Baby Wearing – Part 1

Baby Wearing

USA 1920s
1950s – American Woman Carrying a Baby

Many cultures have used baby wearing for a variety of reasons.  Some cultures have lost the wisdom behind its use, and many have gravitated to more modern ways, such as the use of a stroller or pram to bring babies along with them on walks and to the store.

In pre-historical times mothers had to devise ways to forage and hunt while carrying for babies. Skins, bark, hand-woven reeds, or bark would have been constructed to assist in keeping baby close and safe. When woven fabrics were invented, women would have utilized long woven wraps or shawls to tie their babies into carrying positions either next to the chest or on their back.


A few words for baby carriers in various languages exist:

Amauti: an Inuit back pouch that was incorporated with the coat, the pouch created when cinched at the waist.  The baby was then held high up on the back lying on a bed of fur within the pouch.

Dakkohimo or onbuhimo: a Japanese carrier using cloth and straps that would go over the shoulders. It was worn either on the front or the back.  It could be used by the mother, siblings, or grandparents.

Mei tai:  Chinese fabric panel with for straps attached at each corner.  The bottom two straps are tied at the waist; the upper two crisscross either for front-carrying or back carrying. The fabric panel supports the whole torso.

Podaegi: used by Koreans used a blanket-like appearing traditional wrap that has straps.  Infant through toddler-aged were back-carried.

Kanga: a rectangular cloth that wraps around both mother and baby to assist back-carrying used in Kenya.

Selendang:  A rectangular batik cloth that is tucked and folded to form a sling is used by the women in Indonesia.

Can’ic’ik’oƞpa: The Lakota “cradle board” using two attached boards for carrying.
The Welsh kept their tradition of blanket-wrapping until the 50s, when it almost died out.  It is seeing somewhat of renewal today. You can see images here: Celtic Baby Carrying

Around the early 1900s the use of baby carrying or wearing became out of fashion, because of social ideas.  It was thought that only poor persons used this method.  It was deemed a method of “spoiling” a baby, to spend so much time in such close contact.

To continue on this topic see: Part 2

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