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Category Archives: Babywearing

5 reasons I love toddler wearing

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I was queuing for a bag of chips last Friday when the gruff, bald, beer bellied Polish man behind the counter looked up at me and exclaimed “I love your style!”

Er.

He went on to explain “The way you are carrying your child, I really like it – we do it like that back home.” I had my toddler sprawled on my back, nestled in my wrap. I used to get comments like this quite commonly when she was tiny, but now more often than not all I get are those Raised Eyebrows of Consternation!

For the first 5 months of Ramona’s life I wore her in a sling every day, for most of the day. I just wanted to keep her close, I felt a small part of me to be missing if I were to let her snooze on the sofa! She would snuggle into me as  I cooked and protested and sewed and hiked.

I had a gorgeous ring sling a friend had made, but wanting to be completely hands free I made her a stretchy wrap. By the time she was 5 months old she was a corking 13 kilos and I needed to upgrade to a woven wrap that would made my load a little lighter! We invested in a Didymos wrap, a second hand one from Ebay, and has been serving us beautifully recently, with our little 21 month old Ramona.

Once Ramona got crawling, the cord that tied us began pulling a little bit and it seemed completely natural for her to want to crawl about, away from me and explore the dusty, crevices of our house.  I still wore her when we went out and about and for naps and for breastfeeding on the go. When she was 10 months old we found a buggy by a bin, a spectacular huge old Silver Cross and we  took it home and took Ramona for the odd spin in that. Ramona enjoyed it- she’d wave at everyone in a very Queen like way, enjoying a wonderfully novel experience, thinking she was the first baby  ever to get pushed about on a mini wagon; “Check out my WHEELS!”. It came in pretty handy for loading it up with our big supermarket shop and gradually we got used to using the buggy 75% of the time.

Then, a few months ago Ramona gave up the buggy –  couldn’t get her in it for love nor money. I buckled her in against her will once and the discombobulation of that haunts me to this day. The wrap is once again making an appearance daily and it feel so right!

Here are my reasons for loving it:

  • It saved a buggy strike from becoming an immobilising crisis! Understandably, once your toddler GETS toddling, they don’t fancy being clipped in and pushed about.  For Ramona it seems being up high helps her to feel okay with being carted around, she feels involved with her excellent vantage point.

    We zipped off to Berlin for the day with Ramona on my back

  • I like how unfettered I feel. I walk out the door with my handbag and Ramona on my back and that’s that. Because it is hands free, I can text/ eye up Twitter/ pick my nose whilst walking along, without having to negotiate 4 wheels. (Mind you that could be simply my lack of coordination!) Our buggy used to get layers and layers of stuff packed into it, and bags hanging off all sides. Pushing that around made me feel like that fella off The Road.

    Checking out the horses – Ramona LOVED this place

  • Ramona falls asleep SO easily in a back carry, I love to feel her cheek press into my shoulder as she drops off. If I sense Ramona is a bit excited, or if we have a tribe of souls at our place having fun, bed times can involve much convincing! Sometimes I’ll pre-empt it and will take her for an evening stroll and let her gently off. Transferring her into her bed from a back carry is really simple too – a much lower Wake Up Rate than the buggy to bed transfer!

    Schnoozing

  • It is especially good for navigating the city crowds and public transport. Going into the centre of the Big Smoke with the buggy used to fill me with dread; having to ask strangers for help up and down the stairs, getting stuck behind a platoon of slow walkers. Now we just whip up and down and right past those meandering snail like tourists and strolling romantics.

    Just hanging out back there, eating a corn on the cob

  • I feel close to her when I carry her. Like we are on the same bandwith. I guess it it just the equivalent of lots of cuddles but Ramona- like most toddlers I suspect- is such a busy bee that I only really really get the snuggles when I nurse and carry her! I just feel a lot more in sync with her – as if body was designed to drape over back, as if tribes of mamas from generations past are nodding knowingly at us.

I can only really carry for an hour without a break, I’m not denying she is pretty heavy. But not nearly as wearying as pushing a heavy laden pram, or as hard as people think it – I guess your body becomes accustomed and grows in a way to accommodate toddlerwearing. I use a Reinforced Ruck Carry (I think, there are about a gazillion different carries) but have heard on the street that a Double Hammock is the FUTURE so I am going to be studying this video for a bit:

Are you a babywearer? What kind of comments have you received? I’d love to hear all about ’em.

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Ramona, it’s your first birthday, we’re gonna party like it’s your first birthday…

Eat pizza like it’s your first birthday…

Ramona Lily! You are ONE! It is astonishing to believe that one year ago I was groaning around in the birth pool that had been erected and filled three days earlier thinking your arrival was imminent. In some ways your Birth Day feels like yesterday- the emotions are still so tangible; the intense hunger to meet you, the frustration that your journey down was taking so bloody long, the slight apprehension of how our happy, carefree days were about to abruptly end. Yet in other ways it feels like an absolute AGE ago! You seem so grown up – how you bite the top layer of bread from your toast, the bit covered in marmite- that is just WISDOM, right there.

I remember our first week together. I was a bit shocked at the lack of overwhelming love. I had always assumed I would just be head over heels for you. Where as actually, my primary feeling was one of  “Who are you?! A whole little person I have yet to know?” I was surprised that My Bump turned into a real, tiny, individual human instead of just an extension of myself with it’s own limbs.  It didn’t last long though, before two weeks were up I sometimes couldn’t get the breath out of my lungs because I loved you so much.

I always thought the lack of sleep would be the worst thing about having a baby, as I was used to 11- 12 hours of sleep every night. Surprisingly, perhaps because of daddy’s Flat White making skills, that has been less of a big deal. I have been pleasantly surprised by how significantly the wonders outweigh the hardships. Although my nipples probably don’t agree. Sometimes I think you are gonna suck them right off.

