Tuesday, September 14, 2010

a thought on slings

I have been thinking quite a bit about slings today. Partly because I think I've managed to find a reasonably priced 2nd hand Ergo here in Ireland. I'm very excited about it and think Benny will really enjoy it until Joa's big enough for it. I use a Storchenwiege at the moment and it is just fab...
(this is Benny when he was about 4 or 5 months old)

I was carrying Joshua about making dinner the other day when I sighed and said to myself 'What did people do before slings?' Then I thought; actually we didn't. As a species we have always carried our babies and therefore we never really did without them.
As these things happen, I was listening to a radio program in the car on the drive back from a friends house yesterday. The program was an interview with Timothy Taylor of Bradford University talking about his new book 'The Artificial Ape' (which I might just have to read...what with my being interested in paleoanthropology and all).
Guess what? He claims that human evolution was facilitated by, amongst other 'inventions', the use of the baby sling by stone age women. In fact, he rates it as important as discovering fire!
The sling basically allowed women to become marsupial. Larger headed, weaker babies could then flourish which allowed our brains to grow (in evolutionary terms). 'Courtesy of the baby sling, our ancestors got smarter.' It also meant, of course, that we could keep our babies out of the way of predators and regulate their body temperatures as well as being able to nourish and feed them while still spending enough time gathering food to ensure the survival of our species.
I never thought about slings in an evolutionary context, only really in terms of how it helps me.

Benny when he was about 9 months or so in our old chaotic house

Whatever way you look at it, you have to admit that slings are cool!


  1. Wow, this is so cool! And I was just thinking similar thoughts to you the other day as I did all sorts of things with Ezri in the sling: what would I do without the sling?!
    So it seems the unnatural thing to do is to not carry one's baby in a sling or other baby carrier! The act of leaving baby in a stroller or car seat carrier or somewhere else is actually against human nature, and relatively new!
    Thanks for this great post, Laura!

  2. You're dead right Melanie, it seems that putting our babies down is very unnatural.What I also find a bit mind blowing is how much money we spend on getting our babies away from us: buggies, prams, bouncy chairs, bottles, creche etc etc (some of these things I do have and use by the way). Which makes me think that this shift is probably fuelled by consumerism. Not only do we need to buy the baby 'containers' we then need things to occupy them...mobiles, dvd's, babysitters, dummies/soothers and so on. Whereas actually the 'healthiest' thing for our kids is to be carried close to a care giver and involved in 'normal' human life.
    People in the west have and, are encouraged to have, such a strong sense of ego and personal space that I think we now find it wrong and unnatural to want to be in constant contact wiht our offspring. Whereas actually the need to touch and be touched, I think, is an incrediby stong human instinct. I am making a conscious effort to touch my children more and encourage them to touch me more and be less concerned with my own personal space.