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The Chinese baby month.

When my wife, Echo gave birth to our son Miles, she had to undergo a “baby month”. During this month a lot odd things happened.


  • Echo wasn’t allowed to eat any fruit, raw vegetables, or drink any cold drinks, every glass of water she had was scalding.
  • She wasn’t allowed to wash her hair for a month.
  • She wasn't allowed to leave the house for over a month.
  • Miles, our new traveler, had to be bathed in tea and only tea.



These practices are a mix of cultures from south east China. The fundamental idea behind these customs comes from traditional ideas, much of it originating from Taoist philosophy. Taoism believes that the world is created from two forces: The Yin and the Yang. Both forces must exist for harmony that includes inside the human body. If one falls out of balance, people will get sick. Many Chinese believe that, everything, including food, has a “nature”. Natures such as cold, hot, warm, ect. A nature, isn’t always related to temperature.

The concept of viruses and bacteria are mostly nonsensical in China. If you get sick it’s because of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are tradition, tradition is culture, and culture doesn’t go away in the face of science.


The main principle of the Traditional baby month is protecting new mommy from “coldness”, which the Chinese believe might lead to disease in the future. The way to keep her away from coldness is by keeping her hot or warm. Now this doesn’t mean that the house is warm, not even in mid-winter, they leave the windows open and the heat off as the weather drops to near freezing. The coldness of the weather is natural, for 50 years the government has banned public heating in this part of china, as such people are used to wearing a half dozen layers of clothing to stay warm indoors.  She couldn't wash her hair for a month because traditionally heating water wasn’t easy, moreover, drying hair was impossible, so to keep warm, people wouldn’t wash.


In the modern world, she can wash her hair and dry it, but her mother wouldn’t let her, because her mother is ignoring the logic that I just explained and believes that washing hair while in the 30 day baby month period will get her sick because the act of showering is “cold” even when the water is hot. On the bright side there is now waterless shampoo that Echo was able to use after about a week of me coughing as held her at night.


She couldn't eat any fruit, raw vegetables, or drink any cold drinks, not even cold water because these are all “cold foods” even when they are hot. She had to drink boiling water for the whole month. She did eat lots of other foods, but only when ginger was added. Ginger it turns out is a "hot" food. Scientifically speaking ginger aids in blood circulation, so yes, ginger really does warm you up. On the bad side of these wine is also a “hot” food so her mother kept spiking her soups with wine.


 She wasn't allowed to leave the house for a month because according to tradition doing any physical activity during the baby month, including walking out of the house would exhaust her.


Her mother was there to help, to do outside home activities like shopping, however in reality she was the jail keeper, making sure my wife would never left. My mother-in-law believed that if my wife were to leave, then she would have gotten sick because exerting oneself too much during this fragile time can upset the yin and the yang.


There is nothing like watching your baby be bathed in a tub of tea. He seemed to enjoy it. This is a tradition from my mother-in-law’s town. They wash the baby in tea to make sure it is clean and to protect its skin. This one actually makes a lot of sense. Tea is alkaline. So like soap it would help germs and debris fall off the body.


All traditions once made sense, although sometimes, their sense is long gone.