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March 14th, 2011

Babywearing in Korea

Korea has a strong babywearing history with the tradition style “Podaegi” (often called a “pod”) still quite active today. The Podaegi is basically a medium to large piece of fabric that wraps around the baby and mother and is secured with two long straps that hold the baby in place. During the cooler months, the fabric was traditionally quilted to provide warmth. The Podaegi is best suited to high back carries with baby looking over your shoulders.

Korean Mother Carries Baby on Back While Doing the Laundy. Carl Mydans 1948

Washing Rice, 1945

Wondering how it works? Have a look at this:

YouTube Preview Image

(sorry about the background noise – if you have a video we could update this with, let us know community@babesinarms.com.au)

February 21st, 2011

Babywearing Around the World: A Video Guide

Babywearing styles around the world always intrigue us here at BIA. Today we thought we would look at some of the ways people babywear in Honduras, Afirca and Peru through three videos. These videos show you how easy the women in the videos make their style of babywearing look. You’ll find in practice it’s not so easy (see the reported who tries it!) to begin with – which makes me thankful I was able to pick up an ERGObaby and use it with ease from the start.

Have you tried any of the following styles of babywearing? Let us know in the comments section – we *love* to hear from our readers.

Honduran Baby Carrier

Peru Woman and Baby

Learning from Locals – Ghana

December 2nd, 2010

Babywearing: A Trip Back in Time

It has often been speculated that Mary carried Jesus in a sling. How else could she have remained sturdy on the donkey with her newborn babe safely in her arms? Of course we will never know for certain that she did, but we have done a little digging and found a painting by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) who had the same thoughts. As we find more we will add them to this post.

Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), Cappella Scrovegni a Padova, Life of Christ, Flight into Egypt

September 9th, 2010

Traditional Babywearin: Cwtching All The Way!

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

[1]  http://www.davidmorgan.com/welshshawls.htm 

http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/large/item/GTJ70605/

3 http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/large/item/GTJ40454


April 5th, 2010

Traditional Babywearing: Maori

Our research into babywearing in traditional societies has been most exciting. The innovation each culture has brought to babywearing to suit their climate, lifestyle and resources is quite thought provoking.

This week we present babywearing traditional Maori style.

Traditionally, Maori women were avid babywearers, carrying their bubs in a cloth inside their cloaks or in a flax Pikau.  In W. B. Otorohanga’s “Where the White Man Treads : Across the Pathway of the Maori” it appears that girls lived the lives of young tomboys until the age of 8 or 10 when “they grew strong enough to wahu, or pikau (carry) the baby” and their induction into womanhood began.

Of course, like all carriers and slings, Babywearing provided the Maori women with the opportunity to free their arms and go about their general business whilst ensuring that their infant was protected, warm and able to feed on demand.

New Zealand has archived an enormous amount of Maori Babywearing imagery. We have collected together a sample for your viewing pleasure J

Haehaeora Te Rangitakatu carring her mokopuna (grandchild) on her back (Pikau) in a blanket (1948)
credit “Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library”

Unidentified Maori woman, with moko, carrying an infant on her back, 1892. Photographer unknown.

Ani Doherty carrying her son Bob Doherty on her back, photographed by Arthur James Iles, circa 1899

Further images available here

www.ngamaia.co.nz website of Nga Maia, a national organisation representing and fostering Maori midwifery.

January 16th, 2010

Babywearing History: Inuit

 The large-hooded Amauti garment, worn by Inuit women, is unique.  The parka’s traditional design is functional, allowing the child to be carried in the same garment as the parent offering protection and safety from the harsh Arctic climate, as well as beauty – and beautiful these traditional carriers are!

The design and look of an Amauti was passed on from generation to generation, with particular looks dependant on the area one was from.  Various materials were used dependant on availability and included seal skin and caribou. Measurements were by hand and custom fitted to the mother. Like the ERGObaby carrier back position, the baby Inuit was carried with their stomach to mother’s back and their knees were bent. The  Amauti was secured around the mother’s waist to prevent the child from slipping down. The weight of the child was carried across the shoulders of the garment although the weight was typically re-distributed by two more ties which form a “v” from the collar bone, with the base secured by the tie at the waist. The shoulders of the carrier were roomy enough for the mother to easily move her child forward to breastfeed when needed. This particular form of carry allowed the mother to be in constant contact with her infant, even enabling her to determine when the child needed to toilet! (although an emergency nappy of moss was kept at the bottom of the Amauti in case of emergencies!)

