how to have a baby folklore tips | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How To Have A Baby

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(Here's an article from the Almanac archives with some tongue-in-cheek advice about having a baby … )

Anyone with the brains of a bunny can raise a happy, healthy, successful child by following a few simple rules. The following bits of folk wisdom have been collected from all over the United States. 


  • Blow a dandelion seedball, and the number of seeds left on it will be the number of children you will have.
  • Give away old baby clothes, and you will soon need them again.
  • A couple who go to a movie within three days of getting married will have a baby.
  • Attach your wedding ring to a string and dangle it inside a glass tumbler, asking, “How many children shall I have?” Count the number of times the ring strikes the side of the glass.
  • If a woman leaves a diaper under a bed in another's house, a baby will soon be born in that house.

Boy or Girl?

  • A baby conceived in the light of the Moon (from new Moon to full Moon) will be a boy; a baby conceived in the dark of the Moon (from full Moon to new Moon) will be a girl.
  • If a woman has no morning sickness, she is carrying a boy.
  • If the mother eats grapefruit before conceiving, the child will be a girl.
  • To have a boy, a woman should hold a nickel in her mouth at the time of conception. 
  • A baby carried high is a boy; low, a girl.

At Birth

  • Labor pains can be eased by putting an axe under the bed.
  • If a laboring woman wears her husband's hat, her pain will be lessened. 


  • To make a child grow tall, put manure inside the baby's shoes.
  • To make a child grow faster, sweep the child's feet with a broom.
  • Washing babies in urine makes them handsome.
  • A woman frightened by fire during pregnancy will have a red-haired child.
  • Heartburn during pregnancy signifies a child with lots of hair.


  •  The child will grow up with a disposition just like that of the first person who takes them outdoors.
  • A child born in the light of the Moon will be intelligent.
  • A child born on a stormy night will be nervous.
  • A child born with a cowlick will be stubborn; a baby with two cowlicks will be bright. 
  • A baby who never falls out of bed during his first year will grow up a fool.


  • On your first visit to a new baby, kiss the soles of her feet for good luck.
  • Don't take the baby downhill on her first trip away from home. Her fortunes will sink.
  • Rub the baby's tongue with a slice of apple immediately after birth, and he will have a good singing voice.
  • A child born foot foremost can't be kept in jail.
  • A child born with a caul will be able to tell fortunes. 

Sickness and Health

  • Burn the first dirty diaper, and the child will have no stomach cramps.
  • If the child is croupy, mix a lock of her hair with the mortar in a new house.
  • For croup, feed the baby jaybird soup.
  • Lay a grunting child in the pigpen to make him stop.
  • Letting a puppy lick the baby's face after eating prevents illness.

Things to Avoid

  • The first time you dress your baby, use old clothes. New clothes will bring bad luck.
  • Putting a baby on an ironing board is bad luck.
  • Never keep the baby's shoes above his head.
  • Don't cut the baby's hair in the first year, or the child will be tongue-tied.
  • Never hand a baby over a fence or through a window; it brings bad luck.

Learning to Walk

  • Set the baby behind the front door for nine mornings, and she will learn to walk sooner.
  • If the baby is slow to walk, bury him naked in earth up to his waist with a string tied around his ankle.
  • Run up and down stairs with an infant to make it spry.
  • Tie a quail's toenail to a baby's ankle, and he will be quick on his feet.


  • To ease teething, rub the baby's gums with fresh rabbit brains.
  • Cut a sprig of greenery, name it after the baby, and hang it in a corner. When teething hurts the baby, point at the greenery, and the pain will stop.
  • Don't let the baby wear his father's hat before he's a year old; this will make teething difficult.
  • Hang a mole's paw around the baby's neck to ease soothing pains.
  • If a baby slobbers, draw a live minnow through his mouth three times, then throw the minnow back into a stream.

Going to Sleep

  • A fretful child can be calmed by holding her out in the rain for a few minutes.
  • Blow smoke in a baby's ear to put him to sleep.
  • Put a crying child in the doorway and sweep dust over her to calm her.
  • A baby who smiled in his sleep is listening to angels. 

Have an folklore or old sayings to share? Please post below.

About The Author

Tim Clark

Tim Clark (1950-2021) began work as an editor and writer at Yankee Publishing in 1980. During his 41 years here, he was a prolific contributor to both Yankee Magazine and the Old Farmer's Almanac. Read More from Tim Clark

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