Friction in Carrying

Friktion vid bärande är fokus i tredje avsnittet av Back to basics – babies, bodies and behaviour med Mel Cyrille och mig, Ulrika Casselbrant. Vi nördar loss i hår, svett och lager av kläder.

Mel Cyrille, är författare till boken In-arms carrying och precis som jag bärandekonsult. Podden är tänkt att beröra allt från bärande, babypottning, barfota,  föräldraskap och mer!

Lyssna till eller ladda ner avsnittet här. Du hittar det även där poddar finns, hos tex Acast och Podcaster. Se transkription av avsnittet nedan.

Länk till föregående avsnitt:
In-arms carrying – reflexes
Babies and Communication

Transkription Back to basics – babies, bodies and behavior
Avsnitt 3 Friction in Carryin

Mel:                 Hello and welcome to episode 3 of Back to basics: babies, bodies and behaviour. With Ulrika Casselbrant and Mel Cyrille. In this episode, we’ll be discussing the role of friction in carrying. So, let’s introduce ourselves first. I’m Mel and I’m an in-arms carrying and babywearing trainer and author of the book In-arms Carrying. I’m currently finishing up book number 2 which is focused on Science and theories behind in arms carrying.


Ulrika:             My name is Ulrika Casselbrant and I live in Stockholm. I’m a babywearing consultant and also worked with elimination communication, written a book about elimination communication and I’m as well writing about carrying and babywearing and I’ve finished my draft here I think, or will be today. So, but then I have to, it’s lot of work too than go through the text again and send it out and all those things but it’s really exciting.


M:                    Very exciting. I’m just sad that it’ll be in Swedish so I can’t read it.


U:                     Yeah, cause I really would like you to give me feedback on it but yeah, so it’s awful, I have to translate it later on.


M:                    Yes.


U:                     Okay, today’s subject. Friction in carrying. Exciting. And I know you have been into some research about skin and the small hairs that we got.


M:                    Yes, yes. Absolutely.


U:                     Maybe we should start up by talking about that.


M:                    Yeah. So yeah, the, little hairs, that you’re mentioning are called vellus hairs and I’m, rather fascinated with them because they, it’s yet another thing about our bodies that Scientists kind of think, maybe don’t have as many uses as they actually do. One of the really interesting things that I found out about these vellus hairs is that when we factor in these tiny little hairs, and I suppose I should really describe what they are first before I launch into all these other things. So, it’s the very fine short, translucent hairs that covers most of our body, pretty much invisible to the naked eye unless you’re looking closer for you know, shining the light, the light on them. So yeah, one of the, the really interesting things is that the hair follicles of our body, if we factor in the vellus hair follicles, then we have roughly the same density of hair follicles as you would expect to see on an ape of our size. So yeah, so it’s really interesting because obviously when we think about hair, we think about thick hair, don’t we? And I’m, you know, we’re told that humans have lost their hair as we became upright and so forth. There’s…we do have just as much hair, it’s just finer and thinner and shorter and not really seen as much. So, we’re covered in these tiny hairs and if you think about our skin, it wouldn’t be useful in carrying if our skin was completely smooth, would it?


U:                     That would be more difficult, yeah, yeah. Like when you have shaved, the skin is really smooth and more slippery, definitely.


M:                    Exactly. And, I mean, we, when we think about babies, yes they are you know, lovely and soft and smooth but they still have this texture on their skin and part of that texture comes from the tiny vellus hairs. So, in utero, we’re covered in lanugo and, our [inaudible 00:05:13] are shed we have the same hair follicles the whole time, it’s just that different hairs may start to grow out of different periods of time. So, after the lanugo is shed, this is when a lot of the hair is replaced by vellus hair.


U:                     And that is in the womb? Or-


M:                    Yup, in the womb. And some of those hairs will be replaced by terminal hair which is like the hair on our head and underarms and stuff like that. And obviously when children go through puberty then more, more terminal hair will appear as well. So yeah, so it’s really interesting ‘cause it all develops in the womb and once babies are born, they’re born with a ton of this vellus hair covering them as well, which helps obviously with making their skin more textured which in turn obviously helps in carrying, yeah.



U:                     Yeah, then I guess also, the sweat? Sweating also adds on the friction and maybe heat as well. I guess heat and cold also.


M:                    Yup.


U:                     What do you say? Would have an effect of the skin, on the skin.


M:                    Absolutely.


U:                     There have been more ways than just sweat, I don’t know.


M:                    Yup. So, yup, that’s right. Another thing that I’ve had been writing about is obviously when it is cold, what reaction happens to the skin? If we’re feeling cold.


