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Revealed: The craziest tips and superstitions told to new parents

If there’s something men and women have to get used to when they have children, it’s receiving advice

Eve Dugdale

Published: Updated:

“I did it with all three of my sons and they turned out fine. You should try it too…”

As well as sleepless nights, if there’s something men and women have to get used to when they have children it’s receiving advice from all and sundry.

Whether it’s tips on breastfeeding from strangers in the street or interfering in-laws and their helpful hints, advice, however unwelcome, will always be close at hand.

So it was no surprise that a thread regarding just that went crazy on the mumsnet website just recently.

It came about after one user ‘Mrsb26’ posed the question 'What is the daftest/funniest/most eyebrow raising piece of advice you've been given as a new parent?'

More than 200 parents offered up their own experiences with responses ranging from somebody advising a mum not to tickle her daughter’s feet for fear she would develop a stammer in later life to waking three week old babies in the night to put them on a potty to train them out of nappies!

We asked mums for the craziest advice they’d ever received.

British mum Holly Stringer, who lives in Dubai, says her Lebanese mother in law has plenty of unusual tips for her.

She says: “My mother in law thinks rose water cures everything! Whether it’s in food, used on nappy rash or for fevers, she uses it a lot.”

While many will appreciate the benefits of rose water, salt in the hair may be a more unusual one for people to get their heads round. Holly adds: “Her advice on finding out the sex of a baby before they are born is odd. It involved putting salt in my hair when I wasn't looking and then if I noticed by scratching my head, it was a boy apparently. I only found out after my son was born that she had done that but it drove me crazy at the time because I couldn’t work out how it got into my hair!”

Indian expat Aashini Arora’s mother also had unusual habits pre-birth.

She explains: “My mum was told drinking fresh coconut water would make her baby fair. She likes having it so she drank it anyway and I turned out fair enough. She didn't have any at all though when she was pregnant with my brother and he turned out so dark. We doubt it's related but it makes us laugh anyhow. Saffron mixed in milk is another one that many Indian women use to supposedly make their babies fairer.

“Also, there was a lot of superstition around eclipses. If there's an eclipse you're supposed to stay in bed all day. No work, no writing anything, no chopping or cutting anything in the kitchen or else the baby will have health problems.”

While Aashini’s mum believed she could impact her baby’s skin pre-birth, American Ellen Hudson’s mother had advice for improving baby’s skin once they were born. No fancy moisturisers were required either.

baby shutterstock
baby shutterstock

Ellen says: “I’m not a mum yet but I always remember my mum telling me about a friend of hers who wiped her babies’ faces with their wet nappies. They were only soiled with urine but still, the lady said it would make their skin nice. How gross is that? The two children are grown up now and do have great skin so who knows, maybe it works!”

Mum of three Jane Thomason said her mother advised her to put a coin on her newborn baby’s bellybutton and fasten with a bandage for a few weeks. Apparently this ensures babies won’t have belly buttons that stick out when they’re older.

And while the eucalyptus and menthol in Vicks is said to relieve nose congestion and relieve catarrh when rubbed on the chest, more recently mums and dads have been using it elsewhere to aid a good night’s sleep.

British dad Saqab Rasul says: “Putting Vicks on the soles of our daughter’s feet was both the weirdest and best thing we ever did. It really works.”

While British mum of three Angie Stevens’s grandmother told her to rub butter on a child’s bruise, South African Leandra Meintjes was advised to give her babies a few grains of brown sugar with olive oil to relieve constipation.

Putting a clock in a baby’s cot to mimic a mother’s heart beat and settle the infant at night was a common one. However, South African Lauren Van Zyl was advised to do something far more unusual to settle her daughter at night.

She says: “I was told to put a potato in the crib near my baby’s feet to help her sleep through the night. It didn’t work but I was desperate enough to try!”

baby feet shutterstock
baby feet shutterstock