www.happybabycarrier.org

Lead Designer and Manager of a team of designers and researchers operating in Uganda

 

Happy Baby is the non-profit design project of a comfortable, secure and easily replicated baby carrier, aiming to facilitate the bonding process between parents and babies, focusing on increasing fathers’ involvement in child care. Design team started the process with a research in Uganda where over a hundred local parents and babies actively participated. Happy Baby is currently piloted in rural Uganda. 

 

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HEAR

 

Research Phase with local families

 

Co-creation workshops with over a hundred local parents and home visits in three districts of Uganda

CREATE

 

Prototyping and User Testing Phase

 

On-site prototyping with locally bought materials

and user testing with both mothers and fathers

DELIVER

 

Piloting Phase in Uganda

 

Training locals to learn to make baby carriers and monitoring the impact of Happy Baby on families

Design Team in Uganda

Happy Baby Carrier design process is carried out by a team of designers and researchers, actively involving local mother, fathers, leaders and health care workers in Uganda. It is currently implemented in Nkokonjeru, rural Uganda, in partnership with Real Medicine Foundation and Children in Africa Breastfeeding support. 

 

Challenges of traditional baby carriers

“I wear my baby on my back with a cloth at home, but I would not do in public.”

 

urban father, Lira

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- Some babies are carried on the back very soon after

   birth, earlier than recommended

 

- Baby’s neck is not well supported, falls down and

   shakes while sleeping.

 

- Knots of the carrier get loose, causing the baby to

   hang low and in some cases fall off.

- Culturally associated with womanhood and not    

   practiced by most fathers.

 

- Pressure has bad effects on milk production.

 

- Does not allow hands-free breastfeeding

 

- Long hours of carrying cause back pain

Prototyping and User Testing

Happy Baby carriers were tested throughout the workshops and home visits. Eleven workshops were carried out, involving around 6-18 mothers and fathers, a total of 108 participants. Workshops consisted of an open discussion on existing baby carrying methods, user test of the five initial prototypes with parents and their babies, idea generation and suggestions for possible improvements in a new carrier. 

“Haha! I can carry my baby with this and shoot birds in my garden.”

 

rural father, Lira

“It is the first time I wear my baby in the front. I can breast feed as I walk.”

 

mother, Nkokonjeru

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Happy Baby Design Objectives

Allowing babies to be carried in both front and back positions

 Enabling ergonomic and hands free care

giving to the baby

Enabling breastfeeding in the front position while continuing an activity

Creating family bonding by increasing fathers' 

participation in child care

Creating interaction and helps the development of socio emontional skills

Happy Baby Carrier

- Developed with regular feedback from users, the design fits the preferences of mothers and fathers.

 

- Ergonomic for babies: supports a baby’s spine and hips with fabric from knee to knee

 

- Ergnomic for the wearer: hip support distributed the weight evenly on the body

 

- Can be used to carry babies starting from birth until toddler years 

 

- Front position allows breastfeeding hands-free and on the go

 

- Can be put on with simple steps and tightened with a single movement

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Implementation in Uganda

The design process of Happy Baby has taken place in three different districts of Uganda, the piloting phase took place in Nkokonjeru, where the main socio-economic activity is subsistence farming and families have 4-6 kids on average.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS

 

Families with babies were invited to discuss and learn about baby carrying benefits

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

 

16 community selected tailors were trained to make, sell and promote Happy Baby Carriers ​

 

 

STAKEHOLDERS

 

Local leaders and health care workers were engaged and education tools were distributed.

 

 

Happy Baby Global

“When I put her in the carrier she immediately stops crying, listens to my heart, falls asleep.”

 

rural father, Nkokonjeru

“I was embarrassed of carrying my baby on the back with a cloth. Hah! But now I look smart in public.”

 

urban father, Nkokonjeru

“I washed people’s clothes and paid the instalments for buying the carrier.”

 

mother, Nkokonjeru

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The monitored impact of Happy Baby in Nkokonjeru has been very posivie on fathers' involvement in child care, family bonding and babys' development. Happy Baby has recently been an association based in Denmark, developing a Happy Baby Start-up Kit to spread the implementation through NGOs and social entrepreneurs.

© 2013 by Cansu Akarsu - cansuaka at gmail