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Mother-in-Law and Boyfriend Shave Baby's Head Behind Mom's Back

Photograph by Twenty20

Dealing with grandparents' parenting advice is a common struggle for new parents. But one mom is furious after her mother-in-law crossed the line and took action behind her back.

The anonymous mom shared her outrage in a now-viral forum post on Baby Center, saying that she and her boyfriend had "lightly discussed" shaving their baby girl's head. That is, her boyfriend had explained why shaving babies' heads would lead to better hair, on which she called bull and refused. But a week later, much to her surprise, Mom came home after an hour-long grocery run to find her baby as bald as, well, a baby's backside.

"I'm still upset he chose to do it without my consent and that his mom was a participant," the mom wrote. "She's already in the doghouse for coming over Christmas Eve and smothering her with kisses when she had the flu. My poor baby looks so funny and I'm amazed she sat through it."

Her boyfriend and his family are from Mexico, and she says, "It's a cultural thing for them and they've done it to all of the girls in the family." Even so, she had already expressed her disapproval to both her boyfriend and her MIL.

Shaving a baby's birth hair is a popular cultural tradition for many families. For instance, in China, a baby's hair is shaved off and stored for protection and good luck. The Mundan ceremony among Hindus, too, comes from the belief that shaving the baby's head will purify the child. Along with these cultural beliefs and rituals is the idea that shaving a baby's hair will allow it to grow back thicker, fuller and healthier. But experts say that this regrowth claim is only a myth.

"Hair texture and growth rate are determined by genetics, and the only time a person's hair will change is if they've had chemotherapy," pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner told the University of Utah Health Radio.

I'm still upset he chose to do it without my consent and that his mom was a participant.

How one trims, brushes or shaves hair won't affect the hair that grows in because hair grows from follicles that are beneath the scalp's surface. The number of follicles we have is genetically predisposed and can't be changed.

"Many babies are born with hair that is barely noticeable. This is called vellus hair," said Leonica Kei, director and senior trichologist at Philip Kingsley Trichological Centre in Singapore. (Trichology is the study of the function and diseases of hair.) "Vellus hair starts off short, fine and poorly pigmented, but between three and seven months after birth, this hair changes, and by the time the child is 2 years old, all his vellus hair will have been replaced by mature, thick and terminal hair."

Because babies' scalps are very sensitive and their skins are thin, parents should also be careful if they decide to shave their child's head at a young age.

As for the anonymous mama, her boyfriend ended up apologizing and saying it was the MIL's idea ever since she gave him a new electric shaver for Christmas.

"He didn't let me know because he knew I'd get mad, and he wanted her to have pretty hair," the mom wrote. "He feels he doesn't have a say in anything else."

She's also worried that her MIL will try to pierce her baby's ears behind her back, after Grandma said that the baby "looks like a boy without [earrings]." (Apparently her MIL has bought three pairs of earrings and stashed them away for the right moment.) Let's just say, we don't think Mom will be going on grocery trips without her baby any time soon.

If Grandma or Grandpa are undermining your authority, try these five tips to avoid an all-out war.

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