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October 21, 2013

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Bearing Baby Gifts

Editor’s note:

This “Ask Shanghai Daily” column, which runs on Monday, serves as a platform for expatriates to ask questions about things that puzzle them during their stay in the city.

An American expat asks us:

What gift should I give when I am invited to a baby’s one-month celebration?

A: Well, it is all about Chinese culture.

The first month after birth is regarded as very important in China. Chinese believe that both the baby and the mother are weak in the postpartum period, and need to spend most of this time in bed to recover.

Therefore, there is a traditional custom of postpartum confinement called zuo yue zi, which stipulates that babies and mothers rest at home for a full month. This tradition also combines a prescribed diet with a number of restrictions on activities considered to be harmful for new mothers. 

After this period ends, babies and mothers are allowed to go outside and are formally presented to relatives and friends at a full-month party. In ancient China when infant mortality was really high, the party was also a celebration of the baby’s survival.

Some parents still follow this tradition and invite families and friends home but an increasing number now hold banquets at restaurants. Guests will bring along money, best to be given in even numbers like 600 yuan (US$98.41), in red envelopes or gifts like baby clothes, diapers and infant formula. Seniors or some of those close to the parents will also give the baby gold ornaments, like a locket or bracelet.

In return, guests will be presented with red eggs. The color is associated with luck and happiness, and the eggs’ shape symbolizes harmony, unity and new life.

Many parents believe a one-month baby is still too young to go outside and prefer to wait until two months or 100 days old.

If you have any questions about life in the city, e-mail them to or send them to our WeChat account “SHDaily.”



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