Baby Bunting

With Mother's Day soon approaching in the US, we're learning all about the unique relationship between mother, child and cloth from way back in the early days of Selvedge issue 4...

In Emile (1762) Jean Jacques Rousseau likened swaddling to slavery or being pinned into the shroud in one's coffin. The practice, already waning amongst the upper classes, further diminished. In the 19th century French revolutionary ideals suggested far simpler styles for children and a high waisted, low-necked muslin shift was adopted for boys and girls alike. It offered more freedom, although a binder – a vestige of the swaddling bands – was still employed underneath.

Before the mid 18th century, for his christening a baby was presented in his best embroidered or beribboned swaddling on an enormous square silk satin bearing cloth, elaborately decorated with gold braid and lace. As babies began to be released from swaddling earlier, special christening robes were introduced. Long trailing gowns of silk satin with delicate lace and braid became de rigueur, some so long they trailed on the floor to trip up the nursemaid.

In agrarian cultures it makes more sense to wrap the baby onto the mother; she knows where her little one is at all times, he feels her warmth and has the security of her heartbeat ticking away the hours of the day. The baby's body is attuned to the mother's and their relationship continues to be almost symbiotic. Child development is aided by the stimulation of being involved in the mother’s activities. The baby feels calmly cocooned yet alert, and instead of having the anxiety of crying, waiting to be picked up, the baby feels securely held until he wriggles to be put down...

You can read this article in full in Selvedge issue 4.

For Mother's Day we're also giving readers a special discount on Selvedge magazine! To receive 12 issues for the price of 6, just enter the code MOTHERSDAY at the checkout.

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