U:                     They would get those bumps and the hair, hair rises up also yeah.


M:                    Yup, mm-hmm, yes. I mean we could talk for hours and hours and hours about all the amazing things that happen with skin but, yeah, we’ll keep on topic. So yeah yeah, you say about, about sweat, for one thing. So, we know that, that, there have been studies conducted into the frictional properties of skin when water is applied to the skin and we know that recently, wet skin, once it’s been dried has greater frictional properties than bone dry skin. So, you know, when we come out in the shower and we dry off, we’re dry but we’re not actually completely dry – we have still some dampness on our skin. So yeah, so obviously when, when we have more water on our skin, then that can become slippery but up to a certain point, moisture aids in friction. So, and that’s, that’s why when we think about sweat, we’re thinking about sweat on areas of our bodies such as our forearm or our hip, waist, what have you, and you know, baby’s thighs and everything. There aren’t places where we sweat profusely do we? This is where, yeah, this is where useful amounts of sweating happens. And, yeah.


U:                     No, that’s interesting, yeah.


M:                    It really is, it’s just like the, you know, you know how it is.


U:                     Because if you would sweat-


M:                    Everything is related to carrying.


U:                     Yeah, cause if you would sweat profoundly on your belly, saying you have your baby against your belly, it will become more slippery.


M:                    Mmm, yeah.


U:                     Yeah, hmm.


M:                    Exactly.


U:                     But then also if you stand on the shower with your naked baby, it will become some kind of vacuum between you, your skin and that baby skin. When it’s a lot of water then, I guess.


M:                    So, yeah. I spoke about this, this in the first book about the amazing effects in the shower on clinging action. And obviously, showers are man-made and everything but it’s very similar to rain isn’t it? If you think about it, the way water comes down and everything. I’m guessing in evolutionary terms this reaction is to do with rain but it’s in the shower where I noticed this reaction for the first time. So, it seems when you’re holding a baby or child, you know, dry skin to dry skin and then you enter a body of water or water is coming down onto your body, on the baby or child it triggers this reaction of tighter clinging but also the water on your bodies, it seems to create this kind of vacuum like you say this sort of seal. And you know, I don’t know the ins and out of how that magic effects happens, but it really does happen, and you know, you only have to try out to experience it yourself. So, it seems that, you know, this is yet another reaction of the body, another way in which our bodies are perfectly designed to carry babies and children, it’s just incredible.


U:                     Yeah, and I guess also when the babies have their knees tight around you or used, the smaller baby using his reflex to keep the knees up it will be more skin to skin, it’ll bit more, what do you say, amount of centimetres or inches that will be skin to skin then in case the baby would have the legs just down, not up.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     Because it’s also depending on like the effect of the friction is also how much skin is there against another skin, yeah.


M:                    Yes, definitely. That’s why it’s, you know, a [inaudible 00:12:23]. If we go back to skin to skin as the starting point for understanding how carrying works, it shows us the blueprint of carrying basically because clothing, it’s man made, you know, skin to skin is the, the biological baseline isn’t it?


U:                     Yeah, and what we have lived in, when we go back to evolutionary history, it’s like we, we started using clothes probably about 50,000 years ago or something like that, we don’t know exactly but they can say like from the, when the, the head lice, the hair lice, mutated into clothing lice, gives some kind of a input for the researchers on like all these when we started wearing clothing.


M:                    That’s really interesting.


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    And disgusting.


U:                     Yeah. Some kind of [tight 00:13:25] clothing I mean we could have like, we wear loose like [inaudible 00:13:30], wear loose clothing without the lice mutated but, yeah, so through evolutionary history definitely for a long time we’ve been skin to skin and also they’ve, what I’ve found when doing the reading for my book, I’ve look a lot into like the evolutionary history, of course I wanted to get clues on how baby wearing could’ve look like, and then they think that we lost a lot of hair on our body or as, would be more correct, the hair would became much thinner as you said, probably around like, 1.2 million years ago. So, for like a million years, we been a lot skin to skin and then we don’t know like okay, what happened 1.2 million years ago is that we, our skin got darker, we need some more protection for the sun and probably before the, we have the protection from the hair. But I mean like if you look at some apes and monkeys. they might have like a lot of hair on their back but not so much on their face, on their breast. So it’s, I mean of course, we could have, the hair on our body could’ve become thinner at different part, different times in this, I mean, probably-


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     Maybe took like a million years for, kind of lose our fur the way we had it before so.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     But it’s quite a lot in time that we probably also, or wearing, carrying skin to skin.


