Getting out for a walk with baby
As you can see on our homepage, Wild Happy Well is all about enhancing our connection to nature for all the family. To me, particularly as a new mum, the most basic way to do this is to get out for a walk. In the early days of having a baby getting out is no mean feat. Getting out for a walk with baby requires planning: the right kit, good timing, and a suitable route. In today’s post I tell you about one of my recent nature walks with Archie and talk you through the practicalities of my choices, the benefits they provide, and how you can circumnavigate some of the potential pitfalls of getting out and about on foot with baby.
Reset and recharge
The day started off beautifully weather-wise (we’ll ignore the 4:45 AM wake-up call from Archie…). Hubby remarked that if I was going to go out I should do it sooner rather than later as the weather would turn due to Storm Stella coming in. As Archie had had a good nap in his bed in the morning I planned to head out on foot with him at lunchtime. That day was also momentous for Archie as it was his first day of weaning, so during his late morning feed I’d introduced him to some baby rice made up in (breast)milk. I’d normally take him out for a walk in the buggy and bassinet but as he’s been quite a sickie baby I thought keeping him upright after his first solids was a good idea so I plumped for the sling instead.
We toddled off for a good hour or so down the paths in our village to my favourite field; a little patch of countryside nestled amongst some fabulous properties, with far reaching views to the city and hills beyond. It gives me the space, light, air, and greenery that I need to strip away the cabin fever. It kinda presses my reset and recharge buttons. We headed a little beyond there until the winds began to whip up, the temperature dropped and the clouds rolled in. With a nipper in tow you always need to turn back sooner than you think – where I’d happily march back home in some refreshing rain, a soggy baby won’t thank you for it! We were lucky and got home just in time. We’d made the most of the beautiful calm before the storm enjoying some clean fresh air and I got to properly stretch my legs in peace and quiet as he slept the whole way. Most importantly, we had both been able to happily absorb some goodness from a little pocket of nature not far from home with minimal effort or assistance. To me that feels quite a lot like freedom and good fortune, for which I am very grateful.
So, what made getting out for a walk with baby relatively easy and hassle-free?
Choosing to take baby out in a sling means I need to be wearing the right tops – no zips that would dig into Archie’s face, and a high enough neckline so that he can’t suck my skin (as he likes to do sometimes…drool everywhere!) or get stuck to my skin as I inevitably get a bit sweaty during the walk. I like to wear a suitable tee and layer up with a fleece/body warmer or coat as the weather requires. I find this gives me a nice amount of flexibility as I will warm up or cool down with minimal disruption to a (probably) snoozing baby.
As for Archie’s get-up, I find a short-sleeved vest and long sleeved, thickish top are typically fine in the sling, which is quite thick (Ergobaby 360) with a water-resistant, fleece lined sling cover (Bebamour). The latter has a hood that keeps the wind and rain off his head and face. He’s normally in comfy leggings and socks so I add Mocc-Ons to keep his tootsies nice and warm in the sling cover. Stick a hat on top and he’s good to go! The Bebamour cover is nice in that it covers his arms and hands in soft fleece and if I have got a zippy fleece on undone as well then his hands are always tucked into something warm. The sling cover is great as it also has a handy pouch on the front that I use to store a clean muslin and some snacks for me, plus I can put my hands in there to keep them warm. I don’t normally bother carrying the change bag as well if we’re just walking from the house as I will never be that far away and he’s normally asleep. However, this is a bit risky – I’ll probably get caught out by a mega-poo-explosion at some point!
You say timing and immediately think timing for baby, and yes this is most crucial. I tend to try and time going out with when I expect Archie to be tired for a nap. It normally takes him about 10 to 15 minutes to drop off; sometimes less if he’s really zonked. But it is also important to time it for you – I find it can be easy to forget about my own energy levels and often the walking nap falls over lunchtime, so it’s important to make sure you’ve either had some food or got something to take with you that you can eat on the move. Also a simple thing, go to the loo before putting baby in the sling! The number of times I’ve got all ready to go and then nature has called in the most basic way… Such a faff to deal with, especially with an increasingly tired (ie. screaming) baby!
Oh, how I have been thwarted by kissing gates that are just too small for the buggy, or styles that you just don’t recall being there! As you get started going out with all the paraphernalia of a baby, it suddenly makes that nice little ramble to one’s favourite field more akin to climbing Ben Nevis in a sleeping bag. It can be incredibly disheartening when you’re merrily on your way to find that just because you have a baby in tow you can’t go where you want to. Or you can’t get yourself, plus baby, plus stuff over/around/through an obstacle because of the after effects of pregnancy and birth. This is something that has got me down on more than one occasion. When your core stability is shot, your joints hurt, you’re still healing, and you’re carrying/pushing the weight of baby plus stuff and maybe still a few pregnancy pounds, it can demand a huge amount of physical and sometimes emotional effort to keep going. Be kind to yourself and chalk it down to learning the new parent ropes. We have all been there. There are compromises to be made in pretty much all aspects of a new parent’s life, some that last longer than others, but with a bit of forethought and research, plus a few choice pieces of kit, you can get yourself and baby out to many varied natural spaces to get your wild nature fix.
Today’s task: tell me your stories of how you get your easy nature fixes in the comments below.