I am so glad people encouraged me to follow my instincts with you. This led me to wear you close all day, sleep snuggled up, feed you whenever you peeped. I feel this has been just the ticket for us- you seem so content and secure. I remember a few months ago, just 2 days after you learnt to crawl, you crawled out of the room  without me, and into the garden to investigate the big kid  ruckus. I was quite relieved in that moment, as the myth that attachment parenting leads to desperately clingy babies was dissolved before my eyes. Now you are walking, and climbing, and gaining independance everyday. And soon you’ll be shouting that your skirt isn’t too short and 10pm is way too early.

I have absolutely LOVED this year with you Ramona! It has been SO fun. You make me laugh uncontrollably with your funny little dancing, weird facials and gappy teeth.

I hope I have the courage to keep mothering by instinct, to work things through with you gently, and to always treat you how I would hope to be treated, despite times when you and I might be a bit cross or grumpy.

With every ounce of love under the sun,

Mummy

This time last year, Ramona is a few hours old – clearly I have climbed that gargantuan mountain of labour and am ruddy knackered. One thing you learn the first time you give birth is that even if labour is three days long this is not an excuse to not wash your hair, or at least dry shampoo it, for goodness sake. There WILL be cameras you know.

Shakeaway: breast milk to go

Once when Ramona was around 2 months I was walking along our road carrying her in the sling.  Some boys spotted me from their perch up in a block of flats and started hurling down meanness, although all I could really make out was the word “BREASTFEEDING!!!” screamed in a kind of offensive way. (The fact that this is a diss is worth a whole politics-of breastfeeding-rant in itself.) I was utterly mortified! “They must think I am breastfeeding her while I am walking along!” I put my head down and blushed to match my hair, feeling like my little freckly 9 year old self who got bullied in the playground. Then when I got to the end of the road I almost stopped in my tracks; what a bloody good idea. Of course I could breastfeed her in the sling!

The next time I was walking along and Ramona began her hungry headbutting I unhooked my bra and shuffled her around a bit;  she latched on immediately. That day a whole new sphere of stress free parenting opened up.

No more panick stations as I try and find a suitable place to feed her- with her nursing in the sling we can be wandering around the supermarket, a Parisian flea market or an  art gallery and no one is none the wiser. Well. Apart from the growling.

No more missing the train because I had to get a feed in before leaving the house. She just snacks on the walk up.

I feel it has helped build her security as she knows the instant she has a need it will be met, wherever we are – no crying involved. I love that science shows that meeting baby’s need quickly is vital to their development and nurtures things like their empathy cells. (Read more about that in my fave parenting book- it is the shizzle.)

If I ever want her to start a nap quickly (say because I have a meeting that it would be handy for her to sleep through) I just feed her off to sleep in the sling on the way. It often sends her to sleep within moments.

Around the three  month mark Ramona got way too distracted by goings on to breastfeed in public.Then she’d get all hungry and mad. However feeding in the sling helps her feel still involved somehow, avoiding what felt like miniture nursing strikes.

Perhaps best for those early days though was for the occasions when Ramona was incolsolable. They didn’t happen much but sometimes she wouldn’t feed or sleep even though I knew she was hungry and tired. As soon as I learnt to double them up she would settle really quickly. It was as if she needed movement to feed, or perhaps she wanted to feed upright.

I only wish I could have discovered it sooner.

So to those lads on the estate I will be forever indebted, for Ramona’s food on the hoof has made my life as a mother a lot easier. So much easier I would rank it in my top five mothering activities (I know, I’m a total expert after nine whole months.) I should really make those badasses some breast milk ice cream as a grateful treat.

In case your baby wants shakeaways…TIPS:

Feeding in a mei tai, ring sling or wrap is simple. Just tie it so their mouth is about level, although you may have to use your hand to hold either their head or your breast in place as they feed.

Where easy clothes, a low sccop or v-neck so you aren’t trying to yank up your top between your tummies.

Practice at home so you can get the hang of it.

Flick the end of the wrap over the top if you feel you have too much on show.

Beware of strangers coming in for a peek of your baby’s smile only to get that smile, dripping with milk, AND an eyeful of squirting nipple.

A wrap for Wrigglewriggle- my first baby make

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So, yikes, it’s been a while team. Sorry about that, although I guess I do have a good reason; Ramona is 8 weeks old and a whopping 6kgs. She is completely amazing. She is smiling and gurgling, and still sleeping lots which is delicious for us.

I wear her everyday, every where, in a beautiful ring sling my friend made. I love having her so close and believe the benefits for both of us are massive. However to keep the weight distributed evenly I wanted to mix it up with another one. I have been to a couple of Slingmeets, seen and tried loads of carriers -as well as meeting fab parents too- and decided that a stretchy wrap was most comfty with a tiny tike. And, easy to make too!

I cycled along today to Peckham’s famous fabric shop and purchased two metres of thick tee shirt material. (It was the first time I had been without Ramona, but she had a lovely half hour with Dad!)

This afternoon I cut it lengthwase so I had 4 metres, about 75cm wide. I sewed three lines (extra strong) to join end to end. Where the seam showed I sewed some bright salmon lace, meaning the other side was smooth and plain so Tim doesn’t have to have the lucious lace revealed when he wears her.

It feels so good on, really supportive. I love the look and it is easy to put on.

All for £12 and half an hour, my first very practical baby make! Hoping to tackle a Mei Tai carry next.

More exciting things coming soon…

PS I look, um, yellow, in this pic. I haven’t fake tanned, and i’m not anemic. It’s just a weird un.