Amauti 101

10 Apr

This post is all about my very favourite babywearing gear: my amauti.  No other sling, wrap, backpack, or carrier is more comfortable, and nothing else gets the same kind of attention, either.  Kids are always tremendously excited to see a baby on my back, and tourists always want to take pictures.  (Oops, my inner diva is showing!)

I’ve been asked numerous times how I get a baby in and out of the amauti.  Also how I know she’s not smothered when I can’t see her.  Also, where does it come from. 

I just love all the questions!  Let’s work backwards, shall we?

Where it’s from. The amauti is a traditional parka of the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic.  I went to high school in Iqaluit and when I saw the Inuk women there walking around with their babies in their hoods*, I knew that one day I wanted to have one.  When I got pregnant with Jade, Michael arranged to have mine made for me by a woman in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. (She made it for me sight unseen — it’s pretty amazing that she got the size just right!)

Halia - February 2009

Halia - February 2009

How I know she’s safe. When your baby is small, she goes in facing out, with her back against yours, as Halia is in the video below.  You swaddle her up, which helps keep her upright and warm, and she rides against your back with her head and neck supported by both your body and the swaddle.  If she’s very little, you can tuck a blanket in the bottom of the pouch, as we did for Jade for a few weeks.  Kara tells me that for wee newborns, some moms actually wear the amauti backwards, with baby at the front, so she’s always visible, and can also easily breastfeed.

I admit that when I first started using my amauti, I worried about whether Jade could breathe and if she was staying upright.  It was definitely good to have a companion around to check on her.  Though she was always fine. 

Sometimes Halia’s hat migrates a little when I’m putting her in and she gets mad if it covers her eyes.  The hat she wears in the video has a little loop on top, so I can pull on that to hike it up if I need to!

Once the baby is a little bigger, she can ride facing forward and peep over your shoulder.  Halia’s getting to the stage where she could do that, but for now she actually seems to prefer facing back.  If you watch the video, you see that Halia’s head looks like it’s sticking out pretty far.  After riding for a few minutes, she scrunches down a bit as her knees bend.   When forward facing, the child sits froggy-legged in the pouch, and when she falls asleep with her cheek pressed to your back, it’s the sweetest feeling in the world.  Both Halia and Jade were guaranteed to fall asleep if carried in the amauti for more than a few minutes.  I always joked that I used the amauti to put Jade into suspended animation. 

jade_in_amauti

Jade - 2007

How to get her in.  Since there are no Inuit here in the Yukon** to teach me, I kind of had to figure things out for myself, so it took me two kids to learn how to get a baby in there.  Now that I can do it, though, it’s so empowering!

So there you have it!  We’re ready to go walking.  Now that spring is coming, I won’t be able to use my amauti for much longer.  I think that’s my biggest regret about saying goodbye to winter.

Can’t get enough? A while back, Jen of Nunavut posted this great video of the Amauti Tango.  I dare you to watch it and not tap your toes. You also get to see how the hood goes right over mom and baby so you both stay toasty warm.  Click on over!  (And, for the record, I am totally envious of the bunting bag she’s got for her little Ezri.  That looks way easier than swaddling!)

(And for more stories and pictures of moms wearing their babies, check out this post from Adventures in Babywearing.)

*The baby’s not really in the hood, though it looks that way.  If you watch my video, you can see the pouch where the baby really goes.

**Well, I’m sure there are some transplants, but we’re way out of their traditional territory over here.

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26 Responses to “Amauti 101”

  1. Kara April 10, 2009 at 2:19 am #

    I love my amouti to death!! Where we lived, babies were not swaddled in the amouti. They were dropped in on their bums and the legs just went out to your sides. Hunters favorite position! But after seeing Jen’s baby in that bunting bag I got ahold of her and had her friend make me one!!! I think it is actually already in Faro waiting for me.

    I have an amouti that I use in summer that is just cotton, but the pouch is much too large for a new born. So I am having another one made of quilted material that I can also use.

