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The 17th day of October has arrived, time for another post of Indonesia Banget. This will be my 3rd post and the topic is about Bedong. It is a bit difficult for me to find the right pronunciation for this word, this is the closest that I can get: Be is pronounced like beu- and dong is pronounced like ‘doll’ but change the ll with ng that sounds like nk like in the word ‘bank’.
What is bedong? Bedong is the way people in Indonesia wrap their infant to make them feel warmer.
When I was little, I was wondering why they wrap the baby like that (see the pictures below), most people gave me the same answers, and it is either to make their legs stay straight or to keep them warmer. I believed in the first answer at that time (remember! I was just a little kid). They said that if they let the baby unwrapped, they will have a letter 0 legs or crooked legs. The wrapping will keep their legs straight all the time, so that they won’t grow up with legs looking like this picture below.
As I grew up, I saw movies and read books from other countries, simply said I knew better. Those people in Europe, America, Africa and other Asian countries do not practice this kind of baby wrapping and everyone seems to have normal legs. So, I came to a conclusion that the first answer was dead wrong because if it’s true, only Indonesian people have normal legs and the rest of the people in this earth have crocked legs.
The second answer is the right one, bedong is to keep the baby warm and not moving too much. Most babies sleep better when they are being bedong-ed (wrapped) because they feel comfortable. My nephew is a good example. When we let him sleep without being wrapped, he won’t sleep soundly. But when he is wrapped tightly, he sleeps quite long and undisturbed.
To make a baby’s bedong is very simple. You need to buy Kain Bedong (Kain = cloth or fabric). The material is like flannel shirt. It is a very warm material. The pattern is always cute. The shape is either rectangular or square. Fold one of the corner and the put the baby on top of that folded part, and then start wrapping the baby. Don’t roll the baby!! You just moved or adjust the fabric so that it’ll wrap the baby thoroughly. Before wrapping the baby, you have to make his/her legs straight position and adjust the hands to stay on both side of his/her body.
There are 3 kinds of Bedong that I know off, but different mothers have different styles.
This is with a head cover.
This one is the most common one, with both hands inside the bedong
This one only wraps the body with both hands free. (My nephew likes this one better because he is very active)
In my sister in law’s village, the babies are always wrapped up and they wrap the babies very tight, leaving no room to move. In the city, the wrapping is not as tight as in the village anymore. Some people don’t do this bedong anymore, I knew some people that think that this is a useless thing so they just let the baby sleeps without bedong.
Although I don’t believe that bedong can keep baby’s legs normal, but I do believe that it will keep them warm. It’s like a permanent warm blanket and it won’t go out of order (like blanket being kicked by babies).
I wonder if other countries do this kind of baby wrapping too, if people in your country also practice this thing, please let me know.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse of Indonesian traditions and come back next month to read another tradition :)
All pictures are taken by me with my nephew, Satrio Ramadhan Putera Jefrie (Rio for short), as the model.