by Elizabethon October 02,2011 in Baby_WearingFeaturedFeatured BlogGrowthHealth and Wellness

Some mammals leave their babies in hidden places. Other mammalian young, like sheep, are physically developed enough to follow their mothers by themselves right after birth. Don’t forget our feathered friends.  Quack quack. Our babies don’t fit either bill. Human infants are born far from knowing how to walk and are not meant to be left in nests. Human infants evolved to expect closeness, their survival depends on it. Luckily their flexed little bodies are adapted to being carried. While a walking toddler’s spine is “s-shaped”, a newborn spine is “c-shaped” so their thighs naturally pull up in the front of their little bodies. When a newborn lies on his back, if he is in good health and has good muscle tone his thighs rise right up toward his chest. Actually, newborns have a pretty hard time flattening out their bodies and straightening their legs to to the surface under them.
carry me reflex

Our babies naturally assume flexed widespread legs. Makes them easier to carry!

When you pick up a healthy newborn, the same thing happens, his thighs pull up toward his chest and he assumes a flexed widespread position. The shape of a newborn spine could never support walking but on the other hand spending most of his day flat on his back with his naturally curved spine flattened out is not what nature intended either. The c-shaped spine and flexed widespread position a newborn assumes when picked up are the anatomical considerations that suggest babies were meant to be carried in arms.
adapted to being carried

The frog position that babies naturally assume when picked up help parents carry them.

If we go back to the beginnings of our human ancestors, the adaptation of flexed widespread legs on mom’s hip made carrying a whole lot easier, especially with the emergence of bipedalism (when mom moved upright and was walking on two legs) and became less hairy than she used to be (less hair for baby to cling on to).
Clinging and flexed

"If you had a little extra hair Dad maybe I could help pull my own weight a little."

With nothing to cling onto, mothers needed to start supporting their baby’s backs, holding them in their arms. Some of the grand apes carry their young babies like we do on their hips or in their arms with backs supported. Although our babies may not be able to clutch and support their own weight holding onto the hair of their mothers, they do still cling. They actively press their legs against their mother’s body when she turns unexpectedly or moves abruptly. The baby is in synch with mom’s varied movements and responds appropriately to maintain his position. Little flexed human bodies actively contribute to and are adapted to being carried. Flexed widespread legs, the c-shaped spine of the infant, and the clinging reflex are all anatomical adaptations that suggest that our babies are meant to be carried. So don’t leave them in a nest or in a container. Our little ones were meant to be carried. Bring ‘em along for the ride!
9 comments
noonoo75
noonoo75

This explain why all of my three children WOULD NOT sleep on their backs. I know we are not supposed to let them sleep on their tummies any more but none of mine would have slept at all if I had MADE them lie on their backs! They would be on their tummies, head to one side and their bottoms in the air with their legs tucked up underneath them.

gcary94
gcary94

I think whether you believe we evolved from apes or someone decided to improve on the creation of the ape by making something closer to his image, when it comes to apes we can learn a great deal about how babies should be treated and handled. My son loathed a sling and barely tolerated a carrier. The hips that got me mocked while in Junior high and I didn't grow into until I was 21 became a blessing when I became a mother.

gm
gm

Wonderful article! My only correction would be your incorrect use of the word "lay." The sentence should read, "When a newborn lies on his back...." Only non-mammalian species lay things, and those are eggs. :)

Sarka Kotvalova
Sarka Kotvalova

Have you read the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff? I guess so, but just in case ... as an ispiration for all those who hadn´t :-)

WendyBirdseyePavlus
WendyBirdseyePavlus

Quack, quack, Love the article, but ducks aren't mammals.....just sayin'

heidimcw
heidimcw

@WendyBirdseyePavlus Herd animals fit the bill well enough though. Could replace with Moo-Moo. :o) We get called cows often enough. Especially if we nurse lol!!