[ Unrelated to the rest of the post, but that first photo – could this child look any more like me? I’m amazed as I swore he’d exit the womb looking like his father and people would accuse me of stealing him, but it’s the opposite. You’d never guess Paulo and Nuno were related if you didn’t know it. Apparently, my uterus is a cloning device. ]
With the advent of toddlerhood upon us comes a new chapter in our baby wearing saga. I’ve loved the hell out of our Ergo and while The Whuff is by no means too big for it, he is far too wiggly. It was on our trip home from Portugal that he discovered that when he’s in a front carry, he can climb up on my face and stick his fingers in my eyes and he hasn’t stopped doing it since. Errands had been going fine – he’d been riding in the cart like a big boy! Until…
Backing up a bit, the reason we’d been using the Ergo for errands long after he was big enough to ride in the cart is that this man is an EXPLORER. He’s half Portuguese and I would contend that he may or may not be in the reincarnation of Vasco de Gama. In the spirit of Sir Edmund Hillary, if you put Mt. Everest in front of this baby, he would climb it because it was there. This young man has plenty of toys, but he will not sit and play with them. He merely drags them all over the house as he crawls full throttle from one death trap to another as his favorite things are, naturally, the ones most likely to cause injury. Our baby proofing efforts go far, far beyond the simple gates for the stairs and outlet covers. And yet, we still can’t really allow Paulo free range downstairs because there are things like the stove/fridge plugs that can’t be moved or covered.
So. I had feared putting him in a cart on the grounds that if I did, he would possibly try to climb OUT of the cart. And for a few months, he had no idea that this was even a possibility available to him. And then… about three weeks ago… he figured it out. I had to buy some pillows for our guest bed and they were stacked kind of high in the cart. Paulo turned around, saw them, and tried to grab one. In this attempt, he realized that he could indeed turn around and that doing so and trying to vault himself into the basket part of the cart was way more fun than the sitting and looking around that he’d been doing. And of course, this was not a one time deal. Every time afterward that I put him in the cart, I had to keep one hand on him to keep him from pitching headfirst into the bucket. The turning around I’m totally powerless to stop, other than wrestling him the right way every ten seconds – much to his consternation and the annoyance of my fellow shoppers as I’m now that lady with the screaming baby.
(I should also note that The Whuff has passed peak baby. No one comments on “Oh, look at the baby!” anymore. Oh no. He’s now firmly in “DON’T. MAKE. EYE. CONTACT.” territory.)
We needed to find a solution to keep our house stocked with groceries and also maintain my sanity. I attempted getting him into a back carry in the Ergo by myself, but it was a no go. And even when I had help… we quickly found that it’s not a viable option as the intrepid explorer wanted to lean backwards in an attempt to pitch himself right out of it and onto the floor. I had to have someone with me to hang onto him or he probably WOULD have just thrown himself right out of it. Thus, this was neither a practical nor safe option.
I’d heard some mamas in my local Facebook Mom’s group extolling the virtues of the Kokopax and felt two equally strong emotions about it: #1) Wow, a back carrier with a FIVE POINT HARNESS. Man that would make my life so much easier. #2) I do not want to spend $180 on a *third* carrier. (We had a sling for the newborn period, then the Ergo. Making this #3.) (Note: cheaper models of the Kokopax exist, but I specifically wanted the eco for the hip belt.) While trying to troubleshoot with my own mama, I mentioned this glorious contraption and she offered to get it for us as a birthday present for The Whuff. And lo, it has indeed been glorious.
The first time I put him in, he was alright with it, but there was a hell of a lot of hair pulling. The second time, a bit of squirming and slightly less hair pulling. The third time, I attached his giraffe to the toy ring (whoever put that on there was a SUPER GENIUS) and there was even less hair pulling, though I had to deal with the dulcet tones of a Whuffle chewing on a giraffe and even worse, the stench of a drool soaked giraffe. The fourth time… just the drool stench, and ZERO hair pulling. Also, way, way less wiggling.
It’s definitely a keeper. It’s super lightweight, very easy for me to get him on even by myself, it has a FIVE POINT HARNESS making it nigh on impossible for young Vasco to take off for points unknown, the toy ring is brilliant for minimizing the hair-pulling, and best of all – he’s happy and content and not screaming. I do enjoy that in a man. Not just for my own sake, but for his. I want him to enjoy doing stuff – even boring stuff – and he’s clearly not enjoying going to the store if I have to spend the whole time wrestling him in the cart.
All of this is to say, if you are wrestling your own land squid and have a little extra money to spend on a carrier: GO KOKOPAX. I still recommend the Ergo for tiny babies who are amenable to front carries. The Kokopax isn’t recommended for babies under six months as they have to *sit* in it – and truly, until recently, a front carry for Paulo was just fine. I selfishly prefer the front carry as it’s easier to chit-chat with him and give him 9,998 kisses. But I also prefer not having my eyes gouged out.
The one and only drawback I’ve found to the Kokopax is the hair pulling. I have very long hair and wear it in a side ponytail when using the Kokopax and it’s as good as I can get, but since he’s at head level with me, he can still just grab the hair that exists on my head even if he can’t reach the ponytail itself. We’re working on being gentle, but it’s very difficult to get him to stop when I have to put my hands behind my head to reach him and I can’t make eye contact with him when I’m reminding him to use gentle touch. Having a toy helps a lot, but there’s nothing I can do to keep my hair totally away from him. I’ve thought about a hat, but I think he would just grab THAT and probably throw it on the ground, creating a new set of problems.
I did buy a plastic toy to attach to the ring to try and eliminate the stench of stinky giraffe (and oh, stinky giraffe gets washed ALL THE TIME but still. Stinky.) and we’ll see how that goes. The Whuff’s preference in general for toys is chewing on stuffed animals, so the plastic airplane just might not be fascinating enough for every day use. We’ll see.
In any case, we’re no longer constantly dodging danger down every aisle of the grocery store, and for that alone it was totally worth getting yet baby containment apparatus.