    Hunter has always loved to amaaq (to pack!). He says the word himself and gets upset when we have to take the truck and he cannot amaaq. I think he will be devastated when there is a new baby riding in my amouti next year and he has to walk!!

    It is such a comfortable to haul a kid around. I packed Hunter right until I was about 35 weeks pregnant because it disperses the weight so well.

    When we get home I am going to do a video too of getting Hunter in and out! So entertaining!

  2. baby carriers backpacks April 10, 2009 at 4:20 am #

    I thought I was an expert on baby carriers. I have never seen this! I love it. Looks so comfortable.

  3. phdinparenting April 10, 2009 at 5:35 am #

    I *love* Amauti’s. If I had been on mat leave in the Winter, I would have bought one for sure. I just couldn’t justify the price if I was only going to use it on weekends though. Sigh.

  4. Carrie April 10, 2009 at 5:41 am #

    Adorable! I’ve never heard of an amauti! But it would be useful here in snowy western NY! :) Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. Adventures In Babywearing April 10, 2009 at 5:48 am #

    WOW! That is awesome. I seriously have never heard of this before! Thank you!!!

    Steph

  6. indigo April 10, 2009 at 6:32 am #

    Love the red. And it looks spectacular on you. Easy to see it is a high Baffin amouti by the cut, altho the ladies in Pang also do the “swing” cut. I’m with Kara, I have not seen much swaddling. I guess swaddling is fairly new and mostly for newborns and kabloonas. In traditional amoutis that I have encountered the infant/child wraps their legs around the mothers back.. I have not seen babies placed back to back either. Even the smallest infant was always facing forward. Interesting, could be a whole research paper/project/thesis there on amouti customs.
    Again, qujannamik

  7. Tammy April 10, 2009 at 6:57 am #

    I totally missed the point of the video, I think. Yes, it was well done and all, but everything in it pales compared to that adorable grin at the end! I just want to smooch her!!!!

  8. jen April 10, 2009 at 8:31 am #

    Awesome, Awesome video! You do it inuk style, resting the baby on your neck and head. I tried what you had suggested earlier and had little success until I turned my liner inside out (the other side is slippery) and had much better success. However I like the way the cotton feels so I still wear the liner that way and just have someone help me. lol I’m sooo lazy.

    The ladies around here wear their little ones face in because then they can feel them breathing on their back, if there is a hot spot then they gentle shift the baby. This way is good to because they can sleep with their heads resting on your back and also is better for when the hood is up.

    I swaddled Ezri until my awesome friend made me a bunting bag. Most mommies here (east arctic) do swaddle/bunt their little ones, so their heads are supported(*Indigo & Kara ;) ). That was the one thing the elder who made my parka made sure I knew with her little bit of English she knew, “Wrap baby tight!”.

    BTW I love your amauti! It’s absolutely beautiful!

  9. Heather (Blessedw5mom) April 10, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    Oh … I have always wanted an amauti! Thanks for such a detailed post and the video!!!! What a great post!!!

  10. Summer April 10, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    Oh wow, that looks awesome! I’ve never heard of an amauti before, it looks perfect for winter. :)

  11. Kristen April 10, 2009 at 10:37 am #

    This is so cool!

  12. Gen April 10, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    Awesome “how-to”!
    Do you know if there are lightweight ones for spring and fall?

  13. Captain Momma April 10, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Fawn that was awesome! Thank you so much for doing that. I guess I questioned it because I didn’t know there was a pouch separate from the hood and all I could visualize was a deep pointy hood and baby getting lost!!!!

    Now I desperately want one for summer!

    Do you know of anyone that makes summer ones?

    Which would you pick, the Storchenwiege or a summer amauti?

    Kelli

  14. jen April 11, 2009 at 6:31 am #

    If anyone is interested in summer amautis, I have a friend that is doing a vest amauti over here (Nunavut). I will post more information about it shortly.

