Today we pick up on our exploration of babywearing styles across the cultures of the world. With so many rich cultures and historic periods to choose from, we took inspiration from a fleeting glance of Catherine Zeta Jones in a magazine and decided to explore Welsh Babywearing.
Wales has a rich babywearing history deeply embedded in their shawl traditions. Much like the tartans of Scotland, the pure woollen flannel shawls, or siôl magu, with their twisted fringes and varied patterns were available in a variety of patterns depending on your location. 1
Babywearing was often referred to as “cwtch” (pronounced “kootch”) in Wales, which in simple terms (although there is no completely literal translation), can be translated to mean to cuddle your baby close. To do so, a large shawl was procured. This was quite large, but very practical as it kept both mother and baby warm through the harsh British winter.
The traditional carry did not appear to keep bothhands free. Worn over the shoulder, it allowed the full use of the opposite arm and partial use of the second arm and hand. Like all safe babywearing practices, the baby was held high, chin up and visible to the mother at all times.
Evelyn Hobbs of Tonmawr, Neath, nursing a baby ‘Welsh fashion’, c.1920s 2
Sketch of Swansea market by E. Hull, 1871 (watercolour) 3
The following video hows the tradition of Welsh Babywearing and demonstrates how the babies weight was used to secure the shawl.
References / Acknowledgements