Stuff Mexicans Like #15: Extreme Baby Bundling

2 Jun
Babies are a gift from Heaven. It is a parent’s job to protect these little bundles of joy. In Mexico, this involves more swaddling than eskimos in Antarctica. Mothers can often be seen in San Miguel de Allende waiting for the bus carrying a gigantic lump of furry blankets. As the sweat drips down Mami’s forehead, she will peek under the four layers of cotton, wool, and polyester swaddling to check on her sleeping, or half-cooked bebé.

The reasons are multiple for this “protección.” Sun, breeze (mal aire), dust, sustos (sudden scares), and jealous looks from others (mal de ojo) can all hacerle daño (cause harm). Aparte, newborn babies cannot yet regulate their own body temperature, thus the pink beanies, thermal blankets, and fuzzy white booties. However in Mexico, babies of all ages are considered to have frio (cold) pretty much at all times without the help of Mami and Abue’s (gramma’s) coverings.

Mexicans believe that getting cold inevitably leads to sickness, especially if the frio comes on suddenly. They do not walk around barefoot ever, even in their own clean tiled homes, even on very hot days. This is well-known as the fastest and surest way to get gripe (a cold/flu). It’s also known as one of the most naco (low class; uneducated) and tacky things one can do. My friend’s mother here in SMA shared a story with me about the time she went blind as a child for walking around in wet clothes all day after swimming in the presa (canal). Eventually she went to el DF (Mexico City) for a surgery that left her seeing blurry trees. Presently she squints most of the time. Por andar mojada, she explains (for being out & about wet). I’m not sure if she was trying to inform me or warn me with her cuento, as she has been appalled on more than one occasion by my daughter’s lack of heavy parkas…. in the summer.

CONSEJOS (advice)
I remember when I was pregnant here in San Miguel de Allende, the advice slowly started flowing to me from aquaintances and even strangers. No corras. Don’t run. No comas lo frio cuando hace frio. Don’t eat cold things when it’s cold. Duerme la siesta. Take a nap. Toma más té. Drink more tea. No tomes café. Stop drinking coffee.Toma más leche. Drink more milk. Come frijoles. Eat beans. Toma agua. Drink water. Desayuna. Eat breakfast. No trabajes tanto. Don;t work so much. Necesitas mas Jamaica. You need more hibiscus water. Cuidado manejando. Be careful driving. Ponte un sueter. Put on a sweater. No andes descalzada como India. Don’t go around barefoot like an Indian.Ya no uses chanclas. Stop wearing flip-flops. No subas la escalera. Don’t climb stairs. No levantes nada. Don’t lift anything. And this was just from the men!

When my baby was born, I really got an ear-full! Tápala. Cover her up! Ponla otra cobija. Put another blanket on her! ¿No tiene frio?  Doesn’t she have cold?¿No le das fórmula? You don’t give her formula? Dale un té. Give her a tea. Tápala. Cover her up! Toma cerveza para producir más leche. Drink beer to produce more milk. Toma atole para producir más leche. Drink Atole rice drink to produce more milk. Tápala. Cover her up! ¿No tiene frio? Doesn’t she have cold?¿Se va a enfermar. She’s going to get sick. El aire le hace daño. Wind and cold air will harm her. Tápala. Cover her up! El sol le hace daño. The sun will do her harm. Cobíjala. Blanket her. ¿No tiene una chamarra? Doesn’t she have a coat? Se va a enfermar. She’s going to get sick. ¿No tiene un gorro? Doesn’t she have a hat? Tápa su cabeza. Cover her head. Tápala. Cover her up. Tápala. Cover her up. Tápala…. Cover her up…

En fin, if you want to get in good with Mexicans, make sure the baby shower gift you bring is a blanket. Always a blanket. Multiple blankets of all sizes, fabrics, textures, colors, and thickness. If you have your own baby and will be in viewing range of Mexicans, keep the child covered up, for crying out loud! As far as blankets go, the Mexican rules are,  “When in doubt, wear it out.” And, “When not in doubt, wear it out.”  If you are caught unawares by a Mexican and your child is not wearing a parka, snow hat, or multiple layers of quiltings, don’t panic! Always keep a spare thermal blanket in your diaper bag and immediately cover the child’s head, shaking your own head, confused, at your temporary recklessness. Mexicans all around will release a collective sigh of relief and you will be “in” again if you can avoid future neglect.


As far as your comments go with other Mexcians, especially in public places, a solid question-suggestion passive-aggressive combo like, No tienes frio?” (You’re not cold?) or “No quieres un sueter?” (You don’t want a sweater?) lets Mexicans know that you know what time it is. You are all on the same page with the frio debate. You will be much more likely to be invited to the next 5 de mayo fiesta.

My baby on a warm day. Absolute negligence.
Mexican baby on a hot day. Proud parenting.
You be the judge.

8 Responses to “Stuff Mexicans Like #15: Extreme Baby Bundling”

  1. Kim June 7, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Funny! All so true!

  2. Jezy September 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    This is so funny and true, I’m Surprised on of the advises wasn’t “ponle una pasita en su hombligo para que no le quede salido.

  3. Ash February 17, 2014 at 12:23 am #

    As a med student, I just NEED to say that babies are able to regulate their own body temps… Babies sweat and shiver. Therefore raising the core temperature of an infant can lead to hyperthermia in the brain, substantially causing seizures and brain injury. This directly affects IQ level later on in life.

    • LizzPr3 September 3, 2014 at 8:33 am #

      I see this so much, and it’s terrifying. Even on the hottest days these children are sweating and miserable. It’s borderline neglect to not have appropriate clothing. I know this is a light hear-ted article but it does have serious health consequences!

  4. jlester35 January 25, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

    When I lived in Mexico the Mexicans were always telling me that the wind would make me sick or the cold would make me sick. I tried to explain to them that wind and cold doesn’t cause one to become sick. They don’t understand. It can be frustrating when you are doing something that you know is okay but everyone is telling you otherwise.

    • garrisonmi November 1, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

      Gracias for your comment, J. Actually, sudden cold air is recognized around the world to cause illness- even in the US! A “chest cold” is the result of very cold air suddenly entering your lungs. Mexicans have fabulous remedies for it (that work!) and are all natural. It happened to me for the first time last year when I entered an air-conditioned theater and stayed 2 hours for my film. My chest hurt badly all evening and for 3 days! I cried from the pain and thought it may be a heart attack! Mexicans quickly explained to me that “te entro frio.” (Cold entered you.) And they were right! I drank hot chocolate with leaves of Ruda (rue in English) and rubbed rubbing alcohol all over my skin before bed and voilá! I was cured.

  5. Mario Sanchez October 30, 2016 at 11:49 pm #

    God this was so funny, I laughed out loud when I read the title on Exhibit A. As a mexican all I can say is that you hit the nail on the head on this one. I can still remember my grandmother and aunts telling me to cover myself up through all of my upbringing

    • garrisonmi November 1, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

      Ha! I’m glad you liked it and identified with the article, Mario! Keep bundling up! xoxo, M

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