How to Carry Your Baby African Style

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Introduction: 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

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".

Step 2: Put the Cloth at Your Waist

Imagine you are going to wear it as a skirt. Just hold it like the picture and then lean forward with your torso parallel to the ground.

Step 3: Baby Goes on the Back

Lean forward, grabbing the ends of the cloth. Have someone assist you by holding the baby and then putting the baby on your back, face down.

Step 4: Cover Baby's Bottom and Back

In this leaning position, slide the cloth from your waist upwards towards your and your baby's shoulders.

Have the person assisting you adjust the bottom edge of the cloth so that it fits underneath the baby's bum. The baby's legs (from the knees down) must not be covered.

The top part of the cloth will go up to the baby's shoulders (older babies can leave their shoulders uncovered, younger babies need more support).

Take the right side of the cloth and put it over your right shoulder.

The left side goes under your left armpit.

Step 5: Tie in Front

both ends of the cloth meet in the front, between the breasts.
tie it twice and slowly come out of your leaning position.

Step 6: Done!

your baby should now cozily sit on top of your bum, with his legs wrapped around your waist. Now you can go around and take your baby with you.!

Do not worry; he will not fall down. He MIGHT start slipping if the cloth is not tight around him, but this will not happen all of a sudden.

It takes a while to get used to the sensation... You are going to think the baby is just going to slide down and fall. If you are feeling nervous, try walking around the house with someone following you and checking on your baby.

Step 7: Variation

If you want to carry the baby towards the front, all you have to do is follow all the steps and then:

lean forward, raise your left arm and slide your baby towards the left so that he comes back and around you. the knot will move towards the top of your right shoulder.

This is a good carry if you are going to sit down and lean back. It is also a better carry for younger babies that do not yet have good head control.

In this carry, the baby's legs wrap around the side of your waist.

Step 8: Also Works for Older Babies!

Here I am using the same technique to carry my 2.5 year old. She loves it, but I can only do it for a little while since she is heavier!

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    54 Comments

    Culture vultures

    Had a Guatemalan family friend growing up who would do this for us with our baby dolls. Been looking for these instructions ever since! Thank you :) Great pics/directions.

    Easy peazy, thanks for the simple to follow instructions

     Why go to africa when we have these in our own continent. Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador. 

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    4 replies

    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...

    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?

    1 reply

    Hi. No, the important thing is that it is rectangular and big enough.

    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...

    1 reply

    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.

    Thank you I will try this soon. How heavy does the cloth need to be?

    4 replies

    It doesn't need to be very heavy, just strong enough so that it won't rip.

    it actually is. the position of the hips allows for an optimal development of the hip joint. It's exactly the position used for treating developmental hip dysplasia, because it allows maximum contact between the femoral head and the acetabulum (hip socket), wich in turns makes the joint spherical. Just ask any orthopedic surgeon. It's probably not great for the mom's back, though!

    Very true! I could not possibly do this for over an hour at a time.

    That is because your back isnt strong the longer you carry the child the stronger you get.

    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.

    fantastic! my friend just sent us a capulana and my nearly 4 mo old has pretty good head control.