Plot a course through the great carrier conundrum
Since Tom's birth 10 months ago, we have been through an array of baby carriers. The search for the right one has consumed considerable time and energy. If you are mulling over this same problem, let me save you some drama and expense.
We started with a sling. Other people swear by them, but we had limited success. It was June. The heat and humidity were high, and Tom lay scrunched up inside, hot and red-faced. I worried he was dehydrating.
Hong Kong isn't an easy place to navigate with a push chair; the streets are crowded and often narrow and bumpy. There are also a lot of steps to negotiate, so it's often easier to carry your offspring.
Many mums I know love their slings, but the weather just wasn't working with us on that one.
We then moved on to the new mum's carrier of choice: the Baby Bjorn. You start off by facing the baby inwards to keep his head supported. As soon as he can hold his head up, you can face him outwards. Tom's always had a preference for facing out; I think he likes to see the world. Until six months old, he was a copious puker, so we covered the front with towelling to mop up the mess.
There's a reason this carrier is popular. When your baby's light, it's great - just strap her to your front and off you go.
My husband loved taking Tom to the park in the Baby Bjorn. He'd get all sorts admiring comments, that is, until they brushed their hand against some baby vomit.
But as the little one grows, the Baby Bjorn becomes less comfortable. This brings me to the next carrier - the Ergobaby. Commonly called the Ergo, this carrier straps the baby to your front or back and, as the name suggests, is ergonomic and extremely comfortable. I loved it but Tom didn't. Why? Because it faced him inwards. We had a battle of wills for a whole month. It was a battle worth having because now he'll sit in it for a semi-reasonable amount of time before complaining. But its real worth comes in the fact that he'll sleep in it. So if I want to go out at nap times, it works a treat.
As I like to get out a lot, I find nap times incredibly limiting. The Ergo has given me freedom - especially at weekends, when we often want to go out for the day as a family. We also like to take Tom with us on hikes. My husband is a mountaineer and is used to carrying heavy backpacks. So it's a natural progression to load him up like a pack mule, including Tom on his back.
Later, a friend gave me her old baby backpack, the Cross Country from Little Life. It is without a doubt the best thing anyone has given us for Tom. He delights in the great vantage point; when he's on our backs, the world really is his oyster. Our push chair gets little use these days because he's loaded up in the Cross Country for the park, playgroups, shopping and - last but not least - hiking. When we hike, we take the Ergo, too, and switch him to that for his nap.
All this paraphernalia does add up - sling, Baby Bjorn, Ergo and Cross Country. Four items in 10 months. Perhaps I should quit my day job and go into baby retail.