Hiking Lullabies

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.

Sleepy time...

Sleepy time…

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.

Tortoise love. Just disturbing.

Tortoise love. Just disturbing.

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.

My hiking buddy

My hiking buddy

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.

One year in...still loving the sling

One year in…still loving the sling

Slings get my vote. End of.

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