  15. Captain Momma April 11, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    Fawn,

    I found Susie Fowler of Amauti Baby (google it) who makes amautis. She is taking orders in July for summer ones as she has to get out to a fabric store to stock up first. She says she charges $170 for a summer amauti. I am excited! But will also wait for Jen to post as well.

    Kelli

    • fawnahareo April 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

      I’m excited to hear the details from you and Jen!

  16. Jenn April 13, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    Did you make a video on how to get the babes out? Gravity obviously works with you to get ‘em in there. Now I am curious.

    • fawnahareo April 14, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

      There’s nothing easier, Jenn. I’ll see if I can do a video, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get to it. With a wee babe, I would just grab the edges of the swaddle blanket and pull her out while bending at the waist.. With a bigger one, like Halia, I bend at the waist a bit further and use gravity (and maybe a few “shrugs”) to get her to start sliding out. Once I have her head and neck supported, it’s easy to keep her sliding out and use my other hand to catch her body. I was able to figure that out on the first kid! ;)

  17. Bubblybunny April 15, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Hahah…Awesome video! That is one amazing babycarrier. :) And I love how Halia ended the video with a pretty smile. :D

    Thanks for the comment on the sap/syrup. I guess I knew that b/c I did read all the posters on the wall…well, ok, I didn’t “read” them, I skimmed them. But I did get the gist of it. :P Anyway, I corrected the caption. :D

    Anyway, it’s been a crazy busy week. Off the computer I go again. Glad to hear Jade’s seizure is back under control. I’m very happy for you and your family.

  18. Darcy April 19, 2009 at 4:32 am #

    A great post! My girlfriend saw a few pictures of amautis on Kara’s blog I believe and thinks they are amazing. I found it a little tricky trying to explain over a computer exactly how these things work because a) I’m a clueless male and 2) I wasn’t sure about all the details on how they are worn properly. I’ll be sure to mention this post to her. Thanks.

  19. Aida April 19, 2009 at 6:19 am #

    its fun seeing a different way of putting baby in. i love my amauti and i have a lighter weight one now for spring/fall. my winter amauti is far too heavy for that and it does it job really well even in superbly cold weather..psstt and almost 3 years old still gets in it..lol

  20. Maija April 24, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    YAY! Another Inuit to hang with on the internet!

    We don’t use the Amauti here in northern Alaska, we just have parky’s made large enough to fit the babies in our backs. the little babies are faced forward though, and I can (still) swing a baby around and place it perfectly on my back and put my jacket on without even thinking of it!

    I like the look of the Amauti though, so if (when) I have another baby, I’ll have to look into that design, but I’d make mine out of fur! It’s cold up here! :)

  21. Angela Kastelic November 19, 2009 at 5:52 pm #

    Great post – and a wonderful video! I have wondered how mothers got their babies into the amauti. I spent five weeks this summer on a travel nursing assignment in Cape Dorset (about an hour’s flight from Iqaluit, right on the southeast coast of Baffin Island) and saw many mothers wearing their babies in the amauti. My brothers and I are buying one from a lady in Iqaluit to give to my sister for Christmas (she is expecting her first baby in January). Someday, if I ever have children, I would love for someone to make me an amauti so I can pack them around too! Incidentally, I think you can make amautis that are designed for summer wear; it was summer when I was up in Nunavut.

  22. jennifer December 18, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    Could you please give me the contact info of someone to make me an amauti? I live in northern AK, and need one badly for my little newborn son:-)
    Thank you!
    Jennifer

  23. M March 12, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    Thanks for the great explanation.
    Could you give me some contact info to get an amauti?

    Thank you!

    Cheers
    J

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bunch Family » Blog Archive Arctic Babywearing Amauti - June 1, 2013

    […] usually not a judgmental a person (the hormones, maybe?) but the practicality of the Amauti just hadn’t occurred to me yet. And I didn’t yet know anything about living in the […]

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