Inuitbabywearing

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs, Photograph by Lomen Bros., 1906

 

Many of the traditional methods of Amauti production were beginning to fade into history until recently.  The  first national consultation with Inuit women in Canada on the issues of protecting their cultural property, traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights was held in 2001. It was also the culmination of several years of research and development. Please find attached the final report here with some glorious images of the produced results.

 amautioutfit

Eastern Arctic Inuit: Nunavimiut (1890-1897)  Made from Seal fur, dog fur, sinew. Kept at McCord Museum

January 14th, 2010

Babywearing History: Ancient Egypt

Babywearing is often said to be recorded in history as far back as the Ancient Egyptians. But where? A search of the internet will provide you with many references that state this tibit of history, but rarely is there any documentation to show that this is actually the case.  So, the Babes in Arms team decided to scour the vast virtual world to find at least one reference – and we found it at Childbirth and Children in Ancient Egypt  By Marie Parsons.

mother3

A woman, supporting a child with her left hand, reaches for a fig, from the 25th Dynasty relief in the tomb of Montemhet on the West Bank at Luxor. (Doesn’t it look like an early Peanut Shell Sling??)

Ms Parsons also provides a reference by the scribe Ani who instructed that children repay the devotion of Egyptian mothers:

 ”Repay your mother for all her care. Give her as much bread as she needs, and carry her as she carried you, for you were a heavy burden to her. When you were finally born, she still carried you on her neck and for three years she suckled you and kept you clean.”

We would like to assume that this reference implied that mothers in Egypt often carried their babies in slings! What do you think?

Do you have any Ancient Egyptian Babywearing references or images? We would love to see them.

 

January 5th, 2010

Babywearing History: Native American Style

Babywearing is as old as mankind itself. In fact, some may debate that the ancient sling, probably made from animal skin or plant fiber nets, was one of the first man-made tools! It didn’t take our ancestors long to realise that the best way to keep their babies safe, content and warm and/or cool was to carry them in made slings and carriers. This enabled our ancestral mothers the ability to continue with their work and provide their maternal bond – and work hard they did! .

Nearly every culture has adapted a form of babywearing to suit their particular need – whether it is to keep baby warm, cool; to allow mother to bend forward to work or to crouch – there was always something that worked. Over the next few weeks we will be exploring a rich array of traditional babywearing styles from around the world.

Native American  Cradle Board

The cradle board was a typical Native American style baby carrier typically made from cut flat pieces of wood or woven from flexible twigs such as willow. Moss, shredded bark, and animal fur was used for cushioning.  The cradle board allowed mothers to continue working, whilst providing their babies with safety and security. The cradleboards were attached to the mother’s back straps from the shoulder or the head. For travel, cradleboards could be hung from the horse. It was quite customary for babies to be carried in this method right up to when the baby could walk.

 

Nativeamericanbabycarrier02012010

From: Edward S Curtis’  The North American Indian

“My grandmas told me that you don’t decide when the child is going to give up the cradleboard, it’s the child that’s going to decide. They say the sooner that a child leaves or pushes away the cradleboard and doesn’t want to use it—that means they’re going to mature a lot faster.” —Maynard WhiteOwl Lavadour

I learned to make these cradleboards by watching Mom, by helping her or helping my grandmother. Altogether I’ve made three sizes—infant, medium, and large. In my family, all the relatives that I know of kept their babies in boards. They like their boards. They want to stay in them and sleep in them.” —Agnes Goudy Lopez

“When you know of a child being born, then you prepare. You start making their clothes. We get the baby boards ready, and we have to keep to tradition. When a baby board is made, it has to be made in a day. You begin at the break of day and it has to be done before evening so the child will grow up to be a good person.” —Sophie George

(Excerpts taken from Native American Birthing Traditions, The Oregon Historical Society)