Having 2 small boys means we have regular viewings of Fireman Sam in our house, so much so that when James (1) gets upset in the car singing the theme tune soothes him (we know all the words).
It was no surprise then that we have regular “fires” in our hall that we have to put out with old toilet rolls as a hose. However over time the scenarios have changed and now Tom (4) wants to be rescued. This usually involves him shouting “rescue me mummy” then leaping off something high (he doesn’t have a normal sense of fear) – so far we’ve managed to catch him every time (it can be a bit close).
Over the last few weeks he has wanted to be close to us and has been testing the “rescue me” with really small things like getting into our bed (he pretends to fall out when getting in – it’s not that high!) or getting off the sofa, he wants us to reach out and grab him then hold him tight.
I think this may be a sign of something much bigger going on in his head, he wants to be with us but can’t really express that, maybe he feels that we have rescued him in some way and we will have our happy ending at the end of the story / bed time. He is testing us over the little things before he can trust us with big things like what scares him in the night. (Or he may just think this is a great game).
We have found the strangest of games bring out different emotions in him, hide and seek is another favourite where he will hide and count and if we don’t find him within a few seconds of the count being over he makes noises so we’ll find him quicker, he is desperate to be found and the joy on his face each time we find him is beautiful.
One of the best bits in our play time together is when we “get it right”. What “right” is I do not know, but I think it’s when he feels safe to express having fun, the excitement on his face and the hug I get is great.
Over the last few months we have learnt so much about the boys and what games they like and how to best support them in play, I love sitting on the floor amongst the mess of toys exploring things together, part of me doesn’t want them to grow up and not need help with pretend picnics and making planes out of Duplo!
We got our youngest boy (James) when he was 10 months old. He came to us a very quiet little boy who was just starting to sit up and engage in the world around him. He wasn’t used to lots of carrying having spent most of his time in the buggy (he’s a big boy so fully understand why FC did this).
We looked into ways of building a bond with our baby which still allowed us the freedom to play with his elder brother who arrived at the same time (Tom, then 3). We had a buggy but found this was difficult to get into our local park and I wasn’t spending anytime with James.
Not long after the boys arrived we started a round of long train rides for hospital appointments with James. These would be impossible with a buggy and I found the conventional rucksack baby carriers uncomfortable as I’m not that big. A friend lent me her soft structure sling (Boba 3G), I was apprehensive, I am quite a small build and at the time he weighed around 11kg. It was fantastic. I was able to negotiate the trains and buses with ease, I kept him on my front to enable me to sit with him on me for short trips. He loved it. He even slept in it while I was running from the bus to the train!
So I took the step of buying a sling. They are so expensive! The Boba my friend had is about £90, more than my buggy! Eventually I settled on an Ergo Original (about £70). I was slightly nervous about spending so much money but it has been worth it.
I carry James in it at least 8 times a week for the nursery run, I can put it on my self in less than 1 minute and run with another small child in tow (we’re always late). James loves snuggling in and I feel it has helped us bond when we’re out. I have taken him to the park in it to play football and go on the roundabout, even hung out the washing while using it. It has been amazing. The longest I’ve had him in it is about an hour, I would say that you do need reasonably good core strength to use it for that long.
I am still carrying him on my front facing me most of the time as he loves looking at me and I find it the easiest / quickest way to put it on. He now weighs over 12kg and I still find it comfortable (I’m only 50kg if that helps with the picture).
I feel that by having him close we have developed a strong bond, he loves snuggling in and gets excited when I get the sling out. I have carried Tom in it a few times as it holds up to 20kg (he’s 19kg) but can’t go further than 10 mins as he is heavy. It has been beneficial for Tom too as when he came to us he didn’t know how to be carried or how to hook his legs around and would just hang there, it was hard work to get him used to it and we have carried him quite a bit to help build a sense of security.
If you do have the opportunity then I would recommend a sling and the soft structure ones which carry toddlers are great. We feel they have helped with bonding and are very practical. In adoption we can miss out on the newborn close contact and I felt this replicated that as much as possible.
Most places have a sling library where you can hire them, unfortunately our town is too small and only has them a few times a year so were no use to us. As a side notE most buggies only hold 15kg so I can see I will be using it a lot more (on my back) over the next few years.
Here are a few websites I used when searching for a sling / baby carrier.
Here are some pictures of me and my 4 yr old using the slings. The picture at the top of the page is with my 1yr old but I though the 4yr old gives a clearer picture of their uses.
(Sorry about poor picture quality, they were too impatient to take more! Also first one done in a mirror on my phone, also hands on the back not necessary for support, I was trying to get into position and using a timer).
I found the Ergo easier to put on front and back by myself and I find it more comfortable. However I think the Boba’s with their extended back give more support for an older child as you can see in the picture (You can’t get a Boba 3G anymore, they’ve replaced them with Boba 4G).
Please note I have no affiliation nor have I received any incentive to write this from either Boba or Ergo. Prices are from Amazon.