Yes, I babywear my toddler: What’s your superpower?!

This is Katherine. She’s two and a half. And she LOVES being in the sling. But I do get a lot of negative comments, so I will address the main ones here:

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Yes, she can walk
And she does, when she wants to and when she isn’t too tired. But when she does get tired, the sling allows me to carry her safely, so we are both happy. And anyone who knows us will tell you, an unhappy Katherine is not a good thing to be around!

BABYWEARING Games Expo

Yes, we have a buggy, several in fact!
And yes, she goes in it. But there are also times where a buggy isn’t practical, or when I already have two other children in the double buggy, so Katherine would need to walk without a break. We have used the sling at the seaside (have you ever tried dragging a buggy across wet sand… We have, and we don’t care to repeat it!), walks in the wood, and trips to town on the bus. I even carried Katherine at the Games Expo at four days old; a buggy doesn’t fit through the gaps in a crowded hall, believe me! The London Underground is also not designed with buggies in mind either… A buggy can actually be very limiting with where you can go, and a sling allows for hands free flexibility

BABYWEARING London

No, this is not hurting Katherine
A well fitted ergonomic carrier will support your child and hold them in a comfortable position. The wide base supports Katherine from knee to knee and keeps her knees higher than her bum. If this was hurting her, believe me, she’d let me know!

BABYWEARING Zoo

No, this is not hurting my back
In fact, if you invest in a good ergonomic sling, then you shouldn’t feel the strain in your back at all. Our Lillebaby has a back panel for support when wearing front-facing, plus wide padded straps which distribute the weight evenly. I can carry Katherine for hours in the sling, could you carry your child on your hip or shoulders for hours?

BABYWEARING 1st Birthday

Yes, she does have a secure attachment
Slings can actually help children to develop secure attachments. A secure attachment develops when caregivers respond appropriately to a child’s needs, promoting security, regulating their emotions and offering a secure base from which to explore. Young children need cuddles and reassurance, and a sling can enable parents to do that whilst remaining hands free (important when you have other children to look after too!) Even as adults, we need comfort and reassurance when upset, angry or frustrated, so why should we expect toddlers to be any different?

No, I am not a helicopter parent
This comment REALLY made me chuckle! Not much more to say to this, apart from all of our friends know that this is the complete opposite to my parenting style!

BABYWEARING Walking

No, she does not have a disability
And why would she?! Although ergonomic slings which support fully to the knee joint can actually be used to help correct hip dysplasia in young babies by holding their hips in the correct ‘m’ position…
Read more about that here

BABYWEARING Beach

No, she is not obese
Again, why would she be?! She is a perfectly average toddler in every way (50th centile for every measurement at her 2-year HV check). Katherine walks, runs, jumps, climbs exactly the same as her peers. Also, as we use the sling in place of a buggy, even if we didn’t use the sling, she still wouldn’t be walking anyway, so pretty much an invalid comment…

BABYWEARING Costume

So why do I sling Katherine…?
The main reason is that we both want to! She loves it, and even asks for it. I enjoy the cuddles (I don’t get them very often now from Little Miss Independent), and it’s convenient, practical and allows me to get on with my day whilst still providing for my child’s needs

So… for all the nay-sayers out there, here’s what Katherine says to you! Seriously though, please don’t knock what you haven’t tried! Find your local sling library and try some out…

BABYWEARING Dalek

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Travelling with Toddlers… Without Tablets (the Electronic Kind!)

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When I was pregnant with my eldest, there weren’t many things I said I wouldn’t do; I tried to remain as open as possible to all parenting choices. I always said I’d try to breastfeed, but we had formula in the kitchen, just in case (we donated it to Foodbank after a few weeks as I was fortunate to breastfeed both my kids past a year each) I never said we wouldn’t use a dummy, although again, we never found we needed to. I even tried reusable nappies when a friend suggested them, but that’s a different blog post! Co-sleeping, babywearing, baby-led weaning, we tried them all. But one thing I wasn’t keen on was introducing electronic devices like tablets to my young children.

Now before you all shoot me down, let me say this; this is mine and my husband’s choice, and is in no way a judgement on any other parents who have decided to let their children use them. They can be a great educational tool if used wisely, although personally I do not think they offer more than physical educational toys such as Orchard Toys.

From my own observations, I have also seen them used as a babysitting tool far too often, and I find the lack of interaction between parent and child quite depressing. I’ve seen children younger than my daughter in prams with a tablet attached to the handlebar; I’ve witnessed children screaming when the tablet is taken away; I’ve seen parent and child walk down the street without interacting with each other, each on their own device. Our world is full of wonders, especially for a child, and my opinion is that frequent use of electronic devices can diminish that, and reliance on them makes our children less able to cope with their everyday world.

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So when we planned on a three day trip to London on the train, I wanted to see whether we could manage without resorting to a tablet to keep the kids quiet. Instead, I packed the basics to occupy them – food, books, stickers, colouring. All were light enough to not add to the bulk of travelling with children, but there were several options so once one avenue had been exhausted, we had another to fall back onto.

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We didn’t actually use any of them on the first stage of our journey; simply talking about what we could see out of the window occupied the kids for the first hour until the dreaded Replacement Bus Service. Words to strike fear into the heart of any traveller, especially in 30+ degree heat. Actually, this helped to break up the journey, gave us all a chance to stretch our legs, and also gave us a new resource to use; a plastic water bottle from the staff at the station. The imagination of a three-year-old transformed it in a rocket and led to conversations about planets and the moon. We counted forwards and backwards. We discussed astronauts and aliens, and what we wanted to be when we were grown up. All this from a free plastic water bottle.

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For the final leg we were back on the train again and we used the water pens and sticker books, and both children were absorbed in their chosen activities, despite being tired. Once we’d taken the tube across town and settled into the hotel, the kids sat on their bed and made up stories with the reusable stickers. I loved hearing my eldest encouraging my youngest in conversation, being so patient with her when she took a sticker he wanted. This is the kind of interaction I want my children to have, with other people.

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We didn’t need to use any of our resources again until our journey home, as we were so busy visiting museums and meeting family and friends. I will be honest, the journey home wasn’t as smooth as the journey out! Two tired children (a busy morning at the Science Museum and a train that didn’t leave until mid-afternoon meant nap-time didn’t happen) but the water colouring was a firm favourite again as that required least concentration. A lovely staff member at Paddington Station also gave us a bag containing colouring pencils and a colouring book, which helped to fill the waiting time before our train left – many thanks, GWR! We also had lots to talk about from our trip, and the final hour of the train journey both children were fast asleep. Bliss!

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As I said before, this is our parenting choice, but hopefully it demonstrates that a little planning and you can travel without electronics if you want to.

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