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Caregiving practices

Early development is shaped by minute-by-minute, day-by-day sensory input: the seeing, tasting, touching and being touched, the sounds and smells of daily life. Much of this happens through daily caregiving routines.

There is a wide variety of caregiving practices around the world, often rooted in cultural traditions and beliefs. In some North American Indigenous communities adults used moss bags and cradleboards so that a baby could be placed on a mother’s back, carried in a parent’s arms, or propped up near family members. In Africa, baby wraps were used by adults, usually mothers, to wrap and carry a baby in order to keep the baby close throughout the day. Many parents and communities still honour and promote these traditions.

The ‘baby wraps’ video is a brief collage of mothers in Mozambique, carrying and interacting with their closely wrapped babies. In the second video, Audrey Fourre, a Family Literacy Facilitator with the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, talks about moss bags and their important role in caregiving.    

What do you see as the functions or benefits of such practices?  Are there similar practices in your family or community? How can you value and respect these and other practices that support the caregiver-child relationship that is so crucial to early development?

Red River College University of Toronto AKDN - Aga Khan Development Network