Indonesia Banget #3 : Bedong

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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.

23 thoughts on “Indonesia Banget #3 : Bedong

  1. A friend of mine from Germany, Claudia, gave me a good information on this matter (she told me through Facebook, I will link it up once I use a PC). She said that she saw the same kind of baby wrapping in Turkey. Thanks for the info Claudia.

    She then asked her mother whether she was being bedonged or not when she was a baby, her mom told her that she only wore warm clothes and blanket or baby sleeping bag.

  2. Heard from people that they usually wrap tight the baby (bedong) to make it feel safe, to simulate the warmth and tightness of its mother’s womb. I kinda assumed everybody else in the world does this. Maybe not so?!

    1. I also thought that everyone in the world is doing it, but I never seen it in movies or read it in books or see it in documentary. I like watching Oprah, and she often has shows that talk about baby…but none of the babies ever appeared wearing bedong.

      I might be wrong tho…that’s why I ask if anyone else (from other country) is doing it too.

      Have you ever seen Australian wraps their baby like we do it here?
      I am going to ask Ruth too, another Indonesian who lives in US 🙂

  3. This is one cute baby! As I am a cultural anthropologist I have been looking into quite a few childrearing customs, so to say. I can assure you this is pretty unique. I have no children of my own but I would go for this as it makes a lot of sense. I spoke to some friend about it this mornig and she thought it might be too tight and I pointed out that the child was also somewhat constricted in the womb and still felt warm and safe. I was wondering where the baby sleeps in Indonesia. Does he/she also have to sleep in a room of her/his own right after coming home from the hospital? I find this a little bit sad. In all the “traditional” societies I studied (mainly Africa) this was not the case. I think Bedong should be far more known and used. It is easy, logical and I am sure babies like it.

    1. As his aunty, I have to say thank you for the compliment 🙂

      I believe that is the main idea of bedong, to make the babies feel warm as if inside their mother’s womb. We don’t do bedong too long, only in the 1st few months after they were born, before they start moving a lot.

      No, we don’t put the baby in separate rooms. He/she will sleep in the same room with his/her parent. They will put the newborn in the middle of the bed, between mom and dad. People with money will buy small bed for the baby but they put it inside the same room where the parents sleep.
      To tell you truth, I was surprised when I first found out that in some countries, parents will separate the baby straight away. I still don’t know the reason why they keep the baby in different room right after they come home from the hospital. Do you know why? Can you please tell me?

  4. This started a long time ago, basically when people in Europe could afford separate rooms and has a lot to do with discpline. If the child cries, they just let it cry so “it learns that it cannot get all it wants”. I find it very cruel and spoke with many young and older mothers about it but they invariably say it is important the child learns from a young age that it should not disturb the parents. It is also for privacy reasons. I think it’s rubbish. The mother will get up anyway when the baby cries too much. I don’t know of anyone in Europe who would let the baby sleep in the same room and they all complain that they cry all night and no one gets ny sleep. My little theory s that a lot of the neurosis in Euroe is due to the fact of unkind childrearig. It is very selfish. I have an Indian colleague at work and I asked him. Of course the baby sleeps in the same room the first year or two.

    1. So…that’s the reason!! But they are still babies, they don’t understand anything yet, how could they teach dicipline at that age?
      I agree with you that it’s cruel. But we can’t judge anyone’s culture…what we think is the best doesn’t make it best for them and it goes vice versa.

      I don’t have baby yet, but I don’t think I will let mine sleep in different room when I finally have one.

      Same here, most baby stays in the same room for at least 2-3 years…some even older.

  5. Hey Nov, hmmm I don’t remember being wrapped in this way, I’d think I’d be so hot with the humidity and heat down there. I did remember being carried with a ‘selendang’ (long cotton scarf) in front of my mom or nanny’s body, but my legs would be dangling down and uncovered. Funny that we’re from the same place but didn’t share the same ‘tradition.’

  6. They do that in Kazakhstan. I think they used to do it Irealnd as well, before Health and Safety went nuts. It is known as ‘swaddling’ over here, and dates back all the way to baby Jesus 🙂

  7. hehehe 😀 i never imagined that anyone would write about this topic on his/her blog :))

    believe it or not, i knew such word only few months ago when my college friend was having her baby :p

    i think it’s not only to keep the baby warm, but also to keep their feet straight, not O or even X. cmiiw 🙂

    1. Hehe this monthly post is about Indonesia…unique things from our country 😉 and bedong is quite unique.

      The legs/feet thing is a wrong assumption, I’ve already written why the reason to make feet straight is wrong.

  8. Hmmm…the only people I’ve seen do this is my friends when their first baby was born in the hospital. The would wrap the baby up pretty tight but I’m pretty sure his legs were bent. I am not completely sure, but that’s what I remember. I think newborns are usually wrapped up. Not sure how long they do it here.

    All my friends have kept their babies in their rooms for a few months at least. My niece is almost two and still stayed in my brother and sister-in-law’s room. I think it’s just dependent on the family in the U.S. It might be cultural too since there are a lot of different cultures here.

    Your nephew is SO cute. What a perfect baby! So adorable!!! I love your Indonesia Banget posts! They are the best. 🙂

    1. Most people I know at least doing it for the 1st 2 to 3 months. The leg has to be straight because of the assumption of avoiding babies to have crooked leg.

      Thank you for giving us that info Carin…I’ve seen it in nanny 911 that some families let their babies sleep with their parents. But most are sleeping in different rooms. I guess different families have different way to treat their babies.

      Thank you so much Carin *hug*

  9. I live in the NE US and we still swaddle our babes here 😀 It’s very much like the top two pics, (of that amazingly adorable baby…:D ) only we don’t tie it we just wrap. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thank you for sharing that knowledge, Kelly. Nice to know that other places also doing the same thing.
      When we tied the wrap, it’s not like tying a rope..I don’t know how to say it in English..they just put the end of the fabric in between the wrap.

      Thanks for the compliment on my nephew.

  10. Russians swaddle their babies. At least they have been until very recently. I’ve read somewhere that that’s why Russians have a very expressive look. Like babies can’t communicate with thier moms any other way but by using their eyes and by crying.

    Maybe it’s just an myth, but I can tell a Russian (or slavic persons in general) apart in any part of the world. they just have this different facial expression.. different look.

    I think we swaddle our babies to stop them harming (scratching, hitting) themselves as they can’t really control thier movements at first and also because sometimes babies get scarred of their own limbs when they see them, not reaising it’s their hands or legs. And,as you said, some believe it’s done to keep baby’s legs straight.

    I personally beleive that it has been done for centuries for a practical reason, to help mothers deal with a large number of babies. In many places in the world women used to give birth pretty much every year, so to be able to handle a large household, they would swaddle thier infants so that its easier to handle them. Plus lots of women had to go back to work/fields to help maintain thier families straight after giving birth, so I suppose it was easier for them to have a baby wrapped up if let’s say they needed to fo work in the field.

    He is such a cute baby, by the way. I love the first 2 pictures. He looks like a a sumo wrestler:))))

    1. Thank you for sharing this fun information, Irina 🙂
      by the way,I edited your comment a little by giving some spaces to make it easier to read,I have trouble focusing to long comment without space.

      I can easily differentiate Russians by their names…they have specific names 😉

      Your opinion has a pretty good base there, however in my country…a working woman (or one that have conservative mind) tends not to swindle their babies anymore…Most of them think it is useless. I, myself, think it is very useful at least for early months. the baby loves the warmth.

      Thank you,I can’t deny that he is my favorite nephew (even Kroten called him as Love Thief 😉 )

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