I’m a fairly traditional chap, and when son #1 arrived I had a fairly traditional idea of what was involved
Cot – check
clothes – check
pram – check …
Having an older sister who already had two children we inherited a bunch of bits and bobs, one of which was a fairly standard Baby Bjorn carrier. When we jetted off to the US ten weeks later it was an obvious item for the trip. That said, it was hardly used, little one was easy enough to carry – especially for a big strong bloke (Ahem …)
When we returned from holiday the carrier was resigned to the back of the cupboard, and the pram was the transport of choice. Simple, convenient, and we’d spent 400-odd pounds on it…
Son #2 arrived just under 2 years later, and 8 months later we were off on Holiday again. After a few days of carrying the (Rather clingy) 8-month old around the hills, and rugged streets of France, my wife gave the a sling a try and it turned out to be a god-send (We didn’t take a carrier of our own – but our sister-in-law had a mei-tai baby sling with her).
When my arms got tired (About 5 minutes in – I’m pathetic I know!), she would strap him on and off we’d go – tricky little lanes were a breeze, and forest tracks were a doddle. We got to see so many places that would have been completely impractical with a pushchair.
I, of course, being a beer-swilling, football watching, manly-man didn’t touch the sling at all, preferring to struggle along swapping arms every ten minutes to spread the strain rather than “look like a bit of a tree-hugger”.
My wife, of course, immediately saw the advantages (Did I mention that son #2 was a bit clingy and son #1 was toddling around like a man on a mission?) and set about fashioning her own sling for around the house, and when out and about so she could carry #2 and still get stuff done.
I, on the other hand, was still resolutely a pushchair kind of guy – after all I could always carry him if needs be – right? Well, time for a confession … I’m not even as manly as I perhaps made out (Apart from the beer-swilling!), and carrying a child in your arms for any length of time, especially when they get 6 months plus and wriggle constantly is actually quite hard work.
So, the next summer came around, and we were off again. This time we stuck to the UK, but with two children there was little space left in the boot for the pushchair once we’d got various toys, books, cuddly toys, clothes, nappies, etc wedged in. “No worries” piped the wife, “we’ll just take the sling”.
Not being in much of a position to argue, off we set. At this point Son #1 was almost 3 and a half and generally pretty good at walking, and son #2 was 18 months old and walking for short distances. If it was flat, and there were no distractions, and if he felt like it, and if luck was on your side.
In short, I was looking at two weeks of him wriggling in my arms, or on my shoulders and associated neck ache.
A few days in, having struggled to navigate shops, and events with #2 careering off into the distance in pursuit of a “big dog daddy look!” out came the sling. We were actually off that day to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta – a great event, that is hosted in a park.
A park in England … in the good old British summer. It was wet. Very wet.
Less a park, more a mud-field… and the car park was helpfully about a mile away, up what I swear was a 90 degree muddy slope.
So, on went the sling, and I felt like Saul on the road to Damascus.
Considering how heavy he was to carry normally, and how much he wriggled, the sling truly was a revelation – I could hardly tell he was there. Apart, that is, that I got to talk to him; all day we chattered, we watched the Red Arrows fly overhead together, pulled silly faces at each other, and sniffed out the doughnut stand together.
From that point on the sling was a firm favourite as I got to go out wherever we fancied without worrying about whether a pushchair would make it up the track, or whether my arms would drop off! The best bit, however was the time we spent together that would otherwise have been completely missed out on with a pushchair in the way.
My only regret about baby wearing is that I didn’t put aside my macho pretences and try it sooner!