I take a step back and eye my wife up and down quizzically, the same way you'd look at someone wearing a fancy dress costume in the street, or anyone from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. In one smooth motion, she has lifted our one-year-old daughter onto her back and is proceeding to strap her to her body using a large sheet of material.
This is called 'baby-wearing', she informs me, as I continue to look deadpan. No Velcro, no buckles, no straps: just a large sheet of fabric, about four metres long by a metre wide (although they come in varying sizes), which the mum (or dad, of course) uses to wrap their child to their back or front.
My instant thought is that my wife looks a bit like a hippy, but that's because I belong to the generation of parents who has been thrust into a world where the more elaborate (and expensive) the baby carrier, the better it must be.
But baby-wearing has been around for decades, and is beginning to increase in popularity. Available in a range of materials, from stretchy bamboo/cotton blends to lightweight cotton gauze for warmer weather, the parent can also choose from several wrapping methods which allow the baby to be carried on their front or back. Some materials and methods allow infants and young children to be carried with relative ease.
It also seems that baby-wearing has a large following amongst mums, who trade different styles and designs of wrap with each other. One mother offered my wife a sum in the hundreds of pounds for one of her wraps, to which my wife politely declined. (I'm yet to establish exactly why.)
There's no doubt that since my wife began baby-wearing she has attracted plenty of interest, especially from other parents who have stopped her in the street to ask what she's wearing and then turned up the following day proudly sporting their own wrap.
Will I be wearing one? Not any time soon, I don't think. Not because I don't want to, I should add - every dad knows that if he carries a baby he instantly becomes irresistible to mums everywhere - but because I don't really trust myself to get frustrated with the various methods of wrapping and end up just strapping Jemima precariously onto my back, her arms and limbs flailing as I make sure everything is secure with the flimsiest of double-knots.
Jemima has fallen asleep on my wife far more times in a baby-wrap than she ever has in the clumsy and uncomfortable baby carriers we've had in the past. Whilst no less expensive than your average baby carrier = an average size wrap will cost around £60 - they are far more diverse.
Besides, it is a refreshing twist to find that something as simple as a long rectangle of cloth can be so effective and generate so much interest. Hey, my wife loves them, and so does Jemima. So who am I to judge?
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