Zoe is 2 now. Every day she is more like a toddler than a baby. Even so, I still baby wear her almost every day. Baby wearing is one of those things that you can do right into toddlerhood. I get people asking me if she is too heavy or “how does your back handle that weight?”. I can say that, depending on the carrier, I can literally wear Zoe for a good couple of hours. Others ask me if she is to old to be in “that” or why she is not walking by herself. But I see a lot of kids her age and actually older being pushed in prams and I wonder in all honesty what is the difference between being pushed around or carried around?
Toddlers are worn differently most of the times than newborns and babies. As a baby Zoe was in a stretchy wrap worn in front and as she got older moved to a ring sling or a forward carry with a woven. But soon after 12 months she preferred being worn on my back or for short periods in a ring sling. Toddlers are creatures that like to explore the world- but sometimes it is not always possible or safe to do so. But by being carried they can still experience and see what you see. Just from a safe distance.
Toddlers are rarely worn for long periods of time; they like to be up and down a lot. A good carrier will save your arms and back, let you leave the pram at home, and of course snuggle your big kid close when he needs it.
I wear Zoe most of the time when we are out or if I am at a place where I don’t want her to roam free- like the mall. Wearing her allows me to get all my stuff done in the evenings (bonus work out with an extra 12kg to move around) and it is our favorite to cook together in the evenings- with her on my back in her beloved wrap.
Wearing comes in handy when she is tired and just wants to be close to me. She walks most of the time but I always have a carrier in the car with me for the JUST INCASE moments. Like when we are out and she gets tired and want to sleep- then the rinsling or wrap comes out and she will be asleep in 10 minutes max.
A lot of people wonder about if it is comfortable wearing a toddler. Most of the mass produced carriers that you can buy at baby shops are not. They are pure hell and are not ergonomically correct and I am sure are pretty close to impossible to use with an older child. In my opinion the Ubuntu baba stage 2 is a carrier that you can use on an older child. I used mine until Zoe was 22 months old. Then she outgrew it. Another option you have is using something in the lines of a meh dai carrier- I recently bought the DidyTai from Didymos and can say it is the PERFECT fusion between a woven wrap and a meh dai style carrier. Or you can do a nice wrap job in your woven.
The good news would be that you can find quite a number of these options in South Africa. The Ubuntu carriers are available online (www.ubuntubaba.com) as well as the DidyTai (available from www.pipapo.co.za) If neither of these options tickle your fancy- you can always meet up with a baby wearing consultant in your area to have a look and try the different carriers. (I can only personally recommend these 2 as it is the only 2 that I have tried this far. There is other GREAT ones out there too)
But what makes a good toddler carrier a GOOD toddler carrier?
•What worked great for the first year, might not be such a great option for toddler wearing. But the same is true for many types of baby gear like car seats and prams. As your child grows, you will need a carrier that can accommodate a larger body and provide support for more weight (the opposite is also true; many great toddler carriers won’t work for little ones). If you are finding that your old favorite isn’t working for your toddler, try a toddler friendly carrier and you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised and how comfortable toddler wearing can be.
•Even though toddlers weigh more, they are actually easier to wear. Toddlers are longer so their weight is more evenly distributed on the wearer’s body.
•It’s pretty common for toddlers to go on a “wrap/ wearing strike” as they learn to walk. But don’t sell off those carriers. Most children quickly come back around and even begin to ask to “up” as they get older.
•Toddlers like to be up and down a lot as they explore on their own two feet. You’ll want a carrier that you can use quickly. Ring slings are a nice option for short trips. Many parents like soft structure/buckle carriers for ease of use. I prefer woven wraps or my DidyTai as Zoe is now too big for my trusted Ubuntu carrier.
•Back carries are your friend! Ideally, you want a carrier that you feel comfortable using for both front and back carries. Most wearers find back carries to be more comfortable for long term wearing (and many toddlers prefer the wider view). But even big kids sometimes want front snuggles.
• For ring slings you’ll want a sturdy fabric (linen and wrap conversions are popular options) and a wider width to provide proper support. (Check the with of the ring sling or wrap before you buy)
•If you are interested in a soft structured carrier, look for ones that have taller bodies and more padded straps like the Ubuntu carriers.
•Woven wraps work well for all ages although some brands are known for being more toddler friendly like in my opinion Girasol as they a bit wider. You may find yourself using different carries with a toddler than you did with a younger baby. Ruck under the bum is a great quick option for toddlers. The double hammock is great for longer periods of wearing as it distributes the weight across your entire torso.
•Whatever carrier you chose should support your child out to his knees and keep his knees slightly higher than his bum – another reason you may need to “size up” as your child grows.
•For all carriers make sure you are buying from a reputable manufacturer. Safety is important.
•Finally, if you are looking for the perfect fit for you and your toddler, trying before you buy is a great idea. As toddlers get older, they often become quite opinionated about which carrier they’d like to use. They will even ask for it by name… Your toddler might hate one carrier and love another. A baby wearing consultant can be a great place to try out some different options to find something you both love.
Toddlers are busy little people but they still want and need the security of snuggles. Toddler wearing can be a great way to fill that need as well as an easy way to keep your toddler safe and happy when out and about!
If you are a toddler wearing mommy- a big shout out to you 🙂