boot: to tie one’s baby to one’s back in the traditional way

In my family, and in all of Senegal, women do not use baby backpacks or Baby Björns to carry their children. No, no, they use the boot method.

In the kitchen, I watch my sister Rama as baby Fatima clings to her back like a barnacle. Bending at the waist so her back is nearly parallel with the ground, Rama wraps a scarf around her body and her baby, tying the corners together tightly—one knot across her chest, the other across her stomach, cinching baby Fatima in a tight sling.

Rama notices me watching. You don’t do the boot where you come from, she tells me. You carry your babies on your front. But this, it’s more practical—I can do anything!

Nene grins. That’s why Senegalese women’s rear ends are so big—so that we can prop up our babies on our backs!


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