Thursday, 1 November 2012

Carrying baby

We all need a papoose in life!

One of the most troublesome aspects of young children is their inability to do much in the way of moving. Yes, they might be able to crawl a bit, they may even be able to walk a little but, for the first few years at least, you can’t really go anywhere and expect them to keep up. 

And so we bought a push chair for young Marty, then we bought another, and then another. I questioned my wife as to why we only seemed to have one child yet owned a pram for every day of the week, and the answer turned out to be rather long and tortuous.

Firstly we had a pram that allowed Marty to lie down or sit up as the feeling took him. This wonder pram also came with three huge wheels which allowed us to go ‘off-road’ during the morning walks with the dog. Sadly, it was also just a little too big to fit into the car boot and was a bit of a nightmare to dismantle. So we bought a lighter, smaller, easier to pack away pram for shopping trips and general wanderings around the town.

This was all well and good but then spring arrived and car-boot sale season began. Within weeks we had filled the house with push chairs of every description, which were all apparently ‘bargains’ and offered something unique in the way of perambulation. Sadly, they all failed on one point. My main hobby is collecting wild mushrooms for which wandering woods is pretty much d’rigour and whilst we had a variety of prams that could handle muddy footpaths none of them were truly ‘off-road’. How were we going to go on a family mushroom hunt?

First off we tried one of those baby rucksacks. You know the kind, look just like an ordinary rucksack but instead of filling it with sandwiches and sleeping bags you can stuff a baby inside instead. They looked kind of cute but they put a hell of a strain on the old back. The problem was that Marty could lean back in it and, using the general laws of leverage, double his weight as and when the feeling took him. They were fine for about 10 minutes but any longer was agony.

So we tried a baby sling, or papoose. Our one was basically an enormous long sheet of soft, slightly elasticated, material that you wrapped around you. Initially it took me the best part of half an hour to wrap this thing around me and you could generally bet that within minutes Marty would be swaying round at about knee level whilst hanging on for dear life. 
This was all marvellous for comic effect and photo opportunities but next to useless as a form of transport. Fortunately, once you got the hang of them they proved to be brilliant.

Because they hold the baby very close to your body the weight is much easier to handle, there’re no hard bits to poke and prod you and they keep both you and baby snug and warm, in fact you effectively wander around in a permanent hug, which is all rather nice.
The only downside is that once Marty got taller I couldn’t put him in it in front of me as his head kept hitting my chin. You can arrange them so the kid is wrapped around your back but I needed at least one person to help me get him in and several to help me get him out. I dare say some people can manage it a bit more elegantly but I am not one of these elite few.

So for a while we were a bit buggered and me and the dog had to wander the woods alone. Then Leanne found a neat little thing on Ebay – an online car boot sale. It was a rucksack that you could put your child in but it was also a push chair! This sounded brilliant! We could heave Marty around on my back when we were hacking our way through the undergrowth and then push him along once we reached a footpath.

What we actually got was a “Mothercare Back Pack Carrier and Stroller”. Sadly they don’t seem to do them now but you can still find them on-line. Of course the problem with things that attempt two functions is that they tend to not be much good at either but I think this has managed quite well, although it’s a much better as a rucksack than it is as a pram - the wheels are too small, the whole thing tends to be a little too low to the ground and you tend to get a muddy bum if you convert a few times during wet weather.

On the plus side it’s very easy to convert from one to the other, possibly because when it’s a rucksack it looks as if you’re carrying a push chair on your back and when it’s a push chair it looks as if you’re wheeling along a rucksack.

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