Would you… wear your baby?

Since having a little one I’ve been slowly getting to grips with getting around with a baby and all the stuff they require. Because we live somewhere so handy for those with children, the few weeks I spent not driving weren’t a hardship at all and I pushed the pram out often when we went on walks or for coffee or visiting local friends. When we drove I had Pete acting as Jeeves, which included getting the bags buggy. However, when by myself I quickly realised that lugging a pram around can be a royal pain in the behind and often opt to use our baby carrier. (This isn’t strictly news to me – I anticipated I would feel the same about being hands free and more mobile as I’m quite a ‘busy’ person.) Quite a few of you have asked so I thought I’d share my thoughts and ask your opinions on baby wearing too.

For this of you who haven’t heard of it, baby wearing is simply the practice of carrying your baby or child in a fabric or specially made sling or baby carrier. They range from technical contraptions to simple stretchy wraps and costs vary hugely. It’s a centuries old practice and women around the world wear their babies, with well known and accepted benefits to both baby and the adult carrying them. In short, babies are happier and cry less. Parents are more confident as a result and less frazzled as they can get on with their daily lives. Sold? I was.

We opted for the Ergobaby 360 – a new carrier on the market by Ergobaby and had to wait for it to come out. It’s not cheap – £139.95 at John Lewis and we had to buy the infant insert to make it suitable from birth too, for an additional £20. However we justified it with the knowledge this allowed us to carry Bea (and any future babies) right through to toddler and beyond as it allows baby to be carried facing inwards or outwards on the front, on the hip or later on on your back. We chose it over a BabyBjorn as it is supposed to be better for hip development by seating baby in an ergonomic frog leg position.

Once I started using it I loved the freedom, just like I expected. On my first excursion out of Chorlton on my own I took Bea in the Ergobaby on the tram (super easy not having to find space for the pram) to the sling library in Sale (most places have local sling libraries where you can try and rent out slings before buying your own and meet other mums too,) and back. The best thing about it is how convenient it is and that she sleeps in it much of the time she’s in there (much like a car seat,) due to the movement and her being all snug and cozy next to me. We have only used it front facing inwards as thats the only position suitable for her age right now, but it feels secure, brilliantly made and even at this stage is flexible to allow for her position and size.

The major downside for me is the weight of the actual Ergobaby itself – I do get backache wearing it, though I’m not sure if that is due to my ligaments still being stretchy post pregnancy. The Ergobaby has a waist strap and shoulder straps much like a large rucksack you would use for hiking or D of E in school and so the weight is well distributed and it’s comfortable otherwise. I don’t see this as a major negative as we bought it mainly for Pete to wear and for us to use when going places where it wasn’t convenient to take the buggy, and it’s perfect for that as well as the future hopefully.

The other negative I felt was it’s bulk and as Bea woke up out of her newborn haze, she started to get less keen on being put down unless she was in just the perfect stage of deep sleep. One thing that kept her happy of course was being held and I started to get frustrated that I couldn’t get anything done, particularly when Pete went back to work and I had to get on with normal life. I decided to look into a wrap style (this site was a really useful resource in finding more about the different types, as was the site of my local sling library,) to keep her close and happy whilst being light and cheaper, given our initial Ergobaby outlay.

After looking into the various wraps I chose a Victoria Slinglady, (very similar to Moby or Karime wraps), mainly because it’s brilliantly priced (£14.95 on eBay). Baby carrying is very individual and there are loads of different wraps out there but this was perfect for me and I have used it loads since. I did look into DIYing a stretchy wrap (there are lots of tutorials online) but the cost of the jersey was more than this ready made one and as the sling library helpers pointed out, this way I know the fabric dyes are safe if she starts chewing them. Since then we have been out for dinner using it and this post was written with her in it too. I love having my hands back and having her so close!

So, have you got a baby carrier. Do you use it? Or has it always seemed a bit hippyish for you to try? I’d love to hear your thoughts on baby wearing and reviews of the various options and types available…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Resources:
Little Possums sling shop
Sale Sling Library (also known as Harmony Babywearing)

*This post is the beginning of a new series to encourage discussion and promote the sharing of opinion on a wide variety of motherhood subjects. Please share your thoughts and knowledge in the comments!

Family Lifestyle: Baby’s first trip abroad…

We’re not breaking from our usual columns this month as I figured you’d all be ready for a little break from the Christmas overload happening right now. Plus, at Christmas time when you’re getting together with family and spending time with your other half I naturally tend towards using the downtime to plan for the New Year – This post will come in very useful for all the mums out there…

Hello again, Findettes! Last month I talked about great family day trips with the National Trust, but this month I thought I would share Freddie’s first trip abroad and some of the travelling tips I learned along the way.

Earlier this month, my little family loaded up the pushchair and headed off on the Eurostar to Brussels. The main reason for going was to continue the tradition of having a pre-Christmas meal with my husband’s university friends, which this year was being hosted by our friend who lives and works there, but we decided to stay a few days and include a night in Bruges while we were in the country. There was a lot of good food and wine, laughter and reminiscing shared with fantastic company, as is always the way when this gang gets together (one of the highlights was playing the name game and discovering that one person had never heard heard of James Brown), but most importantly the trip was a family-friendly success.

