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Archive for the ‘Babywearing’ Category

Ranting away about gifts over Christmas, I think I’ve worked out clearly where I stand on the ethics of spending on gifts. I think that everyone should have the right to buy whatever they like, for themselves and for others. If they want to spend a large proportion of their wages (or indeed a small proportion of a very large wage) on hundreds of pounds worth of presents for their children, they should be free to do so. However, I am also free to make the judgement that excessive spending is morally wrong. I can judge that they’ve made a bad choice.

Personally, I don’t think that spending hundreds of pounds on gifts for young children is necessary. There are only so many toys they can play with and appreciate, only so many clothes they can wear. I’m nowhere near perfect but I think that living sustainably is important, and I think that buying big pieces of plastic for little babies who don’t care either way and would be happy to play with a cardboard box (or, indeed, with their older siblings’ outgrown toys) is wasteful on a lot of levels. However, not everybody agrees with me; people can and do choose to buy all manner of ‘stuff’. Logically, morally, I have to be cool with that.

The same applies to parenting choices. I choose to raise my children in an ‘attached’ way: I breastfeed, I carry my baby in a sling rather than a buggy, he sleeps in bed with me at night and often naps in a sling in the daytime (now that he’s bigger, mostly on my back in a Rose and Rebellion). I don’t choose to leave my children to cry (obviously sometimes it can’t be helped, but I’d never ever deliberately leave them to ‘cry it out’).

Again, not everyone agrees with me. I saw somebody on Twitter tonight saying that they were about to start ‘sleep training’ their 17 week old son. He was planning to use ‘controlled crying’. I think that what he’s planning is horribly cruel: teaching a tiny baby that nobody will come when he cries, so that he finally gives up and stops crying. But obviously some parents think it’s a good idea: teaching a tiny baby to fall asleep by himself so that everyone can get a solid night’s sleep and be well-rested for daytime. Short term pain, long term gain?

There’s no absolute to decide who’s right. Obviously I think I’m right, or I wouldn’t be parenting the way I am. But that doesn’t mean I am right. If I want to say “people shouldn’t be allowed to make this choice for their babies” then there’s no logical reason why the ‘rule’ couldn’t be “people shouldn’t be allowed to co-sleep” or “babies must be independent from week 1”. I want the freedom to parent the way I choose, so I have to allow everyone that freedom.

My instinct was to say to the guy on Twitter “Are you crazy? Why would you want to train a tiny helpless mammal to sleep in his own room by himself all night?!”. But I wouldn’t appreciate it if people started challenging my parenting choices. If I want the right to raise my child the way I choose, I have to afford that right to everyone else. So I said nothing. I just try to carry on doing my thing with my kids, tend to gravitate towards like-minded people, and relax about everyone else.

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Since I had my first son just over two years ago, I’ve become extremely enthusiastic about slings.

I started out carrying my tiny newborn in a Moby wrap.

Wanting something cooler and easier to whip on and off, I added my first mei tai.

This was still a bit complicated for my husband, who only carried the baby very occasionally, compared with my ‘several times a day’ regime, so I tried a Connecta.

Once the baby could sit up, I fancied an easy way to carry him on my hip, and along came the Hotsling. I took a chance on a ring sling, but it didn’t work out. When I knew that baby two was on the way, I also picked up a Wilkinet to try out with the new newborn. The baby arrived in April and it was soon too hot for the Moby. I went for a Calin Bleu gauze, but as the natural colour was on ‘3 for 2’ it would have been silly just to get one. My friends bought me a Babyhawk to welcome the new baby. Just recently, I managed to get a great deal on a Rose and Rebellion – luckily my husband likes this one too.

I also ventured into the world of woven wraps, selling a couple of my originals to pay for something new and funky.

I never intended to become obsessed by slings. I wanted to make choices that were good for my baby, and carrying him was something that really worked for me. I was really lucky that the internet forum I was reading throughout my pregnancy was frequented by some lovely helpful ladies who enjoyed carrying their babies, so I’d read a lot of babywearing advice before I even started. A lot of people don’t access that sort of information and advice.

