A cradle board is a typical North American baby carrier used to keep babies secure and comfortable and at the same time allowing the mothers freedom to work and travel. The cradleboards were attached to the mother’s back straps from the shoulder or the head. For travel, cradleboards could be hung on a saddle or travois. Ethnographic tradition indicates that it was common practice to cradleboard newborn children until they were able to walk, although many mothers continued to swaddle their children well past the first birthday.
Bound and wrapped on a cradleboard, a baby can feel safe and secure. Soft materials such as lichens, moss and shredded bark were used for cushioning and diapers. The design and decoration of these baby carriers show the love for their children. Cradleboards were either cut from flat pieces of wood or woven from flexible twigs like willow and hazel, and cushioned with soft, absorbent materials.
The design of most cradleboards is a flat surface with the child wrapped tightly to it. It is usually only able to move its head. Cradleboards help strengthen back and neck muscles and develop erect posture because the spine is kept in continual contact with a flat surface.
The use of the cradleboard makes that the back of the skull is flattened, which is commonly observed by old Native American skulls; however, this was not the case with the Kennewick Man.
 Museum of Anthropology Virtual Exhibit article with photos.
Last updated: 05-09-2005 22:08:57
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04