All Technology is Assistive Technology

Walking Social: A Baby Carrier Gets Children Upright

The Firefly Upsee is a walking baby carrier, designed to give the experience of ambulation to children who have motor delays or mobility restrictions. It brings the child upright, anchored closely to a caregiver, while also leaving her hands free to explore and play.

The design is a collaboration between Debby Elnatan, the Israeli mother of a child with cerebral palsy who had solely used a wheelchair to get around, and the Firefly team at the Leckey design company. Developed by a collaboration among clinicians, engineers, therapists, and textile experts, the design will come to the market in early April. There's a free webinar for professionals in physical therapy fields and others.


It'll be interesting to watch what the user-consensus yields about its merits as a therapeutic tool—how its loadbearing structure affects these young growing bodies with varying degrees of muscle tone and postural challenges.

Perhaps the biggest intervention here is a social, interactive one: So many therapeutic tools for motor skills help a child to "have fun" while working muscles and strengthening stamina—more or less in isolation. But this tool fundamentally brings children into the eye-to-eye world of their typically-developing peers. The social brain is so foundational to global development, and it's fed in part by reciprocity, touch, and eye contact. The Firefly Upsee brings its users into upright space, yes—but into relational space too.


Images: Several adults "wear" their young toddlers in the Firely Upsee baby carriers, but inverted: the child is harnessed to an adult's legs and feet and strapped securely via the shoulders to the adult's waist, allowing simultaneous walking for both caregiver and young user. In the last image, a young girl, upright in her walking carrier, greets and hugs a peer eye-to-eye—the wearable allows this close contact even while her body is secure.

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