When I go out carrying my baby, especially in a wrap, I’m used to getting lots of stares (some friendly, some not) and lots of interested comments. The comments are overwhelmingly positive,

“Ooh, he looks so snug in there”

being the common opener. Most of the time he’ll either be sleeping soundly, or enjoying the great view and smiling at anyone who catches his eye. “He’s so contented” is another favourite comment. Yet I hardly ever see anyone else using slings. Or if they are, they’re using a Baby Bjorn (more on that another day).

I think it’s a terrible shame that carrying your baby in a sling is such a ‘niche’ activity. People seem genuine when they tell me it looks great, so why aren’t more of them doing it themselves? With that in mind, I’m going to be writing more on here about some of my favourite slings. In the meantime, if you have any queries or questions about babywearing, do feel free to contact me. Even if I don’t know the answer, I should be able to point you in the right direction.

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I’ve ummed and ahhed a bit about doing this post, as for some reason I’m slightly paranoid about posting photos of myself on my blog. But logically, I already have a public Flickr photostream, I have photos of myself on both my Twitter accounts, plus various other places across the internet. If anyone wanted to hunt me down and stalk me, they could probably do so quite easily – an extra picture or two on my blog isn’t going to make much difference.

So, for those who are struggling with what to wear to a wedding when breastfeeding, or carrying a three-month-old baby, or indeed both, here’s what I wore:

The dress (which unfortunately I don’t have any good pictures of) is from Laura Ashley. It’s dark purple with light purple spots, has a crossover front which can be pulled aside for breastfeeding (the advantages of a wrap dress, but without the flapping skirt accidentally showing too much leg) and a wide ruffled waistband ideal for disguising the dreaded mummy tummy.

The sling is a Calin Bleu gauze wrap. I started with a ‘natural’ and dyed it in my washing machine using Dylon ‘French Lavender’. I’ve been wearing it for a few weeks to break it in, and on the day it worked brilliantly: BabyC went in and out with no bother, taking all his naps in there, and falling sound asleep at 8.00 pm until we left at 11.00 pm. Success!

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It really hit me today how much extra planning and worry is required when you have a couple of kids around. We’re going to a family wedding on Sunday. I fondly remember years gone by, when going to a wedding would mean a leisurely morning getting dressed up, perhaps getting your hair and nails done, then a day of lovely food, a few tasty drinks and lots of carefree socialising with friends and family, perhaps with a bit of dancing to round off the evening.

I’ve been planning for Sunday’s wedding for several weeks. I’ve (miraculously) found a dress that is suitable for breastfeeding and reasonably flattering to my flabby mummy-tummy (and I’ve remembered to wash the only nursing bra low-cut enough to go with it). I’ve dyed a Calin Bleu gauze wrap with Dylon ‘french lavender’  so as to transport my baby in a coordinated fashion. Suit fitted for BabyD and smart new babygro for BabyC (the choice of which was somewhat controversial).

The list of things to remember on the day is already forming: BabyC – nappies, wipes, muslins, nappy sacks, spare clothes. BabyD: bigger nappies, spare clothes (as, although he’s thankfully past the stage of pooing and vomiting all over himself (most of the time!)) he may not last in his collar and cuffs all day), snacks, drink, bib… have I forgotten anything? Small toys and books for entertainment during the ceremony/photos/meal (i.e. the whole bloody thing!).

To be fair, there will be plenty of family there to keep him occupied too, and he will probably have a wonderful time and cause no fuss at all. That is, unless he gets too tired, too hungry, or is expected to stay still for more than five minutes at a time.

Happily, the venue is just down the road from my parents’ house, so they will be coming to collect BabyD when he starts flagging. Then husband and I will be free to dance the night away; him on crutches to support his broken ankle, and me with an 18lb baby strapped to my chest. Oh, to be young and carefree again. Although I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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