Some vintage baby carriers from the past 100 years or so. These baby carriers were not as common and not always as ergonomic as the carriers in use today but there were certainly quite a variety! There were rigid structured carriers , improvised carriers, tandem carriers, hip seats, and soft structured carriers.
I came across lots of photos of carriers which look like little chairs and one which looks a little like a traditional cradleboard. Wearing baby on the back facing out seemed quite popular! Framed back packs were around too (at least from the 1960's).
Baby carrier 1945
A man feeds a piece of a doughnut an infant in a baby carrier at the Hog Farm Collective commune, , New Mexico, October 1, 1969.
Backpacks and Improvised Carriers
Some caregivers didn't even use a baby carrier just improvised with what they had - for example just popping baby in their bag or back pack.
Improvised baby carrier - 1926
Some carriers needed two people to use and some were not worn on the parent's body at all.
Baby carrier for couples - Jack Milford - 1937
Welsh Family waiting for visiting King George V 1935
Hip carriers seemed to be popular with a few brands available although they don't look particularly comfortable with their narrow shoulder straps. DIY patterns are found for these carriers too. There was at least one pattern available through a popular commercial pattern company and I found another which was available through mail order.
Cradleseat hip carrier (manufactured in London)
Christmas shopping - December 1968
Hip seat pattern 1970's
Bild-It-Yourself Club hip seat pattern.
There were also soft carriers similar to the narrow based carriers still sometimes found today and some with a more ergonomic wider seat. The Snugli was also around (the earlier versions are actually more ergonomic than later designs with their wide seat, comfortably padded shoulder straps and waist belt). The nursing mother's association (now the Australian Breastfeeding Association) were producing their Meh Tai carrier from the 1960's.
Narrow based carrier.
The Snugli was invented by an American nurse, patented in 1969. It had padded adjustable shoulder straps, a waist band and an internal infant harness and could also be used for older babies without using the harness. There are some great detailed pictures in this link here https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/599372091/vintage-soft-blue-cotton-corduroy-snugli?show_sold_out_detail=1
Soft Carrier (possibly DIY) from the Selma to Montgomery March 1965
Nursing Mother's meh tai 1960's
Do It Yourself
Sewing magazines and books also obsessionally offered DIY baby carrier patterns - some look quite comfortable like this meh dai like pattern from 1977.
Some patterns however look less so like this hip carrier. (Creative Sewing Things to Make For Children Jeanne Argent Studio Vista1979)
Do you have any vintage baby carrier photos to share. I would love to see!
Sources for images in this article can be found here - https://www.pinterest.com.au/hipababy/babywearing-history/
How to add embelisments, accents and pockets to your ring sling . This article was originally published by me as a pdf. You can find the pdf and other DIY patterns on my DIY page. Don't have time to sew? Custom orders are available. Please contact me for details.
Your ring sling doesn't need to be boring. Adding bling to your ring sling is easy! Some of these ideas can be sewn straight on top of the tail or a plain ready made sling and others require you to sew the accent on before you sew in the rings.
Adding ribbon, beaded trim, or braid is the simplest way to decorate your sling. You can create some great effects with ribbon or beaded trim. You can also sew a ribbon to the bottom or top of a fabric accent.
Fabric Accent With Optional Hidden Pocket
I generally don’t do accents longer than 42cm from the bottom edge of the tail so the accent won’t get caught in the rings if being shared by more than one wearer and the pocket (if you have one) is useable. The pocket will gape open if it is too close to the rings so take this into account when deciding what length of sling to make or the length of the accent. 30cm is a good accent height. You can leave a gap between the bottom of the accent and the bottom edge of the sling for a nice contrast or sew the accent right to the bottom edge.
Fabric Needed: width of finished sling + 2.5cm x (length of accent + 4cm (for pressing and hemming).
This pattern includes adjustable pouch with curved seam, non-adjustable pouch, ring sling with optional pocket in the tail and ideas for embellishments, and a mei tai/meh dai). This pattern was originally published by me as a pdf. You can dowload the pdf from my DIY page.
Need any help or want to show off your creations? Join my Facebook chatter group here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1374361185941904/
Child Sized Pouch With Curved Seam
Material needed –toddler 43cm x 89cm
- preschooler 43cm x 101.5cm
- primary schooler 43cm x 112cm
For a narrower width pouch suitable for small dolls only - cut to a 35.5cm width
For a pouch that will fit your child exactly, measure your child from the edge of their shoulder to the outside edge of their hip. Double this measurement and add 10cm. Add a few inches to this to allow for growth if desired.
How cool is this! Vintage mei tai pattern from 1979 from an English children's clothes sewing book (I love old pattern books). Looks almost modern with the wide straps, even though they are attached differently and much shorter than than mei tai's made today. The straps are attached horizontally so this is almost like a podaegi with a waist belt.
