Picture of How to carry your baby African style
This way of carrying babies is very common in Mozambique, south eastern Africa. It is relatively comfortable and versatile. Plus, all you need is a rectangular piece of cloth (and a baby, or course).

The baby in this picture is 9 months old. I have been carrying him using this technique since he was 1 month old. As he grew, my back got stronger!

Step 1: Find a rectangular cloth

Picture of Find a rectangular cloth
The material should be sturdy but soft. Cotton works well. What is important is that it is rectangular and also big enough (about as wide as your arm span). The cloth pictured here is a Mozambican "capulana".
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TinyTraveller2 months ago

Easy peazy, thanks for the simple to follow instructions

piaferre5 years ago
 Why go to africa when we have these in our own continent. Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador. 
sufairlie (author)  piaferre2 years ago
I was not suggesting that people go to Africa, but yes this way of carrying babies is very common in many continents.
She i just showing one way of carring a baby in a sling the fact that it is african should not bother you. Perhaps she likes the tieing method and position of the sling and merely wanted to share :)
Whether it was Peruvian or Ecuadorean is of no importance
nice... I mean: I live in Bolivia, and we call it "aguayos"... I knew how to do it,... but then I forgot, thank you for makin' me remember...
gneal3 years ago
Wow that is really cool! My sister is a nanny, and I know she is looking for more comfortable ways to hold her child. This would be an awesome thing for her. I'm going to send her the link to this instructables because I know she would like it. Quick question, do you have to use a certain kind of blanket?
sufairlie (author)  gneal2 years ago
Hi. No, the important thing is that it is rectangular and big enough.
Sarah.Couch2 years ago
I love this, but have some questions. Do you have to buy any special cloth? Or can I just swing by an arts and crafts store? Is there anywhere online I can go to buy the cloth? I've tried looking on Amazon, maybe I'm missing something...
sufairlie (author)  Sarah.Couch2 years ago
You can try it with any rectangular cloth that is big enough. Yes you can just buy a piece of cloth at an Arts and crafts store.
Silver_Kate2 years ago
Thank you I will try this soon. How heavy does the cloth need to be?
sufairlie (author)  Silver_Kate2 years ago
It doesn't need to be very heavy, just strong enough so that it won't rip.
AfroMama4 years ago
I am also from South Africa and have read the research on gross motor development and related body, relationship and emotional development in babies who have been strapped to their mother's bodies for the first 6 months of their lives and the results are all highly positve. Obviously very, very young babies must take special strapping so that very little weight is borne by their bodies and neck.

The baby is being exercised by the mother's movement and this strengthens the muscles and skeletal structure. In addition, children carried in this manner exhibit far fewer signs of agression (obviously if a child is raised in a disfunctional family or violent area this benefit would be counter-acted).

The only downside is when much older children are strapped for long periods of time which then inhibits their gross motor skills as their bodies are ready to take over that task by then.

