Beloved Burden

Baby carriers in different countries

Slings and baby carriers could hardly be called ‘new baby gadgets’, since they have been used in many cultures around the world for thousands of years. However, in today’s world, they are sometimes perceived as new – or on the contrary: very old – and in any case not good for your baby’s health. For decades now, we have been taught to believe that holding babies too much “spoils” them, even though in much of the rest of the world, babies are and always have been carried or worn in a sling all day until they could walk.
Recent research confirms that carrying infants develops their intelligence and their capacity for trust, affection, intimacy, love and happiness. Intriguingly, research also shows that the countries that are the least violent are the countries where babies are constantly carried or worn on the body of the mother/caregiver.
Beloved Burden shows that historically, and in a worldwide perspective, not carrying our babies is the exception. This abundantly illustrated book gives examples from around the world. The first part describes how infants are carried in different parts of the world. It presents a historical view on the use of baby carriers, from ancient times through to the present day. It also focuses on the economic implications of mothers having to carry their babies while performing their daily chores.

This introduction is followed by essays on a variety of subjects closely related to carrying babies: Animals that carry their young; Crying behaviour and carrying; Carrying premature babies; The colour, shape and significance of specific materials and designs used by some communities on their baby carrying devices.
The second part of the book describes the way babies are carried in different parts of the world: Central Asia, China, Greenland, Indonesia and Kalimantan, Lapland, The Netherlands, New Guinea, North America, Peru and the Peruvian Amazon, Siberia, Sub-Saharan Africa and West Africa.