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Happy International Babywearing Week!

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babywearing week

Last year, we marked International Babywearing Week by visiting the nearby village of Sling with our son in a sling. A year on, we’re still carrying our now 18 month old son in a variety of different sorts of slings and we now live several miles closer to the village of Sling after a recent house move.

I’ve found myself blogging about babywearing several times over the last year, which reflects the fact that slings have come to be a lot more than simply a sort of ‘hands-free kit’ for carrying our son. As I’ve said here before, they have really helped me to bond with my son and helped to me to comfort him and get him to sleep on several occasions.

Here’s a look back at my own babywearing highlights of the last year:

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An obvious place to start is our visit to the village of Sling to mark last year’s International Babywearing Week. To add an international dimension, I also discussed babywearing around the world thanks to the input of a great range of parent bloggers who are part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs group.

Looking back a year on, I cannot believe how much our son has grown since the photo on the left was taken. We still carry him in slings from time to time, but this now officially counts as weight training.

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One of the places where I’ve often taken our son in a sling is our local supermarket and I wrote about this in a post earlier this year called Shopping with our son in a sling. It may seem like a mundane weekly activity, but it has also become a semi-regular weekend father and son bonding activity which allows my wife to take a break while we head out on a little expedition. I’m not sure if my parents took me shopping in a sling when I was a baby – the photo on the left seems to suggest that they tried to dress me in handknitted clothes that went with the shopping trolley.

2014-07-19 19.04.40Over the last year, I’ve also enjoyed sharing experiences of babywearing with fellow members of Sling Dads UK, a group that promotes babywearing among fathers.They also organized a Sling Dads Family Camp this summer, which led to me writing a post about Camping with a toddler. This post is the most popular one that I’ve written on this blog so far.

Over the last year, babywearing has really developed from being a way of getting out and about with our baby son to one which has provided a great form of bonding with him as he grows older and more aware of the world around him. Slings are a crucial tool when it comes to getting him to sleep in the evening when my wife is out. Finally figuring out how to get our sleeping son out of a sling and into his bed without waking him was one of my proud parenting moments. Most people probably manage to this before their child is over a year old, but I certainly wasn’t one of them.

I have at times wondered where my love of babywearing has come from. In some ways, it’s definitely due to my wife being very keen on slings. However, a photo that I discovered at my parents’ house when preparing a blog post entitled Like father like son suggests that the true answer may be that it’s genetic. As the photo below shows, my dad also carried me in a baby carrier back in the late 70s and early 80s. As I’m fast asleep in the picture, it looks like I quite enjoyed it!

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What do you think of babywearing and is it popular where you live? Have you ever carried your children in a sling and did your parents use baby carriers when you were young? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

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Camping with a toddler

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Camping with a toddler

Last weekend, we went camping with our fifteen month old son. It was our third camping trip, but this time it was a bit different. We were one of about fifty families who were at the 2014 Sling Dads Family Camp at Sherratts Wood in Staffordshire. Sling Dads are a group who promote baby wearing and its benefits for dads. On their website, they talked about their reasons for planning a camp back in February.

On this blog, I’ve talked about baby wearing a few times. Last October, I blogged about going to a village called Sling to mark International Babywearing Week and also attitudes to baby wearing from around the world. In February of this year, I wrote about how taking our son to the supermarket in a sling had become a father and son bonding activity.

The previous time we’d stayed in a tent with our son, he was just under four months old. With him now being older and more mobile, I’d been a bit worried about how we’d manage to keep an eye on him and manage to put up our tent. Getting it properly assembled took us about an hour and a half the first time we stayed in it a few years ago, but we’ve got this time down to about 10-15 minutes now. Nevertheless, assembling it all can sometimes be a stressful experience that helps to explain why camping is sometimes referred to as an ‘in tents experience’. Thankfully our son happily played with a spare tent pole as we put up the tent.

Our son was son making friends with a few other toddlers of a similar age as he wandered around the site. As he’s at the babbling rather than talking stage, watching these interactions can be quite fun. Sometimes he just stands and stares at his fellow toddlers. After getting to know a few fellow campers, he was soon enjoying an outside bath.

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After falling asleep in a sling by the campfire, he managed to sleep soundly back in the tent despite a thunderstorm and several flashes of lightning. In fact, this is more than can be said for mum and dad! He was also kind enough to allow us what now counts as a Saturday morning lie-in by not wanting to get up until 7.30am.

