Winter babywearing

I know this is an issue because people ask about it all the time!  How do you ‘wear’ a baby in a sling in winter without them or you getting cold and/or wet?Baby Sling Beach

I don’t have a child in a sling anymore, but there were a number of things that I did when my LO’s were still being worn.

The most important thing to remember is how hot both mother and baby get when babywearing.  Just this act alone can keep you much warmer than you would normally be.  If that is not enough, however, then I have some tips.

Firstly, if it was cold and the baby was asleep I would wrap a long woolly cardigan around both of us, front or back.  With the baby on the back I admit I did look like I had an odd humped back, but a thick skin is required for many of the parenting decisions I have made so I didn’t mind!  The cardigan I had was a very loose knit so air continued to circulate but it kept us warm.

If the baby was on my front I would do the same and button the cardigan up to just underneath their head.

I chose this because I couldn’t afford one of those special babywearing coats, but if you are in the mood to splash some cash then there are a few options out there.

The Mamajacket coat, thing.

The ergo baby papoose coat

The MaM coat

Warning: these coats could well be featured on ‘What not to wear’ if you get my drift!

An alternative to the coats above is the Aiska babywearing poncho which to my eyes, is a more attractive and wearable option.  Though, clearly this wouldn’t be waterproof.

There is a large selection of babywearing coats/fleeces/waterproofs at the Natural Connection website.

If your baby is still of the age where most of the carrying is done on the front, then of course you can just wear your own normal coat, and the baby can wear baby legs to keep warm.  This gives you the option of carrying an umbrella too, if it is wet.

If your baby is on your back most of the time then your choices seem pretty limited to the large-cardigan-and-hump-back-get-up or buying a special coat or poncho.  Of course, if your sling is roomy then you can wear your ordinary coat underneath the sling, pop the baby in the sling on top and put baby legs and a coat on your baby.  A little bit ‘michelin man’ but it will do the job!

If anyone has any other tips or ideas on keeping the babywearers dry and warm, I’d love to hear them!


New NAPshop

I have spent a fair while compiling a shop at amazon that contains only items personally tried and tested or recommended by trusted NAPfriends.

Please check it out, and let me know if you have any more recommendations for products or books that other Natural, Attached Parents might find useful.

Please visit the NAPshop from the menu above.


Thinktank DEMOS got quite a lot of publicity yesterday for it’s new report entitled ‘Building Character written by Jen Lexmond and Richard Reeves.

Building Character was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and included such names as Penelope Leach and Penny Mansfield on the advisory board.  The EHRC commissioned DEMOS to undertake research into the development of character capabilities contributing to ‘life chances’ and factors influencing the development.

The methodology looks pretty robust.  They reviewed up-to-date literature, carried out a new statistical analysis of the Millenium Cohort Study and analysed policy initiatives.  The statistical analysis looked at information given by over 15,000 families.

The report first of all defines ‘important character capabilities’ which include empath, agency (locus of control), responsibility and self-regulation.  The authors state that these should be considered ‘hard skills’ if the definition of hard and soft skills is actually useful, which they doubt.

They go on to divide parents up into 4 groups:

  1. Tough love.  Parents are attached, warm and loving and ‘high control’ more rules, consistently enforced..
  2. Laissez-Faire.  Parents are attached, warm and loving and ‘low control’ have fewer rules/more variably enforced.
  3. Authoritarian.  Parents are not attached, have ‘low warmth’ and ‘high control’.
  4. Disengaged.  Parents are ‘low warmth’ and ‘low control’.

They then also look at parents capabilities, self esteem and so on.  They look at how children’s character develops in relation to the above style of parenting.  They also compare all the usual ‘risk’ factors such as low income, family make-up, employment, ethnicity and so on.

I think the findings are remarkable.  In virtually all cases, allowing for the capabilities of the parents the ‘risk factors’ become negligible.  The style of parenting is the most important factor in how children develop these ‘hard’ life skills.  Children of ‘tough love’ and ‘Laissez Faire’ parents develop character far better when all factors are taken into account than authoritarian and disengaged.  Children of Tough Love parents do significantly better and children of Disengaged parents do worse of all.

This is probably hardly surprising but it does bring about some interesting thoughts.  All the money being poored into providing childcare, welfare-to -work, reducing teenage pregnancies and so on is seemingly wasted.  In actual fact having working or young parents makes no difference to outcomes for children.  It is the style of parenting that is all important.

Demos make a very convincing case for refocussing public spending and energy on providing parenting skills and support to impact on the style of parenting.

There is really far too much information in this report to summarise in a blog post, but I’ve hopefully whetted your appetite enough to go and read for yourself.  If not, here are some quotes from the report which might convince you!  Check out the Breastfeeding one – one of my favourites 🙂

An analysis undertaken by Kiernan of the MCS found that family status was only very weakly associated with children’s development, once other factors – like poverty, maternal depression and so on – were controlled for.

When we control for other characteristics – namely parental style and parental confidence – the relationship between family structure and child outcomes disappears almost entirely.

Crucially, the outcomes for children of lone parents and step-parents are explained by the differences in other family characteristics such as parental confidence and self esteem; being a lone parent or a step-parent does not adversely affect child outcomes in itself.

There is a strong association between children’s development of character capabilities and breast-feeding to six months. This effect remains even after controlling for all other variables in the model, including primary carer attachment

There is no connection between paid employment on the part of either the main carer, or the second parent, and the development of character capabilities in children.

