Medieval Babywearing

Babywearing, or using an infant carrier, has become a ubiquitous part of parenting in the west. Many people believe that Europeans have no tradition of infant carriers and that they have borrowed (or even misappropriated) infant carrier culture from others.

However, European art history shows that infant carriers of many shapes and sizes were in use throughout the middle ages and early modern era. They were just as commonplace as they are today, though their use was not associated with physiological and emotional health benefits or convenience as they generally are today. Rather, they were associated with itinerants and beggars without a home.

In Medieval Babywearing, I will explore medieval European art and literature to and track the way infant carriers were used, what they looked like, how they were perceived, and why they became ever more maligned through and after the industrial revolution leading to the cultural amnesia that set in during the early 20th century.

Featured image Source:
Carrying twins in the margins of the Romance of Alexander, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264

Medieval Babywearing was inspired by my research for “Europe: Medieval and Early Modern Babywearing” on the Evolution of Babywearing blog.


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