M:                    Yeah. I think it’s very interesting how language can impact our understanding of the changes through history. So, there’s been research on the effects of bipedialism. And you know, theories about, due to this, we then lost our body hair, and the extra energy that we have to use by carrying babies in arms, you know, meant that we needed it so invented baby carriers and everything. And it’s little things like that when you think well actually, we didn’t lose all of this body hair, it just changed. And you know, this research is coming from, an angle of “babies are really heavy to carry, oh my goodness, how much extra energy would we be expending, when we’re now having to hold them in arms?” instead of thinking about it from the angle of, you know, we didn’t lose our ability to cling, it just evolved, you know?


U:                     Yeah and I go crazy on those studies that they have made like there’s one study used in the babywearing world and in some literature about saving 16% when carrying in a sling compare to carrying in arms but I mean those studies are made on dolls, made of sand and they, I mean, and they’re walking on these, what do you call it? Like you don’t walk in outside, you’re walking on this treadmill, yeah. And then they’re trying to make like assumptions on how it was for, for the species living 3 million years ago, and it’s like, I mean you can’t compare their physique or carrying a sand doll or some kind of weight is, I mean it’s not like carrying a baby, even though the baby wouldn’t cling actively, it wouldn’t be the same thing, it would still be easier to carry a baby than carrying a sand bag. And we wouldn’t have the friction of the skin to skin like that they have and we’re with lesser hair, we’re thinner hair 3 million years ago which was like we have no idea actually on those studies. But, of course like depending on how you carry, you can also like save energy. I know they made the study between military, people and these women carrying, and I think it’s West Africa, you can look up, right now I don’t have the study in front of me, so I don’t know the name of it. But then they could see that the, the military people when they started put on weight in their rock sack and how much energy does they need to spend was correlating to how much was in the backpack. But when it came to these women carrying, they could carry up, but I think it was 20% before their energy, how do you say. the energy-


M:                    The output increase?


U:                     Yeah, yeah. So, so it’s pretty much on how you carry and like, if you were alignment and stuff like that, letting go into like what is the difference but they used that they saw that it was a difference.


M:                    Yeah. That, that is interesting, if you think biologically from that point of view. But also, we know the, that when a baby is clinging, when they’re an active participant, they do feel lighter because you’re doing less of the work, they’re not a dead weight, you know?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    That, the more they’re working, the lighter they feel and you know, holding them, doing, us doing all of the work is gonna increase expenditure, isn’t it?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    But, even putting them in the sling is going to increase expenditure, because what, what work are they doing in the sling, compared to when they’re actively clinging. So huge difference, huge difference, right?


U:                     Yeah, yeah. And also when you move, if you move they would cling tighter than if you would just stand and also it’s something about that their heart rate also goes down when you’re moving and they will be much calm, much more calm in their movement so they like kinda help out with you, if you have to move they will help out as well and I think that’s, together would like the friction and then becoming, and them becoming calmer and it’s much easier to carry them and they can cling and we use the reflexes. And how is it with the reflexes they are more active as well when you are walking? I guess they would be because they have to…


M:                    Yes, yeah.


U:                     Adjust themselves.


M:                    Yes, the effect of movement triggers reflexes doesn’t it? Because when we’re moving our body, we’re moving their body as well and we’re creating different contact points as we move backwards and forwards with like in our hip. Does that make sense?


U:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.


M:                    Yeah, yes.


U:                     And also like if you look at evolutionary history and us losing hair and all that, and also looking at some of the, the apes and monkeys, I can never remember what is apes and what is monkey but like gorillas and chimpan…


M:                    Chimpanzee?


U:                     Chimps. Chimpanzees?


M:                    Yes, chimpanzees.


U:                     Chimpanzees, okay. You could see that like for their survival, it’s so important that the carrying going on is a safe because the biggest risk for a small chimp or a gorilla is to fall and get and die that way. So safe carrying is like, is really, really important, I’m thinking it must’ve been for the, for the, for us as well, of course and also like the, the ones before, the, would you say species before us? No? Like, if you like early, early man before homo sapiens, like…


M:                    Early man?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    I don’t know the terminology.


U:                     It’s frustrating, I’m not a native English speaker but we’re doing the best we can, I’m doing the best I can here. Anyway…


M:                    You’re doing very well.


U:                     And if you look to like gorillas and chimps, they, the small, the small one, babies, they can’t cling on to their mother because they’re not strong enough, they’re too heavy for holding the fur. So, then the, the gorilla and the chimp, the mothers are holding these small babies with their, the hands of the first 1 to 2 months and then they can start clinging on…


M:                    That’s an interesting timeline, when you think about, um, the carrying going on with humans as well in the first 3 months. It’s quite similar isn’t it?


