If you’ve been caring for small children for any length of time you may have noticed that they will copy everything you do. Everything. For example, one day my 2 year old son propped his little leg up on the edge of the tub and began running his hand up his shin as though he were shaving it. Or when he found a baby doll in the toy box and sat down to tenderly cradle it against his shoulder and pat its back as he had seen my husband and I do for his baby brother many times before. And rode his brother’s toddlers bicycles and fell down.
Image shows two Asian-Latinx girls playing together while dollwearing. The blackhaired girl on the left is backcarrying a blackhaired doll in a doll SSC, while the girl on the right is backcarrying a doll in a ringsling.
These imitations aren’t just adorable; they are a vital part of child development. Children imitate as a way of playing and also to develop important social skills that they will use later in life. Think about what that means for the practice of babywearing. We are here to promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice. We have spoken extensively about the benefits for both caregivers and children. As the act of carrying children has become normalized over the past decade, we now look to the future. How do we carry on the goal of keeping this valuable practice for the next generation of caregivers?
One way to instill the joy of babywearing in our young children is to expose them to books and films that feature parents carrying children in slings. Here is a list of books to get you started. We are also including positively adorable pictures of children imitating their babywearing caregivers.
Children’s Books that Feature Babywearing
Some of these are a little difficult to find, but you can find some or all of them in three different languages and some in dual languages on Amazon or the publisher’s website (Starbright books). All of them focus on the adventures of a little boy as he is worn by his father. These simple little board books are excellent for babies and toddlers.
A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying around the World, written by Emery Bernhard and illustrated by Durga Bernhard
This beautiful book is one that was featured at a babywearing themed story time hosted by my local chapter during International Babywearing Week and is geared towards the preschool aged set. The illustrations are beautiful and show different methods of carrying around the world.
Up!: How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones, written by Susan Hughes and illustrated by Ashley Barron
This illustrated book, recommended for ages 2 – 5, has lots of pictures of babies being carried in arms and in slings by various caregivers (not just moms, but siblings, cousins, grandparents and aunts).
Carry Me (Babies Everywhere series) by Rena D. Grossman
This board book features photographs and simple text of babies being carried in various slings and carries around the world. An excellent choice for babies and toddlers. This book is available in English on Amazon and is also available in several languages from the publisher’s website.
Cradle Me by Debbie Slier
Another fantastic board book from Starbright books featuring photos babies carried traditional cradle boards from different Native American tribes. This title is available in English from Amazon, as well as Navajo and Ojibwe from the publisher’s website.
Carried on Your Back by Ida Therén
Available in Swedish and English, this illustrated book features a toddler and parent going about their day with some babywearing in between.
Children’s Books that show babywearing on a few pages
What Can You Do With a Rebozo, written by Carmen Tafolla and illustrated by Amy Cordova
A rebozo is a traditional Mexican multi-purpose shawl that can be used for babywearing, as is shown in this illustrated book for children ages 3 – 7.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee
A cute little board book with a few illustrations featuring worn babies.
Babies on the Go written by Debby Slier
Another cute, simple little board book with a few images of babies in carriers.
Babies on the Go by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Jane Dyer
A book featuring mostly animals carrying their young, but a few images of human babies being carried.
Baby on Board: How Animals Carry Their Young by Marianne Berks and illustrate by Cathy Morrison
This little book again features mostly animals carrying their young with some babywearing in the first pages, but this book is unique in that the back pages feature a matching game for kids and educational resources for parents and teachers about the animals featured in the book. Recommended ages 3 – 8
Mama Holds Me Close by Melissa Panter
This paperback book is available for purchase on Amazon and again features different animal mothers carrying their babies. If you visit the author’s website, you may be able to download the ebook for free and there are instructions on how to get a free companion coloring book as well.
Carrying Baby by Elle Rowley, illustrated by Ashley Mae Hoiland
This little book is made by the creators of the Solly Wrap and is only available for purchase on their website. This board book features various animals carrying their babies.
Reading to a young child has many benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doing so daily from infancy as it helps stimulate early brain development and build key language, literacy and social skills. Not only that, reading opens a child’s mind to the world – they can learn to appreciate diversity by reading about people who are culturally diverse from their own.
Furthermore, reading to your child is a special experience. There is comfort in snuggling up with a favorite book, having them wrapped up in your arms as you read aloud each page, bringing characters to life.
If you make your book purchase through Amazon Smile, don’t forget to choose Babywearing International as your charity of choice – each purchase you make goes towards helping our organization fund babywearing education!
Do you have a favorite book that you read to your child often? Share with us in the comment below!
Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a three-part blog series on raising the next generation of babywearers. In our next blog post about raising the next generation of babywearers, we’ll be discussing doll slings and Little Lenders Libraries.
Laura Vitanova is a VBE for the Wichita, Kansas chapter of BWI and mother to two sweet and active boys.