PARENTS

Am I The Only One Who Winces At The Celeb Dad Fashion For Carrying Babies Freestyle?

20/03/2011 00:17 | Updated 22 May 2015

David Cameron did it first on his way to his father's funeral. Next Dannii Minogue's partner Kris Smith did it in the airport en route to England from Melbourne. And then Jamie Oliver caused a scene in the papers by doing it yesterday while running errands near his home in London.

I'm talking about famous fathers carrying their babies while out and about. It was the photo of Jamie Oliver running around town with his newborn son tucked in the crook of his arm that convinced me this is something of a new celeb trend. It's lovely to see celeb dads taking their fair share of baby duty, but am I the only one who winces every time I see a tiny newborn being schlepped around in such a haphazard fashion?

Apparently not. Mum of one, Cathy, agrees: 'As a mum I felt quite uncomfortable looking at those pictures of Jamie Oliver and his baby. Is it mean to say that after three other children he might have got complacent?' Jamie's spokesperson apparently issued a statement in Jamie's defence, saying: 'Jamie is fully aware of the need to support the baby's head and does so, as most fathers would. Having had four children, he does know the rules.'

Ellen, a mum of three, says she never held her babies in her arms when out of the house but always used a sling or pram.

I was the same when both my babies, now 3 and 5, were born. Before setting foot outside the front door I used to spend a good half hour readying them for the big, bad world, dressing them in several layers so they'd neither be too hot nor cold, battling to get miniscule socks to stay in place on wriggly feet, and togging them up in my beloved Wilkinet baby sling or snuggling them into their buggies with blankets aplenty. The thought of simply hoisting a newborn under my arm and dashing out the door fills me with horror - but maybe that's down to an over-abundance of maternal protective instinct.

My husband was certainly much more inclined to adopt the carefree Have-Baby-Will-Travel approach, and tended to think he was ready to trail anywhere with our sons as long as he had a hat for the baby (preferably carefully co-ordinated with his own) and a spare nappy tucked in the back pocket of his jeans.

Perhaps it's the case that dads are just more relaxed around their babies, particularly when they're at this highly portable stage. In the case of Kris Smith it's likely that he was papped carrying baby Ethan in the few moments between retrieving their buggy after their flight, as Dannii was later pictured beaming as she took the helm of her brand new buggy. And even though Kris was carefully cradling his infant son as if carrying precious cargo I couldn't help wishing he'd taken the time to do his shoes up properly first. It might be unlikely but what if a proud new father tripped over his errant shoelace in the scrum caused by jostling photographers, and accidentally dropped the baby? Let's just hope the paparazzi would be prepared to drop their cameras to catch a falling starlet.

I wonder how celeb mums feel at the precarious sight of their babes in daddy's arms? Leaving the house with my first baby felt like sensory overload for a good few weeks after his arrival. I seemed to have a heightened, almost manic sense of danger, and could hardly stand to cross the road for fear that we might come to harm. Cathy experienced something similar: 'When when my daughter Eva was about three weeks old a family member was jiggling her up and down a little too enthusiastically and I wanted to scream at her not to do it, but at the same time didn't want to come across like a paranoid new mum.'

Really, what's wrong with a pram, people? Are Bugaboos already so last season in celeb-ville? Did all that fuss over the safety of baby slings scare everyone away from using them? Do famous dads consider themselves too cool to be seen pushing a pram or wearing a baby sling?

Becky Ward, of the the UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers Consortium (www.babyslingsafe.com), offers these top tips for the likes of Jamie and other dads who want to pull their weight safely when it comes to holding the baby:

'Slings are brilliant for famous dads as they allow you to keep baby tucked away from the intrusion of photographer's lenses. It also feels safer having your baby nestled against you, as opposed to being at arms length in a buggy. Using a sling instead of carrying your baby in your arms also keeps both hands free for all that autograph signing! Slings are perfectly safe to use and most babies love being carried in one.'

Becky recommends remembering the TICKS rule for safe babywearing:

Tight - make sure your sling is correctly tied, and tight enough.

In view at all times - always make sure your baby can be clearly seen while in your sling.

Close enough to kiss - You should be easily able to plant a kiss on your baby's head.

Keep chin off the chest - position baby so her chin stays off her chest.

Supported back - ensure baby's back and head are well supported.

Surely the safest bet is for celeb dads is to invest in a sling.

To paraphrase Beyonce, if you love it then you should really put a sling on it.

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