I have been fortunate to come across some wonderful groups that have encouraged me on my journey to babywear, cloth diaper and use baby sign language with my little one. I’ve also come across a lot of push-back over my choices. It seems that many in the Black community see my family as an aberration. Once, when traveling through the south I had someone tell me that I must be partnered with a white person because Black people don’t have the kind of adventures that we were embarking on. *blank stare*
Last week, I noticed a woman talking about strollers. She was asking for help deciding which stroller she should buy. When I mentioned that she could babywear for little money and a lot of benefits, the whole conversation went quiet. I felt like I shouldn’t have opened my mouth.
I LOVE babywearing and I wish more Black people in America knew about, and enjoyed, babywearing. Somehow we have forgotten that we have been wearing our babies since time immemorial. Babywearing is not some white folks shit. Babywearing is our heritage. From Why African Babies Don’t Cry:
Even older babies already strapped onto a back are then further protected from the elements by a large blanket. You would be lucky to catch a limb, never mind an eye or nose. It is almost a womb-like replication in the wrapping. The babies are literally cocooned from the stresses of the outside world into which they are entering.
Another perspective on babywearing from the stroller side. From
African mothers see baby strollers as abhorrent fad / Tradition of carrying children upheld; ‘they can’t sit like lumps‘:
“The pram is the ultimate in pushing the baby away from you,” said Frank Njenga, a child psychiatrist in Nairobi, Kenya’s bustling capital. “The baby on the back is actually following the mother in warmth and comfort. The baby feels safer, and safer people are happier people.”
Any way you slice it, babywearing is awesome and I wish more Black families in American would make an effort to learn about it. A few weeks ago I was wearing the baby at an event and a few different Black women came over to me to ask me about wearing the baby. I was happy to share, but surprised that they seemed to have no idea what I was doing!
I’m not sure how to get the word out, but I’ll continue to write about our experiences in hopes that babywearing will catch on in the Black community in the United States.