SaddleBaby Allows For Hands-Free Shoulder Rides
The SaddleBaby Shoulder Carrier enables you to give your child hands-free shoulder rides. It is a harness worn around your chest and has built-in ankle cuffs that keep your child securely on your shoulders, thus freeing your hands to do something else. The cuffs are made with industrial strength hook and loop fasteners as well as industrial strength velcro. The foam saddle is meant to create a more comfortable ride, but SaddleBaby can be used with or without the saddle. SaddleBaby is designed to carry children 2-5 years old.
The SaddleBaby informational video takes this product a bit too seriously. The video starts with the beginning of time and claims carrying our children on our shoulders is a unique gift embedded in our DNA. It also almost convinced me that piggy back rides are necessary for complete and fulfilling parent-child bonding.
Let’s get real. Shoulder or piggy back rides are necessary to stop whining, crying, or to get somewhere faster than your toddler’s legs will move. They can be fun too, but usually my three-year-old enjoys the ride more than I do. With my daughter on my neck, I become instantly sweaty. Every muscle in my neck is strained and on the verge of aching. And I am constantly asking her not to whack my head or pull my hair.
However, having her on my shoulders does allow her to see better while in crowds. And it recharges her enough to keep us going on an adventure that requires her to walk. It’s the spontaneity of an occasional, silly, quick ride that makes carrying my daughter on my shoulders fun. Fun is what creates bonding memories with my child, not a product. But will SaddleBaby make all shoulder rides more fun? Based on reviews, opinions, and personal parenting experience, here are some pros and cons to think about.
I could not find any women wearing SaddleBaby. Dads certainly aren’t the only ones who give their kids shoulder rides. Is this product feeding into the stereotype that men are stronger and the ones who should be hoisting kids onto their backs? Probably not. It’s more likely a flaw in the design. The SaddleBaby harness falls right under the armpits, over the top half of the chest. This location is also known as “where my boobs are”. I have not tried this product, but read a review of a woman who has. Ouch.
The SaddleBaby weighs three pounds, adding more weight I don’t particularly want to be carrying.
It’s one more thing I need to remember to bring when I leave the house.
The adjustable harness is designed to fit S-XL chest sizes. With the included extensions, XL is 50 inches. This is not a one size fits all product.
I personally prefer to put my toddler in a stroller when we are anywhere with crowds or if we need to do a substantial amount of walking. However, sometimes strollers are not convenient, like at a parade or farmer’s market. In those cases, having my daughter on my shoulders has its benefits. I am not terrified of her running off. I am not moving at a snail’s pace. And I am not listening to her complain that she can’t see the action.
SaddleBaby would allow me to do what I may end up doing anyhow, but my hands would be free to guzzle the water I need to stay hydrated after all of the sweating. I could also take pictures, answer a phone call, or hold onto a shopping bag or dog leash. As a parent, I usually feel like mule carrying too much stuff, but with SaddleBaby I can feel like a multi-tasking mule.
I think SaddleBaby can be beneficial. It might make shoulder rides more enjoyable and more efficient by being hands-free. But I like the idea of holding onto my child’s ankles whiles she rides. That connection is a reminder that she is not just another thing to carry. The desire to be physically close and protect my children is in my DNA, and I’m okay with holding onto a happy kid. And until I see or read about a happy woman wearing a SaddleBaby Shoulder Carrier, I’ll keep that space on my chest reserved for my boobs.