Nelly Elliott

Newcastle based person, she/her, mama, creative, colourful, caffeinated, plus-size fashion lover, lefty feminist killjoy #funbutmakeitfashion


Pack Pony and Proud

A response to the Daily Fail on wearing my toddler in a sling.
I absolutely loathe to give the Daily Mail any sort of attention, but I felt really strongly about something this week and wanted to word vomit about it. The aforementioned publication published a delightful observation piece about women who wear their older children in slings, citing all sorts of experts in their usual one sided view.
So, the term Pack Pony Mum seems to be a clever journalist trying to make a catchy alliterative version of pack horse, which is just a charming way to describe any woman/human. They seem to want to paint women who wear their toddlers and pre-school aged children as martyrs who are so desperate to keep their children as babies and stunt their development, that they force them into slings and smugly carry them around all day long. Or even worse, that we see slings as a replacement for our kids walking!?
I am here to tell you the reality of wearing a toddler.

Baby Wearing my toddler in a connecta Wearing my toddler in a ring sling Wearing my Toddler on my Back in a Connecta
A sling is not an alternative to walking, a sling is an alternative to a buggy, but in my opinion much less of a hassle. I have worn Zoe in a sling since she was 10 days old and I am a big advocate of babywearing, not only for the bonding/attachment type benefits but also for the convenience. I don't drive and rely a lot on public transport, anyone who has waited an age for a bus to find there are already two buggies on board will agree it is a pain in the backside and if you have to make an appointment or be somewhere at a set time it is impossible. I also enjoy having use of my hands while out and about, if Zoe was sleeping in the sling I could drink a coffee, check my phone, read a book, browse the sale rail at Marks and Spencer. I felt free and not tied down to a heavy buggy getting in everyone's way.

Now Zoe is 2 years old, I wear her less, but slings are still integral to our day. I always carry my trusty Didymos Houndstooth Ringsling in my handbag. It folds up nice and small and I can whip it out whenever Zoe gets tired or asks for a carry. She is a strong walker and loves running around and exploring wherever we go but she is still only 2, and her little legs need a rest once in a while.
My favourite thing about using a sling now she is older and talking more and more is the conversations we can have and the observations she makes. We can point out the birds and aeroplanes we see, and talk about the colours/shapes/numbers we encounter. I can easily hear her if she tells me she needs a wee or she wants a drink etc... And I just find the whole experience of going out for the day with a 2 year old much less stressful.

So, that is my experience of being a Pack Pony Mum, and despite the Daily Fail and Loose Women trying to paint me to be some sort of helicopter parent stunting my childs development by forcing her into a sling. This really couldn't be farther from my truth.
Also, to clear up a couple of other frequently asked questions;

1. Does it not hurt your back? - a well fitting ergonomic sling can be incredibly comfortable and and as a heavier toddler Zoe tends to only be in for short periods, and I find it easier on my back than pushing a heavy buggy or lifting a buggy on and off buses.

2. Is she clingy or attached to me permanently? - I am a believer in attachment parenting which contrary to popular belief does not mean your kids are clingy and attached to you permanently, it is about building strong confident bonds which promote feelings of security, which actually can make children more confident and independent. I have definitely noticed this with Zoe.

3. She doesn't like it or want to be carried... - This is my least favourite comment we get, like I am forcing my child to be carried against her will into a tiny fabric prison. Please rest assured there is absolutely no way to put a reluctant toddler in a sling - its like trying to fight an octopus. She is in the sling because she is tired or because she asked to be.

Accurate depiction of attempting to force a toddler into a sling

Do you wear your toddler or pre-school aged child or are you in agreement with the Daily Mail? I'd love to hear your sling stories and any funny comments you get whilst out and about...


  1. As you know, we babywear lena and it's a lifesaver. I don't know how I would parent two kids without using a babycarrier. Lena took every nap in a carrier, and slept in it every night until about 19 months old. These days we mainly use it out and about when there is too much walking for her or it's too hectic of a place. It's great so she can nap when out and about. I use the buggy for the school run as it's easier for me as it's a long journey with 2 kids but I do take the beco incase she wants to come out. And you are so right. There is absolutely no way to force a toddler into a carrier - or to do anything they want for that matter! Loved this post!


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