I've been passionate about babywearing since reading The Continuum Concept by Jean Leidloff when I was pregnant and from four days old (when we first left the house; to do some charity shopping and go for an all-day vegetarian breakfast with Nozy) Sunnyboy was carried in slings and baby-carriers.
He was walking independently at 11 months and by 15 months he was ready to be walking out and about in the streets (farther than the corner shop or to visit neighbours) and got his first pair of shoes. Prior to that, outside in the garden or at the park, he went barefoot (or wore soft slippers or just socks) and still does for most of the year, but for walking in the streets and for the winter he needed some shoes. Out of curiosity at 13 months I had taken him to get his feet measured at Clarks. I'd already done quite a bit of research on shoes for babies and told the assistant that I was interested in getting his feet measured but probably wouldn't buy any shoes for another few weeks. She obviously thought I was a bit daft and informed me that he needed shoes "to help him walk and help his feet grow". That statement, and the research I'd done, convinced me that I wouldn't be trusting the shoe industry to give me advice on children's footwear. I decided he was still too young to need shoes so didn't buy any until he was nearly 15 months.
Then at 15 months, with his new shoes and shopping bag, Sunnyboy started walking as far as he wanted to to different places locally and over the next few months he began walking to work and other places regularly, while for other journeys and long distances we continued to use slings. We were still babywearing on a daily basis until Sunnyboy was over 2 years old and then gradually he needed carrying less often, and eventually was walking more places than he was carried.
Now at 3 1/4 years Sunnyboy is getting so big he unlocks the door and switches off the light before we leave the house, and he can walk for miles (I don't drive so we walk everywhere or occasionally take the bus). I always take the hip sling out with me still but Sunnyboy rarely needs a carry much more than about once a week, and then only for a short while. When he was a young baby I loved that babywearing meant Sunnyboy had constant human contact and was able to feel my warmth, breathing and heartbeat (preventing him from being scared or over-stimulated by the noises and activity in the environment around him), and that by being carried he was always there at eye-level during everyday interactions and conversations and was able to see the world from an adults height. I've realised that another important benefit of babywearing was that from birth Sunnyboy also experienced walking through the movement of his mother, and walking long distances is now both natural and enjoyable for him.
He still takes off his shoes as often as he can and is happiest barefoot.
See more Monday Memories at Planet M Files