Babywearing

"Mother with Two Infants"  by Jean-Francois Millet, circa 1800's

“Mother with Two Infants”
by Jean-Francois Millet, circa 1800’s

Babywearing

The term “babywearing” is obviously a modern word. Maggie would not have used that word. Nor would her daughters (my grandmother), nor would her grand-daughter (my mother). So, even though the word is new, the practice is old. Every society has some form of carrying or holding their babies, most often in a piece of cloth, which frees the mother to do necessary tasks.

In Mexico they use a Rebozo which is actually a piece of cloth that is also worn as a garment. Alaska and Canada traditionally use an Amauti which is a special coat where the baby traditionally rides on the back and is protected from the elements. Mothers in the Orient typically use Mei Dai style carriers which have shoulder and waist straps. In New Guinea they use a type of bag that the mother wears across the forhead. African mothers most often use a short piece of cloth and wear their babies low on their back. American Indian and Aboriginal mothers use cradleboard style carriers for their babies. In Europe mothers have used a variety of cloth carrier styles, including shawls worn by mothers in Wales.

I have often wondered what Maggie did with her babies while she was cooking, cleaning, washing. My grandmother was the youngest of the six girls, so I imagine that by the time she was born that Maggie just passed her off to one of the older sisters. But, what about when the older girls were all little?

Sioux mother and baby, c.1830 by George Catlin

Sioux mother and baby, c.1830
by George Catlin

I’ve tried to find evidence of American babywearing in colonial and antebellum eras. I believe that it was practiced even though there is not much proof of it. In most cultures wearing your baby comes from necessity, and the paintings and written documentation from these eras do not focus on the lower classes where babywearing would have been necessary. I’ve accumulated a few photos of babywearing paintings, photos and artwork which you can view on my Pinterest page. And if you really to see a wonderful collection of babywearing photos from around the world visit Hybrid Rasta Mama. She has the best photo collection I’ve ever seen.  I believe that the traditions of babywearing throughout the world must have been continued by some of our ancestors in the early days of American. It’s even mentioned by contemporary authors.

 
“Some [Indian mothers] had narrow bundles tied on their backs, and tiny babies’ heads stuck out of the top of the bundles. And some babies and some small children rode in baskets hanging at the ponies’ sides, beside their mothers. More and more ponies passed, and more children, and more babies on their mothers’ backs, and more babies on the ponies’ sides. Then came a mother riding, with a baby in a basket on each side of her pony. Laura looked straight into the bright eyes of the little baby nearer her. Only it’s small head showed above the basket’s rim.” (Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, First Harper Trophy edition, 1971, pgs. 306-308.)
Illustration by Garth Williams

Illustration by Garth Williams

 

I wish now that I could ask my grandmother’s sisters what they did back then. Maggie’s grandmother was American-Indian and I think there was some Scotch or Welsh somewhere back there too so maybe something was passed down. Who knows? I may never know whether Maggie wore her babies, but I certainly wear mine.

2 weeks old and 11 months old

2 weeks old and 11 months old

Babywearing has been one of my most used skills as a parent. It has been refined and grown since I began with my oldest in a ring sling so that she would take naps. In the city, babywearing is our mode of transportation. We go places in our wraps. 

Central Park

Central Park



The newest baby.

Baby #3.

Babywearing Articles:
Summer Babywearing Tips
Transform your bag into a Babywearing Bag

 

Rachel Parks is a CBWS Babywearing Consultant. She has 7+ years teaching experience, and 13+ years experience wearing her own children. She is experienced with all carrier types, as well as wearing newborns, tandem wearing, and wearing children with disabilities and special needs. She is a founding leader of Wear Together NYC (formerly Queens Babywearing and BWI of NYC). Rachel offers individual consultations and group classes.

Private in-person Consultation: $75.00, 90 minutes

Virtual Consultation: $35.00, 45 minutes

Virtual Refresher Consult: $20.00, 30 minutes

Group Classes (virtual or in-person): $20 per person/couple, 90 minutes, minimum 4 registrants

To schedule a consultation or group class fill out the form below or email her at rememberingmaggielane@gmail.com.

Baby #4

5 thoughts on “Babywearing

  1. Rachel is an incredibly knowledgeable and inspiring teacher! She helped me feel confident using my wrap with my first baby, and showed me another way to wrap it. She knows just the right wrap for every occasion, and has some really creative baby ideas in other areas as well. Highly recommend and trust her advice!

  2. Rachel has a really practical, encyclopedic knowledge of wraps and positions. She knows how to make things safe and comfortable for baby and for mom. Even with my fifth and sixth babies, she still had great tips for creating a good baby wearing relationship, helping me bond with baby and get through our busy days at the same time. She is generous with her knowledge and genuinely enjoys helping babies and moms.

  3. Having worked with Rachel as an educator, I know she is incredibly knowledgeable, experienced, and kind. She is a great teacher! Anyone looking for babywearing help would certainly benefit from time with Rachel.

  4. When my first was little, I held him all the time…..and got nothing done, except when he was asleep. Thankfully, Rachel taught me how to baby-wear when my second was about 6mo — boy was it a game changer! Even if your baby doesn’t “take” to being worn, Rachel can give you all sorts of tips and suggestions to make it comfortable for both of you. We have six kids now, and life is just so much smoother and easier with baby-wearing. We are forever grateful to Rachel for teaching us how to do it!

  5. I am a mom of five and for my first three children I could never figure out how to use a wrap to wear my babies. It left me and my babies in tears. I gave up! Then I met Rachel, she gave me hope and pointed me towards the perfect wrap for me! She showed me how to use it and gave me options that helped me wear my babies without back pain. She is incredibly patient and knowledgeable.

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