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!)
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.
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.