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History of Babywearing

Though it may seem like the latest trend in parenting, babywearing has been practiced by parents across the world for centuries. Early baby wearers began the practice out of necessity since mothers had things to do and could not afford to stop and entertain a young baby throughout the day. Babywearing persists today in many countries as a necessity and way of life.

Mothers in each country or geographical area developed a carrier which was based on their specific needs ranging from the local climate, the type of work to be done while wearing the carrier as well as the carrying position most common to the area.

Babywearing Around the World

North American Indian Cradle Board

The cradle board was a typical North American Indian style baby carrier that was made from either flat pieces of wood or woven twigs was held on the mother by shoulder straps. When carried on a cradle board the infant was bound and wrapped with soft, absorbent materials giving him a sense of both safety and security. Since the baby was securely wrapped he would only be able to move his head around while on the cradle board. In some Native American tribes, infants were worn in cradle boards from the time they were newborns until they were able to walk.

Inuit Eskimo Amauti

The amauti is an Inuit Eskimo parka that is used as a child carrier. Amautiit are made from a variety of materials including sealskin, caribou skin and thick woolen cloth known as duffle. Though the child appears to be carried in the hood of the amauti, he is actually carried in an enlarged, extended portion of the back of the garment with his belly against mom's back and is secured at the mother's waist with a belt or tie. The child's weight is distributed across the mother's shoulders. The hood is large enough to cover both the mother and child to protect them from harsh winds. The Inuit regard the amauti as a unique item that servers as clothing, art, a childrearing tool and a living tradition. You can find more information about amauti at Amauti Baby.

Mexican Rebozo

The rebozo is a cloth shawl that is worn by both Mexican women and girls for a variety of reasons. The rebozo is worn to keep warm or to shield oneself from the rays of the sun. The shawl is also used to carry things whether it is a baby or a few items from the market. A rebozo is a simple piece of cloth style carrier that can be tied in a variety of ways to provide different carrying positions. There are four common carries used with the reboze style carrier. They include a newborn wrap, a three month old wrap, a toddler wrap for cold climates and a toddler wrap for warmer climates. You can learn more about rebozo carriers at The Rebozo Way Project.

 

Korean Podaegi 

The podaegi is a traditional Korean style piece of cloth torso carrier that is used primarily with baby carried on the caregiver's back. When a podaegi is used, the cloth wraps around both mother (or other caregiver) and baby. The two tails or sashes of the podaegi secure the baby in place and can be tied over the shoulders or in a strapless style above the chest. A podaegi can be used from infancy through toddlerhood; however, it is best to wait until infants are at least 4 to 5 months old and can control their heads well while also having good neck strength before using this style of carrier.

Know of a traditional style of babywearing that we haven't mentioned here? Let us know about it! We're always eager to learn about other types of baby carriers and babywearing practices. Send us an email at [email protected].