Babywearing In Africa: The Good, The Bad, and the how to
Babywearing is the practice of wearing your baby in a sling or a wrap that’s attached to your body. It would seem like a modern practice dating back to the last 40 years, going by the endless designs of baby wraps, and more recently baby carriers that were fashioned after wraps. But be assured that babywearing in Africa and other cultures has been around for centuries. While we’re unsure which culture or people were the first to wear their babies, it’s safe to say that slings and wraps were the first set of baby carriers to exist.
In recent times, we’re seeing a Western appreciation for babywearing, and perhaps that has made it even more popular lately. But babywearing in Africa is an ancient practice, as African mothers have worn their babies for centuries.
Babywearing Has Lots of Benefits
There are many benefits to babywearing for both you and your baby. We’ve compiled some of them here.
Soothes and Bonds Mother and Baby
Babies love to be carried, touched cuddled and held. Simply put, babies find body contact soothing. As you carry out your other responsibilities, the rhythmic nature of your actions soothe baby, sometimes even to sleep! Also, wearing a newborn can help to raise mummy’s oxytocin levels. This will in turn increase the bond between mother and baby, and even ease breastfeeding.
Multitasking is Made Easy
Babywearing allows for freedom to use your both hands to do several other things, while baby is snugly cocooned to your body. For instance, you could decide to do your laundry and other household chores, while nursing baby at the same time.
Keeps Babies Calmer For Longer
Mummy is close by, food is next to baby’s mouth, all of this will ensure that your baby is not fussy. This, combined with skin-to-skin contact, will help to stabilize your baby’s heart rate, regulate his breathing and lead to better sleep patterns generally.
Social Development Is Enhanced
Babywearing makes infants evolve and adapt earlier by developing socially. Because your Baby is close to people, he can study facial expressions, learn languages faster and be familiar with body language.
Movement Is No Longer Restricted
Now you can go to the market, attend fairs, and basically anywhere you would like to go, without having to worry about lugging a car seat around. Plus, you have your baby right there with you.
Babywearing in Africa Also Has Disadvantages
As with all things, for every pro, there is a con. Babywearing is not fail-proof. Check Out these disadvantages of babywearing in Africa
It Can Get Really Hot
African weather is generally very humid, and with the unpredictability of global warming it can get really hot without warning. Wearing your baby in the heat is not good for either you or your baby. It can pose serious health challenges.
Babywearing means that if you’re hit, your baby is hit too. In the event of a fire or another unexpected mishap, running is impossible or at least made very difficult, because of the weight of your baby. The safety questions that surround babywearing are many, and they must all be answered before you decide on babywearing.
It Can Be Messy
Babies are messy. They spit up their food, they vomit without warning, and they drool all over the place. Babywearing will mean soiled clothes for you all the time.
Your Baby Might Not Like It
In the end, the choice of whether to wear your baby or not is subject to the baby. Several babies don’t enjoy it. Hopefully your baby isn’t one of them.
If you do decide on babywearing, please pay attention to the following tips. They’ll help you maintain safety for you and the baby.
- Be smart about when and where you wear your baby
- Decrease the clutter you carry
- Watch out for overheating
Types Of Carriers and Wraps
- Stretchy and Woven Wraps.Usually made from soft cotton jersey, these carriers are long pieces of fabric that hold your baby in place with folds, layers of material and knots. They usually work best for young babies from newborn up to about three months. Woven wraps are the most flexible choice for children of all ages, from infants up to toddlers. They also offer the broadest range of choices for wearing your child on your front, side or back.
- Slings are similar to wraps in that they are pieces of woven fabric. However, a sling is a single loop of cloth that provides support for the baby. Due to this difference in construction, slings offer less carrying options than wraps.
- Structured Carrier.These carriers use an ergonomic design to evenly distribute a child’s weight across the parent’s core and shoulders. The typical structured carrier features a fabric panel that forms a pouch for the baby to sit in and has multiple points of adjustment that allow for a customized fit. Straps, buckles, Velcro, snaps and buttons all work together to let you tailor the fit to your body and your baby.