Niki Cheong is blogging

Malaysian babies bathed in beer?

So, it’s just after working hours and Twitter is abuzz (well, ish) in reaction to this tweet by @omgfacts:

OMGfacts

@omgfacts claim to be “The OFFICIAL fact source of twitter. Posting pointless but amazing facts since Sept 27th, 2009.” Of course, they rarely, if ever, credit their source.

Needless to say, lots of people had things to say about this. The reaction ranged between:

1. Huh? (as in “Really?”)

2. No way! Prove it!

3. Why wasn’t I bathed in beer? *slurp*

4. What a waste of beer.

I’m with number 4. *heh heh*  That said, I responded to some people who were up in arms about it stating that I have heard stories of babies bathed in alcohol.

Here are two incidences (note that I have no scientific proof, and it is probably from belief and culture):

1. My mum’s older brother was a pre-mature baby. Mum was told by her parents that he was tiny like a kitten when born, so they couldn’t actually bath him. What Ah Tai, my great grandmother, did was wipe him with a towel dipped in brandy. I’m assuming it was to protect him from germs (like how alcohol is in medicine to kill bacteria/germs).

2. Dad’s older sister died a few days after she was born. Apparently, she was a blue baby – born with a congenital heart problem – and therefore, they wrapped her in a towel wet with brandy. Alcohol is associated with keeping the body warm, so dad assumes that is the reason.

Why I use words like “assume” and “was told” is because of course, both my parents were not born when these incidents happened. This means that the story was passed down so some accuracy of facts cannot be 100% lah.

But brandy and beer are two very different things (in case some of you who are not alcoholics, don’t know). That said, @andygts did tweet a reply that he was bathed in Guinness Stout as a baby.

This lead me to Google (naturally). So while I couldn’t find much information on babies being bathed in beer, I did find some references to Guinness Stout – not all in Malaysia, a couple were in Singapore.

  • Someone in a Women’s site’s forum mentioned that a nanny suggested her baby be bathed in Guinness Stout if he/she (the baby, not mum) has jaundice. I found a few references similar to this.
  • An new aunt discovered a can of Guinness Stout in the bathroom. She makes a reference to Cleopatra and milk (the Egyptian queen was known to take milk baths – maybe stout didn’t exist then. Heh heh)
  • A mum-to-be has 10 cans of Guinness Stout on her list of things to buy in anticipation of the baby’s arrival.
  • A nurse tells a mum-to-be that bathing a baby in Guinness Stout is good for the baby’s skin and complexion.

This blogpost even has a picture of the baby being bathed in Guinness Stout!

Blogger Reiko confirmed via a tweet that she baths her babies in Guinness as well. @akukelabu also said that babies are bathed in “beer/brandy/alcohol”.

It is important to note here, that in many of the cases, it’s not like they put the baby in a bathtub, crack open a can and pour it over the child. Most of the time, the drinks are mixed with water.

So perhaps there is some truth to the original tweet. But I guess a tweet like that is bound to get a reaction with the use of the word “Malaysians”, as it is generalising.

I tried to look for the one pediatrician that I know to comment on this but he’s in the US and probably asleep now. I’ll update this when I get to chat to him. So yeah, while many people are doing it, I’m not saying if it’s the right or wrong thing to do as I have no expertise in this area. As with most other things to do with your health (and in this case, your child’s), I’d suggest you run it by a doctor (and not just the nurse, or nanny!).

Anyone has similar stories to share? Or have a medical explanation both in favour or against it?

6.46pm Malaysian time (+8 GMT)

Discussion (20)

There are 20 responses to “Malaysian babies bathed in beer?”.

  1. jfook responded:

    · Reply

    Crazy, we only use 70% alcohol as a disinfectant to eliminate microbs and make sure our working table is clean. What the hell is this fellow doing..LOL

  2. […] we have Niki Cheong blogging about this weird practice among the Chinese community, and we’re reposting it here with his permission. Leave your thoughts […]

  3. haha.. very interesting so-called-fact that i ve never heard before either.i think it's probably more like u mentioned, to kill germs

    • Been told that it’s often a treatment for jaundice. My doctor friend living abroad hasn’t heard of it before though!

  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by nikicheong: @unmsia Go for it! It’s up! http://bit.ly/6C7JrR

  5. swee_ping responded:

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    I've heard about it! Guinness Stout or Carlsberg and brandy too. But at the moment now, I can't recalled what is the reason. Think it's something to do with complexion .. hmmm, got to ask my mom and grandma again cos they are the one who told me about it when my nephews was born.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Niki Cheong, Niki Cheong, Niki Cheong, Niki Cheong, Matthew Wilson and others. Matthew Wilson said: @lauraho I don't know for sure, however http://www.nikicheong.com/blog/malaysian-babies-bathed-in-beer.html did find some references. […]

  7. Found that there's link from here.Hihi~ I'm bathed in Guinness when I was a baby and I bath my son with Guinness too. Jaundice is one of the reason because bath in Guinness will reduce heat in baby's body which will help cure the jaundice faster. (imagine baby trap inside mummy's tummy for 9 months without air, sure will heaty one!)Of course, not pure Guinness, 30% Guinness and 70% water. Cannot bath baby's head as the alcohol will stimulate baby's brain. LOL! Superstitious but I do it anyway. Haha.

  8. “It is important to note here, that in many of the cases, it’s not like they put the baby in a bathtub, crack open a can and pour it over the child. Most of the time, the drinks are mixed with water.”thx for the heads up – muahahha

  9. […] among the Chinese community, and we’re reposting it here with his permission (original post here). Leave your thoughts in the […]

  10. Charmaine responded:

    · Reply

    All my 3 kids used to bathe w guiness stout for the 1st few weeks. It is suppose to do good for the skin n cools any prickly heat. Well, just followed the tradition passed on by mom.

  11. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Niki Cheong, Niki Cheong and Zurairi AR, DidYouKnow_That. DidYouKnow_That said: http://www.nikicheong.com/blogs/malaysian-babies-bathed-in-beer.html […]

  12. […] nikicheong] var dd_offset_from_content = 65; jQuery(document).ready(function($) { […]

  13. paraphernaliaaa responded:

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    Soooo…. did you manage to ask your pediatrician friend??

  14. paraphernaliaaa responded:

    · Reply

    Soooo…. did you manage to ask your pediatrician friend??

  15. Elizabeth responded:

    · Reply

    my dad worked in Guinness for over 20 years and my entire family (4 girls) had baby baths with a can of guinness mixed in water. Its to do with the pH in guinness that is good for baby’s skin. its not all the time, just the beginning. And guinness is different from usual beer. I can’t explain the details, but my dad would be able to and I believe him as he was the master brewer in malaysia guinness and trained in germany’s oldest brewery.

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