So, What is Toddler-Wearing? Click the "Read More" link below to find out...
Why Wear a Toddler?
Toddler wearing can come in handy in so many ways and can help with so many of the issues that makes parenting a toddler unique and challenging. Wearing your toddler means:
- You can keep a toddler safe on your back while crossing busy parking lots or on walks.
- You can calm an overstimulated little person with carrier snuggles.
- You can help get through emotional toddler moments. Toddlerhood is rough!
- You can give and receive toddler kisses and hugs. There is nothing cuter or more precious.
- You can get raspberries on the back of your neck!
- You can help a toddler who refuses to sleep in bed or on the go: being worn allows your little sleep-fighter to relax and give into sleep.
- You can cement your bond with your toddler while taking care of a younger sibling.
- You can provide extra snuggles when the little person is sick.
- You can make shopping trips so much easier when wearing your toddler. Otherwise, little hands are surprisingly sneaky, and little feet can be deceptively quiet. You never know what might happen when free-ranging toddlers are about. Toddlers. touching. every. single. thing. Yes?
- You can give your little one a ride on your back when in a hurry, which keeps him from doting on every little thing, and keeps him engaged in the conversation and connected to you.
- You can offer your toddler the vantage point from your back, which keeps your toddler interested in what’s going on around her, and allows you to talk to her about what she’s seeing. Toddler conversations are the best! It’s so easy to talk to your little person when they are perched on your back, seeing what you see. You talk to them more, and they absorb more--wearing your toddler literally stimulates their brain development more! Which is great for the zoo, the aquarium, an afternoon walk, or museum visit.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that wearing your toddler or older baby means that your child will never learn to walk. As if sitting for hours in a stroller totally teaches babies to walk, right? I’ve known worn babies to walk at nine months and worn babies who walk at 18 months. Both are completely normal and when they walk has nothing to do with being worn.
Here are some toddler wearing tips:
- Check with the manufacturers to make sure you know the tested weight limits for your carrier. Unless they are specifically marketed to babies and infants, most of them accommodate toddlers just fine.
- Every type of carrier, Buckle carriers, ring slings, Mei tais, and wraps can be used for toddlers. You may find a specific type more comfortable than others.
- Wraps are still the most versatile of carriers, even for toddlers. You can wrap several different ways to distribute your little one’s weight so that it is comfortable for you. Here are several great wrapping tutorials for ‘big kids’.
- Ring slings are widely popular for toddlers because they are easy to get on and off, and very ‘poppable’—meaning you can easily and quickly pop your child in and out of the carrier. On those days when your toddler wants to be held for exactly 18.5 seconds every 3 minutes, your ring sling will be there to help you.
- Mei tais are easy to use for toddlers and great for wearing multiples, since they are quick to put on and can accommodate bigger kids.
- Buckle carriers or soft structured carriers are the most popular option for toddler-wearing because the waist band helps to distribute the weight of your little one to your hips and off of your shoulders. They are very specific to you and your body though, so take time to hunt for just the right one if you feel a buckle carrier is the way to go.
There has been a current movement around the babywearing community lately that your baby can ‘outgrow’ a carrier when he no longer fits knee-to-knee. Can we just bust that one right now? Here’s the logic refuting this claim: when your baby is small, and has little to no muscle control, that knee to knee position is going to optimize his comfort, his alignment, and allow him to best use those very developing muscles without putting strain on his growing body. But as she grows and develops strength and can use her core muscles to support herself, it’s less important for a carrier to fit knee-to-knee because she can use her core muscles to move and balance. Make sense? The main exception to this rule involves wraps and ring slings and here’s why: when a baby sits in a wrap or a ring sling, since there is no waist support going under his legs and around to the front, we need to make sure that baby is SITTING in the carrier, and not just held there by friction. We do that by creating a little hammock seat for baby to sit down into. Picture yourself sitting on the edge of a hammock, just perched there before you sink down into it. If you move the wrong way or too fast, you will either fall backward or fall down. Now, when you sink down into the hammock enough so that the hammock material is at your knees and your bottom is down in the middle of the hammock then you are finally sitting now, and you feel supported, right? That is the knee-to-knee sitting position we want baby or toddler to have for a wrap and ring sling, thus creating an actual ‘seat’ in which baby sits.
Yes, knee-to-knee is still optimal, but no, please don’t feel like you need to go out and purchase a brand new toddler carrier because your baby just turned 10 months old. It can be more harmful to a baby to over-spread his legs than to put him in a carrier that is a tad too small. My advice? If you want a carrier, find one that fits now. Then if you feel the need to get a toddler carrier, just sell the one you own to fund a new one. Most carriers hold their resale value surprisingly well.
A few carriers that specifically come in toddler sizes are: Olives and Applesauce,Tula, Beco, Onya, and Kinderpack.
Personally, I find wearing my toddlers (who are now almost preschool age) has allowed me to be the best parent I can be. Having three children 2 years apart means they have many needs to be filled, and wearing someone can help me fill someone’s tank while simultaneously filling up a sibling’s tank as well. I don’t wear my kids every day anymore, or even every week, but there are times for which I am thankful for this very useful tool in my parenting toolbox. So keep on wearing those little ones, they don’t stay little for long!
Crystal Knezek, ABE