Traditional Babywearing

We went to Mexico recently on a cruise and I saw many women carrying their babies and toddlers in rebozos. Being such a big advocate of babywearing, I will admit to being fascinated by the ease and comfort that they seemed to be in when babywearing. I asked a kind mother if it was ok to take a photo of her and her baby girl and she smiled and said yes.

Here in the States if a mother was wearing her sling this way, we’d say that it needs to be pulled away from the neck more and that the sling should be from knee to knee and the baby should be in the sitting position. Yet, this mother was as comfortable as I was in mine, if not more so since my son was getting heavy with all the walking we were doing. And the way she was wearing her rebozo was exactly the same way all the women I saw were wearing theirs.

Another day while in Mexico, I saw a Mexican woman wearing a rebozo with her older baby (it seemed from the size of the baby that he was older baby, though I could not actually see him…or her) on her back with the baby in the cradle position and with a blanket over him. All this happening on her back. She was standing and talking to others and I could tell she was following the same traditions. Again, if she had posted a picture of this in a forum, she’d had received comments about how unsafe what she was doing was – cradle, blanket, not being able to see her baby. Yet, she too was doing traditional babywearing that has been the case for centuries in Mexico.

In Mexico, this is how they babywear. It’s their norm. It’s how rebozos have always been used. Would I be comfortable doing so in that matter? I would not since this simply isn’t what it’s norm to me or how I was taught to use baby carriers.

I spent only a few days in Mexico and wished for more. I’d love mostly to visit with the women that use their rebozos daily and sit down to chat about babywearing. I’d love to gently pull the rebozo from the neck and sit the baby into the carrier and see if they say it’s better or didn’t make that much of a difference to them. I wonder if they’d smile at me and my ways and amuse me but afterwards wear their rebozo the same way their mothers, and their mother’s mother used to.

Almost everything I’ve learned about babywearing has improved my comfort, support and ability to teach others. And I’m passionate about teaching correct babywearing carries. But, these situations remind me of what a large world there is of babywears and so many different ways to do so. It seems that in the USA we think of Germany as the ultimate in babywearing since they have world known babywearing schools. But, traditional babywearing and Germany is not something we think of going together. Mexico and rebozos, African and kangas, China and mei tais – these are traditional and where most of our “inspiration” for babywearing has come from. Each country has taught us so much about babywearing and I don’t feel we’ve learned it all yet. There is still so much to learn.

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