London - New parents should carry their baby upright and facing outwards to improve the youngster’s development, a leading academic suggests.
The technique allows a baby to observe the world as seen by his or her parents and could result in a more self-assured child.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond said Western parents could learn a great deal from child-rearing techniques used in more traditional societies, including tribes in the Amazon and Africa, who carry their babies around.
Unlike a pram, keeping baby at chest height and facing outwards where it can interact with the world could leave them more “emotionally secure, self-confident, curious, and autonomous”.
The 75-year-old author, a professor of geography at the University of California in Los Angeles, bases most of his observations on half a century of visits to tribal communities such as in New Guinea, where he lived among people who were still using stone tools.
In his latest book, The World Until Yesterday, he argues that babies have the same instincts as our ancient forebears, and so respond better to traditional rather than modern conditions.
Modern parents can achieve the carrying technique by using a papoose, which has enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent years.
Quickly comforting a crying baby, letting them sleep near their parents, and lots of physical contact are also beneficial, he says.
“It is only relatively recently that some of these child-rearing practices became unfashionable. I suggest it’s time to consider some of them seriously again,” he said.
The professor, a father of two, added the methods have “in effect already been tested by natural experiments: different societies have been raising their children differently for a long time, and we can see the results”.
His 1997 book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, which attempts to explain why history unfolded so differently on the world’s continents, won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. - Daily Mail