Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby in a sling or another form of carrier. The origins of humans carrying babies on their person date back over 50,000 years. As human heads evolved and became bigger to accomodate larger brains, fetuses were born earlier leading to a need for increased caregiving. Unlike chimpanzees, our closest relative, human babies are unable to cling to a caregiver shortly after birth. Thus, the need arose for a way to transport babies, while keeping them close and safe.
Early forms of baby carriers were made using natural materials like bark, leaves, and animal skins. As weaving became more prevalent, caregivers began using woven cloth to tie babies to parents or older siblings. In Africa, kanga and kitenge fabrics were used for items such as blankets and aprons as well as for carrying babies. The Mexican rebozo, a general-purpose carrying cloth, was often used as a way to conveniently wear babies. Many other cultures around the world, such as the Japanese, South Asian, and Welsh communities, also have rich histories of babywearing that originated from the unique aspects of their culture and climate.
In Canada, a cradleboard was used by some Indigenous peoples to protect and carry babies. While securely bound to a thin rectangular board, a baby could be carried on their mother's back or put in a safe location while their parents travelled, worked, or were otherwise occupied. In some Indigenous communities, cradleboards are still being used today.
Modern babywearing in western countries did not begin to gain popularity until the late 1960s. Inspired by seeing African women carrying their babies on their backs, the Snugli baby carrier was created in the United States in the 1960s and gained popularity throughout the decade. The ring sling's roots come from the Traditional Sling Carry which draws its inspiration from the Mexican rebozo. In the 1970s, German woven wrap company, Didymos, was established after its founder was given a rebozo. The company began creating woven slings which drove public interest in babywearing and sling usage. The ring sling itself was invented by a man in Hawaii for his wife in the 1980s.
Babywearing UK, https://www.babywearing.co.uk/
The Canadian Encyclopedia, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/
Marion Rose, Ph.D., http://marionrose.net/
My American Nurse, https://www.myamericannurse.com/
Wrap Your Baby, https://wrapyourbaby.com/