Some of the activities on the Saturday morning were re-arranged due to heavy rain, but this didn’t really affect our son as he decided to have a two hour nap. After this, he accompanied us to a room where we were able to try a range of slings. He particularly liked the fact that his was taking place in a room meant he could do one of his current favourite things: climb up some stairs. We are gradually trying to introduce him to some other fun activities that don’t involve staircases but are taking it step-by-step.

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Our son tries to do an impression of a doll.

The rain that had fallen on Friday and Saturday ended up bringing some positives as it provided plenty of puddles for our son to splash about in on a path through the woods on the edge of the camp. In fact, he decided to splash about using both his feet and hands. To cap it all, he decided to sit down in a few puddles as well. Thankfully, we’d decided to put him in a waterproof suit so we just stood there giggling away rather than trying to discourage him from having some messy fun.

Our son enjoyed chasing some bubbles around and then had a quick game of football before dinner. After dinner, he was even kind enough to help me with the washing up before dinner (see picture below). After this, he seemed too excited to sleep so we sat with him around the campfire again and got talking to some of the other families. After a little walk in the sling, he finally nodded off. Popping him in the sling is the way that I normally use to get him to go to sleep in the evening when my wife’s out and breastfeeding him to sleep isn’t an option. I always love seeing and feeling him gradually drift off to sleep.

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On Sunday morning, our son was again kind enough to let us stay in bed until 7.30am. We then had a cooked breakfast in the fantastic food tent before it was time for a group photograph of all the happy campers. After packing the tent up, there was more time for exploring the campsite and jumping in puddles before it was time to head back home to North Wales. The weekend had clearly been an exciting one for our son as he slept for almost all of the two hour journey home.

Have you been camping with your kids? What do you remember of going camping when you were a child? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

 

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

Like father, like son

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Like father, like son

I was recently looking through some pictures of myself as a baby and was struck by some of the similar things that I did as a baby and that our son has done in his first fifteen months. Here are a few examples…

I’ve talked about slings in some posts on this blog, partly because we live near a village called Sling and partly because going round the supermarket with my son in a sling has become an unexpected father and son bonding activity. As it happens, I was a baby who was carried around in a baby carrier by my dad over thirty years ago…

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Another thing that I seem to have copied from my dad is wearing matching father and son stripey t-shirts. The one on the left was taken in Scotland in the early 1980s and the one on the right in Wales last year…

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Our son also seems to be following in my footsteps by developing an early interest in reading, or at least pulling books off bookshelves…

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…and he seems also to have developed my love of sand and sandpits.

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As I mentioned in a recent post, our son has tried to water our chickens while walking around our back garden with a watering can. Judging by the picture below on the left, it looks like my parents took steps to make sure I didn’t get too close to chickens whether or not I was carrying a watering can!

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Finally, it seems like my son and I also share a love of swings. Here’s a photo of baby, daddy and granny in a play park…

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What did you think of this blog post? Do your kids do things that you used to like doing when you were younger? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

 

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

Shopping with our son in a sling

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Shopping with our son in a sling

Going to the supermarket with our son in a sling has almost become part of our weekend routine and has become an unlikely father and son bonding activity. I normally drive there (with our son in his car seat rather than a sling!) while my wife has an opportunity to have a rest or get on with things that wouldn’t be so easy with our son around. I’ve also grown to love carrying our son in a sling as I can see him and he seems to enjoy being able to look around and people watch.

Going round the supermarket with our sun in a sling is an activity that can be broken into a series of challenges. I’ve talked before about what parenting and game shows have in common, and our shopping trip can be a bit like a cross between Supermarket Sweep and the Crystal Maze. In fact, it can be broken down into five main challenges:

Carrying our son around the supermarket in a sling is great, but it'd be a lot easier for me to take a photo of him if I just put him in the trolley.

Carrying our son around the supermarket in a sling is great, but maybe it’d be easier to take a photo of him if I put him in the trolley.

1. Strapping son into the sling. I normally carry our son in something that is a bit of a cross between a sling and a baby carrier. Putting him in the sling is normally fairly easy, but fastening him in and tightening up the straps on the side can be a bit of a challenge. I think that I’ve got more used to this since the start of our regular shopping trips.

2. Keeping our son happy while we’re going round the supermarket. Normally this isn’t too much of a problem as he seems to enjoy looking around at all the items on the shelves and the other shoppers. On one trip, I remember him trying to grab the shopping list a few times and letting him hold it while I filled up a paper bag with mushrooms. By the time I had done so, he’d torn the corner off the shopping list and seemed like he was about to see what it tasted like. Thankfully I noticed just in time. 

