Picking a Name
Naming a child is very important and is considered bad luck to do so before the baby is born. The name that is chosen is always picked very carefully with much thought and consideration towards the meaning. It is sometimes practiced to call a newborn baby an animal name or ugly to trick evil spirits into thinking the baby is not worth kidnapping.
30-Day Rule — 坐月子
One custom in particular that has directly been influenced from the past is the 30-Day Rule. Because of the high mortality rate of mother and newborn babies, Chinese to this day pay extra special attention to the health of the mother & baby for the first month after the birth. The mother and baby are not allowed to leave the house, and sometimes, even the bed. Since a newborn baby’s immune system is still developing during the first month after birth, this seclusion helps keep mother & baby away from illnesses. Other benefits that can be seen are that it gives the mother a chance to recover from giving birth, bond with the newborn child, and adjust to having a little baby in the home.
After giving birth a mother is to be kept warm at all times. She is never to be without socks. She also needs to eat foods that are considered warm. She is not allowed to go outside, and while inside, needs to stay away from drafts, this will help the mother keep from getting a cold. She needs to eat plenty of food rich in iron & calcium to help recover from the delivery. Some favorite dishes to serve are fish soup and pig knuckles. She is also not to take a shower or wash her hair those first 30 days. It is thought that by taking a shower she will absorb a lot of water and will catch a cold. Brushing the hair is thought to bring on a headache.
After 30 days the family will have a big party celebrating the birth of the child and that is when most of the family will meet the child for the first time. Gifts of eggs, chicken, and red envelopes filled with money are given at this party and are usually given in even numbers.
It is a sign of beauty if the back of the head is very flat. To acquire this beautiful shape rice will often be put into the baby’s pillow. Sometimes a book is even tied around the back of the baby’s head.
100 Day Celebration
Another celebration is often held 100 days after the birth of the child. During this festivity family members bring fish & chicken to eat. This is typically the time the child is allowed to go outdoors.
Extra Attention as a Foreigner
One of the things you will face with having children in China is the extra attention that they get from other people. Strangers love to give advice about raising children – especially about young children. When preparing to go somewhere, parents should be prepared to hear some perceived criticisms toward your parenting. For example, it can often be heard that your child is not dressed warmly enough. Many times it does not matter how many layers you have bundled your child up in. In most cases this is not a real criticism, but a way to fuss over your baby and show care and appreciation.
In many cases the local people have never seen a foreign baby before and it greatly interests them. There is a tendency to crowd around and even touch the child. It can be overwhelming and even cause a dislike by the child and/or parents. It is advised that each family set their own boundaries for how they deal with strangers. This can also be a great opportunity for parents to share with their children about diversity in the world.