-An Ethiopian baby rides high on his mother’s back, in a pouch encircled by a muslin cape that goes over her shoulders. If it rains, the mother carries her umbrella over both of them. As a child gets older, he learns to sit between his mother’s shoulder blades, clinging with his legs around her waist.
-Fulani babies of Nigeria are carried in large, bright cotton wraps, which are bound around the mother’s torso and enable the infant to enjoy a secure piggy-back.
-Swazi babies of Swaziland are carried on their mothers’ backs in a goatskin sling. This is traditionally a gift from the new mother’s parents.
-In Liberia, west Africa, the Kpelle people grow cotton and weave it into distinctive stripes. Women wear a two-yard strip called a lapa, wrapped around the body under the arms, with a smaller piece of cloth which ties at the waist and holds baby on the back.
– In Wales, a mother would carry her baby wrapped against her in a shawl. The English-speaking Welsh still use a dialect phrase, ‘cutching up’, which refers to the closeness of the carried baby.
– Babies in Morocco are carried in slings on the back.
– Maori mothers in New Zealand would traditionally carry their babies in swag straps made from pounded bark.
– Sub-arctic tribes, stretching from Alaska to Labrador, have carried their babies in elaborately beaded belts since the nineteenth-century. Beadwork was taught to the Cree, the Slave, the Dogrib and others by settlers from Europe.
-In southern India, the baby is worn next to the skin, under the top section of the mother’s sari. In other places, he may be transported in a wrap on the front or side.
-Andaman islanders of the Bay of Bengal have an ancient tradition involving a baby sling. When a pregnancy is deeply desired, especially by the husband, he sits around the camp wearing an empty baby sling. This symbol of maternity, usually worn by mothers, will help bring a rapid conception.
-A baby from Bali is wrapped against his mother using a cloth shawl.
-Nomad mothers of Tibet place babies skin-to-skin under their sheepskin coats.
-Hmong parents of Laos in south-east Asia carry their babies in beautifully embroidered cloth slings called nyias. An expectant mother will sew the nyia during pregnancy, embellishing it with sacred motifs to help protect her baby’s soul.
-In China, babies are traditionally bound to their mother’s backs with hemp cloth bands. The baby’s back is supported with a stiffened pad and hemp is wound round the two of them: crossing over at the front of the mother’s body and finally tied at the waist. Another piece of hemp may be used as a baby hat for warmth, or as a sun-shade. -Slings are back in vogue. Recent fashions include a leather and sheepskin papoose, as modelled by the babies of David and Victoria Beckham. (Don’t mention it, but these are exactly the materials used by ancient hunter-gatherers when they first made slings for carrying their Stone Age babies around.)