Parental disability and parental ethnic background are associated with significantly different outcomes for children at age five, but all differences are outweighed when parental ability was taken into account.

Now, I’m off to peruse the rest of the DEMOS website as this report is pretty good in my opinion.  Just wonder… is anyone going to listen?

We live in a funny old world.  We are a strange society.

A popular TV programme in this household is Harry Hill’s TV Burp (don’t ask) which is on ITV on a Saturday evening.  I was ‘lucky’ enough to catch a couple of minutes in passing this week.

He was taking the mickey out of a soap character, and she was breastfeeding her baby.  It then cut to Harry asking for a drink and being given a cup of milk and biscuit.  Supposedly the character’s breastmilk.  The audience gave the obligatory cries of disgust, and then when Harry dipped the biscuit in the milk and ate it – the uni-groan of disgust and shouts went up a notch or ten!

I just thought… isn’t it strange when the prospect of an adult human even touching breastmilk is enough to repulse us as a society?  If it was the milk of another mammalian breast the audience would not have reacted in any way whatsoever, yet even the idea of the milk coming from a human breast (clearly it was not) created such reactions of disgust.

I just thought it was a sad reflection of what a messed up place we are in at the moment about what is actually the most natural and fantastic life-giving substance. <sigh>

UNICEF campaign

UNICEF have a campaign to raise money for tetanus vaccinations in the developing world.  It is a joint campaign with pampers which does mean that in order to help you need to visit their website.  So how do you go about helping?

  1. Visit the Pampers home page.
  2. Ignore all their gumph and forums if you find the whole thing offensive or irritating.
  3. Click on the little balloon that pops up to download a FREE song.
  4. This will immediately donate money toward the UNICEF fund.
  5. Make sure you wait for confirmation!

I know that both vaccinations and disposable nappies are contentious issues, but I think in this case it is worth knowing about this campaign.

If I lived in a developing country at risk of tetanus and with a poor health care  system I would want this for my children, currently hundreds of thousands die of tetanus annually and it is highly preventable.

Worth considering.



I love the campaign to ‘Reclaim Family Sundays’ that my favourite magazine The Green Parent hasFamily been running for a while.  I think the main point is to try to move away from the 24-hour consumer culture that we’ve all been sucked into and instead spending at least one day a week just ‘doing stuff’ with our families.

We had been intending to go for a day out today but as it seems to be driving rain, I think we’ll be giving it a miss and spending the day at home instead.

I think the children benefit from just one day that is not hectic and involves all of us being together.  For us, this doesn’t have to be a Sunday – it could be any day depending on work etc and is often more than one day a week.

So, our favourite family activities are:

  • going to the park/woods
  • walking round our local reservoir
  • cycling trips
  • chilling in the garden
  • chilling out at home
  • going to the cinema
  • going swimming

I’ll stop interrupting our family Sunday now but would be interested to hear your favourite family activities?


Raising Boys‘ is written by the same author as the well known ‘The Secrets of Happy Childrenyoung boysalong with a raft of other similar books.

I have had this book for about 5 years now, have read it cover-to-cover twice and dipped in and out a few times.  It is full of interesting thoughts and fascinating facts.

I first heard about this book when my eldest son was a toddler.  Within weeks of giving birth I realised that boys are inherently different from girls (unfashionable and controversial to say, I know) and I found this book useful as a guide to the ways boys bodies work and the things they need.

The chapters include The three stages of boyhood, Testosterone!, Developing a healthy sexuality and A revolution in schooling amongst others.

I found this book a useful insight, full of thought-provoking ideas for society as well as ideas on raising a happy boy for parents.  Possibly more useful for mothers, though I think dads would get a lot out of reading this too.  Several things just ‘clicked’ for me when I read this book and I feel that although it doesn’t necessarily have all the answers or have information that specifically relates to my boys all the time, it is still useful.

I would highly recommend this for anyone with a son or nephew or any young boy that is in their lives.  I wish teachers would read this book too!

Though-Provoking ideas:

  1. Early institutional childcare is not good for boys. If possible a boy should stay at home with one of the parents until he is at least 3 years old.
  2. If boys are going to be schooled they should start school a year later than girls.  As a guide.  Biddulph thinks that school starting ages and year groups should be more flexible and based on the child’s development.
  3. Boys need to be involved with a sport or participate in regular exercise.  To burn up testosterone and keep them balanced and happy, and reduce frustration and aggression.

Interesting information

  1. A 4 year old boy has the same testosterone levels as a teenage boy.
  2. Boys sometimes are deaf.  When they have a growth spurt the tube connecting the ear to the back of the throat stretches and thins, and can block easily causing temporary deafness.  Once the tube grows to catch up again it unblocks and hearing is restored!

There are also lots of ideas that I love: Having a ‘rite of passage’ ceremony when your son reaches the age of 10 which includes a discussion about love and relationships.

Also he talks about how lots of traditional cultures have coming of age or initiation ritual which marks the stage of the boy becoming a man.  They provide older male mentors to ‘show him’ the community ways and guide him on his journey to becoming a man. He talks about the difficult ‘life threatening’ initiation ceremonies and the pride the boy feels passing through and joining the adult male community.

What with all the talk about teenage boys being ‘hoodies’ or ‘thugs’ now, wouldn’t it be wonderful to give a boy the gift of growing into a man with pride.

N.B. Article about the demonisation of teenage boys.