My daughter and i first went camping when she was three months old. I love camping; being outdoors and under canvas is second nature for me. Festivals are a fantastic way to enjoy the summer months and with so many to choose from there really is something for everyone. Whether you are visiting for a day or a weekend, a good baby carrier is invaluable. It makes sense to pop a baby or child unable to walk for themselves into a sling but equally, older children who get tired, or who like to disappear into a crowd, can be better off nestled against their parents.
For pre-walkers, using a carrier has its obvious benefits but there are many reasons beyond the basic transport of the child.
You can keep your child close to you, which enables you to respond far faster to their early cues and so both you and your child are calmer as you can avoid getting to the point of screaming. Carrying your child above the crowd is far less imposing for him than travelling at knee height in a pram or buggy. Carrying can be hands free with the correct carrier, this allows you to carry all your gear around with you as well as being able to eat and care for other children. You can use those ubiquitous festival bogs with ease! No need to remove the child from the carrier or worry about leaving them outside. Parent-facing carriers reduce over stimulation. It is often misunderstood that children do not process information in the same way we do and a busy festival site can be very distressing for them. If you do fall over you have both your hands to break your fall and protect both you and your child, carrying in arms you would not be able to do this and prams could flip or roll away. You can cross almost any terrain and pass through smaller gaps with a carrier. Small toys, fiddle beads and comforters can be attached to carriers, saving you from picking up bits and pieces every five seconds.
“You can cross almost any terrain and pass through smaller gaps with a carrier”
For older more independent children there again are numerous benefits for you both. Nap times can be any time without you missing a thing. Carrying an over excited or over stimulated child can help them to settle and sleep. When they are being carried you know where they are, this can be very helpful when in a large crowd. Little legs get tired and carrying using a carrier spreads the weight for the care giver. Children can see more and interact with you easily. Some carriers pack up very small so no need to carry bulky items around with you. If you need to use the loo you can do this even in a back carry (use the toilet backwards if you need to sit). And lastly, you can use the carrier to carry items when your child is not in it.
Many festivals now have sling libraries on site for you to hire and get advice during your visit with your family but it is always recommended to check there will be one available before you leave! I have supported Tribal Hearts festival with my own library and found we became a life line for many families over the weekend who discovered that slings were a vital item in their festival tool kit. There are sling libraries available all over the country as well as postal libraries available through the year who are more than happy to support you and your family to find what works best for you. If you want more advice there are also sling consultants who you can hire to support your family in a focused session.
RESEARCH: Sling Libraries can be found on slingpages.co.uk.
FIND: Jodie online at jennibeansc.strikingly.com
ADVICE ON CHOOSING A CARRIER
- Recommendations from friends are lovely BUT we are all built differently and find different things comfortable! Do not assume it will fit you the same.
- Use the carrier for a period of time before investing. You cannot get a feel for a carrier or sling by just putting it on for a short period with a weighted doll or child.
- Try everything as what you think looks simple may not be and what looks complicated may work for you.
- A consultation with a sling consultant will help you especially if you are looking to back carry for the first time or carry multiple children.
- Consider your climate, this is important as some carriers use bulky inserts for young children.
- An ergonomic carrier will offer more comfort for your child as well as supporting them easily, where as some non-ergonomic carriers need tweaking and monitoring more (an ergonomic carrier supports the child’s knees, knee pit to knee pit as well as allowing the pelvis to tilt forward).
- Know your T.I.C.K.S these are the UK safety recommendations and will help you to ensure the child’s airways are protected at all times.
- If you want to world-face your child (also called forward facing) a busy festival may not be the time to do this especially if there happen to be animals. When the child is facing out they do not have the same reassurance from their care giver, they are unable to cut off from the incoming information, and animals can become distressed and confused by the double face looking at them.
- Be aware of your new shape and size, I have witnessed care givers wipe out everyone within a small proximity when using some of the more bulky, hard structured carriers.
- Consider yourself as well as the child! Your physiology matters too.
- Consider a carrying coat or cover for if it does rain. There are many specifically designed items available to support your family.
- You can use a simple back pack, bum bag or long hip bag to carry all you need.
- You may want to pin up long hair especially in a back carry.
Picture: Storchenwiege® BabyCarrier Aqua www.storchenwiege.co.uk