Babies and Cradle Boards - Plateau Indians in Olden Times
Keeping Safe and In Shape: The people of the Plateau believed that pregnant women had to avoid looking at certain things, such as dead animals, as this might frighten her unborn baby. She also had to avoid certain foods and stay in shape by running and swimming.
Midwives: When she went into labor, she was moved into a special birthing hut and helped by a midwife. She and the baby would stay in the birthing tent for the first five days after birth, which protected both the mother and the child, and gave the mother a chance to be taught by the midwife how to feed and care for her newborn baby. No visitors were allowed to enter the birthing hut, not even the father.
Living Space: After the birth of their first child, many things changed for the young couple. Before the birth, they were required to live with the bride's family. After the birth, they had some choices. They could live with the groom's family. They could request a space of their own in the village longhouse. They could even build their own pit house if they wished. Whatever their decision, custom dictated that the families would support their decision and help to set them up in a space of their own.
Cradle Boards: For the first six months, babies were carried straped into cradleboards. Cradle boards were made from a wood plank or tightly woven basket fibers. To use a cradleboard, first you bunted the baby. Bunting means to wrap tightly. Even their arms were tightly wrapped against their bodies inside the blanket. Then, babies were strapped against a cradleboard. It worked. It worked wonderfully. Cradleboards kept babies warm and safe. The mother might carry a cradleboard on her back, as she gathered berries or washed clothes in the nearby creek or river. Or the board might be propped up outside, so that the mother could keep an eye on the infant strapped to the board, while working at other tasks. The infants could see what was happening around them. It was a baby's first introduction to village life.