Baby Questions! 3 Important Cross-Cultural Discussion Topics, Starting With “Does Your Baby’s Nose Go Boop?”

Well, I had a nap, and am feeling a bit less rumpled, but still kind of rumpled. So no rumply discussion (for instance, you should all read Shahrukh’s new tweet and appreciate the subtle statement he is making about patriotism, but we won’t be discussing it here). But I did come up with something real we can talk about! Babies!

My nephew had his one year baby check up and my sister didn’t ask the doctor any of the questions I had. So let’s crowdsource them!

  1. Do all babies noses go “boop”?

All the babies/puppies/small non-verbal children I know have noses that go “boop”. As in, you slowly move your finger towards their nose while they watch with their big eyes, and then gently poke and say “Boop”. Is this just a me thing? Or is it a universal thing? If so, how universal?

2. Do you make a big deal about cutting the precious soft fragile new baby hair?

I know some cultures have an actual hair cutting ceremony, but even if you don’t have an official ceremony in your culture, does it feel like a ceremony? For some babies, is it just a “grab the scissors, chop chop, throw it away” moment, or is it a big deal for all babies? Or does it depend on the hair, is it that my nephew just has spectacular special hair and therefore he, and he alone, deserves to have a big deal made about it?

Know The Reason Why Hindus Shave Off Their Baby's Hair in 'Mundan ...
Mundan ceremony photos are sooooooooooo cute. And a surprising number of babies seem kind of blissed out at the sensation instead of crying.

3. In your experience, is there a difference between boy babies and girl babies (beyond diapers)?

On the one hand, Gender is a Construct. On the other hand, there are decades and decades of studies about boy-girl baby differences. So, is it a thing? Or is it not a thing?

I always heard there was a 6 month development difference, but I don’t know how true that is

14 thoughts on “Baby Questions! 3 Important Cross-Cultural Discussion Topics, Starting With “Does Your Baby’s Nose Go Boop?”

  1. Yes, gender is a construct. You did this just to get me out my writing hole; nice job!

    Boys and girls have different genitals, and there are even babies who do not have parts that are clearly boy or girl, or who have both. Neuroscientists have done lots of studies on babies to figure out if there are distinctive boy or girl attributes, and the current answer is no. See Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot or The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon or Sexing the Body by Anne Fausto-Sterling. (Orm you know Pink and Blue, by me, though that is about clothing, not brains…)


    • That’s super cool! When I was a baby, 35 years ago, it was still definite that little boys and little girls should be taught counter traits (girls confidence, boys nurturing), but language development and so on was always going to be different. Very neat that even the developmental markers no longer hold up to scrutiny.

      So, my nephew has no excuse not to be talking yet? I’ll tell him that. Of course, he won’t understand me.


        • I just checked with my sister, and she said she talks to him all the time, so he’s just being funny and not talking back. Although he did spend a day going around saying “me me me me me me me”. If it was English, it was remarkably accurate reflection of his inner thoughts on the world.


  2. I feel girl babies speak a much more clearer language whereas boy babies speak faster so it is somewhat more garbled and not as clear


    • After Joyomamas comment, I did some brief internet searching. Seems the current thinking is that people talk to girl babies more, thus they develop language skills sooner on the whole. Although of course it would still vary baby to baby, you could have a family where the brother is slow to talk and the sister isn’t, or vice versa, just because of who they are.

      On Sat, Aug 15, 2020 at 1:14 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. I think part of babies, less than six months, going boop is do with their visual acuity. They can see things closer to their face so much better so that makes them happy?

    Where I come from the first haircut rather shave is a big deal. Happens in the temple and relatives all gather. In India ear piercing and first solid food is also big deal. Both have associated ceremonies. In India most boys also have their ears pierced. I had ear rings till I started school. Will your nephew have his ears pierced?


    • I think my nephew will probably not have his ears pierced. It’s “weird” in America, so his parents won’t want to put him through the teasing.

