“Dear Daddy

joe readingWhen you hold me I feel happy. You are strong and I am safe in your arms. The more time I spend with you the more I trust you, and the more I can let you look after me when Mummy isn’t here.

I love to hear your breathing and the sound of your voice rolling around in your chest. I can hear your heart beating and it steadies me. I can hear you best when I am close to you. I love it when you look at me with your proud eyes, it makes me feel good. I feel loved.

I love being carried on your chest where we can chat till I am ready to snuggle contentedly to sleep.
I love my rides on your shoulders and on your back. The world is so interesting from up high!

I love the games we play and the way you make me laugh till I have no more breath in my body. I love it when you hold me on your lap to read to me. I love it when you hold my hand.

Carry me Daddy, while you still can!”

In-arms carrying and all other means of close and regular contact (such as noisy physical play) is of enormous value in building bonds between fathers and their children. 1 in 4 children lack strong attachment relationships, and slowly our society is recognising the need to address this. In arms carrying can be hard work, and a good comfortable baby or child carrier can make this much easier. Babywearing dads are becoming more and more visible, which is great news for families and for our society.

Here are the voices of some men who carry their children.

Ricardo (web designer, film maker)
ricardoI believe the deep rooted reason why more men don’t use carriers is down to the programming of masculinity. Males are pushed, programmed or subtly convinced from an early age – from day one in some cases – to be “a boy”, “a man”. We are encouraged to play with boy’s toys, wear boy’s clothes and we were told “boys don’t cry” and to “man up”. Of course this is a generalisation and many families parent differently. For my generation (and those before) males are told to be men, and the archaic notion of what being a man means is to not show emotion, especially those emotions regarded as a weakness by society.
Baby carrying, for anyone brought up in that environment or society, is an ultimate expression of emotion. It’s a physical badge and sign that says you are sensitive and caring. Sadly, some see those same traits as potential weaknesses, an antithesis to the the idea of a tough man.ricardo

But this is changing! Look at the rise of male grooming products. In the 80’s and early 90’s you would never hear a man openly talk about moisturising! Then, with the rise of “alpha male” celebrities like David Beckham it (slowly) became acceptable and even desirable, and now male grooming products are actively advertised to men. This is starting to happen with babywearing. Alpha males in prominent positions are being seen to be active, nurturing fathers and using baby carriers to build those bonds. Recently Ryan Reynolds and Tom Fletcher have been all over the internet carrying their children, and even the “ultimate” male strength role of wrestlers are openly wearing, (such as Jeff and Matt Hardy). Masculinity and nurturing fatherhood are not mutually exclusive. This defies the previous generations’ idea of masculinity and explains some of the reasons why some men can be resistant to using a carrier.

This is why I am so proud to carry my baby. I consider myself to be a strong, confident man who (crucially) has the confidence to display this to the rest of the world. Every time I am in a supermarket or car park or DIY shop with my son on my front or back I am advertising to the world that things are changing, and this is good news.

 

Darren former rock music magazine editor, music academic and general dogsbody at Integra Baby Carrier
darrenTo imagine my parenting journey without babywearing is actually unthinkable! It has nurtured me as a father as well as allowing me to nurture my children. It has helped me as a human being to become more in tune with my emotions and develop my skills as a parent.
The experience of holding my children close has been wonderful. We talk on the same level, we see things on the same level and we share things together. My daughters would fall asleep on my chest, knowing they were safe and sound, and I could relax as I knew they were being protected. It has helped them when they feel uncomfortable or unwell. darren
There are times when only mum will do, but as both of us using baby carriers, it has enabled our children to have a nurturing, familiar environment shared between both of us, and as a result, I as a father have been able participate more equally. I would always carry our third daughter between feeds, almost as much if not more than her mum. Words cannot truly describe the inner euphoria I felt from being so attached. Now, as they grow up into confident and carefree children, I am convinced that babywearing was paramount to that.

I hope men in today’s society understand that carrying their children is a wonderful experience that can increase the bonds between them. I would suggest no man should have any qualms about babywearing. You have proved your masculinity enough by fathering a child, now go forward and be proud of what you have achieved! Why would you not want to babywear?

