How to Carry Your Baby African Style

279,334

128

51

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!

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Exercise Speed Challenge

      Exercise Speed Challenge
    • Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge

      Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge
    • Audio Challenge 2020

      Audio Challenge 2020

    51 Discussions

    0
    cashl1
    cashl1

    3 years ago

    Culture vultures

    0
    mlevitt
    mlevitt

    4 years ago

    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.

    0
    piaferre
    piaferre

    10 years ago on Introduction

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

    2789599616_f3897ae900.jpgimg_3181-10241-324x450.jpg
    0
    sufairlie
    sufairlie

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I was not suggesting that people go to Africa, but yes this way of carrying babies is very common in many continents.

    0
    simsgoddess
    simsgoddess

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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

    0
    mee-mee
    mee-mee

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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...

    0
    gneal
    gneal

    8 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    0
    sufairlie
    sufairlie

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    Sarah.Couch
    Sarah.Couch

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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...

    0
    sufairlie
    sufairlie

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    Silver_Kate
    Silver_Kate

    6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    sufairlie
    sufairlie

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    AfroMama
    AfroMama

    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    clunymph
    clunymph

    9 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    SweetVioletsa
    SweetVioletsa

    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    arizzle
    arizzle

    11 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    visitken
    visitken

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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...