Browsing Tag



Walking Toddlers – Nurturing curiosity VS getting somewhere

5 June, 2013

We were walking home from the bus stop, only a 100 metre walk but I was already whipping out the “Should we march? Skip? Jump?” in order to cajole my two year old tot  along. After a bit of very slow marching, skipping and jumping she suggested “Let’s breakdance!” and proceeded to bust out an almost perfect Babyfreeze – that classic head-on-floor-pose youngsters do whenst having some hip-hoppity merriment.  I was agape, impressed with her street cred (Crumbs! She’ll be tagging the playground next!) “Who taught you that, Ramona?!”-expecting to hear the name of one of our cool chums- Ramona replied “Nana.”

Breakdancing the rest of the way home, with this one single freeze, was, er, quite slow.

I’ve always been fairly happy with our “walks”- although they are less “one foot in front of the other” and more “OMG check out this cigarette butt! And let’s run up these steps! And swing this gate! And poke this crack! And stare at this dog poo for yonks! Dude, seriously LOOK AT IT!!!” We also always sniff every flower, trace every aeroplane trail and admire every shop window.

(The window of the betting shop at the end of the road, the one next to the drug-dealing pasty shop, has the BEST displays full of pictures of cartoony people and animals. So good are they that each character gets their own song, on Ramona’s insistence. If you have a local Coral you might recognise the likes of DJ Bob who likes corn on the cob and Leprechaun Bill who loves to dance on the window sill. We spend a long time admiring these folk on our way to the post box, warbling away down on the corner with the crackheads.)

We haven’t ever gotten anywhere fast, but I have been okay with that. In fact, for Ramona’s whole walking life I have cherished these singing, skippy, pokey dawdles. I have very purposefully chosen to help Ramona see that the journey is as important as the destination. In fact, my mum (the aforementioned break dancing Nana) on one such walk to the bus praised my patience and attitude. I explained that I always intentionally allow an extra half an hour to get to places, so that we can prioritise curiosity and explore our surroundings at Ramona’s pace. If we needed to go somewhere quickly we used a sling or a buggy happily.

Helping toddlers walk

This shot is nicer than the one outside the betting shop

But now… now I would like to be able to get to places. The shift is probably to do with having baby Juno on my front in a wrap and feeling like it would be easier to hold Ramona’s hand than push a buggy or wrap her on my back too. I also feel like she is reaching an age where it is good and appropriate for her to walk most places, both for her physical needs and autonomy. I really love the philosophy of Montessori who, amongst other things, was a firm believer in getting kids walking everywhere as soon as they are able.

Ramona IS able to walk everywhere, it would just take us one billion years to get anywhere.

So although I am not a fan of adults arbitrarily deciding something needs to change and then making children do something (parents do this alot and I think it is a bit unfair and quite possibly impacts the trust relationship, don’t you think?) I feel I need to help Ramona WALK- one foot in front of the other styles. And I want to do it without bribing or rewarding (I don’t think these are good for kids) and with as little cajoling/skipping/marching/breakdancing as possible. And also, high hopes I know, while still keeping the philosophy of curiosity and journeying alive.Keep your curiosity sacred

I am wondering if having two different labels for our walks might work – explaining to Ramona before we set out that this is an “A-B walk” and that we just need to get there, or this is a “Dawdle walk” and we can take as many curiosity stops as we want.
Have you found a way to walk with your toddler without standing outside betting shops singing for too long? Have you read of any creative solutions to this? Would love to hear your sugestions. I will keep you posted on our two types of walk experiment…

Attachment parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding

Shakeaway: breast milk to go

7 September, 2011

Once when Ramona was around 2 months I was walking along our road carrying her in the sling.  Some boys spotted me from their perch up in a block of flats and started hurling down meanness, although all I could really make out was the word “BREASTFEEDING!!!” screamed in a kind of offensive way. (The fact that this is a diss is worth a whole politics-of breastfeeding-rant in itself.) I was utterly mortified! “They must think I am breastfeeding her while I am walking along!” I put my head down and blushed to match my hair, feeling like my little freckly 9 year old self who got bullied in the playground. Then when I got to the end of the road I almost stopped in my tracks; what a bloody good idea. Of course I could breastfeed her in the sling!

The next time I was walking along and Ramona began her hungry headbutting I unhooked my bra and shuffled her around a bit;  she latched on immediately. That day a whole new sphere of stress free parenting opened up.

No more panick stations as I try and find a suitable place to feed her- with her nursing in the sling we can be wandering around the supermarket, a Parisian flea market or an  art gallery and no one is none the wiser. Well. Apart from the growling.

No more missing the train because I had to get a feed in before leaving the house. She just snacks on the walk up.

I feel it has helped build her security as she knows the instant she has a need it will be met, wherever we are – no crying involved. I love that science shows that meeting baby’s need quickly is vital to their development and nurtures things like their empathy cells. (Read more about that in my fave parenting book- it is the shizzle.)

If I ever want her to start a nap quickly (say because I have a meeting that it would be handy for her to sleep through) I just feed her off to sleep in the sling on the way. It often sends her to sleep within moments.

Around the three  month mark Ramona got way too distracted by goings on to breastfeed in public.Then she’d get all hungry and mad. However feeding in the sling helps her feel still involved somehow, avoiding what felt like miniture nursing strikes.

Perhaps best for those early days though was for the occasions when Ramona was incolsolable. They didn’t happen much but sometimes she wouldn’t feed or sleep even though I knew she was hungry and tired. As soon as I learnt to double them up she would settle really quickly. It was as if she needed movement to feed, or perhaps she wanted to feed upright.

I only wish I could have discovered it sooner.

So to those lads on the estate I will be forever indebted, for Ramona’s food on the hoof has made my life as a mother a lot easier. So much easier I would rank it in my top five mothering activities (I know, I’m a total expert after nine whole months.) I should really make those badasses some breast milk ice cream as a grateful treat.

In case your baby wants shakeaways…TIPS:

Feeding in a mei tai, ring sling or wrap is simple. Just tie it so their mouth is about level, although you may have to use your hand to hold either their head or your breast in place as they feed.

Where easy clothes, a low sccop or v-neck so you aren’t trying to yank up your top between your tummies.

Practice at home so you can get the hang of it.

Flick the end of the wrap over the top if you feel you have too much on show.

Beware of strangers coming in for a peek of your baby’s smile only to get that smile, dripping with milk, AND an eyeful of squirting nipple.