I had a baby girl first. I think the gender of your first child sort of becomes the ‘default’ gender in your mind. When I found out that I was expecting a boy the second time around I was sort of at a loss. By that time I had over 3 years of parenting a girl under my belt, adding a boy to the mix sort of scared me. Could I mother a boy as well as I mothered a girl? Would it be exactly the same, or would it be different?
My first trip to a baby store in search of cute boy clothes did nothing to make me feel better. It is an uncontested fact that girls’ clothes are cuter. Way cuter. And also more fun. Way more fun. Dresses, tights, teeny barrettes, and sparkly shoes. Plus, in a pinch, it’s fine to dress a girl in boys’ clothes, but the other way around is not so cool. In fact, realizing I may never use Hannah’s little baby outfits again caused a late-pregnancy breakdown.
But, as it turns out, the baby clothes were not the only things that have been relegated to the closet. I’ve also packed away some of my baby carriers. As I realized in the 5 minutes I spent in the babywearing business, we all ooh and ahh over pretty baby carriers, but the gender neutral ones are what most everyone wants. Because either they want to share the carrier with their husband or use it to carry their son. Either way, as lovely as pink and floral are, they’re probably not what you actually go with in the end.
Since Jacob was born, I have been sticking with the gender neutral baby carriers too. My Kozy carrier, especially, sees a lot of use. Not that Kozy carriers are always gender neutral, they’re absolutely not. It just so happens that mine is, and so that’s one of the reasons it’s seeing the most use. I also happen to love the long body, but really it’s mostly the fabric I chose.
I used the Kozy with Hannah, but I also used a lot of rather pretty mei tais, too. One of my own, in pink and brown, was a go-to carrier for me. I also have a purple floral Freehand carrier with embroidery on the straps. It’s beautiful and expensive, even though I bought it second-hand. It was a splurge, and it was Hannah’s personal favourite. I think the last time I wore her in it she was over 3 years old. In fact, she would still go for rides in it if I let her, but since I’m generally carrying or wearing Jacob it’s not an option.
Because I love the Freehand so much I still use it around the house. It’s perfectly functional, and Jacob is far too young to care whether a baby carrier is girly or not. But I can’t quite bring myself to use it at the grocery store. It’s my own hang-up, I know, but it’s the honest truth. So the pretty carriers may still see the light of day from time to time, but that light is filtered through my living room windows.
I have friends who insist that the baby carrier is something that you (the mom or dad) is wearing. It’s an article of your clothing that the baby just happens to be riding in. And you wouldn’t give a second thought to wearing a girly shirt simply because you have a baby boy strapped to you, so there’s no need to give a second thought to your choice of baby carrier. On the one hand, I can see their point. On the other hand, so many strangers still refer to my little man as “she” that adding a girly baby carrier to the mix just seems like too much.
Now, be honest with me. Would you wear a baby boy in a pretty pink carrier? Or would you stick with basic black when push comes to shove?