As the other viewers have said, carrying a baby in this way can be extremely helpful in freeing up your arms with no negative side effects. For people from a culture that does not strap babies to the body with a blanket, towel or cloth it can be very disconcerting but as advised in the instructions, hang around the house first to gain confidence and to ensure you have a good idea of your width.
clunymph4 years ago
fantastic! my friend just sent us a capulana and my nearly 4 mo old has pretty good head control.
I am an American living in South Africa. I've been here nearly 7 years. Some of the misinformation here is shocking. 1) babies do not stare at their mother's backs. Their necks work just fine and they turn their heads and take in the sights around them. Older children lean back in the slings and play with small toys while riding on their mother's backs. Additionally, they are warm, snug, and have the sound of their mother's heartbeat when they lay their heads against their mother's backs and sleep. 2) the road accident problem here has more to do with high alcohol consumption and excessive speed than depth perception. As far as head-on collisions go, the vast majority of drivers are white and they are not carried on their mother's backs as infants. Most black people walk (incredible distances, too!) or take public transport. I observe this baby-on-back thing regularly and close up. My maid lives in, she has a 3-year old whom she carries on her back daily. He walks well, is sturdy and healthy, and judging by his ability to kick a ball, rock., or piece of trash on the ground, his depth perception is without fault. Carrying a baby in this manner is helpful to the mother (her hands are free and the child is safe while she is working or cooking) and comforting to the child. Personally, I wish I had known about this when my children were little...it would have saved me a LOT of trouble and afforded them snuggling opportunities they were denied due to my inability to hold them and hang out wash/cook/clean the bathroom etc, while holding them in one arm.
arizzle6 years ago
I lived in South Africa for several years where women carried their babies this way. I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but I have heard the theory more than once, that carrying a baby like this- constantly facing their mother/father's back may inhibit the development of depth perception, causing many black native africans to be hit by cars as children and adults. Again, nothing to back this up, just thought you might want to know.
Sounds like an old wive's tale. Babies are/were carried on mothers' backs all the time in China, Korea and (I think) Japan before the current trend toward baby buggies caught on and the older generation isn't any more likely to get hit by cars than the current Gen! There's a lot of good knowledge regarding child-rearing being practiced out here in Asia. If more Americans and Europeans would widen their perspective a bit more, I think they could learn a lot...
Udon visitken6 years ago
I've heard that too. There was some evidence to back it up, plus lot's of anecdotal evidence, but it was never conclusive. If all you see for the whole day is nothing but somebody's back, it' not implausible to think that a developing child might end up having problems judging distances. And also considering that South Africa has such a horrific death toll on the roads, usually head on collisions when overtaking, most South Africans would agree that the possibility exists. I'm sure for a mother it would make life easier and this has benefit, but it would also make sense that the baby wouldn't be on her back the WHOLE day. That really should be the only disclaimer - it was a very well put together instructable.
makalove Udon5 years ago
If any baby, being carried in any position, kept their head still and looked only in one direction, this might be a problem. But since most people who wear their babies with slings, wraps, etc. do so while they are actively busy and moving around, there is much for the baby to see simply by turning his/her head. The scenery is constantly changing as the parent moves about, giving the baby plenty of opportunity to develop their eyes.
sunysol6 years ago
Love it - thanks! I've had people help me but never felt comfy doing my self. Now I have a step by step guide!
ANTQNUT6 years ago
awww your baby is so cute! :)
crzbuzz6 years ago
cute baby :-)
cynira6 years ago
Wow.. this is really KEWL, thanks for sharing.. blessed b~
animes256 years ago
why to use african style, when we have like millions indian styles :D
jdaley997026 years ago
ive seen 5 year old african girls do this all on their own with no help in under like 20 seconds!! its amazing to watch them
SeaSkyShore6 years ago
Just throwing in my two cents, I've carried both my children (7 months and 3 years) in this fashion and I haven't observed any hip or vision problems in either. My oldest didn't care for the slings after she learned to walk (A very independent critter) but the slings were a godsend with my new wee one. It helped so much with her colic. Also (I can't believe I almost forgot!) My father used to carry me in this exact same fashion when I was a babe. He grew up in Africa (Missionary family) and he saw mothers carry their children like this. He used a big sheet to wrap me. My hips and vision are fine. I don't know of any legitimate reason why a parent shouldn't use a sling or Kanga to carry their child.
Thanks. I've always wanted to know how to do that! It's so sweet.
gustercc6 years ago
looks great, will try with my 5 month old
canida6 years ago
This is an awesome Instructable - useful, and very clearly explained! I spent plenty of time in a sling as a youngster, and can't imagine how you'd deal with a child without being able to have your hands free some of the time. This just seems such an obvious way to go.
I used a ring type sling with both my kids from the time they were born until they were about 5. Most mothers carry their children on their hip, but with a sling, you can distribute the weight across the back and not get so tired. From backpack, to hip, to kangaroo pouch (when they are tiny) sling carrying is the best. Anyone who recommends it as "not safe" has never met an experienced sling user. My 8 and 5 year old would still use "feet in" if I let them. Thanks for spreading the word
abnor6 years ago
how much do you have to tuck it under the baby butt? for some reason i keep thinking that it would come undone and the baby would fall under
sufairlie (author)  abnor6 years ago
You don't really have to tuck the fabric under. It does it by itself... All I do is pull the ends and make sure it is tight and secure. Try it with a doll first and you will get a better idea.
arisecute6 years ago
I live in Africa, Nigeria precisely, where virtually every child is being strapped to the mothers' back before they start walking. So if this way of carrying babies would have any negative effect on children, then all Nigerian children should have some kind of hip problem. To me that's more than enough experiment.
don_juanila6 years ago
I was carried like this as a child (I'm half indian) I even have memories since I could hear my mums heartbeat and it would lull me to sleep. Good times! I love this if I ever have kids, I think I'll be doing it too! May I say you have the most adorable photogenic baby! What a cutie!
dimcl6 years ago
I was carried this way for at least 3-4 years by my Nanny. I still remember how comforting and comfortable it was. I am now in my 50's and have no hip, eye or any other sort of problem from being carried like this. I see women in my country still carry their babies like this on a daily basis. I highly recommend this way of carrying ones baby. I did with my two and was able to carry on with what I needed to do around the house. Oh, I am from Africa.
TehAwesome6 years ago
When I was in Tanzania, this was THE way to carry your baby. Good Instructable, brings back good memories!
lotsofglue6 years ago
Awsome!!! I wish I read this a year ago, it would have made yard work soooooo much easier..nad shopping and cleaning...lol
jatoha6 years ago
You've explained the sling concept very well. I used one, too, and it can look like the child will fall, but when you're carrying him, you can feel how secure he is. Carrying your baby this way increases your interaction with your child as compared to just leaving him strapped in the car seat and toting that around.
bigD226 years ago
I wouldn't recommend this. I've heard from doctors that prolonged use of a Kanga (the name for this garment) has resulted in hip problems in the baby because the position and stress on the young, developing joints.
shaun bigD226 years ago
Oddly enough, I've heard exactly the opposite! I've used a commercially available sling with both of my children with no problems. Perhaps somebody can cite the results of a study? We need more mothers and fathers to get involved like this. It's an awful lot easier than prams and pushchairs too.
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