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Babywearing: Cruising Stroller-Free

Before our son was even born, my father-in-law started planning a family cruise, which sounded like a blast. We boldly committed not even knowing what life as first-time parents would be like, let alone anything about cruising with a baby. As the cruise got nearer and nearer we started to wonder if we should bring a stroller or commit to only babywearing during our week-long adventure. We decided to go stroller free and loved it! Here are some of our favorite things about our stroller-free adventure with ten-month old baby boy, V.
1. Nursing on-the-go in public is a breeze We discreetly nursed at dinner, during craft time, on excursions, and more. On hot blazing-hot port days, easy access to hydration helped keep him healthy and happy. Here, V unlatches to check out an ice sculpture. In the background is my hubby with V’s 7-month old cousin whose parents also elected to go stroller-free for the trip.

2. Baby can nap wherever V had pretty much given up napping in a carrier, but he picked it right back up on the cruise which was great because it meant that we could be as active as we wanted, stay out of that tiny
stateroom, and spend plenty of time with the extended family while still meeting his needs. He loved going to the shows with us at night and bouncing to the music before drifting off. During long dinners in the dining room, which our family adores, V drifted off we used a wrap as an impromptu floor cover and blanket.

3. Protection from curious hands Lots of people love babies, and we are so glad that V can bring others joy, but multiple people took it further than we were comfortable with and tried to kiss or caress him when he was in- arms or in a highchair. We wondered why people were so baby-touchy on the cruise and came up with a couple of theories: crew members see relatively few babies and may be dearly missing their own children, elderly people do not always see many babies, people from different cultures have different boundaries when it comes to touch. Cruises bring people from all three of those categories together. Because people in each of those categories still tend to respect adult space boundaries, having him in the carrier kept him shielded.
4. Guard from overstimulation Cruises are busy with lots of noises, sights, people, and stimulation in a relatively small space. Wearing V kept him physically connected to the comfort and safety of a parent. When he’d had enough, he could nuzzle his head into my chest or neck (depending if he was on my front or back). Strollers and front-facing carriers don’t allow this.

5. Enjoy more versatile excursions In San Juan alone, we encountered outrageously bumpy cobblestone streets with no sidewalks, other streets had sidewalks but didn’t have curb cuts, we visited tiny shops that a stroller couldn’t fit into, we encountered several sidewalks that ended in of stairs, etc. In other ports, we encountered wobbly tender boats, sand, lack of security (meaning no safe place to stash a stroller to go into a small space), rough trails, open air busses, etc. With V strapped on, each one of these things was a breeze.

6. Share experiences fully with baby In a carrier, baby sees things at adult-height which means we are seeing the same things. Also, because he is on me, it is intuitive for both hubby and I to include him in as we talk about all we are seeing. He got to be brushed by the same low tree branches that brushed my face; I knew that he could see the ocean and other sights over protective barriers, etc.

7. Avoiding Cruise Elevators Cruise elevators make me crazy. They take forever and they are crammed with people. Embarkation and disembarkation days are the worst because everyone is in the common areas at the same time and many people have luggage with them. With a baby in a stroller, it is elevate or seriously struggle with stairs. With a baby in a carrier, it is very easy to traverse the stairs without delay. Plus, it is good exercise which means I feel all the better about enjoying the delicious, abundant food.

8. Maintain balance Ships can be rocky. With a baby in-arms, you cannot use your arms for balance or to hold on to railing. With a baby in a carrier, baby’s weight is centered on your body (unless you are doing a hip carry) and your arms are free. In addition to greater stability on the ship, the benefit of balance also came up on an excursion. In the Dominican Republic, we did a light hike to a waterfall. The final part of the walk involved traversing a small river via large rocks and bags of sand. Hubby is very sure-footed so he wore V on this one; he and V crossed the river easily with no assistance. I crossed only with the assistance of a trail helper. The woman behind us, however, had her toddler in-arms. Even with a trail helper at her side, she was not able to maintain balance with baby in her arms nor was she able to use her arms to protect herself as she fell. The pair fell into the water. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but mom and baby were both shaken up. People skeptical of babywearing sometimes ask if falls are more likely or more dangerous. The benefit of balance and free arms to brace a fall is the reason that I can always give a full-hearted, “no” to this question.

9. Conscious packing It is no secret that staterooms are small. A wrap (or three) takes up very little space, even less than the most compact umbrella stroller. Babywearing leads to lighter packing both for the whole trip as well as for day packs. When you commit to wearing baby for the whole day of excursions, you think about the gear you are loading into a day pack very carefully. When you commit to no stroller for a week or more, you do the samething. I find that when a stroller is an option, I think of every last thing that I might need and load myself down with it. Suddenly I go from baby gear minimalist to hoarder. I like that babywearing helps me keep things simple. It boosts my confidence in terms of resourcefulness, fits in with our general values of simple living, and helps our kiddo remain flexible. After all, if I’d loaded three of his favorite toys and a bag full of snacks into our day pack, would V have liked touching an iguana as much? Sure, another handful of O-cereal is fine. But, isn’t the experience eating a freshly-picked orange so much more what travel and adventure is all about?

10. Formal Babywearing How cute is a baby in a tuxedo on the back of his mommy or daddy who are also dressed to the nines? Ok, so maybe it isn’t a REAL benefit, but it is cute!

 

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About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As a progressive Evangelical female pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

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