Father holding baby in a Native American baby carrier

Native American Baby Carrier |Baby Carrier

Native American baby carrier were also called the cradleboard in North America . They were also referred to  as cradles, baby baskets ,baby boards or papoose. However , back then cradleboards were not only used as baby carriers  but also as baby beds. 

Mothers would carry, wrap and tie their little babies on their backs . This however allowed them to complete their daily chores without difficulty. Most commonly, for these little ones this system provided physical and emotional security for the baby. It left the feeling safe and comfortable around their mothers. In addition to this , by doing so it meant that the mothers were now free to carry out everyday chores. With their babies comfortably fuscened onto their backs . Mothers would either carry their babies with the cradle strapped to their backs, with the baby simply leaning upright against a stable object or from the front. In addition, mothers would prop their babies in a carrier board up against a tree or even hang them up safely from a branch while they did other chores.

Native baby carrier

Father holding baby in a Native American baby carrier
Father holding baby in a Native American baby carrier

The term native carrier is also frequently used to describe carriers used by non-Native cultures. These carriers are  the most commonly recognized type of American Indian baby carriers . You will note that they are mostly used by researchers and Native peoples as a means of easily identifying all types of Native cradles. The Native carriers are mostly made of wood.

How are cradleboards made?

Cradleboards are mainly made from wood by the most skilled Native artisans. These Native cradleboards were some of the most costly items to produce back then. Making them on a few among the kinsmen families. So because of their cost , the cradleboard was passed down from generation to generation, or gifted from one family to the other.

Native American baby carrier
Native American baby carrier

However, they are constructed differently from tribe to tribe.  With some woven from wood strands to make the frame of the Native baskets. Then after that the artisans would make the cradleboards with wooden hoops attached to the top. Most interestingly,this hoop acts as a roll bar on the top of the carrier. It is made, and put there in order to protect the baby’s head from the sun. When the baby is in the carrier the hoop is made to fall over the baby’s head. Most of the carriers were carried by adults in most tribes as they were the ones that could handle the baby better. 

Making a Native American baby carrier

However, some of the cradleboards were made with leather straps attached on them . So that they could be worn like a backpack and fasten the baby safely on their back. While the other type of cradleboard had feet space. Which was meant for the baby’s feet,so that when carried inside the baby’s feet would be propped up in one place. Additionally, some Native American cradleboards were made with a cloth or leather bag padded with moss,and attached to it. With this one the baby was simply slipped into the bag.In the same vein, the other type of Native baby carrier had two flaps of leather attached to the sides. Which were kept closed around the baby and laced up in the middle.

Native American baby carrier  Baby clung up on a tree branch.
Native American baby carrier, Baby clung up on a tree branch.

Moreover, in a Plains Indian variant, the whole cradleboard was bordered in flexible leather. It had the part laced and the whole top part puckered into a sort of hood. Then lastly we have a type of carrier board that had straps and cords hanging . These left there in order to wrap the bundled baby tightly to the board.

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