Do you know how your mother carried you around? How about your grandmother? How did she carry your mother? Did she just balance baby on the hip all of the time?
Last week I suggested you ask your grandmother, or any woman older than you, how she diapered her babies. This week, I’m added another round of questions. If you see her both Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can line up the questions for her.
- How did you move your babies around?
- How did you carry your babies?
- Did you have a pram or baby carriage?
The point isn’t just to do historical research (though that is a lot of fun), but to see what you can learn from her experience to enhance your own parenting.
Baby Carrying Around the World
A lot of the baby carriers on the market today were inspired by world travel, where the inventors saw women carrying their babies with ease, tied on their backs. Many cite travel to Africa or to central America as inspirational, opening up their minds to new ways to move their babies around.
Yet again, we meet the idea that the old, simple ways work before, and they work again when we realize we didn’t need all of the gadgetry and synthetics. The Rebozo from Mexico and Guatemala is made from a length of colorful, woven cotton tied around baby and mother. The baby can be worn in a front, back, or side carry. The Kanga from Kenya is a large, printed cotton scarf that is tied in the front with the baby on the back. Many Native Americans carried babies on their backs, either on a leather-covered wooden cradleboard or in a carrier more closely resembling today’s baby slings or rebozos.
The idea of baby carrying is very old, but thinking of this as “wearing” a baby is more recent. The term “babywearing” was coined by Martha Sears and popularized by her husband Dr. William Sears, a well-known pediatrician who also popularized “attachment parenting.” Today, there is extensive medical support for the ancient practice as it benefits modern parents and modern babies.
Parts of this section come from my article last year on babywearing history.
Your Grandmother Carried Her Babies
When you talk to your grandmother, ask not only how she carried her babies but why. When did she need to carry or move the baby around? Ask her what innovations she has seen since her babies have grown that she wishes she had available to her. Find a way into the conversation that sparks her interest, and let her talk. Talking about diapers or baby carriers could open up a world of parenting discussions with the older women in your life.
Good luck! Have a wonderful holiday season, and be sure to come back and tell me what she said.