Round and round your baby’s head

Leading up to my labour, I kept being told that I better mould my childs head as it’ll come out weird. My initial thoughts:

Huh? You can see into the future?!

… so as you can imagine, when Rosey arrived, I was very apprehensive about having these elders touch, let alone look, at her. It’s a shame I had these feelings because looking back these people weren’t just outsiders or “well wishers” but they were meant to be family. And I don’t know about other new mothers but when you have a child the most important people you want to leave your child with is other family members.

I was being told to place a saucer underneath her head when she sleeps; place a hard book underneath her head when she’s laying down; and later pinch her nose every now and again to make sure it doesn’t grow fat! The amusing thing about the last “advice” was that those “advising” me didn’t know about this “custom” until it was highlighted to them by a random elder… and from that point it became part of the bible of baby head moulding. Later, the head moulding tips turned into tips on “how to get rid of all the facial hair from a baby”, which perplexed me even more. The natural hair that’s on a baby is there to serve a purpose and it drops off anyways… plus, any woman who has taken a hair out through abrasion will know it grows back thicker and stronger!

Well, quite frankly, I didn’t listen. Every part of my motherly instinct was fighting against it simply because of how I went into my pregnancy – total reliance on God. This head moulding thing seemed to go against my belief system and so I fought against it by smiling, nodding and ignoring it all. As my own mother very nicely put it:

People can spend as much time moulding a head but if God decrees, the baby could fall from a bed and hurt their skull. Then what? Has that time and energy spent moulding a head really been worth it? Why not just enjoy the baby God gave you?

My heart rejoiced when my mother said this. It’s exactly the point I was screaming to make but had to be polite enough not to say.

Another strange part of this phenomenon is that if a baby isn’t head moulded then the mother is made to feel like she’s not giving her child the best start in life. I say this with experience, as well as unfortunately hearing other mothers go through this guilt trip. One friend of mine had an emergency C-section. Her baby arrived with a really round head – obviously due  to the skull not having to compress whilst moving through the passages. Her baby was in the womb and then picked out of the womb. However, even with this in mind she was scolded for not head moulding! It’s shocking how many mothers have to put up with this nonsense. How can people who clearly find it hard to reflect, let alone appreciate, the beauty of God’s creation think that they have a right to make a mother feel like this?

In my eyes, till this day, Rosey is a gift from God and has been created beautifully. She will grow the way God has decreed her to grow.

She was born, by The Grace of God, naturally at 40 weeks + 6 days, weighing 8lbs 7.5oz, and didn’t have any head abnormality or trauma whilst making her way out of the womb. I understand that if she did have a cranio-facial abnormality that needed medical assistance, in order to not compromise her brain development, such as a medical helmet then we would have used it. However, as she was born without trauma I couldn’t understand why I should disrupt the gift God had given me and ultimately show ungratefulness for this gift by complaining about the way she looked?! It just didn’t make any sense to me. It still doesn’t. Surely I want people to look at Rosey’s intellect and her character rather than basing their friendship on whether she has a perfectly round head?!

In the end, more so to make my life easier, especially as I already had the challenges of breastfeeding, I made sure to do the following:

  • Agreed to take a head moulding pillow from a family friend and use it when Rosey was in her baby swing. Thankfully, she wasn’t in the swing that many times and the pillow was a soft one so I thought it wasn’t as bad an idea compared to the community member who advised putting a brick underneath the head!
  • Agreed to take a saucer into my room and when certain “head moulding advocates” would come I would make sure the saucer was there in the moses basket (and Rosey would be in my arms).
  • Pray a lot when “head moulding advocates” would take Rosey and start moulding her head with a towel or oil; and after a minute of hearing Rosey cry (because she always did) I would say I was clumsy and had forgotten how long it had been since her last feed. Then I would quickly take her away whilst praying to God He raises our child to have a greater character than those she’s around.

It’s up to you what you want to do. It’s a challenge getting through to such people. If God has veiled them from being grateful then all you can do is pray God lifts those veils and gives you strength to cope in the meantime.

May God protect our children from the harms of others and the evil eye; and raise them to have inner beauty as He has created their outward beautiful. Ameen.

Rosey (and any future children), if later in life you read this, then I’d like you to know the following:

YOU are amazingly beautiful the way God has created you.
Whenever I see you wake up I thank God He has given me another moment to see you live; another moment for me to worship Him; and another moment to be your mother. I didn’t need to mould your head as I didn’t see it part of my worshipping God and neither did I see any benefit for you in it.
I am sorry that I tried some of the “get rid of baby hair” tips, mainly because of the pressure I was under, but I’m glad you communicated with me that you didn’t like it and so I stopped.
No doubt, certain people will comment that I never listened to them in this matter. It’s really your choice how you perceive their comments. I just hope you understand the importance of making friends with those who appreciate your good character rather than your looks.
You are a Muslima and in that you should rejoice as God has given you so much already. I want you to be always tapping into those gifts God has given you and to be grateful for them. Head moulding seemed to devalue you (my gift from God) and so I started your life making sure I led by example (in being grateful for the gifts God has given me).
And God Knows Best.

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2 Responses to Round and round your baby’s head

  1. Umm M says:

    OMG the same things were happening to me!! Nose pinching, constantly telling me that I will ruin my sons head, and the hair on the forehead thing. People mean well and are just trying to impart their knowledge, its a shame that they do it in such a patronising and forceful way. My eldest son would have his face scrubbed by a family member because he was “too dark” and to this day, I am told to wash his face properly. My son (who is 3 now) asks me after washing his face “Mama, is my face clean, is it still dark?”. Talk about giving the kid issues!

    • asmakarif says:

      May God be gentle with us. How unfair for your child to be subjected to such issues. How do you answer?

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