Last month, I wanted to try out a few tablet computers in the supermarket and this turned out to be a bit of a challenge as our son wasn’t all that keen at remaining in the same place for too long. He also seemed keen to try out a few himself as he reached out from a sling. When I told my wife about this, she made a very good point about this being a good test of potential tablets for a new dad like myself. I now have a tablet and have managed to prevent our son getting his hands on it so far. Like I thought would be the case, it isn’t as good for using to play peek-a-boo as my laptop but I still like it.

3. Not making an idiot of yourself by talking in a child-like manner. I do chat away to our son quite a lot while we’re going round the supermarket and do feel slightly self-conscious about this sometimes. That said, I do think that becoming a parent has lowered my inhibitions somewhat. Only a few weeks ago, I found myself singing along to ‘What does the fox say’ while going round the supermarket.

4. Remembering that our son is not riding in the trolley. On at least one occasion, I have gently pushed the shopping trolley backwards and forwards in the supermarket while looking at products on the shelf. This sort of thing might help to soothe a child but our son’s still not sat in a shopping trolley yet. I think that this behaviour is an extension of the phenomenon of still swaying from side-to-side after you’ve stop holding your child and handed him/her to someone else.

5. Keeping son asleep. After a while, our son normally does to sleep in the sling while we’re going round the supermarket. I don’t blame him as it’s perhaps not the most exciting excursion in the local area. Keeping him asleep is normally fairly easy but gets more difficult when it comes to unloading the trolley at the checkout, then packing the shopping into bags and putting it back into the trolley. I felt that I excelled myself recently when I managed to avoid waking up our son during this process a few weeks ago, especially as I managed to get some cherry ice cream out from the back of a freezer without him so much as doing a little wriggle.

Despite realising how difficult it was to take a picture of my son while carrying him in the sling, I still gave it another go...

Despite realising how difficult it was to take a picture of my son while carrying him in the sling, I still gave it another go…

Despite living near a village called Sling and being a big fan of baby wearing, I have to confess that we bought a buggy (a.k.a. stroller) a few months ago. It felt a bit weird when I first took my son round a shop in it. I felt like I was doing something wrong, it was like I had decided not to get out of the car and drive it round the store. If you’re from the local store in question, please don’t worry; I reckon I’d struggle to get our not particularly big Skoda through your front doors and I definitely couldn’t drive it round the the aisles.

My wife and I waited until our son was about six months old before getting a buggy, and I think that this surprised some people. We didn’t feel the need of a buggy at the time and now generally use the buggy once or twice a week. I had thought that maybe I’ll send up doing a post ‘shopping with our son in a stroller’ a few months down the line, but I generally prefer the word ‘buggy’ to stroller and think that ‘shopping with our son in a sling’ sounds a bit more punchy.

In fact, I think that ‘shopping with our song in a sling’ sounds like it could be a line from some sort of parenthood-inspired rap. I just need to come up with more than one line now. Rapping may not be something that’s particularly associated with rural North Wales or my native Scotland, but I’m aware of several Welsh language rappers and rap groups that have come from very near to where we live. In addition, I recently watched a documentary about a Scottish rap duo called The Great Hip-hop Hoax in which two Scottish rappers respond to being ridiculed from rapping and sounding Scottish by pretending to be American in order to get a record deal. I wonder if I could get signed up by a major label if I put on an American accent and penned a few more lyrics about going shopping with our son in a sling…

You may not be able to tell from this photo, but our son was smiling just as much as the crocodile on the cereal box in the trolley.

You may not be able to tell from this photo, but our son was smiling just as much as the crocodile on the cereal box in the trolley.

If you were to do a rap about being a parent, what would it’s title be? Have you discovered any unexpected activities that have allowed you to bond with your children? 

Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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It’s International Babywearing Week, so we went to Sling with our son in a sling

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It’s International Baby Wearing Week, so we went to Sling

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I recently discovered that it is now International Baby Wearing Week, which runs from 7-13th October this year. As we’re both keen on wearing slings, my wife and I decided to go on a little excursion last weekend to a town called Sling that happens to be a mere ten minute drive away from where we live in North Wales. It may not be renowned as the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch that is only a few minutes further away on the island of Anglesey and certainly doesn’t attract bus loads of tourists who queue up to have their picture taken next to the sign on the platform of its small railway station, but we ventured to Sling ourselves to take photos of our son in his sling next to the solitary sign in the village bearing the name Sling. My wife has now also done blog post about Sling and slings at her blog Mindful Mam.

