The World's Sweetest Baby Traditions

When you have a kid, you're suddenly swept into all kinds of family customs. American moms from other cultures share the sweet, funny, and unusual baby rituals they trace back to their homelands.


Jenny and James Derry with baby twins Kai and Rhys

Courtesy of Jan Michele Graves

Jenny Park Derry, mom to twins Kai and Rhys, 11 months; Reston, Virginia

Seaweed soup was a staple food for me back when I was pregnant with my twins and after they were born. I ate a ton of it! It's made with seaweed, sesame oil, garlic, and beef, and it's thought to help with milk production. Nursing is widely practiced in South Korea, where people believe strongly in the nutrition it provides and the bonding it promotes. My mother helped me a great deal, teaching me how to have the babies latch on and massaging my breasts to make the milk circulate better. I had a lactation consultant, so I basically knew what to do, but when my breasts were hurting the most, my mother would sit with me all day. Korean mothers, in general, are incredibly supportive!

Many years ago, a lot of Korean babies wouldn't survive past 100 days, so that milestone is still significant in our culture. Even today, new parents hold a 100-day celebration for their babies and invite lots of friends and family.

It's believed that if you share special food with 100 people, the babies will have a long and healthy life, so it can be a bigger occasion than even a first birthday party. We held ours at a restaurant. Since we had twins, I worried they wouldn't grow at the same rate as other kids, but when they turned 100 days old, I trusted they were going to be healthy and strong and just fine. My husband, James, is a Korean adoptee, and growing up, he wasn't exposed to many Korean customs. It meant so much to both of us that we could have this very traditional ritual for our boys.

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