Proud Pack Pony: Why I will Keep Toddler Wearing!

I am a Proud Pack Pony. AND I WILL keep wearing Jaxon as long as I physically can or he wants to be carried. At 2.5 I’m convinced he won’t want to give up anytime soon.

This last week or so, Facebook has been raising my grumpy. This time it was a blood boiling moment (or maybe raised a few degrees). Well, that was yesterday evening. Last Saturday, we watched around 4.9 million people protest about Women’s Rights. Here we were with Loose Women choosing to bring down mums and judge them for their parenting choices. Why can’t build each other up?

To give you the context, on Loose Women that had been televised at lunchtime they had been discussing “Pack Pony Mums” – their Facebook post starting the discussion went like this:

THE RISE OF THE ‘PACK PONY’ MUMS!

More mums are now following the ‘toddler wearing’ trend by strapping their two, three and even four-year-olds to them with slings and not letting them walk by themselves.

Is this too extreme? Do we try and keep our children too dependent on us? What age should parents stop carry children, co-sleeping and bathing with them?

Although they hadn’t started it, the Daily Fail did that one, they carried it on and had to comment.

As you can imagine, I wasn’t the only one having an issue with this. If you regularly read here then you know I LOVE babywearing. I swear by it! Chris and I have both tried to take a Gentle/Attachment Parenting stance when it comes to looking after Jaxon. Now some bits don’t work for us (like cloth nappies) but other bits have stuck with us. And going forward as Jaxon grows we will try to continue the gentle parenting route.

Babywearing a Newborn

We have been babywearing pretty much since Jaxon got home from the hospital. I’d been reading about it on the internet and wanted to try it. I found this Hug-A-Bub carrier and when it arrived I tried it with the cuddly toys in the house to learn how to tie it properly. While I was recovering from my C-Section, Chris got the inaugural use of the carrier. He wasn’t going to let my recovery stop him trying it out. He was going to have all the fun for both of us.

This was around six days old. Chris had decided to let me have a lie in and was going to take Jaxon on an adventure. Okay, it was downstairs for breakfast but it was still an adventure. About quarter of an hour after I snapped this, Chris had got his waterproof on over the carrier so that Jaxon and he could go to the shop without getting wet as it was drizzling. When I did get up, the boys had, had breakfast and Chris was teaching Jaxon to code. I’m not entirely sure how much Jaxon was taking in as he may have been asleep but he was snuggled in and feeling safe. 

About six weeks later, my brother was getting married. We were going to take the buggy but due to the lack of space in the church we decided that Chris was going to wear Jaxon. Not only did Chris wear Jaxon during the ceremony, but when Chris did have to up to the pulpit to do the reading, he took Jaxon with him. I think I held my breath through the whole reading just in case Jaxon woke up or got upset. In actual fact I had nothing to worry about he made a little noise and had a wiggle but then settled and stayed asleep and snuggled against Daddy.

Toddler Wearing

Through Jaxon’s life so far we’ve always carried in some degree. Once he was getting too big and fidgety for the Hug-A-Bub we switched it a Connecta. Although I did try a woven wrap, we have always preferred the SSC (soft strutured carriers) and now use a Boba 4G. Now Jaxon is two and a half and still loves to be carried. We are still using the Boba 4G but I am thinking we may need to invest in a toddler carrier than will take him as he gets a bit heavier. He loves being able to sit on someone’s shoulders now but he’s getting too heavy for me to be able to do that as much but we’ll see – I might get stronger! I can still carry him on my back so that’s fine. From this, position on my back he can often see what I can see from my eye level so when it comes to pointing out things to him then he can see too. Sometime it’s him pointing things out to me now too.

Since getting having to try and fit a buggy on top of all the holiday packing and camping gear that we have needed, we have become more reliant on the carrier due to the tiny amount of space it takes up in comparison. Between Chris, Our Sidekick and I, we can take it in turns to carry Jaxon when needed. In the picture below, this was taken at Hogarth Falls and a lot of it would have been inaccessible with a buggy. At this point, Jaxon had just turned one and wasn’t walking without a lot of assistance. The next image below it is the same trip. On that day we climbed one of the highest hills near the village we were staying in and in fact, it’s high enough to be classed as a small mountain. We took turns to carry Jaxon and without the carrier, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this.

Mummy and Jaxon baby wearing - pack pony exhibit one

Daddy baby wearing! - pack pony daddy exhibit two

The photo below was taken when we were away for the weekend in September. With three adults and a toddler in Renault Zoe, getting the buggy in as well wasn’t going to happen. So again the carrier came along with us in it’s place. We were able to explore Norwich on a busy Sunday afternoon with Jaxon at shoulder level so he could see the world around him again. Maybe I do resemble a pack pony with Jaxon on my back and then have my backpack on my front but it meant he could see things, when I pointed things out he could see them

Toddler Wearing in Norwich - pack pony exhibit three

Toddler Wearing - October 2016 - pack pony exhibit four

Even though this was the end of October, it was unseasonably warm that day and we managed to go to the postbox without needing our jumpers. This was twenty-seven months.

Daddy Toddler Wearing at the Coliseum - pack pony exhibit five

As you can see, we’re still carrying at 30 months. This was taken at the Coliseum in Rome. It’s totally up to each parent what they do but we watched so many other parents struggle with their buggies over the cobblestones around the Coliseum and Palatino. The carrier could fold down small enough to fit in our hand luggage and then we could use it when we needed it.

So, as a Proud Pack Pony. Why did I get upset?

A few weeks back, Loose Women discussed how new mums can feel isolated and lonely once the crazy of a newborn baby has died down. I had gone from working a full time busy office job to being at home with a newborn baby. I tried various baby groups but I never felt quite like I fitted in. One group was lots of mums who had met in their antenatal classes so they already knew one another. In one group, Jaxon was the youngest and we’d spend most of the session alone. On a number of occasions, we’d get to group and Jaxon would have a feed, followed by a sleep. It was then pointless me going out to a group when he could sleep on me in a post feed daze at home (and at least I had the TV for company!).

Finding my People

I found the local Sling Library and “found my people” so to speak. These lovely ladies (and a couple of gents) were so amazing at encouraging me and other parents with baby wearing. They would take the time to answer my silly questions and the not so silly ones too. In the end I became a volunteer for the library so helped other parents when they came along with questions. So Loose Women have once again mummy shamed on national television. So maybe this makes me a pack pony but if Jaxon is happy and healthy then that is what is most important. Pack Pony Mums Unite!

I am generally fed up of the Mummy Shaming that goes on, whether it’s on Facebook or television.

If you want to babywear then do it.

If you want to use a buggy then do it.

If you want to breastfeed, then do it.

If you want to bottle feed then do it.

If the last few days has proved anything we need to stick together more than anything. We need to lift and encourage each other not drag each other down.

If you’d like some facts rather than opinions, there are studies all over the place. Here are a couple: La Leche League, Babywearing International and Natural Child Project. There is also this post by Dr Rosie Knowles on FB that my Sling Library friend shared. Dr Rosie is a Mum, GP and author. She’s on a mission improving attachment and wellbeing for families through carrying in arms or slings. (This image below is from her FB page).

I wasn’t the only Mum who was took to writing about it. You can see Abi’s Open Letter to the production team here.

21 Amazing Babywearing Benefits by Mom Loves Best

Do you babywear? Do you not babywear? Have you wanted to try but not been able to find support local to you? Anyway, I’d love to hear your stories. Please share. 

Other responses you might like to read:

An Open Letter to the Loose Women Production Team by Abi at Something About Baby

Babywearing Myths Busted by Nicola aka Mrs Lightly at All Things Spliced

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