HappyBaby was initiated with a nonprofit desire to facilitate the parent/child bonding process by educating the benefits and introducing a secure baby carrier made available to every family around the world, regardless of their ability to pay. We hope to do this by creating small stitcheries in towns and villages where carriers are needed.
The Happy Baby project feasibility was demonstrated in a pilot project in Lira, Kasese and Nkokonjeru, Uganda in 2012. The pilot project undertook extensive field research in current methods and cultural practice for baby carrying in an African context before developing prototypes for local testing and ultimately production. The Happy Baby Design team learned that many mothers, who need to work in the field soon after giving birth, commonly tie a piece of cloth to carry babies on their backs in the first months. As a result of this practice, several problems were brought to the surface: back and chest pain, pressure on the breasts causing a decrease in breast milk production, not being able to carry the baby on the front nor nurse while working, knots getting loose letting the baby hang too low, and in some cases the baby falling out. Another problem associated with carrying a baby this way includes no neck support and thus the head falling back and shaking during daily activities.
In an African context, 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, the Happy Baby team got their support as they designed the carrier, to suit their preferences in order to turn baby carrying into a family bonding practice. Father’s involvement in childcare is found to reduce gender stereotypes in girls and increase marital stability. 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.
The Happy Baby project aims at creating a strong sense of local ownership for the poorest segments of the communities, and long term changes in the relation between mother and infant, which is why education is a crucial component of the program. Education is specifically geared towards the mothers and fathers as well as for the staff at our partner organizations. The goal is to strengthen the knowledge base and gather practical information that can further benefit the project and its partners.
Based on the successful pilot project in Uganda, the Happy Baby organization has started a similar project in Congo. Uganda and Congo have been selected because Happy Baby already has a solid network there, which serves as an important entry point for successful project implementation. They are all countries where the carrier would make a great difference in improving the livelihood of the poorest women and infants.