U:                     Yes, yes, yes. Very similar, especially if you look like at videos and stuff, and you can really see like them, the gorilla mothers and the chimp mother’s being really really caring about their, about their babies, it’s not like the baby have to cling on and they wouldn’t, and they just go on with their lives, they really really recognize it ”Oh wow, there’s a baby here” and like doing a lot of bonding and stuff, they were smelling and looking at the baby and holding it and really really helping out. I think I had a point that was gonna come to but now I can’t remember, but it’ll probably come again.


M:                    Is it something to do with body hair? On them?


U:                     Yeah, I think it, no, it was something about the safe carrying and also for humans and the friction there has been really important like when not having as much as hair or a much thick hair [crosstalk] other ways for safe, safe carrying.


M:                    Exactly and yeah, we’re designed to carry them safely so much of our make-up, you know? The caregiver’s body and the baby’s body, so many amazing things. You know, the, you’d never even think to think of would be related to carrying, it’s just, it’s just beautiful, really is. Yeah, we’ve talked about skin and touch and hair and everything but obviously that’s not how we carry most of the time, it’s like skin to skin. We, we pretty much have to factor in some layers of clothing here and there and especially depending on the weather, don’t we? So maybe that’s next thing to move on to.


U:                     Yeah, yeah.


M:                    What we do to adapt that carrying blueprint to real life carrying, modern day carrying.


U:                     Start, start, but let’s start looking at the, the diapers. I’m really in favour of cloth diapering but it has a bulkiness.


M:                    Mm-hmm, yeah.


U:                     To it.




M:                    I’m like no we can’t say cloth is bad – it was so good but oh my God.




M:                    Yeah. I think it is, so the amount of bulk is not really, and I think a lot of the amount of bulk that comes from cloth is down to the, the expectation of trying to increase the absorbency to match that of disposables, rather than regular, you know, more regular changing of the nappies or at least back when I was using cloth as a nappy kind of thing, that was the focus back then, it was you know, how long can we go between changing a wet nappy, trying to increase the absorbency.


U:                     But usually, like if you combine it with elimination communication, usually you have like a thinner nappy, a lot of the time because you don’t need to have as much thickness and also, depen- if you carry your baby and it only has a nappy on and then it’s also depending on the material on the outside of the nappy.


M:                    Yes.


U:                     Cause wool, or linen would give more friction than say this, PUL fabric? I don’t know what to say in, in Britain.


M:                    Yeah, it’s P-U-L or PUL.


U:                     Yeah, yeah. If you have that [inaudible 00:27:34] to the layers I guess this different as well.


M:                    Yeah. Definitely. But this is again going back to the fact that you know, as a culture or as cultures, cause we’re talking about more than one culture here, it is our tendency to try and find ways of “bettering” and I say that in quotations because it really is not bettering our lives at all. You know, our cultures, they want convenience and we’re, it’s drilled into us from such a young age, you know? What’s the easiest way of doing this? What’s the most convenient way and it makes us more and more sedentary doesn’t it?


U:                     Yeah and I guess it’s drilled into our genes, [Crosstalk] it’s drilled into our genes which has make it so difficult like to save energy. But, I think but, as a parent, I think what could be really useful is to observe like what is happening. If you have your baby in your arms or even a sling, like okay, it has different kind of clothing from this day to another or like what is happening, like with the carrying like you could observe the observation of yourself and your baby on how it feels, to get more knowledge on your own and also what suits you and depending on like what climate do you live in and…


M:                    Exactly.


U:                     And stuff like that.


M:                    And this, it’s not saying oh, right and now you need to buy certain types of clothing to be able to carry your baby, it’s not as it’s looking out what we were to have and how different fabrics interact with other fabrics and…


U:                     Yeah but I, I thought that that…


M:                    Losing layers at times [inaudible 00:29:31].


U:                     But a thought has struck me says like okay what kind of companies is gonna start out of this, cause we have like this tendency of going commercial like… [laughter]


M:                    Oh, I know, I know.


U:                     Like is it gonna come these companies that made these clinging clothing kind of…


M:                    Oh, I can just imagine like Velcro.




M:                    I can relate to matching outfits, make clinging easier. And now it’s, it’s the funniest thing as well because in arms is like, it’s the most accessible, the freest, the absolutely everything you need, you do not need to mess with it, we’re perfectly designed that…


U:                     Doesn’t cost anything.


M:                    Yeah, you know, yeah. But you know, yeah, I think yeah, on the right track there. It won’t be long.


U:                     And then our baby’s gonna start like climbing the walls because we have this main thing fabrics that can stick to anything.


