A Growing Pack: Making Room for Adventure with a Baby
Annalie and canine sidekick, Ted, have always had a passion for getting out and exploring together. After welcoming baby Francesca to their pack, they’re finding ways to adventure and unleash possibility in even the everyday moments now that there’s a new kid on the block.
We've always said that when we have a baby, we want the baby to fit into our lifestyle as much as possible; not us to fit into the baby’s. Adventures have always been a priority for us - what is life without them?! - and we’ve loved them even more for the past 5 years with Ted.
Because of this, it was, and still is, important to continue them, but with Frankie alongside us, too.
Preparing to Meet the New Pack Member
Bringing a baby home is a huge change of lifestyle – one that was completely unknown to us. We began preparing Ted for Frankie’s arrival as early as possible.
We had a Moses basket in our living room and played sounds on our phone inside it. It was quite funny to watch. Initially, Ted would get up and inquisitively stand by the basket with his ears up and head tilted to one side. He barked and tried to jump up at first, but the more we did it, the more he got used to it.
The pushchair (stroller) was kept in the house, too. We’d wheel it around the house and garden, conscious to make lots of positive associations for Ted with this new contraption on wheels.
Ted was included in setting up everything for Frankie - the cot build, letting him sniff any new clothes we had bought for her, blankets and toys, anything that made unusual noises…the list goes on!
We spent lots of time on walks and visiting with our close friends who just had a baby, too. I think this really helped Ted get used to having a baby around.
Ted Meets Frankie
Ted is a good natured dog, a Labrador, which are renowned to be one of the best breeds with children. We had no doubt he would be really good with her, but he is still a dog. Dogs are pack animals. This new dynamic to our pack could go either way, so we were cautious about introducing Ted to Frankie.
In reality, it was a really calm experience. When I was in hospital, Ted stayed at my parents’ house, so we introduced him to Frankie while he was there. We decided to go with the flow and act as normal as possible around him.
When we first saw him, we focussed purely on him and gave him lots of fuss and cuddles – after all, we had both missed him lots! We took Frankie into the house in her car seat and carefully placed her on the floor, not drawing any attention to her and acting as if everything was normal.
He went over to give his new little sister a sniff and a few licks, and that was it. Love at first sight!
Exploring New Routines
Having a baby can be very time consuming, but I always do my best to make time for Ted, too and make sure he has a routine. Fortunately, we have always loved spending time outdoors so Ted (and now Frankie) just come along with us wherever we go.
Life has changed, though. A baby turns your life and your regular routine upside down, so Ted gets out with a dog walker a couple of times a week. It really helps him socially, and it gives me time to go to baby classes or simply try and get jobs done.
When my husband went back to work, I knew that I had to get my head around going out on my own with both dog and baby. I made sure I was super confident with the gear that I had so that I could try and get us all out seamlessly. That first trip out was quite nerve-racking, but we did it.
After what is usually a manic day, our evenings are also full of good quality time with Ted when Frankie goes to bed. We prioritise this and he gets lots of love and cuddles on the sofa .
Mum guilt is a thing. Whether it's spending time with Frankie more than Ted, or vice versa - definitely mum guilt. I remind myself it’s a natural feeling and continue with my positive affirmations. At the end of the day, we’re all human and not perfect. We’re never going to get everything right, but as long as we try our best, that’s all we can do, right?
Getting Out and Exploring Together
We have always had a passion for adventure; we adore getting out into the great outdoors and exploring new places. I was itching to get out as a family of 4 and show Frankie all the amazing places there are from our doorstep and beyond.
There’s so much more to think about having a baby along. We can’t just grab a lead and head out the door anymore. It’s important to be organised, so we make sure we have all the right gear to make the experience as seamless as possible.
Our two most used Ruffwear products are the Front Range® Harness and the Just-a-Cinch™ Lead. The slip lead is great for when I have Frankie in the baby carrier and struggle to bend all the way down. The lead slips on and off Ted’s neck really easily.
When I’m using the pushchair, Ted's harness comes into action as we clip a lead on the front hook and it stops him from pulling.
Our Thule Urban Glide pushchair is fantastic for walks. It’s super quick and easy to set up and travels beautifully over multi-terrains because of its great suspension and big wheels. It’s such a comfortable ride for Frankie that she often falls asleep over the bumpiest of grounds.
Our baby sling is also used daily. It allows us to access any walk, including those with styles and super narrow paths. And we can’t wait to get her up some mountains and show her the world with Ted, so we’re really excited to be getting the Thule Sapling baby carrier soon for longer hikes, with Frankie being more comfortable.
Unleashing Possibility Every Day
Having the right gear and getting prepped the night before always helps. With a baby in the mix, spontaneity is out, and organisation is key. Plan in advance, pack ahead, and make lists. If all of this goes out the window (which it inevitably does with kids), then just be flexible, adapt, wing it - and enjoy it.
We just recently managed a 10k hike, which felt fantastic. It included plenty of laughs, naps, and snacks. Ted loved it because the hike followed the river. He was dipping in and out of it the whole way (he loves a good swim!). It felt like the ‘old days’ again!
Don’t get me wrong, it is a full operation getting out of the house in the morning, but there's an even bigger sense of achievement when we get home after a full day out like that one. We think, “Yeah, we did it. We went on the biggest adventure yet with a 7-month-old baby – and Ted has had THE best time too!”
Follow their journey on Instagram @annalieandted.