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Esteban (police officer)
I carry for a multitude of reasons including that it is easier and more practical than a stroller, it helps me to maintain a close bond with our boys. Carrying acts as a soother and helps to get our boys to sleep.

esteban

 

 

Dom (security guard and SlingDad Dom)Dom
It’s great to be able to keep my new baby happy and content long enough that my wife can get some rest or go and have some time with our older children. Slingy cuddles at home make long days at work so much easier to get through.

Also, manliness. I think terms like “man up” and the odd idea that men shouldn’t be free with their emotions and their expressions of love can be barriers for people that grow up hearing them and feel that these things might be seen as a sign of weakness or a lack of strength. I know this isn’t always the case but I do think a lot of men worry about this.

Also, an obstacle that I found while learning to wrap… and I’m aware that a large amount of this was probably down to fragile male ego on my part… when my wife taught me to wrap I was over-sensitive to any little critique she would make. Not during the actual wrapping process but when I started to do it on my own and she would try to help I would feel she was being over critical. BUT… like I say i think that might be quite a lot my fault. It didn’t last long though, but I can imagine someone even more sensitive than me (I’m sure there are a few… maybe) may have been put off all together by that!!

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Will (forester)
I love to go on walks in the woods with my kids. It’s lovely to hear my one year old chattering in my ear as we explore together. It also means I can stop and wee against a tree very easily! I enjoy the freedom of being pushchair free and I would encourage dads to find a way of carrying their children that makes them feel confident and comfortable.Will Rolls

 

Mark (contractor for an electrical and mechanical engineering firm)
I carry because it helps me to connect with my children and see the world through their eyes.
Mark H

 

Rob (sling library PA and manager at Sling Spot)
I carry our children because it is the simplest way to make life work, getting them from A to B. Their legs get tired but my arms don’t. Rob

 

Jono (pensions manager)
I use a sling because it can help keep our son feeling calm, and sometimes it’s nice to just have a cuddle.Jono

Duncan (researcher)
I like the sling as it helped me to get our boy to sleep, especially when he was younger and his mum wasn’t always there to feed him to sleep. It’s nice to be able to talk to my son whilst on the move, and show him things, and I can calm a screaming, teething toddler down by taking him for a walk in the sling until he settles and falls asleep.
Duncan
Mark (doctor)
I love that slings allow us to walk anywhere we like with our son and our dog and be ‘ourselves’ as much as possible with where we choose to go, without having to always think about space/access. It’s practical and I use the sling when my wife is tired. I love shoulder carries too!
MArk R

 

Nelson (croupier in casino)
I carry my little girl as I know I can protect her best when she is close to me. It also means she cries less!
Nelson

 

Rhys (dad, designer and Jack of all trades at Baie Slings)

I carry my children in slings because it makes interacting and bonding with them so much easier and more enjoyable. I like talking to their faces, and they often keep me warm in the dreadful English weather, like carrying around my own personal radiator.

rhys

 

Mal (graphic designer)
I like using a sling with my baby Max because it means I can help get him to sleep and take both my sons to nursery. It’s practical.
Mal
Martin (electronic gaming technician)
I love to carry my little girl, and apart from breastfeeding it’s the only way she will sleep, so when my partner is at work we go for a walk round the park and farm to get her to sleep. I love chatting with her and watching her sign and it’s strengthened our bond ten-fold. I wouldn’t be without it!
Martin
Stuart (sports development manager)
Slings were the only way I could get the children to sleep when my wife was back at work, and it meant I could take them on more adventures and not just the same old boring routes. It gave me confidence taking them both out on my own. I had both hands free to engage with our older child and it was one less thing to worry about not needing to get a buggy around.
Stuart
Kris (anaesthetist)
I carry my baby because I like him. He’s my buddy. And I have my hands free! I get so much less time with him than my wife so its great to have my own special time with him, go for walks, chat, cuddle, have him asleep on me.

Kris

Mike (civil engineer)
I like my sling because it makes me feel close to Ezra, it’s clearly good for Ezra and it’s practical.

Dan (doctor)
I like how easy it is to chat to my daughter when she is close to me, and the sling is so convenient.

In summary; it is so good to interact with your children and keep them close, a comfortable carrier can be very useful. Families thrive on this kind of loving environment; it pays great dividends for bringing up confident children who are the adults of the future.

Oliie