6 traditional Malay customs for your baby

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Malay mummies and daddies, are you feeling a little lost about the different customs you will have to follow for your new bundle of joy? Here’s our guide to help you understand more about the various traditional practices for Malay babies in Singapore.

Malays believe that babies are “blessings from God”, and with their total fertility rate (TFR) coming in at 1.64 compared to Chinese in Singapore  (1.08) and Indians (1.09), this second largest minority group appear to have strong family values.

But the next generation of Malay parents here might have lost touch with their traditional Malay customs, so we put together a list of different Malay customs for babies you should know.

This is especially helpful for all the new Ayah and Ibu (or Bapak and Mak) out there to help you welcome your little bundle of joy!

Malay customs for babies

Malay customs for babies: Massaging your baby helps her to relax and sleep better.

1. Urut and barut (Traditional massage and tummy wrap)

As soon as your little prince or princess arrives into the world, he or she will get the royal treatment with a relaxing massage, which is commonly practiced in Asia.

Traditional Malay infant massage, or urut bayi, is usually done when your little one is only two days old, where she is given a gentle, head-to-toe massage with virgin coconut oil every day after a nice warm bath.

This five- to ten-minute massage is a wonderful opportunity for mummy or daddy to bond with your baby. Studies show show that it positively affects infant hormones that control stress, reduces crying, helps your bub relax and sleep better, as well as encourages interaction between you and your child.

After the massage, a baby tummy wrap (barut), which is made of cloth and has string-ties or a Velcro strip, is then wrapped around your little one’s abdomen to keep the area warm.

Although there is no scientific evidence, it is believed that this helps to prevent colic as well as support a newborn’s weak abdominal muscles.

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Malay customs for babies: To “bedung” or swaddle your baby helps him to sleep better and reduces the chances of SIDS.

2. Bedung (Swaddling)

Swaddling a newborn is a common tradition across the globe. In traditional Malay customs for babies, little ones are usually swaddled in small blankets not just for warmth, but to give them a sense of security, calm them down and minimise their startle reflex since their arms and legs are snugly wrapped up.

Hospitals also automatically swaddle babies before presenting them to parents, as this helps the baby to sleep better, cry less and prevent them from scratching themselves.

Studies have also shown that babies who sleep on their tummies are at higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so newborns who are swaddled properly and sleep on their back are less likely to fidget and shift enough to end up sleeping on their tummy instead.

What other Malay customs for babies are there? Read on to find out!

Baby Ages & Stages