Carrying a baby in some type of carrier, known as 'babywearing', is practiced and celebrated around the world in all cultures. As well as being convenient and practical for the parent it also has many benefits for the infant. It is generally acknowledged that babies who are carried on the body, rather than being laid in a cradle or seat, form greater bonds with the care giver, are calmer, and find it easier to develop social skills. Being carried also helps to develop the baby's balance and muscle tone.
Carriers take many forms, from a simple rectangle of cloth wrapped around both the baby and the care giver's body and securely tied, to highly engineered carriers such as the LittleLife Ranger child carrier (1).
In this example, the baby is carried, facing forward, on the back of the adult. It features an adjustable anatomically-shaped seating area for the child with a removable, washable facepad and an x-buckle harness made from polyoxymethylene (POM). The fabric coverings of the carrier are made from polyester, a material which readily repels water.
The adjustable shoulder straps, chest strap, and hip belt ensure a safe and comfortable fit for the adult and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam is strategically placed to provide cushioning for both baby and adult. It is given structure by a lightweight aluminium framework. This streamlined design is the lightest British Standard carrier currently available.
The Hippychick hip seat (2) is a simple but effective method of carrying a child. It has been specifically designed to help prevent adult back pain as a result of carrying a child on the hip. It provides a firm shelf for the child to sit on and the parent's back remains upright. The hip seat is made from polyester fabric covering a lightweight yet structurally firm polyurethane (PU) seat insert with buckles made from POM, a material which is known for its strength, stiffness and durability.
Both of these modern examples are developments of traditional methods used throughout history and the world over.