I remember going to see a babywearing consultant when I was pregnant, asking specifically for slings for a baby up to 6 months. My plan was to carry until bubs was ready to go in a lightweight stroller, then make the switch.
Yeah, that didn't happen.
When Eleanor made her entrance into the world, we tried and failed to use the Moby stretchy wrap we'd been recommended. I just couldn't get the knack of getting her in it, although I'm determined to give it another go next time round after friends have raved about them. We then rented an infant Connecta for a bit before buying a Bondolino. I loved that Bondolino. So did Eleanor. For front carrying, it was brilliant. I got addicted to the lovely, snuggly closeness, and I used the carrier almost daily until she was 1, then fairly regularly until she was 18 months.
But by then front carry was hard work, and I just couldn't get the hang of getting her on my back on my own. Reluctantly I started using the pushchair more and more, until the carrier only came out once in a blue moon. By the time Eleanor was 2, I thought my babywearing days were over.
Then came a dilemma – by this time, Eleanor could walk small journeys, which meant she resisted the pushchair. But while she was happy to walk to nearby places like the church where her playgroup is based, when home time came around she'd be too tired to walk and would ask to be carried. I experimented with a hip seat, but as we live up a hill I found it dug into my hip. I didn't want to cart the pushchair around just for the return journey, so we looked into toddler carriers, hoping I'd figure out the back carry more easily with them.
I asked Twitter - y'know, the foolproof way of garnering parenting advice - and was recommended a Toddler Connecta, so I tracked down one in the fabulous Zoology print. I soon worked out how to get her on my back solo, although it is still tricky and I need to sit down to do it. I instantly felt how much more supportive it was than the Bondolino – although that carrier was great when a baby was in it, carrying a toddler felt very heavy! However, the Toddler Connecta has a wide enough base to support the little one from knee to knee, which creates less drag on your back and shoulders.
I love the Toddler Connecta now. I love that I can get it on independently, I love that I can wrap it up and shove it in my bag so that I can whip it out for the homeward leg of our journeys, and I love the closeness. I'd missed it so much, and while back carry is very different to front carry, it's still lovely to feel Eleanor's tummy resting against my back, and when she sleepily lays her head on my shoulders it melts my heart!
I get quite a bit of attention when we're using the carrier, but I've had surprisingly few negative comments. Babywearing at all is so unusual in our culture, I thought toddlerwearing was sure to be met with disapproval, but most people are just very interested in it. Once I was walking along the street and saw an older man watching us. "There's someone following you!" he said. Oh, here we go, I thought, and cheerily responded, "yes, very closely!" The man smiled, and to my surprise he said, "She loves it, doesn't she?" It made me smile that he recognised that this was something that made my daughter happy.
And it does make her happy. She loves going on Mummy's back – given the option, it's the mode of transport she usually opts for. And it makes me happy to have her close, to hear her chattering away instead of leaning over a pushchair saying, "what? I didn't hear that." I don't know how long I'll keep using the carrier, but I'm so glad that, thanks to the Toddler Connecta, my babywearing (or toddlerwearing) days aren't over yet!
Bec blogs at Growing a Girl Against the Grain and Tweets as @becb1984 - please do stop by and show her some love!