This article is cross-listed in history and culture, as it bridges my 50 year cut-off for inclusion in each category.
Dr. William Sears claims credit for inventing the term babywearing when his children were small. Dr. Sears recounts how they would put on the carrier in the morning and not take it off until they undressed at night.
“I remember one day when Martha fabricated a sling out of material from an old bed sheet and said, ‘I really enjoy wearing Mathew. The sling is like a piece of clothing. I put it on in the morning and take it off in the evening.’ Hence the term ‘babywearing’ was born in the Sears household.”- Dr. William Sears (askdrsears.com)
Though Rayner Garner invented the ringsling in 1981, Dr. Sears developed his own versions (with enough padding to resemble a duvet and prevent the user from adjusting the pouch effectively) and has sold it as the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder and The Original NoJo Babysling (as opposed to Garner’s The Baby Sling).
The use of infant carriers wasn’t a novel concept in North America in the 1980’s but previously it had a stigma of poverty or transience attached since the European Middle Ages, to those who by choice or necessity carried their infants on their bodies. The Baby Boom seems to be the impetus for changing this attitude over the next half century. Patents for infant carrying devices were filed in quick succession after WWII ended– though traditional infant carriers were known of and in use, North American parents wanted innovated new forms made of new materials for their modern lifestyles. Yet even then, many people were suspicious of their use and its implications for the relationships between parent and child.