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Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 1:00 a.m.

Carriers can soothe baby, and parents’ sanity

I love baby carriers. I’m not exaggerating when I say they have saved my sanity.
I no longer have a baby, but a 3?1/2-year-old girl.
A girl who woke up on the wrong side of the bed recently. And stayed there. All day.
By early afternoon, both of us had cried a few times.
I declared we were going on a walk. She, of course, refused. That was her job for the day, contradicting every thing I said.
I managed to wrestle her into the car seat and I drove us to Narbeck Wetland in Everett. It’s close by, flat and I figured she’d enjoy the marsh. She likes swamps — several of her favorite books feature swamps.
When I arrived at Narbeck, I discovered she’d fallen asleep in the car seat.
Well, hell. She doesn’t normally nap anymore but clearly she needed it. If I went home and tried to transfer her to bed, I knew from experience she’d wake up crankier than ever.
And if I was confined to a car while she napped, I’d be crankier than ever. I was planning a walk. It was sunny in February. I was going to have a walk.
Happily, when we left the house, I’d thought to grab the Ergo, a soft baby carrier that lets me easily wear her on my back.
Hazel is small for her age and weighs a bit less than 30 pounds. That’s a light load to carry in exchange for a walk in the sun.
I pulled her out of the car seat. She woke up just long enough to stand for a moment before I swung her onto my back.
I secured her in the Ergo, and pulled up the handy sleeping hood to hold her head stable. I walked the loop 2?1/2 times before she woke up.
When she woke up, she was in a much better mood. And so was I.
We walked through the “swamp.” She wanted to stay on my back, so I left her there. We looked for moose. She thinks moose belong in swamps, and I can’t fault her logic.
She told me that moose eat moose moss in the water. We did not find any moose, but we did see some geese and ducks.
When we got back to the car, she went in the car seat without complaint. We got home and while the rest of the day was far from perfect, we had several very enjoyable hours. The reset of the walk did us both good.
If you’re someone who loves the outdoors, having a baby can be daunting. Babies threaten your sanity. All that lost sleep. All the life changes.
If. on top of that, you’re not getting your necessary dose of fresh air, you’re going to be sad.
The carrier saved my sanity by letting me do the things I love.
I’ve backpacked on Rainier with Hazel. I’ve hiked countless miles with her. We’ve taken simple walks around the block, and I’ve gotten chores done in the garden.
And it’s great for Hazel too. Going outdoors always cheers her up. When she was first teething — before I knew what was going on — my husband and I went for a walk with her at Japanese Gulch.
She spent the whole time with her neck craned back, staring up at the trees and — most importantly — not crying.
That is how, conveniently, we got the first glimpse of the teeth that were making us all miserable. She was smiling so much it was easy to see the tiny swollen spots on her gums.
So, if you have a baby or are going to have one, get a baby carrier. Not a backpack. Those are awesome for some uses, but what you really want is a soft carrier you can just toss in your diaper bag or car and always have it with you.
You want something that will cuddle your baby (or 3-year-old) close, soothing the both of you.
And if you wear it all the time, your baby will be comforted by it. And they’ll sleep in it.
And by the time you have a stubborn-as-her-father (or mother) toddler, you’ll be able to put them on your back rather than on the curb with a “FREE” sign.
Jessi Loerch: 425-339-3046; jloerch@heraldnet.com; www.heraldnet.com/explorenw.
Baby carrier options
There are a gazillion baby carrier options out there. My favorites are the soft-structured carriers.
If I were to do it again, I’d consider buying a Boba. I’ve never used one, but they are higher in the back and have foot straps that support older kids’ feet.
Other people swear by woven wraps. They have a larger learning curve but are very versatile, not to mention beautiful.
I wrote a while back about baby carrier options for outdoor activities. You can read that at bit.ly/1mPtAGg.
Story tags » Parenting

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