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As it happens, my wife and I were able to put him in a different sling for our photos as we have quite a few. Some of these we have bought from eBay and we have bought others new over the web. It’s been great to be able to try out slings that we’ve been lent by friends before deciding to buy, and my wife has been to a sling library in Colwyn Bay. For my part, I am a proud member of the UK Sling Dads group on Facebook and have enjoyed carrying our son in a variety of different carriers ever since he was a few weeks old. It used to be that he’d go to sleep almost instantly when we popped him into a carrier, opened the front door and walked only a few footsteps.

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I’ve always loved the way our son, who is almost six months old, is able to look around when he’s in the sling and also feels close by. It’d feel odd to me just pushing him about in a buggy and not being able to look at him. I’d miss not being able to make the silly faces at him for a start. I also feel that carrying our son in a sling has also helped to create a stronger father-son bond. It was really cute when he was a few days old and would just go to sleep on people and it still is when he gently nods off while he’s in one of his slings when we’re carrying him. I have, however, learnt that it’s often a good idea to put the sling on before a coat as it can be a challenge coming back home with him asleep and trying to take my coat off without waking him up. In fact, it’s kind of like playing the kids’ game Buckaroo.

On a recent trip to France that I have mentioned in a previous blog post entitled Our First Family Holiday, we didn’t see many other people carrying their kids in slings. In fact, I think that we only saw three and one of those was in a shop that sold eco baby products such as slings. This started me wondering what attitudes towards sling wearing were like in different countries round the world, and I’ve been able to discuss this with fellow members of the great Multicultural Kid Blogs group on Facebook. Here are some of the insights that fellow bloggers provided:

  • Stephen Greene (Head of the Heard) told me that slings and other baby carriers are very practical in Brazil as the condition of pavements in certain areas means that using a buggy is more or less impossible.
  • Kim Siegal (Mama Mzungu) has done a great blog post about the impracticality of using a normal buggy if you live in Kenya and also talked about how wearing a baby in a sling on one’s front as opposed to one’s back can result in strange looks from locals.
  • Sandra Amorin (BXL Sprout) observed that carrying babies in slings in Belgium is a bit of a middle class thing, also adding that slings were not very common at all in Portugal and that carrying a baby in one can be something about which passers-by comment out of inquisitiveness.
  • Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki (Maroc Mama) contrastingly pointed out that it is very common to see babies being carried in slings in Morocco and that strollers are a rarity.
  • Annabelle Humanes (Piri Piri Lexicon) backed up my initial impression that slings are a bit of a rarity in France and told of how a male relative had to put up with quite a few judgmental remarks when carrying his daughter in a sling.
  • Sarah-Jane Begonja (Chasing the Donkey) went as far as saying that she had never seen anyone carrying a baby in a sling in Croatia and received strange looks when doing so herself, adding that there seems to be a bit of a national obsession with fancy prams.
  • Souad Guex (Babelkid) used to run a babywearing consultancy and blogged about sling wearing while doing so. For Souad, who became the first trained babywearing consultant in the UK, babywearing is ‘the second most important parenting tool after breastfeeding’.

One thing that I’ve noticed here in the UK is that whilst I have seen other men also wearing their kids in slings, there aren’t all that many. Nevertheless, when my wife went to our village supermarket the man behind the till started talking about how he and his wife also carried their baby in a sling and thought that it was great. I remember feeling slightly self-conscious the first time that I went out on my own with my son in a baby carrier, mainly because I’d never seen any men carrying a baby in a sling in our village before. When my wife and I were at a music festival (at which our son was wearing his very cute looking ear protectors) I noticed a few people smiling and pointing as I walked around with our son in a sling. At the time, I couldn’t work out whether it was because he looked cute with his ear protectors on or because they thought I looked silly. It felt a bit weird in some ways, but this was probably because I’m kind of shy more than anything else.

As the weeks go by, I wonder how many slings and baby carriers we will ultimately accumulate. As it happens, my wife said that a new sling that she’d seen on the internet (a sort of woven wrap that she will be able use to make both a wrap and a ring sling or a bag) is what she would really like for her birthday this month. As it happens the sling that she has her heart set on is a second hand sling that is in excellent condition, which may mean that I’m able to successfully participate in the ‘October: Buy Nothing New Month’ initiative that Ute Limacher-Riebold recently described in a post on her blog Expat Since Birth. As to when we’ll stop getting new baby carriers, it’ll probably be when we discover one that can be described as the….

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What did you think of this article? What is your view on baby carrying and slings? I’d love to hear your views, so please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin.

I have linked this post up with the Something for the Weekend blog post linky run by parent bloggers Sarah Miles (The Voice of Sarah Miles) and Tom Briggs (Diary of the Dad).

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