This is Zambia: How to Wear a Baby in a Chitenge

March 13, 2013 § 7 Comments

Last week, I posted on Instagram (follow me @lauramenenberg) about how Nathaniel needed to be close so I put him on my back with the chitenge. We did this a lot when he first came home, as well as with our ERGO baby carrier. Due to popular request (specifically my high school friend Lucy), I have done a tutorial on how to wear your baby in a chitenge.

Chitenges (2 meter pieces of colorful African fabric) are used for almost everything in a Zambian woman’s life. Most commonly, they are used as a skirt wrap to protect clothing when working or traveling, to carry a baby, as a cushion to carry goods on the head, or to make a dress suit.

Wearing your baby on your back in a chitenge is an easy, inexpensive, and intimate way to wear your baby. You can also easily shift the baby to the front for being seated or breastfeeding. Women usually start wearing a baby in a chitenge when the baby is around a few months old. Initially, a grandmother or auntie will help the mother to hold the baby on the back while the chitenge is tied. Eventually as the baby grows, the baby “gets used” (used to it) and will hold on while the mother ties the chitenge.

I borrowed our maid’s son Elijah for this exercise, as it’s a bit easier to demonstrate with him than with my almost 40lb son!

ย Step 1: Bend over and place the baby on your back with the legs and arms facing towards your front.


Step 2: Get your chitenge (or any 2 meter piece of strong fabric) and wrap it around the baby and your back.

Chitenge-3ย  Step 3: Adjust the chitenge so it is under the baby’s head and tightly wrapped around the baby’s buns


Step 4: Adjust the chitenge so it’s even and bring one side over your shoulder (right or left).


Step 5: Tie the chitenge in a double knot.



Step 6: Stand up and enjoy wearing your baby in a chitenge!


Bonus video tutorial:



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