Monday, June 11, 2012

Black Hair Rule # 1: Don't Cut A Baby's Hair Until Age One!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Now you know you've never seen a photo of my kids here on this blog, and you never will. Some things -- not a lot, but some -- remain sacred. But I can't do justice to this post without sharing a shot of Babygirl. Here she is.


Well, at least the top one-third of her. What I want you to get a look at is her unruly hair that is clearly a hot mess and in her way. So, part of the reason her hair a hot mess is because she just ran strained pears through it and before that, she'd been outside sweating, so sweat + pears = hot mess. But the other reason Babygirl's hair is mildly problematic is that it's always in her face. I try to put it up in ponytails, but Babygirl has hair like chicken feathers. It's soft and thin and won't hold a style for more than two minutes. El esposo keeps begging me to let him at least trim her bangs, but he knows I'm going to say no, because everybody knows that Black hair rule #1 is that you never, ever, ever cut a Black baby's hair before she turns one! That's like biblical law. Like 100-years-of-bad-luck-or-else law.

I did an unofficial survey of random Black women and they all confirmed that you don't cut a Black baby's hair before age one. When I asked why, the reasons varied and included:
"I don't know, you just don't do it."
"If you cut it, their hair will never grow."
"Cutting a baby's hair is just bad luck. For the baby and the mother."
"I'm not sure exactly, but I know it has something to do with the baby's skull not being fully hardened."
And as Babygirl's godmother said,  "You might just invite bad spirits if you touch her hair too soon."

Okay then.

The way I look at it, Babygirl has less than two months before we can trim some of those locks so she can actually see. I think she'll survive. I don't know if I actually believe the legends, but it's a tradition I've followed with my boys and so I'm going to keep it up, for tradition's sake. We have so few of those left anyway. And while I'm 99 percent sure that bad spirits have better things to do than hunt us down because of an early hair cut, that one percent would probably keep me up at night.

What do you think, dear readers? Have you heard that you should never cut a baby's hair before age one? Is this really only a Black thing? What are the consequences you've heard for early cutters? And I know Black people can't be the only ones with wacky traditions around a child's first year of life. Let's hear yours.

You know I'm listening.



Nif said...

I'm completely ignorant about hair traditions, but I'm really impressed with how much hair that wee child has. Long!
I think it was around our boy's first birthday that I got fed up with the fussing at combing time and snipped some of the snarly bits at the back of his head.

Olivia said...

I was under the impression it was an American thing unrelated to race as I had never heard of it before, but many people on the playground told me about it... So of course we adhered to it (not that hard since neither of them had the beautiful unruly hair your girl seems to have!).

The Golden Papaya said...

It may actually be a Biblical thing, because that's what the observant Jews do, too. It has to do with the peyes (those curls the men and boys have above their ears), I think.
As you can see, I'm not exactly clear on the whole thing either.
I cut my first son's hair when he was 5 months, because it looked awful. The second son's I didn't cut til he was almost 4, and cut it himself.

LT said...

Yeah, we got those snarly bits too.

That's funny. Maybe it is an American thing...but started by Black people?

Or a biblical thing indeed. Hmmm...LOL!

soy yo said...

I think some cultures shave babys' heads to make the hair grow in thicker, supposedly. I think it's India and/or Pakistan where they do this.

Heather said...

This is how/why our loc journey began... because long after the first birthday I *still* could not stand the thought of cutting their hair! At any rate-- yes, we were told by numerous people (all Black, and including many in Haiti) not to cut our boys' hair until after their first birthday. In Haiti they repeatedly told us it would be "bad luck."

Anonymous said...

This is a tradition for white people, too. I'm not sure why. Another think I've heard is that babies should not wear shoes until their first birthday.

LT said...

Soy Yo,
I've heard the same thing about Indian hair traditions. And I'm contemplating shaving babygirl's head entirely.

Thanks for reinforcing the idea that Black hair traditions span the diaspora.

Ok, so it's not a Black thing? Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I am white and I am married to a black man. My son's hair was getting so very long around 9-10 months that I said I started talking about getting his hair cut. My MIL kept telling me that you can't cut a baby's hair until he is 1. I thought she was crazy...I had never heard anything like that before. I ended up cutting it. I thought it was a Jamaican thing.

Revolutionary Beauty said...

I just trimmed my 5 mo old girls hair....we are Black hope we are safe from bad spirits but I just wanted to neaten her look so I did it myself. She is a really calm baby so it wasnt hard to snip quickly. I saved the hair.

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Anonymous said...

I'm Hispanic and I have 3 kids 2boys and 1 girl. That's a Mexico traditions to, I really don't know why but if you were to ask any Hispanic about cut a baby hair before 1they well tell you no no no don't do it some say it takes away the straight from the baby's eyes other will say that the baby will struggle talking. But when I ask how are why nobody knows. Even though I don't believe it I still didn't cut my baby hair until they turn 1.

