This is my baby the first time I wore him.
What happened in the last 20 months? Oh yeah… he grew! He went from being just over 7 pounds to nearly 30! Yes, my 20 month old is the same weight as many 3 year olds. I get many comments similar to this: “doesn’t that hurt your back?” ,”Isn’t he walking yet?”, “You aren’t going to be able to carry him like that for very much longer!” Actually, I’ve been hearing that last one since he was about 6 months old and we are still going strong. However, the way I carry him is much different and the type of carrier I use is also different.
Newborn vs. Toddler carrying
Newborns are small and fit in one arm while laying down. You can carry a toddler with one arm on your hip, but usually need the second arm to help control any flailing hands or attempts to run away. When he was a newborn I loved, LOVED my stretchy Sleepy Wrap (now Boba Wrap). It was so wonderful to tie it on and pop him in. I could do light housekeeping while wearing him and he would sleep. I would get him out for diaper changes and feedings and wiggle time, then we would would to pick up big sister from school and he would sleep. It was fabulous. Now… well, now my sleepy little newborn is a energized toddler who loves to RUN! Now my go to carrier is usually a buckle carrier (currently a Boba 3G) because it’s fast to get him into it. Occasionally I wear him in a long woven wrap, but he has to be in the mood for it since wrapping takes a bit longer than getting him into the buckle carrier.
Toddlers and Stretchy Wraps
Not the best combination. Toddlers are wiggly. A toddler could easily wiggle into an unsafe position in a stretchy wrap, plus if you carry a toddler on your front (as you always should in a stretchy wrap, be it Moby or Boba) you risk being slapped in the face… but you could just as easily be showered with kisses.. you never know with toddlers. Besides stretchy wraps can get saggy with the increased weight of a toddler, so it may not be comfortable for very long.
Toddlers and Ring Slings or Pouches
Ring slings and pouches are a one shouldered carry option. If your toddler is over 20 pounds one shouldered carries could be getting harder on your body. I will still use ring slings for very quick trips into a store. I realized the need for this recently when I wore my toddler in the ring sling for far longer than I normally do (45 minutes in the morning and another 30 or so in the evening) and my body was not happy the next day! So toddlers and ring slings really depend on your particular body, but ring slings are really great for those quick trips to keep your toddler contained without using a cart or stroller.
Toddlers and Woven Wraps
Woven wraps take a bit of time to wrap, even when you use a short wrap. Short wraps can be good for hip carries and can be a bit more supportive than a traditional ring sling for this. Short wraps are also good for quick up, single layer back carries. Long woven wraps are good for multilayered carries which can be much more supportive of a heavy toddler. The trick is to have a semi cooperative toddler. Sometimes mine will lay nice and still while I wrap him, but more and more he wants to be on the go and not wait around for Mama to wrap him so he wiggles and hollers and wants to be down. That makes me sad, because I love my woven wrap.
Toddlers and Soft Structured Carriers
SSCs or buckle carriers are pretty quick and for toddlers quick is where it’s at. The quicker you can start moving with a toddler the better for them to see the world. Many toddlers seem to start to grow out of the more traditional SSCs out there, meaning the carriers don’t fit your toddler from knee to knee. There are several more custom sized carrier makers that have come around lately. They have the bigger toddler and even preschool sized carriers. Tula, Kindercarry, Olives and Applesauce and Two Mommas Designs are just a few of the places that carry bigger, toddler sized carriers.
Toddlers and Mei Tai Carriers
Mei tais are like SSCs only with ties instead of buckles. They are the original design of a SSC. Using these with toddlers is pretty quick and somewhat more adjustable than a buckle carrier. Some people however don’t feel a mei tai gives as much support as a SSC. It depends on the mei tai and how you get everything adjusted and your own body. There are some that are more suited to heavy toddler wearing than others. The ones with well padded shoulder straps are probably more comfortable than those with thin straps.
Tips for “baby”wearing a Toddler
- Be quick, if you can. Toddlers like to be on the go, so get going as soon as you can. That may mean you have to change up your carrier if you typically use a woven wrap… try a mei tai or SSC.
- Give breaks. If you are wearing your toddler for a long day trip, try to let your toddler down for 15 minute breaks to run around. They need to stretch their legs and get the wiggles out!
- Offer toys. Hook a toy on those plastic rings you used when they are a baby. Those rings fit nicely around a SCC or mei tai should strap. Bring a couple of toys and swap them out.
- Be silly. Dance and walk funny while wearing your toddler. They will think you are a hilarious ride. You will be tired before they stop saying “more”.
Why continue to carry a Toddler?
Toddlers are not to be trusted. At least mine isn’t. He is a funny, independent, mischievous boy who would rather run from me than hold my hand. He is scared of shopping carts and we haven’t tried a stroller since I don’t know when. The safest way to get him from here to there is by carrying him. It’s easiest for me to carry him in a carrier on my back. The way I figure it is, would I let him walk alone? No. Will he hold my hand? No. Will he sit in a stroller or shopping cart? Maybe. But if they are small enough to sit in a cart or stroller you can still carry them by using a baby carrier. So my answer to “why carry a toddler”? It’s easier.