Carriage of delights


While I was away in Costa Rica, my wife bought a baby-carrying backpack, secondhand, from people who had only ever used it once. It awaited me in all its bright green, pristine splendour, waiting to be used.

It’s a big old piece of apparatus. There’s a rigid metal frame that you clamp your baby into, with an adjustable seat and lots of straps, and then there’s a few funny moments as you put the backpack on, with baby installed in the back and flopping around all over the place as you put on the first, then the second arm strap. And then, hip and chest belts secured, off you go.

La Serpiente Negra was unexpectedly happy: much more so than when I put her on my back in the Manduca a couple of months ago. She chatted away and grinned at people for almost all of our walk, rebelling in being at head height and capable of looking people in the eye. I surmise part of this is she’s now tall enough to see over my shoulder; it can’t have been thrilling to just see my back before.

Even without a baby in the seat, the backpack is pretty heavy, and exhausting to wear. I suspect that the previous owners suffered buyer’s remorse when they realized how hard it would be to transport their progeny this way. It’s much easier to put your baby into a wheeled device of some sort or other, but the advantage of having them strapped to your body is that you have much more choice of terrain. It doesn’t matter how SUV-like our stroller is styled, put it on marshy ground and it will bog down and get stuck. With the Manduca or this backpack, anything I can walk over becomes accessible. The other advantage over the Manduca is the separation; rather than our daughter being tightly strapped to us, there’s some space for air to flow and for both her and her bearer to dissipate heat. Thus, it’s much more comfortable, apart from around the shoulders.

The weight is something of a problem. I’m going to have to be disciplined and walk around with it on for at least an hour every weekend, and gradually work up to a longer period (or a heavier baby). Having my hands free means I should be able to engage in sword fights on wobbly rope bridges / eat pizza with both hands / do the YMCA dance without dropping our daughter on the ground, and possibly means over time I’ll get stronger. Which means I’ll be more capable of carrying babies around on my back. Limited usefulness, anyone?

That is, unless I change occupation to professional baby carrier. There’s got to be a few roles open for somebody with all their own equipment and a winning smile, right?

Well, all their own equipment, anyway.

I was thoroughly exhausted by carrying her around. Then again, I was thoroughly exhausted before I put her on, a combination of jet lag, sleep deprivation and an allergic reaction to Singapore that had gallons of gunk pouring out of my nose all morning. So I’m still confident that if I stick diligently to a fitness programme, I should be strong enough to transport my daughter on my back for longish distances. If only I’d gone to the gym more when I had the chance.


One response to “Carriage of delights”

  1. First time I wore a child in a backpack I almost collapsed. I think she was about 8 months old. Second time round out of necessity I’d carried around in the back pack since about 4 months (? is this possible? I no longer remember. Small, anyway.) and my strength seemed to build up so that it wasn’t a problem.

    I think I’d be back to the stage of collapse if I were to try again without practice.

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