Friday, January 14, 2011

Nigerian Babies in 1931...

 I've been reading 'Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living' in preparation for our next baby (#3, expected April/May), and have been fascinated with the last section that looks at babies around the world.  Of course, their focus is on the pottying of the babies  but since many of the same cultures wear their babies there are lots of little glimpses into that. 

Here is a passage from field research conducted on the topic of native life among the Dahomey (in Nigeria) during a period of five months in 1931...

Beautiful photo from National Geographic, here


"Returning now to a consideration of the development of the normal child, it is to be observed that very young children are carried most of the time on the backs of their mothers or, in rare instances, of nurses.  Unless prevented by special circumstances, a mother takes her baby with her wherever she goes, and women may be seen selling in the market, carrying burdens on the road, working in the fields, or dancing in ceremonial dances with their infants straddling their backs." (page 410 of IPT)


found via image search here, can't figure out from where to give credit... 
if anyone knows where it is from please let me know!

I think that in both of these photos they're wearing their babies with a Kanga... what do you think, babywearers?

8 comments:

Mama Violet said...

I used to think the babies would be uncomfortable in this position but I got to see it up close in Kenya and Uganda and the babies are very calm and most of the time sleeping. I haven't tried it yet but really want to.

fairymom said...

When my olders (16/17) where younger I used to see immagrant mamas carring their los like that all the time- it would awe and amaze me. Now I don't see any- this so saddens me, all I see is los in strollers or being dragged behind by the hand. Maybe I can try this w/our new lo!

Jan said...

My husband recently went to Uganda and saw all these babies on lower backs and realized that the women there are constantly in the squatting position and have much more developed muscles for carrying their babies so low on their backs.

natalie said...

Mama Violet - It seems really low to me so at first I thought the same. But my cousin does it like that and her baby is comfy and secure!

Fairymom - wow! I wonder if people from other cultures who come here sometimes try to assimilate and leave babywearing behind? What a sad thought...

Jan - fascinating! I'm usually more comfortable with a carry higher on my back... guess my muscles just aren't used to the difference!

AC said...

I absolutely seeing pictures like these. I've yet to master babywearing on my back (on any position) but everytime I wear my LO out I always get attention, it's great that people are curious and interested but I'm looking forward to the day when wearing a baby is just the thing to do, no questions.

natalie said...

I know exactly what you mean, AC... I do love when people ask questions and are interested in my carriers... but I would love it even more if it were commonplace!

Mommyfriend Lori said...

I was never a baby wearer and now I wish so much that I had been. The babies always seem so peaceful carried tight against their mothers.

Martha said...

My daughter is half Nigerian. Her grandmother put her on her back like this when she was only seven weeks old. She was very comfortable.

I am also a baby wearer, but I never got up the nerve to try this position with that type of wrap.

My daughter's aunt, says she remembers being carried like this up to the age of 3 or 4, and loved it.