It is Black Babywearing Week. Anthropologists believe one of the very first tools developed by humans was the infant carrier. Constructed from animal skin and plants, babywearing allowed parents to have their hands free while foraging for food. It wasn’t until the 1930s with mass production, interchangeable parts, and cheaper material that strollers became widely used in the United States to transport babies. Babywearing became fashionable again when a nurse traveled to West Africa while serving in the Peace Corps and noticed people wearing babies in a soft carrier with straps. The design became commercialized in the US, and babywearing began a resurgence in this country.
Personally, I have always worn my babies. My babies enjoyed being close to me where they could rest their heads on my chest and hear the familiar sound of my heart beating -- the sound they had heard for months while developing in utero. I could see my baby was more peaceful too, calm and relaxed while in the carrier. I also felt less anxious. Medical studies show babies who are worn cry less and the practice may ease postpartum depression and anxiety in parents. I noticed something else. babywearing allowed my baby to communicate with me on a deeper level. I could feel my baby squirm when she needed to use the potty. That was how we began infant potty learning, eliminating the need for diapers.
I still have a collection of slings, moby wraps, and a mei tai. My children, teenagers now, are well beyond the years of babywearing, but I still hold on to those carriers that promoted a closeness that still exists to this day.
Kira Kimble is a doula trainer, certified doula and doula mentor. She is the owner of MINE-R-T Doula Company in Charlotte, NC