This past week we have all been moved by the devastation in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. One photo from the event that seemed to move many parents was this one of a grandmother wearing a little one in a traditional onbuhimo while trying to navigate terrain that would have been impossible with a stroller or for a walking toddler. This got me thinking about how we might handle such an emergency. Babywearing is not a tradition here in the way it is in Japan. Our grandmothers are unlikely to pull a carrier from the closet in case of an emergency. So, I'm going to show you how to pull a carrier out of your closet.
These are my supplies:
A towel, a scarf, a belt, and a fleece blanket. All items you might have around your house, in your car, or on your person. These are not items only a parent would have, these are items ANYONE could use to help children in case of an emergency.
First, for a newborn or small infant a front carry is preferred. I don't have a newborn right now, so Baloo is going to play the part today. With a newborn, you can just tuck in your shirt, tuck baby into the shirt, and I have added the belt for extra insurance at the bottom. If you have a higher neckline, you'd probably want to cut it to make room for baby to have an open airway.
Now, in MOST emergency situations, a back carry is going to give you better mobility. So, these are all back carries that can be done with an older infant or toddler. Teagan is 15mo.
Another option is a torso carry. This is the same carry as a kanga from Africa, but I've used a towel. Knot above the breasts in front with the top, then below the breasts with the bottom.
Another option might be using a fleece blanket and your belt. This is borrowed from a Native American tradition. I've tied the top above my chest, and then used the belt to create her seat.
Many carriers have a long length of fabric. If needing to cross a short bit of moving water, a wrap or mei tai could be secured to either side and then used as a handhold to ensure you didn't lose your footing. Those straps could also be used to tie you or a child to a solid object out of the way of harm. If trying to move several children, you may have to leave one somewhere that it wouldn't be ideal (in a tree), a carrier could be used to ensure they didn't fall.
What about an emergency while hiking? Your family is on a short day hike, you brought a carrier in case the preschooler gets tired, but your teenager falls and breaks an ankle. How do you get her back to safety? Well, in a pinch, a carrier WILL carry an adult.
Edit 3/15/2011 at 1:30:
I received a message from an old school friend reminding me that some of this may not be clear to non-babywearers. So, I'm going to post her questions here to try and help answer those questions.