Babywearing, once associated with more crunchy moms, has become popular among the masses as more and more moms place their babies in a carrier, sling, or wrap in order to keep their child close and their hands free. Extremely useful and practical for today's busy moms, babywearing is a modern trend that is quickly become the norm.
However, what many may not realize is that babywearing is a lost art, one that dates back thousands of years to tribes in Africa as well as to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Israelites. Throughout the world, and throughout time, many different cultures have practiced babywearing, in one form or another, as a safe and practical way of keeping their babies close by.
Tibetan Wraparound Baby Carrier Demonstration
In Mexico and Guatemala, short wraparound slings known as the Rebozo are used, and not just as a baby carrier. These shawls serve many purposes, from protecting one from the sun, to carrying a variety of items, and even as a support for women giving birth. Similarly, throughout South America, large pieces of woven cloths are used to carry the baby on the mother's back. These baby slings keep a busy mother's hands free for other work.
For thousands of years, tribes throughout Africa have used decorated baby carriers and brightly colored pieces of cloth to tote their young ones around. Tribes from Borneo use a carrier that features beaded patterns of dragons, leopards, and hornbills, as well as glass beads and amulets which give their children spiritual protection as well. Both men and women in Kenya use a rectangular piece of cloth to carry their children on their back. This versatile cloth is also used to sit on, to carry items on their head, and to protect their clothing while cooking. Many women in Africa continue to use these methods today.
Mei Tais, popular in the United States, originated in China and were used by peasant women working in the fields. Wraps similar to the Mei Tai are used throughout Asia and babies are carried in front as well as on the back of their mothers.
Carrying babies in India and Europe was once viewed as something the lower class or caste did while wealthier people had nannies, pushed their children in strollers, or had rocking nurses. This still holds true in parts of India.
Taking their cue from the mother's who came before them, women have once again - or still are, depending on the culture - embraced babywearing. Throughout the modern Western world, carrying babies is once again becoming popular amongst moms of all ages, cultures, and economic means.