There are only a few words that can immediately make any parent wince. "Teething," is one of them — and "blowout" ranks a close second. Though some never experience the dark side of teething (lucky), plenty of parents know all about the swollen gums, copious drooling amounts, and long nights that come with new teeth erupting. It can be especially difficult when your baby's teeth come in late, all at once, or the whole process seems to last forever — basically any scenario can possibly suck. That's why it can be fun to discover old wives tales about late teething. In fact, reading about folklore and babies was always a welcome distraction for me when I was a new parent and had no clue what to expect in regards to teething.
Whether you can appreciate the advice in ancient tales or you just like learning about different cultural superstitions, you might be surprised to find what the folks of bygone eras used to believe about babies and late teething, such as it brings good luck — or wait, is it bad luck? Basically, you could throw a dart anywhere and I guarantee you would land on an interesting myth about babies and parenting. Then again, some folklore does have a bit of logic to it — they didn't come up with this stuff out of nowhere, right?
Honestly, whether you're staying chill about your baby's late teething until 18 months, when doctors recommend bringing it up with your pediatrician, or really looking for some reasoning behind your baby's teeth's shyness, these old wives tales about late teething are great conversation starters, to say the least.
1. It Brings Bad Luck
When it comes to old wives tales, what doesn't seem to cause bad luck? In the 1920 Princeton University Press edition of Kentucky Superstitions, it was believed that if a late-teething baby looks into a mirror before their first birthday, they will have bad luck. Though there's no reason given for this superstition, many cultures have strong beliefs about mirrors and reflections. In my Jewish heritage, mirrors are covered or turned around after a person passes to prevent evil spirits from bothering the grieving family. Who knows? Maybe there is a connection between bad vibes and reflective surfaces.
2. It Brings Good Luck
It's not uncommon for old wives tales in different times or locations to contradict each other. For instance, in the 1903 second volume of the Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World, it's noted that if a baby gets their first tooth after turning seven months old, they will have good luck all of their life. This one is actually fairly easy to decode since many cultures find the number seven to be lucky in some form. In fact, if you research this prime digit, you'll likely find a plethora of numerical superstitions.
3. They're Headed Towards Crime
Again, the origin of this particular piece of folklore is ambiguous at best. But, I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that this bit lands squarely in the category of fiction, not fact. In regards to delayed teething, the people of Kentucky in the late 1800s believed, "if a baby's first tooth grows into the gum above, it will be a thief," as is noted in Kentucky Superstitions. Thankfully, there is no proven correlation between crime and late teething.
4. They'll Care For You
Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to figuring out how this old wives tale originated. Perhaps it was a bit of wishful thinking on the part of society's senior citizens. According to the Folklore Society of Great Britain's 1887 tome, Folk-Lore Journal, there was a Chinese superstition which stated, "the child which cuts its teeth comparatively late will support its parents in their old age." Depending on how you prefer to interpret this pearl of wisdom about your baby's pearly whites, it could turn out to be a good thing if your little one is a late bloomer.
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