Carrying a baby from birth and having skin- to-skin contact is the most effective method of having a healthy attachment between parents and babies; and it is fundamental to the development of a secure and happy baby. Happy Baby is a non profit project aiming to facilitate the bonding process by designing an affordable ergonomic baby carrier, which is embraced by both mothers and fathers, which is easily produced in low-income communities and which creates a viral improvement in traditional baby carrying methods.
The Happy Baby design process started in July 2012 with research in Uganda, visiting Lira, Kasese and Nkokonjeru; three different districts, where the design team explored traditional baby carrying methods and had open discussions with mothers and fathers. Many mothers, who need to work in the field soon after giving birth commonly tie a pieceof cloth to carry babies on their backs in the first months. Several problems were brought to the surface: back and chest pain, pressure on the breasts causing decrease in breast milk production, knots getting loose, letting the baby hang low, and in some cases the baby falling out. Problems associated with carrying a baby include no neck support and thus the neck falling down and shaking during daily activities.
Traditional baby carrying methods are associated with womanhood and most fathers do not feel comfortable practicing this method, especially in public. By involving fathers in workshops, we got their support as we designed the carrier, to suit their preferences in order to turn baby carrying into a family bonding practice. Fathers’ involvement in child care is found to reduce gender stereotypes in girls and increase marital stability and this has been an important concern of Happy Baby.
Despite the challenges, a piece of cloth is the only option available because comfortable baby carriers are imported and cannot be afforded by most families. During Happy Baby Projecy, by prototyping and testing on-site with local mothers, fathers and midwives, different end users were actively involved in the innovation process of an improved baby carrier. Considerations for making, buying, using, storing, cleaning a carrier, as well as preferences in overall style and materials were taken into account, leading to a design which fit the culture and society.
Happy Baby has been implemented in Nkokonjeru in Uganda in partnership with Children in Africa Breastfeeding Support and Real Medicine Foundation. Carriers are made with fabric and fiber that can be found in Uganda and the price is kept to a minimum. Operating in twelve villages within Nkokonjeru Town Council, tailors from each village are given training to replicatie the ergonomic baby carriers and the basic business skills to become the entrepreneurs of Happy Baby.
Feel free to contact us : design (at) happybabycarrier.org