Erica Lineberry (AKA Cragmama) isn’t about to let her 16-month-old baby, Canaan, stop her from belaying and climbing. The 30-year-old mother from Charlotte, N.C., documents her tips for including “Cragbaby” in her climbing pursuits on www.cragmama.com. “During my pregnancy and Cragbaby’s early weeks my husband and I realized that we were at a stage where a lot of people give up on play, and get locked into a rut of everyday living,” she says. “I hope to motivate others who want to remain active throughout pregnancy and beyond. Starting a family doesn’t mean the end to outdoor adventures.” Read on for tips she shares with recreatingwithkids.com…
“Over the past 16 months we’ve logged over 50 climbing days with our little cragbaby. Of course, since he’s changing all the time, we’re constantly having to make adjustments, but the following is a synopsis of what we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) about how to have a successful climbing day with your little one.
2. An Experienced Extra Partner. My husband and I made a pact before we ever took Cragbaby out: NEVER LET BABY-WATCHER AND BELAYER BE THE SAME PERSON. Even though logistically it might work if your baby isn’t mobile yet, we were never willing to take the risk – too many variables outside of our control.
3. Know the Area. Some climbing areas are better suited for hiking in with a baby than others, so now is not the time to try out a new area. Approaches involving scree slopes, talus-strewn trails, fixed lines and water crossings are probably a little ambitious to start with, especially if your baby is still too young to ride in a backpack carrier. Think about what the cliff base is like — are there any natural caves/overhangs that you’ll be able to take shelter in during a passing shower? Are there steep and rocky places where it will be difficult to put your baby down for naps and diaper changes?
4. Practice Safe Baby Placement. This also goes along with knowing the area, but it’s about more than just having a flat spot to toss a blanket down for naps. Be aware of the potential for rock fall and other hazards. That level, out of the way area shaded by a tree might have a hornet nest at the base, or be right beside a patch of poison ivy. Inspect these areas thoroughly before setting up your “baby station.”
5. Expect Extra Nursing Sessions. If you’re nursing, accept the fact that your baby will more than likely choose the most inconvenient times to need Mommy. Remember that nursing is about more than just nutrition – it’s a safe and familiar comfort for your baby when he or she may feel a little anxious about being in such a strange environment. Also don’t forget that babies quench not just their hunger but also their thirst through nursing. On hot days, expect your baby to get more thirsty (don’t you?).
6. Don’t be a Moron Mom. Pre-cragbaby, it might have been cool to brag to your friends the next day about how you got stormed off your project just as the sun was setting, had to rap down in the dark because your rope got stuck, then got lost on the hike out and almost got be-nighted because you just barely made it through before the park ranger closed the gates. This is NOT cool with a baby on board…do your best to avoid situations that lead to these types of shenanigans. Only climb in areas/routes that you know well, and allow plenty of extra time to make it out before dark. Make sure both you and your baby are prepared for any and all types of weather situations you may encounter. Even though it’s read as a cliche at the front of every guidebook that I own, it’s printed there because it’s the truth – “Rock climbing is a dangerous sport that can result in death, paralysis, or serious injury.” Stay safe out there and have fun!