Native American baby swing: greatest tradition ever!
How is everyone!
For those of you who follow my Facebook page, you probably came across a recent picture of a Native American baby swing. Many posted their experience using one or being in one as a kid themselves. Some even sent me their own personal pictures, some posted below. And for that I am very grateful! Sharing their personal memories with me and then you. That touches me. So today, we will be focusing on the baby swing. Information on it, its origins and intended purpose is scarce. Very scarce but here is what I have put together from what I have found and the stories of those who shared with me. Here we go, the Native American baby swing: the greatest tradition ever!
What is a Native American baby swing and who uses one?
For the Westerners out there, think of a tiny hammock. That is what a baby swing is. A suspended bed in which the baby sleeps. It has been used for centuries by the Indigenous people of the land. Not only Native Americans but also East Indians or Asians for example. And it is still used by many nations all around the globe today. The use of the baby swing and the cradle board for that matter, is still in full force in numerous Native communities in North America.
In some tribes, the baby swing was used to keep the baby off the floor. For example, the Seminoles lived in regions where floods were common. Therefore, their houses were often platform houses off the ground. They had rafters from which they suspended a variety of objects, including baby swings.
Even today, numerous communities, including the Plains Indians of Canada still use a baby swing in their home. Oftentimes, numerous generations have used the swing (not the same one…) and grandparents use it with their grandchildren, passing along the traditions. I think the Native American baby swing was probably used first out of simplicity and practicality. You can make one pretty much anywhere, inside and outside and just like the cradle board, it leaves the mom free to use her hands to go about her day. While keeping the baby safe and calm. A baby swing is basically a combination of a crib and a swing that parents often place their children in. You know the ones that go up and down with the child’s legs dangling? They can also be called a jumper or bouncer. The baby swing described here can be hung over the bed of the parents for easy access if the baby is crying at night (they could then just push or rock the swing a bit to soothe the child).
So how is it made?
So think about this for a sec. The modern day jumper, bouncer, whatever you want to call it will set you back at least $100. And I can guarantee you that your baby will get tired of it. Or outgrow it. Guarantee.
Now think about this for a sec. The Native American baby swing, will cost you the price of 2 ropes, a blanket and possibly a little piece of wood. Voila! Done 🙂 And! The baby can grow in it and mom’s hands will still be free. And baby will be safe.
If you look at the pictures above, you will see how easy and simple the swings are. Numerous people on this site’s Facebook page have given me their instructions on how to make the baby swing. Oftentimes, they had learned how to make it from their parents or grandparents. I also learned that the baby in the swing would face north, as south is the direction the dead is placed facing. To learn about more the directions and their meaning, see here.
Basically, one can hang the baby hammock on hooks on the walls. One can even use latches attached to the rope to be able to quickly take down the hammock if needed. For example, some will set it up in the living room to keep an eye out on baby and take it down when visitors are over to have the full use of the living room.
So basically one needs a rope or 2, depending on how you are doing it. So let’s go with 2 ropes for now. So 2 ropes attached to 2 walls (one end on each wall). Then one takes a long blanket and puts it over one side of the rope (the one closest to you). The inside needs to hang a bit. Then pull up the blanket over the other rope from the outside toward you. Basically the ends of the blanket need to overlap on the inside of the swing. One then pushes it down a bit to form a bed.
As for the next step, there are a few ways of going about it. One problem with the swing so far is that, like a cocoon, it could close over the baby. Therefore, some will place a piece of wood to widen the opening near the baby’s head (or a branch if in nature) while others will place a bigger pillow in the swing to make sure it stays open. Baby is then placed inside all wrapped in another blanket.
I would recommend testing it out first to make sure it can hold the weight of your baby. But if done the right way, it is perfectly safe for babies. And as previously mentioned, oftentimes, they were placed over the parents’ bed so that, if by any chance, the baby were to fall, he would fall on the parents’ bed. A string could also be attached to the foot part of the swing (could tie it to one of the ropes) so that parents could pull on it to rock the baby. Some will also use another blanket to tie the baby to the swing (by wrapping a blanket around the swing and the baby, see below) were the baby to try to sit down in the swing. Or one could even attach the blanket to the ropes or close the blanket with safety pins as an extra precaution (see picture below).
I do not know about you but the Native American baby swing looks soooo comfortable and soothing for a baby. Just like being placed in a rocking cocoon. It must almost feel like being back in the mother’s womb, all warm. Add the music of a drum to replicate the mother’s heartbeat and it is the best place to be. 🙂
Some modern day versions of the baby swing
And for you, some examples of baby swings still in use today. You can see how easy it is to make and use. And how it continues to soothe babies and help parents still today. Thank you so much for those who shared their own personal family pictures with us. Let’s look at some cute babies and swings!
So there we have it, a very simple but so useful and soothing Native American baby swing. Why did we have to complicate things and invent a million products that are in fact not needed? I know that when I have a child, there will be a swing over my bed 🙂
And for those interested, the swing can be made and used with adults. Darlene from http://wiwipson.com/ uses the swing with adults in a therapeutic manner. To reconnect all 4 sides of an individual. The swing is then used in a healing way. Pretty cool I have to say!
Anyone uses a swing? Had you heard of it? Share your stories and thoughts below 🙂
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