Westernized mei tai's didn't become popular until at least the early 2000's and this is one of the earliest patterns I have seen. The Nursing Mothers Association (Australian Breastfeeding Association today) made mei tai's since the 60's but they were more traditionaly styled in construction and use. If anyone has a pattern earlier than this one I would love to see!
It's an interesting pattern and if I still had a child willing to be worn I'd try it out! I would add extra reinforcing at the straps though - an x box or bartack.
The Expo. Lots to see!
The handmade carrier stall. The orange pfaux pfau pod is mine. :)
My wearee and his big sister. Their favourite part of the conference was running around the courtyard!
Kangatraining class. This was really fun. I thoght my toddler might be too heavy to exercise with him on my back but it was fine. Big sister had fun too.
My presentation on carrier construction. My toddler was tired so the only was to get my talk finished was to sling and feed him while I spoke!
For those of you intersted in my talk. Here are the main points and a list of DIY resources too.
Some of the wraps I have dyed - before and after. I overdyed the Didymos Antara Dragon with ocean blue and the Didmos Puder (Powder Silk) dark pink and then Violet. I am very happy with both. I used Dylon for both and used my laundry sink. It is easy to do - just follow the packet instructions carefully and don't forget to stir!
Cotton, Linen, or Silk?
Pure cotton slings work fine for babies up to a year old, after that you will probably want a more supportive fabri, especially if you would like to carry your toddler for longer periods. I have found linen and silk to be among the best sling fabrics for toddlers. Linen is stronger and tougher than cotton, owing to the parallel arrangement of its fibres. Silk is also a strong natural fibre and is simply beautiful. Linen and silk are especially good in a double layer or an extra wide width. I found single layer slings in linen or linen blend (regular width) fine for my toddler until she was almost two. If you choose this style you will get a lot of use out of it. A double layer of silk is probably one of the most supportive fabric combinations although some people find them hot at the height of summer.
Linen is highly recommended for hot weather babywearing. Linen both absorbs and loses moisture rapidly, and can absorb quite a bit of moisture initially without feeling damp. This helps to keep you and your baby cool.
Hibaby ring sling are available in regular and extra wide width. Extra wide slings are great because your baby's weight is distributed over more fabric plus the shoulder has a slight padded feel because of the extra width. These slings are great for older babies and toddlers. Extra wide slings can be used for newborns but probably not in a cradle carry because the deeper pouch makes correct positioning tricky. However the tummy to tummy position is fine and many newborns prefer being upright over lying down.
All types of fabric I use are generally easily washable which is very important for anything around babies! Fabric care for cotton and linen blend slings is very easy. Simply wash on a gentle cycle on cold in a laundry bag and hang to dry. Linen and blends should only be washed with a liquid detergent. The addition of cotton to linen makes the fabric soft and they are not as prone to wrinkling as pure linen. Pure linen is great though. It wrinkles fairly easily but is a little more supportive which is a plus. To counter the wrinkles I iron my sling after every wash and hang on a hook when not in use - which keeps it fairly wrinkle free. Linen can feel a little stiffer/rougher when brand new but softens quickly with use and washing. The easiest way to care for silk is with spot cleaning (with a damp cloth) and occasional hand washing. Silk may also be dry cleaned. Machine washing on a gentle cycle is also possible but the silk will lose some of its sheen.
And lastly there are wrap conversions. This fabric is especially woven for babywearing, are generally thicker than other fabrics, and have just the right amount of give, so the fabric feels great on your shoulder. Wrap conversions are fantastic for heavy babies and toddlers. There are many choices from cotton to cotton blends and are generally easy to care for.
If you would like any other information on the fabrics I use. Please feel free to ask.
I found a great free pattern to add to my Links page. A tutorial about how to make your own babywearing jacket I'll add more patterns as I come across them. What are your favourite DIY links?
I have added a reversible striped sling pattern to hipababy's pattern page. There are some other ideas for striped patchwork slings in the pattern too. Have fun! I'd love to see your creations and display them on my gallery page. Contact me for details.
As my daughter gets older (18 months) her legs are so long so it can be awkward to thread her legs through the sling as I hold her against my shoulder. Lately I have been pulling the pouch part of the sling so it is a few inches larger than usual before I put her in, then when her legs are through, I pull on the whole tail so it is the right size again (so her bum will fall at my waist when worn), then I spread the pouch part out and settle her in.
There are several options if you would like to make or purchase a sling to comfortably carry your toddler. Linen and silk are the best fabrics to support the weight of a toddler as they are made from strong fibres. I have found one of the most comfortable and supportive fabrics for a toddler ring sling is a single layer of medium weight linen. A double layer of lightweight linen or medium weight silk is also great, and a combination of silk (medium weight) and linen (light weight) is comfortable (and pretty!). Another option is to use a woven wraparound sling as these are specially woven for wearing babies and have a nice amount of give. The Hipababy gathered shoulder also helps distribute the weight of your toddler across your whole shoulder for comfortable wearing.
I love to sew. I have five curious and active kids who keep me busy!