That Front-carrier Looks Ridiculous On You, Dad.


In a recent poll (I asked Facebook), people (mostly women) said that they thought a guy wearing a baby in a sling or a front carrier looked sexy and not ridiculous. In a less recent poll (I asked myself), people (myself) said that they thought a guy wearing a baby in a sling or a front carrier looked ridiculous and not sexy.

I am clearly in the minority.

And this is a strange sort of position for someone like me, who goes pseudonymously by “Backpacking Dad” online and who wears his kids in a backpack, to be in: Aren’t all babywearers in a massive global alliance together, chanting attachment parenting slogans to each other and fomenting rebellions against the Cry-It-Out oligarchy?

Well, sure, I go to the meetings. But I don’t chant, and I’ve never worn my kids in the front, and I do react negatively (I don’t throw a punch or anything; but I don’t go “Aww…..”) when I see a guy wearing a front-carrier. I have many and varied complicated reasons for this, but anyone with more than a tin ear for authenticity can see that they are merely justifications for a prejudice, not reasons for one.

Because I am not a coward, however, I thought I’d share some of these justifications with you.

  1. They don’t make a front-carrier with a place to put your Rambo knife or Dirty Harry gun.
  2. Having a baby in the front means having to clear a path through people at the grocery store as they try to pinch cheeks or dangling legs, overcome with “Aw…a baby….” feelings as soon as you round a corner
  3. It makes  you look pregnant; it makes you feel pregnant; you are not pregnant; you actually can’t be pregnant, dude. Stop telling lies.
  4. Kuato. “Quaid, release your mind…”
  5. I get neck and lower-back strain just looking at it.

Are you convinced?

More seriously, though, I prefer to use a backpack because I think there is something special about being able to use all the stereotypically manly strengths (strong back, strong arms, strong legs, tall stature) to do something to bring me closer to my kids. A child on a man’s back is no burden, neither physically nor metaphorically. A child on a man’s back sees the world almost through his eyes. A child on a man’s back is protected from threats by the intercession of his father’s body, his father’s strength. A child on a man’s back looks like Yoda riding on Luke Skywalker’s shoulders, and that is totally badass.

For the purposes of science, though, I should probably conduct a new study. How many people think dads wearing kids in a front carrier are way, way less sexy than dads wearing kids in a backpack? There is a right answer to this question.