When to take a baby on a march?



Kathryn, partner, and three girls at the Dec 09 Climate Change march.

When can I take my baby on a march? If I had a tattoo I’d want one of the empowering quotes below etched into my skin. Instead I wear a necklace that reminds me to “imagine” what I could be doing to be an active enough parent to brush up and big up the neighbourhood. This post is by Nicola Baird.

 “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Attributed to St Francis of Assisi – patron saint of animals and ecology. Died aged 44 years.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”  (what’s not to love?)
Gandhi (1869-1948) Died aged 69 years

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead, 1901-1978 Died aged 77 years

Three sets of wise words plus several years of caring for kids is all it takes to find family Baird May on a protest march aiming to help highlight how many people in our neighbourhood want the accident and emergency department at our nearest hospital to stay open.

Accident prone
There’s close to 5,000 people, but in front of us (we’re with the Green party) is the accident-prone Family Dixon – one of them has a white T-shirt itemising the many injuries her family have had treated at the A&E unit of the Whittington Hospital.

Nearby there’s little Summer who is taking her teddy on the march.

It’s clear that this event is attracting a lot of families, despite being a cold damp Saturday. My daughters soon join up with friends – this huge march along the A1 from Highbury Corner to Archway – is packed with locals outraged by the idea of having the recently revamped Whittington Hospital’s A&E unit shut down. There’s also a rumour that the maternity ward and paediatrics are to be closed too.

Nell has been well looked after here, and had her life saved once. Lola was born here. I’m a nervous hospital user but I’d much prefer my family’s medical treatment to be provided from a state-of-the-art (as it is now) site that I can if desperate walk to rather than somewhere that cannot be described as local.

You can find out more about this particular campaign  at  which explains why the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition is opposed to any loss or closure of hospitals in North London.

Nell, just 9, is an old hand at marches – the moment we see the save-the-hospital crowds she rushes to find herself a placard. Lola, 11, prefers to make up marching tunes. In fact she excelled with her yells at the climate change march, aka The Wave, held in London last December to coincide with the Copenhagen meeting. Lots of the mums I spoke to during the writing of my new book, Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children, said they’d taken their children on marches when they were very small including Katherine with her three young daughters, Katie Dixon (see photo with Abe at the A&E march) and Zoe (who took baby Mattie up to London to join the anti-Iraq war protest) . 

Despite the crowds it’s more fun than you might think – and if it’s going badly, you can always melt away towards transport home or a cafe/pub and rethink your protest plans.

If you’re going on a march with young children
 *take a pushchair as then you can pile your stuff under the buggy and will find it less tiring than carrying a baby on your front.

* carry some motivational snacks (baguette, biscuits, sweets to share) and a thermos of water

* dress appropriately for the weather (sun hats and sun cream or layers, gloves and possibly even an umbrella)

* write your mobile phone number on to your child’s arm and impress upon them the need to either keep holding your hand or to stay just behind or just in front of a particular banner.

*get in the mood: dress up, use face paints, make your own banners, wear fun masks or carnival gear and if you’ve got them bring instruments (or even a handful of rice grains in an old Pringles container) so you can keep the marching rhythm going.

What inspires you to make changes?
Share your ideas of how you’ve included your children in changes that you know will benefit the neighbourhood here. Or if you’ve got any tips on how to keep children safe when you are out protesting against insane cuts please share them on this site, thank you.

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