Trendy Baby Backing: Harm Mummies Do To Their Babies

Next to breastfeeding, backing of babies is a function that inspires mother’s love in the child. SAMUEL ADANBIOJE reports that modern-day mothers’ invented method of baby-backing has drawn diverse views from retired mummies and medical experts.

Backing of babies by African and Asian women is a practice handed over to nursing mothers through the ages.

It is a traditional practice that is said to mimic baby’s experience in the womb by creating a sense of warmth and security with light pressure all over the toddlers’ body.  Babies are seen at the back of their mothers with wrappers that hold them tight. Mothers can multi-task as they back their babies. As the child falls asleep, the mother is free to go about carrying out other activities and household chores.

Today, nursing mothers are seen backing their babies in different forms and styles.

 Some nursing mothers are seen putting their babies on the chest, using baby carriers while some nursing mothers still preserve the traditional method of backing babies.

Saturday Tribune spoke to mothers on how nursing mothers back their babies in civilized societies and the dangers in methods adopted by mothers.

Mrs Bridget Okosun, who resides in Ibara, Abeokuta, Ogun State, says she prefers to use head-scarf, rather than the traditional velvet, to tie her baby to her back.

“‘I am an office worker and mostly, I am dressed in skirts or a pair of trousers, so, when dropping my baby at the crèche, it is easy for me to re-dress for office and the scarf can be easily kept in my handbag,” Okosun said.

From health perspective, Mrs Okosun feels this is a safe option for her and the baby.

“I am aware of women who bring wrappers and tie cloth to the crèche, drop them and pick them again when taking the baby home, not minding the bacteria and the virus that might have infected the clothes,” she added.

 However, Mrs. Yetunde Lawal, who lives in Orita-Challenge, Ibadan, Oyo State, lamented the manner in which mothers of today back their babies.

 “I don’t understand and cannot tolerate the funny ways mothers of nowadays back their babies. It is simply abnormal and uncaring. It is not good at all. If I had my way, I would sponsor a bill to the National Assembly against those women who shabbily back their babies,” she said.

Mrs Lawal added that not only does she frown on such women, she also openly castigates them.

“Sometimes, when I see them, I ask them if they have elders at home, correct them and lecture them that babies are God’s treasure in a woman’s care. I am happy though that many of those I once scolded took to corrections,” she added.

She added that there is more to marriage than a woman’s love for her husband.

“Most of today’s women think the expression ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too’ are all there is to marriage. No. Women should take a cue from the mothers of old and learn how to take good care of their babies.

“In the olden days, nursing mothers backed their babies with good wrappers that covered the baby entirely to ensure, safety but today, we see women exposing their babies to dangers by tying them to their backs with small pieces of cloth. They prefer to wear trousers and have the babies’ legs dangle. In the olden days, we dressed babies in clothes that covered every part of their body and also keep their legs in. We did all these because of cold,” she said.

Mrs Celestina Ajibode, who lives in Ilasamaja, Lagos State, says she backs her baby with tiny cloth so as to be attractive.

“For now, I have not seen the need to change because my husband, mother and in-laws have never complained,’’ said Ajibode, a mother of two.

“The moment I see reason why I should change my style, I won’t hesitate to correct myself,” she said.

While tying a baby with a tiny cloth is dangerous, to Mrs. Akinsanmi, who also lives in Ibadan, it is even criminal for mothers to strand their babies on their chest.

“I don’t like seeing women tying their babies to their chest. It is nothing but child abuse,’’ she said.

“The essence of backing the baby is to generate warmth. When you now ‘front’ your child, you don’t mean well for the baby. Fashion is fashion. Child care is not a fashion show; there is time for everything,” she said

On how she can help out, Mrs Akinsanmi says she tries to warn women who do this and said it is left to them to take to corrections.

Another mother, Mrs. Sola Oniyide, says though the world is changing, things like child backing should remain conservative if the health and interest of the baby are to be taken into consideration.

“There aren’t differences on backing of children in the olden days and today, but it is not good for mothers to put their babies on the chest and when I see something like this, I correct them. My daughter once bought the baby carrier that nursing mothers use to fasten their babies on the chest but I didn’t allow her to use it,” she said.

She also said that nursing mothers shouldn’t carry their children in their hands on motorcycles but they should back their babies properly.

Jos, Plateau State-based Mrs. Naomi Bitrus said a combination of imitation of western culture and inadequate home training is responsible for the funny way some nursing mothers back their babies nowadays, adding that some nursing mothers simply join the bandwagon in a blind attempt to be trendy.

However, Dr Niyi Hamzat, a medical social worker and the proprietor of Ayo Health Centre, Ibadan, Oyo State, said “there is culture and there is tradition. It is an African culture that nursing mothers should put their babies on their backs and wrap them up,” he explained

   “It is not suitable for nursing mothers to put babies on their chest because the babies are uncomfortable in such a position. Besides, if the mother stumbles, it is likely she falls on the baby, which is dangerous. The simpler, better way is putting the babies on the back,” Dr. Hamzat added.

 He believes backing gives the babies warmth they need at the tender age because the environment (womb) where they are coming from is warm.

“This is why babies cry when they are delivered. The baby’s ability to generate energy and temperature is very low. Sometimes, if a baby does not cry when he or she is delivered, the nurse or doctor uses warm towel to mop its body because the new environment is like a shock to it.”

When asked about the risk of backing of babies and sitting on motorcycles, he said that such a practice is dangerous and should be discouraged.

“A nursing mother mounting the bike exposes the infants to cold; the baby breathes in dusts, which is harmful to its health,” he counselled.

He advised that nursing mothers, while backing their babies in commercial vehicles, should sit in a comfortable position or a seat that has adequate space for the baby.

He also warned against exposing baby’s legs while backing.

“It is harmful because the breeze can enter the babies’ body through the legs and the babies  can start feeling cold. It is important for nursing mothers to wrap their babies up so that they won’t suffer nervous or muscular problems when they begin to walk.”


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