped and buried. They say that if you bury the placenta near the house, the child will grow up close to the family. Wrapping the placenta in newspaper will make the baby smarter, too. It is an old belief that city-living folks don't usually practice. One out of 10 moms surveyed believe in this.
#4 Stepping over a child while he is asleep will stunt his growth. Unsurprisingly, only 1 out 10 people surveyed believe in this pamahiin It's been passed on from our elders, but there is really no known scientific basis for it. A child's growth and development will depend on a number of factors from nutrition to genetics.
#5 Umbilical cord also brings luck. The umbilical cord stump, which is still attached to a newborn and falls off several days after giving birth, should be kept for good luck. Six out 10 moms that were surveyed believe luck is connected to the umbilical cord. But nothing has been established about the fortune that befalls a family after keeping the stump.
There is, however, such a thing called cord blood banking, where blood from the umbilical cord and placenta is extracted and stored for future medical use. Many believe cord blood contains potentially lifesaving cells called stem cells, which can cure some types of illnesses through stem cell therapy, a subject of many research today.
#6 Keep baby's hair from his first hair cut. It's common practice for hair to be kept inside books like encyclopedias and dictionaries hoping that it will make children smarter, and 7 out of the 10 parents surveyed still believe in this tradition. Today, kiddie salons offer a certificate to commemorate a child's first hair cut (which includes a few streaks of hair, plus his before and after photos) so the belief takes a backseat for many.
#7 If a child is sucking his toes, he is asking for a sibling. Not quite although two parents we surveyed believe it. A child normally starts to suck his toes between 4 to 8 months. It's actually an important milestone. The baby's hands aren't very coordinated yet, but he's trying to learn so much about the things around him. One way of exploring is putting things in his mouth including his own feet, once he's found them. Besides promoting body awareness, toe-sucking is very satisfying and soothing to your little one.
#8 Put a small thread on his forehead when he has the hiccups. While five out of 10 parents we asked continue to practice this pamahiin, baby hiccups can caused by several factors like overfeeding or swallowing air. To avoid them, make sure you burp the baby, don’t feed the baby too fast, take small breaks, sit your baby for 20-30 minutes after meal times. You can also gently pat and rub the baby’s back or make him drink some water. If none of the above works, don’t surprise or startle the baby -- there’s no known fact that it works.
#9 Babies are not allowed to go out at night because of hamog They say that letting babies go out at night, especially if it's cold, will cause the baby to have colds and become sick. While 9 out of 10 parents that we surveyed believe in this pamahiin, doctors will tell you babies don't get sick just from the cold air outdoors. Any cold or hot room can provide discomfort and cause colds for the baby. Most doctors recommend babies not to be brought to crowded places when they're one to three months to allow the immune system to develop antibodies that will fight against viruses.
#10 Cut a baby’s eyelashes during his first month to make them long and beautiful. Sadly, five out of 10 parents we asked did this. Thin and short lashes is not a sign of poor health or poor child care. Lashes like our hair fall off and regrow in time. It has its purpose so cutting them might do more harm than good.