The reality is my dogs are nutty and my children would rather play football or light sabers than sing in four part harmony while we go for a blissful walk together. (What was I thinking?)
But life with children and dogs must go on, even after having had a baby. Dogs still need walking/exercising and babywearing is an excellent way of managing it all. Baby will usually be happy to snooze in the sling - win win.
Here are the things that have helped me carry on with babies and dogs in tow...and for those seasoned babywearers and dog walkers id love to know any extra tips!
1. Good footwear
Start with the basics. You don't want to be slipping in the wet or ice while out dog walking in all weathers. Getting something that is warm, cosy, comfy and waterproof with non slip grip has been a game changer for me. You don't want to come in from a dog walk, baby sound asleep in the sling and have to wake baby up to change socks because they are soaking. I cannot love my north face snow boots any more than I already do.
\nFor you and baby while out in all weathers. Go for thin layers. Use thin thermal base layers for you. And something over the top of you and baby (babywearing coat/large zippy top/maternity coat etc) remember that the sling counts as layers of clothing, depending on how many layers the sling has. So protecting extremities from the cold or heat is going to be really important. No SNOWSUITS for baby. These all in one footless and non padded suits are amazing though https://www.babipur.co.uk/organic-baby-clothes/baby-coats-jackets-snowsuits/frugi-baby-snuggle-suit-scandi-birds.html
For me, certainly in the early days of breastfeeding around the clock, I would feed the baby and then go. Because chances are after that baby would happily sleep in the sling and I didn't have to worry that baby would be hungry imminently. And for the doggy...We got our first dog (sooty) after Bethany and Luke were out of slings. Samuel came along shortly after getting soot and he very quickly associated me putting the sling on with walk time and would bounce around like the nutty Labrador he is which wasn't very helpful. So babywear at other times too! Then it's not *just* a dog walking tool! (We did, sooty is just a chancer!)
4. Back carrying
From around 6 months, when baby can sit well unaided, back carrying is another game changer. It coincided for us with the time I couldn't see over baby's head any more and so back carrying made dog walking so much easier. Come along to our next workshop! :) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/back-carrying-with-buckles-workshop-tickets-52153072243
Yep I'm talking about picking up the poop. Very many times I see a mama in at a library session who wants a sling for dog walking, pop one on, and she tries to bend over and see if the sling is supportive enough to pick up poop. Squat! Don't bend! It's all about the squat. It's not going to be comfy for you or baby to bend over. Baby's weight will pull you forward and baby's head will not be well supported. Work on those squats. Keep your back straight - that's the way to do it!
6. Choice of sling and bag
I've used both a woven and buckles while out with the doggies. Whichever is most comfy for you is fine. I would say, make sure you're happy with how it feels before going on a dog walk, especially if it's a wrap (woven or stretchy) as you don't really want to be adjusting mid walk. Give yourself just an extra minute or so to get it just right before heading off. And for my bag, I use an over the body bag. Keys, phone, purse and poo bags in an over the body bag which works for both back and front carrying. I like to have everything accessable so a small bag works well.
7. Basic commands - practise.
Well this is less about babywearing itself, but incredibly helpful while babywearing. Leave, wait, drop and go home have been necessary so I'm not having to chase after a dog with a baby in a sling haha!
8. Short lead.
I'm not a fan of extendable leads or long leads while babywearing. I don't want the chance of my dogs (cos they will) crossing in front of me or suddenly pulling at the end of the lead. It's a trip hazard for you and baby.
You've probably already got one, but totally 100% necessary for babywearing. You don't want to be having to squat down and pick up a slobbery dog ball every 2 minutes with baby in the sling! Also, a good game of fetch rather than a mega long walk is pretty perfect, especially when you're in that fourth trimester still. (See next point)
10. Take it easy and let go of the guilt
Yes the dog needs to go out, but if you've just had a baby, be kind to yourself. A good run around a field and a fun game of fetch is great too and less toll on your recovering post natal body than a 5 mile hike. Let go of the guilt of your new baby changing things for your dog. Your dog knows you still love them. And another worry to ditch is baby sleeping in the sling. THIS IS A GOOD THING! You might hear some well meaning person who says "oh baby will only sleep in the sling" don't worry! It's not always going to be true and while baby enjoys slingy dog walks it's perfect!
So that's it. I hope that's helpful and happy babywearing and dog walking!