Baby carriers have been around for thousands of years. Prior to the early 1900s, parents worldwide used a variety of long cloths, shawls, scarves and even bedsheets to snuggle up their babies and get the chores done.
Babywearing was not something 'special' and different as it is perceived today in the Western world, but just what they did to cope. And cope they did! Mothers had to work incredibly hard and didn't have time to stop and entertain baby, so baby just came along for the ride. It was common sense for mother to use a baby carrier to make her life a little easier.
Even today many traditional types of carrier are still used in developing countries, although this is usually restricted to indigenous communities where babywearing is totally normal, a necessity and way of life.
A Carrier for every country....
Each country/area of the world has a traditional baby carrier designed to meet their particular needs, i.e. hot/cold climate, type of work mothers do, cultural/traditional wearing positions.
- For instance Mexican people use the Rebozo, which is a square of woven cloth tied over one shoulder with baby usually on the back- sometimes called a Chal, depending on the length.
- Peruvians have a Manta which sits over both shoulders like a cape, and baby sits high on mother's back.
- Guatemalans use Parraje- similar to a Rebozo.
- European mothers used a mixture of pouches, wraps and short cloth carriers.
- Alaskan/Canadian people have the Amauti which is a very thick arctic jacket with a baby 'pocket' in the back, baby even fits under the over-sized hood!
- Papua New Guinea mothers use a Bilum- a net bag held at the forehead with baby hanging at the back (very strong necks!)
- Indonesian mothers use a Selendang which is a long ornate wrap.
- Aboriginal mothers used to keep their babies in carriers made of bark, similar to the cradleboards used by Native Americans but without the cloth covering.
- Asian mothers use a variety of carriers including Mei-tai /Hmong/ Bei(China), Onbuhimo(Japan), Podaegi (Korea) plus many use a 'carrier' of long straps which go under baby's armpits and thighs for back carries.
- Welsh mothers used to wear their babies in warm shawls, called 'Siol Fagu' (nursing shawl ).
- Ethiopian mothers use a blanket with top straps, similar to the Onbuhimo.
- African mothers use a 'Khanga' which is a short-ish piece of cloth tied around the torso, so baby sits low on the back.
- Maori women carried their babies in a cloth inside their cloaks, or in a flax Pikau (backpack).
For more information, visit Slingbabies