Babies: the Movie


Has anyone seen the movie, “Babies?”

I drove an hour to see it in on Sunday and have to say I wasn’t disappointed.

The movie   simultaneously follows four babies around the world – from first breath to first steps. From Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo, BABIES joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us all. The children are, respectively, in order of on-screen introduction: Ponijao, who lives with her family near Opuwo, Namibia; Bayarjargal, who resides with his family in Mongolia, near Bayanchandmani; Mari, who lives with her family in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie, who resides with her family in the United States, in San Francisco. (www.

What I found most striking about the film was the babies with the least amount of stuff seemed the happiest. The  Namibian baby wore no diapers (not going to attempt that) and played primarily in the dirt. She breastfed when she was hungry at will and if there were conflicts with older children, there was little parental intervention. Her mother carried her around on her back with some fabric and that was it. Her toys were things she found in the dirt like sticks and stones. The Mongolian baby also was BF on demand and his mother didn’t seem to mind if the families animals crawled all over him. He toddled all over his yurt and the surrounding fields. The most interesting thing to me was his mother climbed onto a motorcycle with him in a swaddle and drove off across the steppe (it looked painful for her). It was a very interesting film, with very little dialogue. the American and Japanese babies had the most “stuff” and were the most over stimulated. Both were dragged off to random playgroups and Mommy and Me events that seemed to confuse them and also appeared to be more for the parents’ benefit.

It made me  think about how much my twins have and we are conscious about what we buy. We haven’t bought any playpens, cribs, bouncy seats or anything else. We do have a crib picked out and I guess when they are too big for the co-sleeper, they’ll sleep in that. The one unusual thing that we’ve purchased are two cradleboards. If you don’t know what cradleboards are, they are Native American baby carriers.  Here’s a decent definition: 

A cradle board is a Native American baby carrier used to keep babies secure and comfortable and at the same time allowing the mothers freedom to work and travel.[3] The cradleboards were attached to the mother’s back straps from the shoulder or the head. For travel, cradleboards could be hung on a saddle or travois. Ethnographic tradition indicates that it was common practice to cradleboard newborn children until they were able to walk,[4] although many mothers continued to swaddle their children well past the first birthday. (

Bound and wrapped on a cradleboard, a baby can feel safe and secure. Soft materials such as lichens, moss and shredded bark were used for cushioning and diapers. Cradleboards were either cut from flat pieces of wood or woven from flexible twigs like willow and hazel, and cushioned with soft, absorbent materials.

The design of most cradleboards is a flat surface with the child wrapped tightly to it. It is usually only able to move its head.

Now the trick is that the babies don’t stay in the cradleboard all of the time, only for napping and for times when the parents need a free hand  (like cooking dinner). The biggest benefit is that they are extremely calming to babies (primarily because the baby feels safe and secure). We are also using baby carriers (instead of strollers) for trips to the supermarket, etc… MO2 is 1/4 Native American so he was all on board with the cradleboard idea. It is surprising but most of our friends and family are getting them as well. We spent a lot of time researching the cradleboards and are pretty excited to try them. They are our low tech baby item.

As for the unnecessary things like the shopping cart protector, after seeing Babies, I think I’ll skip it.


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