Twizzle’s post about superstitions has me thinking about Korean beliefs and practices around childbirth and babies. In the comments, someone mentioned the idea that massaging babies’ legs would make them grow, and I smiled in recognition because my father-in-law used to do that when my daughter was a newborn.
My mother-in-law and sister-in-law also told me to eat a lot of miyuk-guk (seaweed soup) to aid in my recovery from childbirth. My husband cooked a big pot of it for me, and I choked it down, but it was like taking medicine.
My sister-in-law, who gave birth to twins shortly after I had my daughter, stayed close to home for a few months afterward. Because a long time ago it was common for babies in Korea to die in infancy, no one outside of the immediate family circle is supposed to see a newborn for 100 days. (The hundred-day mark is celebrated with a big party called a baek-il.) But my husband and I took our daughter out to the supermarket just a few days after she was born.
I didn't understand why my inlaws always wanted me to bundle the baby in a lot of blankets, even on hot days. “Isn’t she cold?” they would ask me if I didn’t put socks on her little feet, or she was wearing a short-sleeved shirt.
Other traditions make more sense to me. I like the way Korean mamas carry their babies around in back carriers. I used the Baby Bjorn a lot, and it was often the only way I could get my daughter to stop crying in our early days, but the back carrier works better, because you can get more done around the house with a baby on your back than you can with the baby in front of you.
Also, a lot of Korean-Americans I know co-sleep with their children. Koreans co-slept long before anyone ever heard of Dr. Sears. Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, but it worked pretty well for us when my daughter was breast-feeding. My husband had no problem with it, because until his family moved to the U.S. when he was in middle school, he slept on the floor under a big mosquito net with his parents and brothers.
What other Korean baby traditions do you know? Which ones did you follow?