Baby birth traditions are a great welcome to the world for a new baby. In Nigeria, the focus of the birth customs is on the baby’s future life and care for the mother. These social norms continued to be practiced when Nigerians move to other countries, Canada included.
Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It is the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria is the fourth largest source of immigration to Canada after India, China, and the Philippines.
So, what are the popular baby birth traditions in Nigeria?
The future is on the mind of family and friends when carrying out these symbolic traditions. They surround the new family with love and support to set the baby up for happiness and prosperity in life.
After Birth Care (Omugwo)
This postpartum care period is a special time in a new mother’s life. Their care is taken over by the mother-in-law or another female relative, depending on who is available. The tasks typically include cooking, cleaning, and bathing the baby. The baby’s first bath symbolizes that the child can rely on the community. Next, the mother is pampered with stomach massages with hot water and a towel. This after-birth care typically lasts three months, and the relative who helps the new parents occupies an exalted position.
Seven or Nine Days Postpartum
In Yoruba culture, the baby is given blessings in the form of gifts. For girls, this ceremony takes place on the seventh day. For boys, it takes place on the ninth day. The gifts include water, palm oil, kola nut, and salt and pepper. The water symbolizes having no enemies, while palm oil provides a stress-free life. Kola nut wishes the child a long and healthy life, and the salt and pepper are a reminder to keep things exciting and spicy.
Child Naming (Iso Omo Loruko)
The Yoruba name the new baby on the eighth day postpartum. At the paternal grandparent’s home, the oldest family member performs a ceremony. First, honey, sugar, kola nut, alligator pepper, water, palm oil, sugar, sugarcane, salt, and liquor are used by the elder to bless the baby. This provides the baby with a wish for a sweet life.
Next, a leader from the family religion blesses the child before a bowl is set in the middle of the table for relatives to place money in. Everyone who puts money in the bowl gives a name that is written down. The names chosen and written down are associated with a particular wish for the future of the child. This ceremony is all followed by a party.
Child Dedication is different from a child naming ceremony. The dedication ceremony is meant to thank God for the child’s arrival. This occasion takes place at the three-month mark. It is the child’s first outing to a house of worship and is followed by a party. The ceremony also dedicates the child’s life to serving God. Of course, this depends on the tribe and the family’s religion the baby is born into.
The Nigerian baby birth traditions explained here represent the families prophesizing the new arrival’s positive future.
Check out our Baby Birth Tradition blog series – Baby Birth Traditions – Brazil
Written by: Gabrielle Goldson