Baby Buntingby Polly Leonard
This weekend is Mother's Day in many parts of the world and to celebrate, here's an extract from Baby Bunting: an article from the Celebrate issue:
In the Middle Ages it was felt that the tight swaddling would protect the baby, preventing injury and ensuring the delicate limbs didn't fall off! The baby was dressed in a fine linen shirt and wrapped around the middle with a bellyband to support the abdomen and suppress the navel. A napkin of fine diaper weave linen was applied to the nether regions, and a long swathe of fabric would be wrapped around the infant in swaddling bands holding his legs straight and arms firmly by his sides. He would wear at least one cap of lace trimmed linen, usually with a stayband or long stay that would be pinned to the baby's chest holding his head straight to ensure that he grew straight with a fine bearing.
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. The main principle of 'in-arm' parenting is bonding in a physical and emotional sense to allow the child to feel confident and curious about the world rather than anxious, and for the parent to comfort with their presence and their love rather than objects or toys.
Words by Sarah Jane Downing.
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