Anonymous said...

I beleive u dont cut a child hair until they are 1, but my nonlistening baby father took it apond himself to cut my child head. Boy was I mad, but I hope that dont bring bad spirits to me and my son. I guess i to try again withiut a crazy person. My way or rhe highway. He chose the highway a long time ago. Smh

Lakeisha Hutton said...

My son is ten months a and refuses to comb his hair. They say that if I cut his hair before he is one he will become a mute. Where is the medical evidence to that? Jamaicans really has some stupid myths regarding babies.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 daughter's and a son. My heritage is Jamaican and I too struggle with this cultural myth. I would like to trim my 8 month old daughters hair but only because I want her hair to grow back thicker and even. I never cut the first two purely for traditions sake but now I'm curious if cutting will help my daughters hair grow fuller and longer. If anyone out there has done this please let me know the results.

Anonymous said...

I was raised in Mississippi n da saying is not to cut a child's hair before da age of two. Because it will slow their speech.

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Anonymous said...

I'm from Zimbabwe and they meaning older people believe in cutting the hair from the womb. I never understood why or what was wrong with it considering its washed and clean! I'm glad I'm not in Zimbabwe right now coz I'm pretty sure my MIL would have taken it upon herself to cut my baby's hair!!

Anonymous said...

Don't know wat the fuss is about cuTting babies hair, am a nigerian and my daughter is 1, her usually empty scalp is now almost full and lenghty, don't think am going to cut it alall, might trim d ends but dats about it.

Anonymous said...

Well i have a four month old baby boy and i cutted his hair when he was a month old,
Reason being he had eczymer so i had to do something about it am a black person and his dad doesnt follow the culture of cutting babies hair at age 1.
He didnt fuss about us cutting my boy's hair.And about the evil spirit prayer its the only way to curse the evil spirit pray for your babies and yourself thank you.

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Jenny said...

Too Funny! I have a 4 month old and I want to trim his hair already. Iv'e been asking around as to why women (with a straight face) tell me not to cut it and all of the reasons are the ones you stated in your post. Lol. funny

kimorina said...

Lol. Evrything on this site is just so crazy. It all depends. I'm african. Its the mother who has the decision to make depending on how bad baby's hair look. I'm not gonna take that chance of cutting my baby's hair. I want my home to be BAD SPIRIT FREE

Anonymous said...

I have a 4 month old baby I cut his hair because at 2 month he would pull it out when he would get frustrated with me breastfeeding. It was difficult to hold him my breast in position and keep the socks on his hand s so he wouldn't pull his hair out. So I cut it ... I fully respect tradition but I don't believe in things that don't make sense. When I asked my mom why I shouldnt cut my sons hair she said it protect his soft hair will not protect his soft spot if he gets hurt. Lol. However I do believe a long time ago before civilization it did protect babies head from the cold but now we have blankets ...hats ...beanie ..ect. When I was in cosmetology I learned that the ends of your hair do not effect a persons hair grown when it come to cutting your hair. .. its the same as cutting you nail s. In other words your hair growth is effected by what's going in your mouth... and what's going on inside your body. So there is no medical or scientific fact that anything bad will happen to your child's texture...brain or.....scalp by cutting they're they're hair. But it may strengthen the hair itself , but the final decision is yours I never trust things that don't make sense lol someone simple may have sterted this myth as a reason they're child was challenged and now we're still holding to whaat was experience before science in medicine s. As for bad spirits and bad luck .. pray for your children as far as the other stuff goes ....we all should !

Anonymous said...

Honestly, after reading all these old posts...the jury is still out. My babys hair is thinning in the worst possible places. The most strategically placed headbands wont solve my dilemma. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I have an 1 yr old boy and yes he have head full of hair and my grandmother said do not cut his hair bcuz he mite have problems with speech

Marissa Eziomowho said...

I cut my sons hair at 3 months, it was getting to long and unruly. I get funny looks when I tell old timers this. Its my son, my choice. My God is bigger than the boogy man, so my son and myself are protected by My Heavenly Father and in the Name of Jesus, and it is so!

Dulce Torres said...

Well i also waited till my son turned 1 just to make sure but my sister in law and my friend shaved their kids when they were 5 months and their kids speak better than mine so i dnt know if thats true my son is 5 already and is having trouble speaking: (

Anonymous said...

The only thing you should wait for before cutting a baby boys hair is for his soft spot to go away. That's only if you're using clippers.

Arwen said...

White people are told this, too. Trying to find out why.

Regardless, I trimmed my first daughter's hair at 6 months. It was still long enough for a pony before she was a year.

My second daughter had a funky duck tail cut off at 3 months.

My third daughter lost all of her hair at 4 months, and it grew in a different color. She's 11 months now, and I am thinking about snipping some bangs. It's already in her eyes.

If you exclude my first having Autism, and she has displayed signs of that long before that hair cut, there has been no bad luck. =)