Primate babies cling to their mothers while human babies are born more helpless, and proportionately heavier requiring human parents to carry their babies. Normally human mothers wear their children on their bodies to keep them safe during their daily activities. After nine months in the womb, human babies feel safe and secure being carried in this fashion. As carrying a baby in our arms is just not practical, humans have been fashioning baby-wearing devices since the beginning of humanity. https://evolutionofbabywearing.com/category/evolution/
People from different cultures have designed baby-wearing aids to suit their specific needs. Over the course of human baby-wearing there will have been cultures in which baby wearing became socially unfashionable. One of these periods began in recent years after the invention of the baby stroller by the British in the 1700s. Despite this fashionable trend which was on the rise during the industrial revolution in the west, and still continues today, many people from different cultures around the globe continued baby-wearing. http://thebirdfeednyc.com/2011/11/28/the-baby-stroller-a-visual-history/
By the 1980s, when I was born, baby-wearing was back on the rise in the west. I was carried in a “snuggly” around the Alps. Advocates of baby-wearing in the west include doctors and psychologists who’ve studied the developmental security and attachment needs of babies. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/attachment-parenting/attachment-parenting-babies
There is a current demand that baby-wearing not be exploitive of certain people’s cultural practices, specifically that the design of the baby-carrier not be “stolen” from a specific culture for profits. The “World Intellectual Property Organisation” is an organisation which aims to protect indigenous populations from appropriation. There are large financial gains to be made in the baby-wearing industry. People can be greedy. It is important to be respectful of all people and to give credit where credit is due. Westerners who are re-embracing their lost tradition of baby-wearing are looked down upon as cultural appropriators by pessimists. Colonialism can be said to be the route cause of why British inventions can be used the world over without debate, while inventions by other populations are considered sacred. Political considerations aside, you have the right to wear your baby, and what is best for your baby is what is best for humanity at large. We must find a balance between honouring tradition, being respectful, and forging our own way forward with parenting techniques that work for us and keep our babies safe.
Baby-carriers come in all shapes and sizes. Climate has had an understandable impact on baby-carrier designs. Inuits have warm jackets with pockets in the back for their babies. British mothers tied woven tartan scarves around their babies and wore them on their hips. Mi’kmaq people used a more solid structure with a frame or board. Cultures in warmer climates have breezier contraptions and more flowing fabrics, some have built in shelter from the sun.
In our modern material age, baby-carriers are trendy items and have evolved from all corners of the Earth. The best way to chose a baby-carrier is to try one on. They come in various forms including slings, wraps, snugglies and back-packs. http://www.slingbabies.co.nz/Site/History_2.ashx
Our family chooses a snuggly with lumbar support which we purchased from http://www.nurtured.ca/ . We also use jacket inserts or baby-wearing jackets which double as pregnancy jackets which we purchased from http://www.hazelnutandrose.com/ .
After my first winter of baby-wearing I can share my knowledge of winter baby-wearing safety. I believe it is our duty as citizens of a community to share knowledge and not squander it away.
My winter baby-wearing tips: Posture, Airway, Temperature, Traction (PATT)
-Posture: You won’t do yourself or your baby any favours by crippling yourself trying to baby-wear. I find it’s best for me to have a carrier with lumbar support. I also need to strengthen my back with exercise, stretch regularly, and get the occasional massage. My husband and I also share the load, if I need a break, he happily wears our son.
-Airway: Multiple bulky layers of clothing can pose a suffocation risks. To avoid suffocation you can remove bulky layers and also keep a visual of your baby’s airway, ensuring their nose and mouth are unobstructed. If you can bend down and kiss your little ones forehead then they should be in about the right place for frontal carrying – not nestled too deeply in your bosom. You can also hear and feel them breathing which is part of why baby-wearing is safe.
-Temperature: Simpatico with the point above, dress down on the inside. Instead of bundling you and your baby up before dawning your baby-carrier, dress down then bundle up once the carrier is on. Many bulky layers between you and your baby can be dangerous because your baby might not be able to regulate their body temperature to an optimal degree and they can run either too hot or too cold. Hats and booties are advisable in cold conditions where their head and feet are protruding from your jacket.
-Traction: Wear the best footwear for the conditions. You do not want to be slipping and falling while baby-wearing. In deep snow you might consider snowshoes, on ice you might consider traction cleats. These types of footwear can be found at https://www.mec.ca/en/ .
Wherever your baby-wearing journey leads, I hope you have the support you need both physically, with your contraption and in your community. According to a number of online parenting support groups, in-laws can be infamous for disapproval of attachment based parenting. All you can do is what you feel is best for you and your baby. I hope you have a and safe baby-wearing journey!