All over the world women have been wearing their babies for centuries. It’s easy, convenient, and even healthy. Yet, it seems like this tradition is only recently finding is way back into American culture. (Why is it that “the greatest nation in Earth” is always “progressing” beyond the old traditions, only to find that we were better off before? Anyway, that’s another soap box. Back on task…) Babywearing is growing in popularity again, and with that comes commercialism and all the over-priced baby wearing devices that money can buy. We will get into that in a later post. This week I want to talk about the history of babywearing.
Women in just about every culture since the dawn of time has used some sort of babywearing device as a means of keeping their babies safe and close (as well as for easy breastfeeding on the go) as they went about their cumbersome daily work. They didn’t have time to “entertain” a baby all day, but they also weren’t about to leave their infants alone (think extreme climates, vermin, wild animals, etc.) So they found ways of including their young children that wouldn’t interfere with accomplishing their daily tasks.
This tradition continued for thousands of years until the invention of the pram (stroller) in 1733. As with most modern inventions, the pram quickly gained popularity in the western world, and everybody wanted one. It was a status symbol. Babywearing became the thing that only “poor society” did, thus it grew out of popularity.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that a few Americans had brushes with other cultures and realized how wonderful babywearing is. In fact, the famous Dr. William Sears and his wife actually coined the term and popularized babywearing in the US in 1985. Since then, the industry has grown and there are hundreds of designs from thousands of retailers available. We will look at some of these in a few weeks. Next week we will discuss the benefits of babywearing!