Travelling

As I mentioned above, we travelled to Brussels on the Eurostar, which I would highly recommend as a method of travelling with a baby or small children. Not only are the seats bigger than aeroplane seats, but you don’t have to stay in them at any point, which was ideal when I was trying to get a very tired and upset Freddie to sleep not long after leaving London (although the train manager did tell me that sometimes they do ask that everyone stays inside the carriage during the Channel crossing, but that didn’t happen to us). There are baby changing facilities onboard, ‘family’ carriages with more tables and more luggage space and we didn’t have to reduce how much we brought – including being able to bring baby food and formula milk through security – or even collapse the pushchair. Much, much easier – and faster! – than flying.

We also took the train to Bruges in the middle of our trip, but had we not been staying in Brussels we could have continued using our Eurostar ticket as you can travel within Belgium within 24 hours for the same price. The Belgian trains were cheap, fast, clean, on time and the train station in Bruges is a short walk out of the city centre.

Food and accommodation

We stayed with our friends in their gorgeous city centre apartment in Brussels and the group rented a second apartment nearby through Airbnb. We then stayed for one night in the Ibis Bruges Centrum – watch out when booking because there’s also one at the station – which, as it had a bath, black-out curtains, supplied a travel cot and only cost €62, was absolutely fine for our purposes and is somewhere I would definitely stay in again.

As our time in Brussels was all about turkey and Christmas pudding, we didn’t eat out while we were there apart from sampling the best chips in Belgium (very, very good) on our tour of the city. But we made up for it in Bruges, the city of hot chocolate and beer…

After an average meal straight after arriving from the train in one of the closest restaurants to the hotel, which we probably would have forgotten about if it hadn’t involved Freddie devouring his first mussel and demanding more, we had more success the following day. Here are my top picks:

Miss Ellie cafe
We had an excellent breakfast here and found it to be really good value. It’s slightly off the main tourist route and near the shops, which is what made it a bit cheaper I think. Lovely coffee, melted chocolate for dunking your croissant in and high chairs available – what more could you want to set you up for a day of walking through the gorgeous streets of Bruges?

The Old Chocolate House
After a couple of hours of walking in the winter sunshine, Freddie was more than ready to have a break and a play and we popped into the first tea shop that caught our eye. It was a good choice. A high chair was brought to us instantly and the best (and largest) hot chocolate either of us had ever seen was delivered not long after. For €4 you get a HUGE mug of steaming hot milk, a (chocolate) bowl full of chocolate chips to whisk in and a home-made biscuit and chocolate on the side. You can choose the milk, dark or white classic option, add ginger or rum, marshmallows or cream and then buy the mug and chocolate in the shop below – brilliant. There’s also baby changing, which was much needed.

What we did
Bruges in a city made for wandering – there are beautiful canals, cute Christmas markets and stunning buildings you could stare at for days. For information on what to see, I recommend this post on the Mrs Makes blog as we didn’t actually much. Saying that, we are a family that love walking around new places and Bruges has is somewhere we would definitely return to with an older child as there is lots to see.

Although shopping with a baby who likes to grab at everything is not usually recommended, we like to buy one thing for our home whenever we go away and this being Freddie’s first time abroad, we couldn’t leave empty handed. Dille & Kamille is a beautiful kitchen/home shop that we fell in love with straight away. As well as picking up a mini whisk to add to the chocolate chips we bought in the Old Chocolate Shop and a new pair of sage green oven gloves for less than €12, we couldn’t resist buying Freddie a knitted stocking for his first Christmas.

Tips for travelling with a baby
I’m no expert on travelling with children, but we’ve done enough long journeys with Freddie in his first 7 months on the planet that I can offer some tips on how to make travelling with a baby that little less difficult.

  • Think about how you’re going to transport the baby… We have an Ergo baby carrier that all three of us love as it leaves your hands free and can be better when travelling, especially if you don’t know whether there will be a lift or you need to be able to move quickly. As Bruges is pretty much all cobbled streets, we only took the Ergo with us on that part of the trip and it turned out to be a great decision. However, we couldn’t have carried all of our baby paraphernalia on the train without the big bag at the bottom of the pushchair or the clip that hangs off the handle. It might be that if you’re doing a mixture of driving and walking, the best option is to take the car seat and pushchair base (don’t forget the adaptors if you need them!) to save space.

  • Take the minimum you can, but always have muslins and baby grows: Freddie only wears baby grows at night now, but we always take spares because they can be worn all day (and always look cute) and are really easy to layer-up if it gets cold.
  • A favourite blanket will help a strange bed feel familiar: We are lucky that Freddie is an amazing sleeper, but we didn’t want to take too many chances so brought his sleeping bag with us for some continuity.
  • Travel with other people: Freddie has been on the train a few times now, including one 3.5 hour trip just the two of us. Although it wasn’t as bad as I had feared, the fact that I couldn’t go to the toilet for the whole journey (tiny train toilet + baby + no friendly people in the carriage…) made it difficult and it’s much easier when there’s someone else there to help navigate unfamiliar places. Saying that, we decided not to travel to Belgium with our big group of friends as we knew we would be better off being able to move at our own pace, stopping off for play/coffee/nappy changing breaks whenever we needed to.
  • Make peace with the fact that travelling with children is expensive: You pay for convenience, whether that be an overpriced sandwich in a service station because you have to have a car break NOW and everyone is starving, tipping the waiter to apologise for the state of the table or jumping in a taxi to get to the hotel so that you don’t get stressed trying to find it.
  • Wine! Put the baby to bed, open a bottle and enjoy reaching your destination. That Belgian beer tasted even better after negotiating the Brussels metro system with a tired, hot, bored baby that we had to carry up 4 flights of stairs I can tell you!

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

Do tell us if you have any tips on travelling with a baby or from your first trip abroad with a little one?

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