22nd October, 2013
Like most new mums I’ve spent a fair few hours rocking back and forth with a small person who refuses to sleep. It doesn’t happen so much now, fair enough, but I’ve done my time.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if women with children have, on average, slightly longer arms than their non-sprogged counterparts. Another potential research opening, right there, along with that idea I had about studying the correlation between baby-led weaning and obese domestic canines.
But I digress. Anyway, like many before me, I discovered early on the joys of a baby-carrier or sling.
Not only does this free up your arms, but the soporific powers of these bad boys are LEGENDARY.
In the first weeks of his life, desperate for a break, I’d slide Tiny into the sling and wander round doing chores…washing up with a bounce…and within minutes I’d see his lids get heavy.
The only problem is I sometimes feel he’s missing out a bit on our outings. Our trip to Taipei Zoo was one such memorable example. I saw Taiwanese native bears and cloud leopards, African lions, zebras, giraffes. I saw penguins, pandas and two large tortoises mating (which was vaguely distressing). I walked for MILES and even rode on a little train.
The boy woke up five minutes before we left and caught a brief glimpse of the flamingos before the highlight of his day out: a trip to check out the zoo’s excellent nappy-change and breastfeeding facilities. Whereupon I dragged my hot and footsore self back onto the tube train home.
It got to the point where I was concerned about taking him out too late in the afternoon because I didn’t want him to nod off and then party all night.
But nowadays, it means I can go for a hike in the afternoons and guarantee that the little one will sleep for pretty much the first hour/90minutes. I can take my time, revel in the scenery and stop for photo opps, while my boy sleeps soundly.
It’s not without snags. Tying your shoelace with a baby in a sling is a perilous undertaking, involving either getting your leg up so high you feel you should have taken up a career as a dancing girl, or else holding him in by the shoulders, to stop him sliding out as you bend over – guaranteed to wake him up. On the plus side, if I CAN wait til he wakes up, he seems to find being held upside down at a sharp angle pretty hilarious.
And once he is awake, even a small slowing of pace or too long in the sling can make him grumble. The only solution to which I have found so far is to sing loudly as I walk along. Usually ridiculous nonsense songs. This does not always impress other hikers…especially those who don’t notice the baby. But if you’re a parent, you’ve probably already given up caring how deranged you appear to strangers.
Tiny is now nearly one. I’ve spent a year sneaking his naps in via the sling. He still sleeps well in his bed (to head off the naysayers who prophesise doom regarding baby always sleeping/napping in the same place OR DISASTER) and I have been far from a prisoner in my own home. On the contrary, I have been able to go for days out walking, browsing museums, to lunches or dinners and many other adventures besides.
Slings get my vote. End of.