      I like your boop theory! The finger going to the nose is what is so delightful, and the “boop” sound is just a bonus for us. Do baby’s noses get booped in India too? Or is that just a western thing? Do they make a different sound?


  4. I was brought up in Berkeley, so growing up I was taught girls and boys are the same and the differences are all due to society. That has not been my experience as a parent and caregiver. While there will be very adventurous young female toddlers, I have known more 18 month old boys who are in danger of running into streets and climbing and falling off tables than 18 month old girls. I have also known 18 months boys who would never run into the street or climb a table. But the toddlers who do run into the street and climb tables are most often boys.

    And obsessions – I have never known a baby girl or toddler to be obsessed with wheels. They will play with wheels, they will play with the trains on the train tracks. But the obsessed child, the toddlers that play with wheels nonstop, I have only seen boys do this. Parents of boys with older sisters who don’t even have cars toys in their house will express their frustration and amazement that their child is so drawn to these things, things they had no intention of pushing on him.

    Boys and girls play with dolls equally at first. They both like to give care. But it changes around 6. Boys will still play with dolls as instruments to enact plots and fantasies, as will girls, but some girls will continue to play with dolls to give care. Some girls will continue to play with dolls to give care into adulthood. I’ve read doll reviews on Amazon, those buyers aren’t getting them for children. I have not seen boys older than 6 regularly play with dolls to give care. Maybe it is socialization, but maybe it is hormones.

    Personally, for me, cutting baby hair is painful. I saved my oldest’s in a plastic bag for years. But I think I finally threw it away a couple months ago. Once those soft curls are cut they start looking like children and not babies.

    I have never done the nose boop thing. I know that after three children I am now better with babies than the average adult. But I don’t really like babies until they are about 6 months old. Other women want to hold people’s children. The only child I want to hold is a crying one, because often (but not always) they’ll stop crying in my arms.

    The differences in speech are so wide within each gender… I differ to scientific study.


    • My sister was one that aged out of dolls and i didn’t. A good nature over nurture lesson, we had the same upbringing but were just different people.

      My nephew’s hair is now so long the are considering a ponytail, but also so soft and curly and lovely no one can cut it. Glad to know they aren’t alone in that feeling.


  5. I don’t think I’ve ever said “boop”, but what else are those cute button noses for?

    Our kid’s hair looks like a total hack job because he won’t let us close with scissors.

    And he’s totally obsessed with cars. It was one of his very first words, and still one he keeps repeating on all our walks, in all combinations of colors. Nothing keeps him busy like putting his toy cars in a row. I asked the people at his daycare whether all boys are that extreme, and they said no. So there is at least some element of plain old personality to it. I’m ready to accept that *on average* boys may behave a little different from girls. But I am pretty certain that just from a kid’s behavior you wouldn’t be able to tell whether you’re looking at a girl or a boy.


    • I am really curious about my nephew, because he has been allowed outside for months and therefore has no real concept of cars. He got some trucks for his first birthday, and seems interested in them, but with no concept of how they really work. Like, he plays with them upside down or sideways and just sort of opens and closes things. He can go outside more now that he is older, so maybe he will start to understand what cars and trucks are after seeing them in the wild.

      On Sun, Aug 16, 2020 at 3:28 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  6. I don’t have kids and at the moment don’t know any Japanese kids, so I’m not sure where we stand with nose booping, but I can answer the hair thing. In Japan there is a tradition of making a calligraphy brush from the baby’s first haircut. I was unaware of this tradition until I moved into my current apartment and discovered the nice man at the barbershop down the street who always gives me vegetables is someone who can do this, which is getting to be a rare skill nowadays.


    • Awwww! I kind of like that idea! I suspect if my sister and brother-in-law ever man up and cut their baby’s hair, it is going in a little plastic bag for posterity. So we can mail that bag to you, and then you can take it down the street and have a brush made for them!

      On Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 6:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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