I saw a thread on here not to long ago from a Mom looking for ways to carry a gun and all of the other stuff a parent has to carry. I've also gotten a number of emails and messages asking the same question.
We all know that the gun-totting world is still dominated by men and a lot of people are still scratching their heads on ways to get around the issue of parenting young children who can't walk and totting all of the stuff that goes with them.
As one of these parents I've taken on the subject matter.
First, I'd like to say that I ditched the huge, mumbo jumbo, super sized diaper bag. It was clunky, it was cumbersome and it was unnecessary. Instead, I went to target and bought a sturdy canvas bag with two small pockets on the outside (one for my cell phone and one for my wallet) and that's it. All the diapers, bottles, toys, spare clothes, etc, go in the main pocket. All the changing pads, zippered pouches, pockets, hooks and do-dads of big diaper bags only add more weight and with all of the other stuff a parent has to carry I say loose it. That and it looks so much better. As far as a "changing pad" is concerned? I just carry a hand towel to lay my son on. I don't need a super, duper water-proof quilted pad. Again, cutting weight is a good thing.
Next, I want to address safety. As a young parent of a six-month old, I'm learning just how unpredictable children can be. Just yesterday I rescued my son from face-planting on the floor by launching himself off my bed. I had no idea he could lung so far until I caught him doing it. Every parent I talk to is amazed at the sudden advances their children can make. I often here things like, "I had no idea he could pick that up," or "I didn't know he was strong enough to...," or "One day he just did it."
My son also opened his first cabinet yesterday. I wouldn't have thought him to have the dexterity yet but every day his advances surprise me.
While the advances are incredible, as gun owners with firearms near our children on a daily basis we have to remember those kind of sudden advances.
Are you accustomed to leaving your firearm on the bedside table thinking that your child can't reach it? Are you used to taking your gun off and just putting it in a drawer? It's never too soon to start changing your habits into safer ones like putting your firearm in a lock box or some other secure location where little advancing fingers can't access it.
And don't forget about ammo. It's easy to think about the firearm as the worst danger but ammunition is the perfect choking hazard to small children who love to experiment with their world through their mouth.
Before we had children it was quite common to find random ammunition everywhere. Part of vacuuming in our home was scowering the floor for loose 9mm or .45ACP. Today, our floors are blessedly ammo free in lieu of respecting the little one and his world on our floor.
While we know that the majority of firearms' owners are responsible people we also know that accidents can occur. And so I have come up with a few ground rules aside from the regular four rules of gun safety.
1. When dealing with firearms, do so in another room, separate and safe from your children. Put your child in a secure location where you don't have to worry about them while you arm up. We all know that kids can grab, move, jump, yank at the most unexpected of times and even if they don't get their hands on a gun, something they do can startle a parent into being careless enough for an accident to occur. Having them in a separate location insures proper attention is given to the responsibility at hand.
2. Put your holster on, put your gun on, get them set, then go to your children and don't touch your firearm or holster again unless you cannot avoid it. Don't fidget with or adjust or work with your gun or your set up while your children are around (see no. 1).
3. MAKE SURE your holster is of good quality and that the trigger guard of your firearm is completely enclosed. Small fingers and toes, toys and do-dads can get into small spaces and while you are wrestling with diaper bags, children, toys, bottles, pacifiers, wipes, temper tantrums, owies, band-aids and sippy cups, you might not always notice the hazards that can slip into an exposed trigger guard. Anything within your trigger guard other than your finger when your sights are on their target is BAD. Conversly, a gun cannot fire if the trigger is not pressed. Keep your trigger guard guarded with a quality holster and avoid accidents.
I have found the best means of carrying a baby and a gun to be a sling. I have tried other carriers and have found that while some work better than others the best for me has been the sling. Experiment with carriers and see which works the best for you.
To better demonstrate, I also did a video on carrying a gun and a baby. You can view it here.
I strongly discourage off-body means of carry because, as I said, with babies making extreme advances in such a short amount of time you have no idea when your child is suddenly going to get into your bag and find a shiny new toy.
I don't know any parents who are irresponsible with their children but I know that no matter how closely you watch your child, any parent will agree, there will be times you turn around and find your child into something you never intended them to get into.
Since I carried a firearm before I was pregnant I went into pregnancy and early parenting expecting to have to adapt to new methods of gun-totting. I've only been doing it for a short period of time but I was to share what I have learned so far with mothers and fathers who may be new to this or just haven't really considered it before. Perhaps even to a few parents-to-be who are adding just one more thing to think about when it comes to having a child.
I've also added a little more in my Limatunes Range Diary blog.