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Monday, June 7, 2010

{Babywearing} Vacation Edition

I have wanted to write a babywearing post for a while now and after seeing the article "Incorporating the Art of Babywearing into Summer Travel Plans" over at Simple Organic, I figured I would elaborate on the ideas they presented and give some tips that have made babywearing our prefered way to be on the move as a family.

Our family's top 3 reasons to babywear on vacation:

1. Most limitations are removed and you can go and do alot more. While on a 7 day cruise with a 19 month old that visited 4 ports of call, we were not limited to riding elevators or to certain excursions. We did a 5 mile hike to some amazing falls in Jamaica, visited a "no strollers allowed" museum in Mexico and traveresed deep sand beaches with no problems. We have also enjoyed hiking on trails back in the US that would not be possible if we were limited to stroller-usage.

2. Better perspective-literally and cognitively. When an alert and curious child is allowed the chance to be on the same visual plane as the adult, communication (even if it is pre-verbal pointing, etc.) and discussion can occur. In situations where large groups of people congregate to see exhibits or performances (zoos, amusement parks, etc.), a kid in a stroller can't see much of anything and can't share the experience with adults standing two feet above them. Yes, most parents do pick their children up for the Disney parade or special elephant exhibit at the zoo, but we have found that the simple act of walking around a vacation spot (when a special event is not going on) can present special moments in themselves such as your child being able to share a colorful leaf that catches their eye or seeing scampering animals.

3. Ease of use.. For anyone who has had to remove a child from a stroller, collapse it, send it through the x-ray machine at the airport while balancing themself to remove their shoes, let me say that babywearing can make the experience alot easier. Beyond not needing to check additional baggage, we found that amusement parks can be enjoyed more "swiftly" by not needing to park your stoller, take out your child, struggle to keep mobile children contained while in line and then repeat the process in reverse after the ride is over. For us, mei tais and buckle carriers (our favorites are the Bamberoo and Ergo!) are super easy to get off and on, so we simply lifted our son out, went on the ride and fastened him back in after riding. For times during his nap time, he stayed in a front carry and napped through rides, eliminating the afternoon crankiness that can occur when kiddos get off schedule. While cruising, he slept in a ring sling (in his PJ's!) while we enjoyed the after-bedtime shows.

{10 weeks, Smoky Mountain National Park}

3 tips to make babywearing on vacation easier:

1. Figure out what works for you and your situation. Do you have an infant or a toddler? Are you traveling by yourself or with another person? Where are you going and what are your needs? Research what might be best for you, see carrier reviews and purchase quality used carriers at great prices through places like

2. Know your limitations. I love using a ring sling in summer because of its coolness in hot weather, easy of use, and how it looks (ha!) but I accept that I cannot wear a toddler in a ring sling for an extended period of time. I also know that I cannot hike a very strenuous two hour climb with a toddler by myself-the hike has to be split between two parents. If you are new to babywearing and want to use babywearing for an upcoming vacation that will require all day wearing, start off first with a 30 minute walk then move up to a half-day outing to a local park.

3. Give yourself a break and your child a chance to explore. I have been very involved in babywearing communities for almost three years now (both online and locally.) I have met moms that feel like they need to wear their child all the time because they have fears of allowing their child to explore new situations/environments. While babywearing does help with both parents and a child's fear of coming into new experiences, allowing your child to get down and experience nature (and I even venture to say some germs!), large groups of people and other adventures can be great learning experiences. I have a child that loves to run away and my frustration (and fear) over experiences that we have had because of his running away can tempt me to limit his time on his own two feet while in public. However, he needs to learn not to run away and he can't practice the skills of listening and staying within an appropriate distance while strapped to my back. While I may not choose an over-busy street fair for this learning experience, in certain situations (that allow for minimal escape routes!), he and I are learning how to stay together, but not attached, in public.

{2.5 years old, Smoky Mountain National Park, same trail/stream as above!}


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