I recently answered a request on Facebook for bloggers to review ‘A Baby Wants to be Carried’by Evelin Kirkilionis. The book had been published several years ago in German, and 2014 brought an English translation, published by Pinter and Martin.
Dr Evelin Kirkilionis is a biologist based in Germany, who has studied carrying babies and the basic needs of children for more than twenty years. Her doctoral thesis was based on the premise that human babies are adapted to be carried, and her expertise becomes obvious as you read the book.
The cover notes provide a pretty thorough summary of the content and aims of the book:
“How should a baby be carried, in what, for how long, and will it be safe? The answers can be found in these pages, as the author takes care to ensure that parents understand what to look for – and what to avoid – while making many helpful suggestions that will enable parents to make babywearing work for them.”
The book is split into two distinct sections. The first part of the book covers why people wear their babies and some of the many benefits. The second covers the how, and some details on how not to as well. I’ll review the two parts separately.
Part one: The Theory of Babywearing. Why Carry your child?
This part of the book covers the science and theories that show some of the benefits for the ancient practice of babywearing. As an experienced babywearer and babywearing consultant, I found this part of the book really interesting. Some of the things covered, particularly the biomechanics of carrying I already knew – things like spinal and hip development are covered as part of the training I received from the School of Babywearing.
There was a lot that I didn’t know too. I particularly found some of the information on sensory development interesting. I’d never considered how being upright and the motion experienced in a carrier would affect the development of my children, but now I view the development of my own children more critically I can see the benefits in how they interact with the world around them and their physical capabilities at various stages of development.
For me, one of the most important aspects of babywearing is the emotional one, and it was good to see that this is covered in detail too. I have found babywearing a huge benefit to the bond I have with my children , enabling my relationship with all three of them to be as close as possible, and to read some of the why’s behind that has been really interesting.
Part two: The Practicalities of Babywearing: How to carry your child
For me, this was the weaker part of the book. It was interesting to read Dr Kirkilionis views on some types of carriers, and to see some of the issues surrounding some of the less ergonomically designed high street carriers discussed in a factual and none hysterical manner was refreshing.
I did have a small issue in that the pictures seem to have been taken artistically rather than educationally. They are all lovely photos of beautiful people and children, however in my opinion many of them aren’t the clearest for learning from. There are also one or two areas where the carrying techniques described were overly complicated. I realise that the aim was to give an overview rather than a prescriptive tuition but I can imagine parents trying some of the carries documented and ending up with unsafe carries or just giving up as they found it too difficult.
I also think some more focus on babywearing safety would be good, covering things like T.I.C.K.S and the principles behind it. The ideas are mostly covered in the book but it would have been good to see it focused on all in one place.
I’m glad I read the book, and would definitely recommend reading it. Dr Kirkilionis is obviously very knowledgeable, and that comes across in the book. I’d say its required reading for any Babywearing consultant or peer supporter, to allow you to best answer some of the many questions you’ll face and be able to back them up scientifically to your service users. I’d also say that if you are interested in carrying your children it is well worth a read.
Personally I think it would be a great text to include in the training of health visitors and midwives in the UK and beyond, along with some training on the practices of babywearing too.
A Baby Wants to be Carried is available from Pinter and Martin here: http://www.pinterandmartin.com/a-baby-wants-to-be-carried.html