Hand-free ways to carry your baby
Babywearing, or the act of using a long swath of fabric to secure a baby to a caretaker’s body, has roots in dozens of countries and every continent. This ultra-convenient mode of baby transportation has seemingly endless benefits: the elevated position of the baby provides him or her a better place to observe and engage with the world, babies who are attached to adults cry 46 percent less, and the person-to-person contact promotes overall well-being. So put away the stroller and roam with your baby, arms swinging freely!
Asian Mei Tai This square fabric has four straps that tie around the body so the child rests in the front or back. In southwest China, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, mei tais are worn with either a double or single strap. The mei tai originates from China, where women used them to carry their children while they worked in the fields.
The Inuit Amauti
In the subpolar regions of the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Alaska and Eastern Siberia, Inuit women wear a parka called an amauti to carry babies and toddlers. The amauti is a coat with a pouch on the back where the baby can rest against the mother’s back. The large hood can keep both mother and child warm in chilly environments.
Rebozos are often worn as scarves or shawls and offer protection from the sun as well as being baby carriers. Pregnant mothers also use rebozos during pregnancy to reposition the baby and to support the mother in various positions during labor. Rebozos are known for having elegant designs and are made from a versatile fabric with an elasticity that maximizes comfort for the wearer and baby.
The podaegi is unique in that this variation of a blanket is tied around the wearer’s chest rather than over the shoulders. The fabric wraps around the mother and baby, and two long sashes hold the child in place on the mother’s back. This form of carrying is known as “obo” in Korea. Podaegi carriers are usually made of thin, quilted fabric. The straps are wrapped snug under the baby’s thighs and can be tied around to the front to support and secure the baby on the mother’s back.
Kanga (Kikoy) African Baby Carrier
These very colorful garments are worn in East African countries by both men and women. Kangas often have Swahili sayings in the form of riddles or proverbs. When a mother gives birth, the father gives her a kanga that says, “Nani kama nama,” which means “one who is like a mother.” Infants are swaddled with the cloth immediately after they are born, so the kanga’s transition into a baby carrier is effortless.
Make sure you find the right size for you and your baby – consider your shoulder width, bust, length of torso, etc. – and the appropriate amount of padding (you may want more padding as your child becomes heavier). Experiment with different kinds of baby carriers: adjustable rings, slings, wraps, straps. The options are limitless!