Thursday 8 May 2014

All about the baby carrier, African style!

*This is a collaboration with Mary Johnson

Baby carriers have always been incredibly popular in the continent of Africa. They offer a safe and comfortable alternative to the prams and push chairs more commonly used in Europe and in the United States. Baby carriers don’t have to be boring and can easily be made at home using pretty fabrics. So how do African women carry their babies?

Credits are: Young mother by Peter Klashorst (CC BY 2.0)

Carrying babies and infants in a soft wrap or sling around the body has always been, and is today, a fundamental part of African culture. This type of carrier enables the baby to sleep and nurse whilst still providing the mother with a good amount of freedom as both hands remain free. The African way to carry a baby was first introduced into the western world when an American nurse observed African women with their babies in Togo and on her return home, decided to replicate the design. Her name is Ann Moore and her Snugli was then patented in 1969.

Furthermore, in 1978, a second addition to the African-style baby carrier was patented by a Nigerian national on moving to the United States. Toritse Onuwaje was surprised by the incessant crying of American-born babies and decided to patent her Baby Wrap after discovering that the closeness of the mother, provided by the African-style baby carrier, is incredibly comforting for the infant.
There are many ways in which a baby wrap or sling can be fastened in order to securely support the weight of an infant, whilst ensuring comfort for both baby and mother. 

In Africa, baby carriers are traditionally tied around the woman’s chest with the baby being carefully balanced on the back, or with the sling tied over one arm and the baby balanced instead on the hip. You also have the opportunity to personalise your sling or wrap, ensuring however that the material used is of good quality and appropriate for the season. If you want to give it a try, you can have a look online at Africanfree classified sites like this one and you will be able to find particular colourful wraps and beautiful fabrics coming from a country like Nigeria, that has a very long tradition in carrying babies on mommy's back, at really convenient prices.

You will see, baby carriers are a versatile, convenient and economical way to transport young infants. When used correctly, they also constitute a very safe alternative to more traditional western carrying methods. Carrying your child in the African way will not only strengthen your back, but also the bond that you share with your baby!

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