Usog It’ believed that one should avoid praising a baby because it might bring “usog,” or bad luck, to the child. To prevent baby from getting sick—involving some abdominal malady ¸ the mother says “Puwera usog”. A dot of lipstick is placed on baby’s forehead to ward off evil forces. If baby gets usog, therapies are urged: applying the pulp side of a calamansi on the temple or stomach, spitting chewed rice grains and placing them on the abdomen, or applying spit on the tummy by the person who caused usog.
The real deal: Whether the cause is mystical in nature is debatable. Since baby’s immune system is still weak, the interaction with many people may increase the risk of catching a virus. Your baby may be getting over-stimulated by all the attention, resulting into fussing and crying.
Hamog Literally, “hamog” means dew. The elderly advise us to cover a child’s head because “baka mahamugan,” causing colds or coughs. The real deal: The belief follows that hamog may cause a child to get sick, possibly because hamog occurs during the cold hours of the day. Medical research says people catch more colds during colder seasons because they are indoors more and in close proximity to other people possibly carrying the virus. However, recent findings also posit that colds are more common in cold weather because noses are colder—the cooling dries out the mucus lining in the nose that traps viruses, making one more susceptible to being infected.
Treating Kabag A common practice in Filipino households is to rub acete de manzanilla on baby’s tummy after her morning and evening bath to avoid kabag. The real deal: The relief that acete de manzanilla gives may come from the heat it gives off, masking the pain caused by gas. Too much may burn baby’s skin, though. Try filling a hot water bottle with warm water and wrapping it in a towel. Place it on your belly and let baby lie on top of you. Be careful not to make the water too hot. Alternatively, apply a heating pad, set on low, on baby’s tummy. Massage her tummy with a gentle rub or burp him. If she is crying, soothe her so she doesn’t swallow any more air. If you are breastfeeding, check your diet if anything you’re consuming causes baby to be gassy.
Bigkis A baby binder, or bigkis, is wrapped around the baby’s midsection, covering her bellybutton. Many do this because they’ve been told it protects the umbilical cord stump while it’s healing. Others believe it prevents the bellybutton from becoming an outie.
The real deal: It is best for the umbilical cord stump to be exposed to air to dry faster. If you must use a bigkis, make sure you keep it clean and change it after every diaper change to prevent infection. Keep it loosely fastened: if too tight, it may impede accessory muscles in the abdomen and may restrict normal breathing.