M:                    [laughter]


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    Outsourcing the work again.


U:                     Yup. No, let’s hope not. But also like to try out those also like, okay, what’s the difference between carrying a baby in a cloth diaper and in a more disposal diaper and then also in a, just a pair of underpants, like this, would be different.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     There’s some research every parent can do on their own as well, just to see what happens.


M:                    Absolutely.


U:                     Alright.




M:                    I think as well, this fear of babies peeing or pooing on us is very much built into at least my culture, it’s like “oh my God, oh, yuck, disgusting.”




U:                     Yeah, I’m thinking before disposal diapers it wasn’t like that because the disposable diapers really really keep, or usually cloth as well, clip it in the diaper but…


M:                    Yeah and away from our experience. But as we know, babies and children are way less likely to just randomly pee or poo when they’re on our bodies and signals are so much stronger and everything, so yeah, there’s nothing to fear a bit of wee or poo. And if you’re scared about it then you can be more aware of their signals, there you go. [laughter]


U:                     Yeah, yeah.


M:                    But don’t get too hung up on it.


U:                     But then when it comes on the rest of the body then and then we got into a little bit that like natural fibres like linen and wool would be more, have more friction in them  than like fabrics made of the like polyester or these clothes or, stuff like that, they usually, or this goes like this is a process of how you, how you process it, takes down fiber so it can also be, I guess bamboo and stuff like that but I’m thinking more the like polyester and stuff like that, like in, you can have in overalls and in Sweden we say shell clothing like the other layer if you don’t want the, the baby to become, you can see it in this, in the sand or whatever when it’s raining and it won’t get wet and stuff like that. Those are much more slippery and usually much more bulky. And it’s much more difficult for the baby also to, also to cling on but also who like bend the legs maybe, really really, probably and you, probably have like bigger shoes on and stuff like that.


M:                    Mm-hmm.


U:                     And so, it’s, it’s more difficult.


M:                    Yeah. This is, this is the sort of thing that we have to work around don’t we?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    And play around with, and it’s not just how the fabric behaves on the fabric, it’s also to do with how the skin behaves in relation to the fabric. You know, the fabric against their skin and your fabric against your skin, and how is that factoring into the clinging process.


U:                     So about clothing, it’s supposed the, the one carrying the child and also the child’s clothing that would affect the friction and I guess we can like play around with that, I mean, since we know among some parents is quite popular to use a lot of wool and that could help out a lot, I guess, but it’s not necessary, I mean depends on like what does your needs look like as well and when do you carry and usually these are the older kids, when you talk about bulk, when it comes to the outer layer of clothing like overalls and stuff because when it comes to babies that are not able to walk yet, it’s, it’s usually much easier to carry them inside your clothing but I guess, how would you solve that carrying in arms in the winter time with a smaller baby inside your clothing, then that would still be wearing I guess, baby wearing.


M:                    I think it’s personal preference really, isn’t it? Because, I mean it is possible to carry in arms inside of clothing without, you know, baby wearing, but obviously, it kind of complicates things a bit more. But it’s the same thing, it’s looking at what sort of clothing we’re using, looking at the age of the baby, are we, are they at an age where we’re wanting to carry them or in arms outside or you know, is this where we’re using the sling? And when it comes down to it, a lot of carrying that happens with, you know, babies and their caregivers, happens at home where it’s warmer you know?


U:                     Or the parent has to be in the pram or the stroller and it doesn’t wanna lay there and you have to pick it up kind of. I guess that’s scenario outside a lot.


M:                    Exactly. And it’s just, it has been one of the things that has made me think about you know, what about the different seasons and doesn’t that impact on carrying because babies are born all year round and everything, but it always seems to come back to the fact that a lot of in arms carrying is done during the day round the house, indoors and places or for short periods of time outdoors. And if we are going for a longer sort of distance and we may be using a baby carrier. As you know, that’s one of the biggest reasons that they were invented; for longer journeys. And as they get bigger and older, I think is when people tend to, if they are using active carrying, as they get older that they may carry them for longer distances and as they grow, you know, their length, the leg length, the torso length, everything comes into play in terms of how clinging works and how long you’re clinging for and so forth, you know? So, it does seem a bit like, oh, but how would that work? I think it happens very naturally and you know, we have ways around the time when you know, maybe too difficult or you know, we may still be doing it outside but maybe for less, less time, you know?


U:                     I think with that said um, we are ready to finish this subject for now and then probably in the future we’re gonna come up with more things to bring in about this.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     I guess which is that should say bye then.


M:                    Yes.


U:                     Bye.


U:                     Bye.