Cold Climates: The Inuit Amauti

Well, I was enjoying the lovely fall colors, the warm days and crisp nights– and then that jerk Winter crept up and put an ice cube down my shirt. So, while I huddle here, fingers frozen, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how traditional artic cultures deal with infant carrying in the freezing temperatures. There seem to be two main approaches: a soft carrier that shares body heat between child and caregiver which we’ll cover in this post; and a hard carrier that creates a micro-climate for the baby that I will cover in a future post. Continue reading

Babywearing & Cerebral Palsy

This post includes excerpts from my post on the Iowa City Babywearers website in Feb. 2018. In the full post, I describe a specific case and how ICBW assisted a mother who wanted to safely “wear” her CP toddler, click here to read. 

About Cerebral Palsy

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. While symptoms become more noticeable with age the disease is not progressive. Preterm births, twins, and infants who experience difficult births, or head trauma during or after birth are most likely to have cerebral palsy. In some cases, it is caused by infection or environmental toxins during pregnancy and in very rare (2%) of cases, the cause is genetic. Nearly 80% of people with cerebral palsy have structural problems in the area of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture; and some will experience seizures. Continue reading

Babywearing in Hogarth’s London

hogarth mach of the guards 1750
The original painting hung at the Foundling Museum in London.

In honor of William Hogarth’s birthday, November 10th, I would like to analyze the babywearing featured in his March of the Guards to Finchley, painted in 1750. During the summer of 2017, I was fortunate to visit the Foundling Museum in London and see it in person.

It is important to note that babywearing is a very recent term associated with concepts, like attachment parenting, that was unheard of in the 18th century– I use the term here as a verb to describe “use of an infant carrier”.

Hogarth is one of my favorite artists. The level of detail, the characterization, and subject matter of his paintings and etchings keep me coming back again and again to find something new. Hogarth revolutionized the public’s consumption of art with mass-produced etchings of his painting sold on subscription. He is well known for his moralistic series of The Rake’s Progress and The Harlot’s Progress (the latter of which was made into a miniseries). His style combines realism and the satirical, the serious with the bawdy. Continue reading

Big Babies

Humans, like the other Great Apes, are physiologically riders; breast milk composition is not suited to parking infants for long periods between feeding (Ross). For this reason among many others, our species has had to carry our babies with us wherever we go. Unfortunately, humans find carrying infants more difficult than our evolutionary cousins for three reasons: lack non-grasping feet and body hair, physically helpless infants and, most importantly for this post, the relative size of our infants.

giphy

Non-human apes in the taxonomic family Hominidae (literally means “Great Ape” and makes me think of Charlotte’s Web’s “Some Pig” but I digress) have smaller, more precocious babies than humans. Adult gorillas, for example, are significantly larger than adult humans, yenewborn and adult weightst their newborns are about half the size of human newborns. Chimpanzees, which are our closest extant evolutionary relative and have a similar adult body weight to us, give birth to newborns that are around 3% of their adult size, while humans have newborns that are around 6% of adult size (DeSilva). At what point since our common ancestor with chimpanzees, did hominins start having bigger babies? Continue reading

Taira, Okinawa

In 1966, Thomas and Hatsumi Maretzki wrote an ethnography of the Okinawan village of Taira, published as part of a series called Six Cultures: Studies of Child Rearing, which this article is a summary focusing on his observations of infant carrying.

okinawaBeginning one month after birth, a baby is kept in constant contact with its caregiver’s body and this continues until the child is around two years old, or whenever the mother becomes pregnant again.

“A child is strapped onto someone’s back from the time he wakes up in the morning to the time he is put to bed at night.”(Maretzki, 107).

Continue reading