Wearing a Toddler or Preschooler

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This post continues the ages and stages babywearing series.  If you would like to learn more about newborn babywearing, wearing an infant until they’re able to sit up on their own, or wearing an older infant in to toddlerhood check out my earlier posts.

Babywearing in to toddlerhood and beyond is a great way to bond with your child.  It’s also a good way to build your core muscles.  Newly walking legs get tired easily.  When you can grab a carrier and put your child up on your back it can save everyone’s sanity when you are on vacation, visiting a theme park, hiking, at a festival, and more.  Babywearing also allows you to be able to go to places that strollers aren’t permitted and allows your child to interact more closely with you and the world on your eye level.

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Babywearing while hiking on the Oregon coast.  Woven wraps are warmer for hikes than a soft structure carrier but can be more supportive as well.

I have children who have had sensory defensive issues (the part of sensory processing disorder that makes them really want to push away/not participate in highly sensory situations).  We really enjoy going to festivals.

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My middle son (pictured above) enjoyed the people but didn’t enjoy the noises.  Wearing him helped him be able to interact on a level he was comfortable as well as receive the calming sensation of being wrapped snuggly (like a big hug as my children have described babywearing when they’ve had more words). My oldest son was extremely shy.  Babywearing allowed him to turn his head in to me when he didn’t want to interact and people were more respective of his space when I was wearing him (though not always but it was easier for me to tell he needed a break).

Babywearing children with special circumstances and needs can be extremely helpful for their mental and emotional well-being as well as yours (being able to provide the extra snuggles which also helps release oxytocin which soothes and promotes bonding).

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Babywearing (toddler wearing) can be very soothing when your child is upset or hurt

Toddler wearing is also very helpful to soothe bumps and bruises and fits by offering additional comfort (while being a little easier on your body and arms than holding in arms when baby begins growing larger and heavier).  Toddlers are also notorious for falling asleep in the car RIGHT before you reach your destination.  Babywearing can be a great way to help meet your child’s needs (and allow them to continue sleeping) and your needs to make it on time to your appointments!

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Toddlers are notorious for falling asleep right before you reach your destination!

Babywearing can also be a great way to keep little curious hands out of danger but caution should always be taken to watch what those hands are grabbing while you are wearing baby on your back.  This little gal (below) had recently split her head open.  She goes to a lot of conferences and events with me.  Babywearing has helped me to keep her calm while I’m working and also keep her safe too.

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So what carriers are good for toddlers and preschoolers?

It’s important to keep YOUR child’s needs in mind.  After baby is 2+ the spread squat positioning isn’t quite as important but it’s the normal position for the hips so best practices are that you continue to support that position.  If baby has hip dysplasia or is at higher risk that position is very important to support. It’s important to counsel with your doctor and physical therapist if your child has special circumstances or needs so that you may be able to meet those as well as caring for their medical situations.

  • Woven wraps can always support that position through spreading the wrap to hit knee to knee. Try different lengths-shorter wraps won’t be quite as supportive (using fewer passes over baby) but may be quicker to wrap if your child likes to get up and down a lot.  Shorter wraps are also easier to tuck in a diaper bag or even in your stroller if you go back and forth between wearing and baby strolling.
  • Soft structure carriers and more structured carriers (like mei tais) may not support this position anymore because likely the panel isn’t wide enough any longer unless you purchase a toddler or preschooler specific carrier or one with stirrups (such as the Boba carrier).  Also, it’s likely at this stage that your child has outgrown the height of the panel as well.  If it doesn’t reach the base of their arms (where their arm meets their body) or higher up on their back the carrier is not considered tall enough any longer.  There is a fall and lean back risk even if your child usually does not lean backwards.

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    This is the first time that my oldest “made cookies” with me.  Babywearing allowed me to mix cookies while keeping him secure in a new environment he hadn’t been in before.

  • Ring slings may be ok for a few minutes here and there but many parents find that their back will get really tired using one for more than a few minutes.
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Babywearing is great for all!  Even Yoda! (This is a meme that is often passed around online.  I don’t have a photo credit but if you know who made it I would love to credit them!)

I teach best practices for positioning for all babies because suboptimal positioning puts baby at risk for possible hip/spine issues down the road.  Like how drinking alcohol doesn’t ALWAYS cause liver disease or smoking doesn’t ALWAYS cause lung cancer the benefits and risks should be weighed when making decisions.  The risk is there and I recommend minimizing that risk.

I am a Boba Ambassador.  I do not receive payment from Boba but will occasionally receive new products and updates from time to time.  I am a Boba Ambassador because I believe in their products.  For more information about this as well my other disclosures please visit this page.

If you’re in the Oklahoma City area and would like some hands on babywearing help please contact me or visit my website.

What is your favorite carrier for a toddler or preschooler?

How to Find Babywearing Support

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We’re going to talk about babywearing support.  There are two types of babywearing support-volunteer support from a babywearing group leader, and paid support from a babywearing educator.  I have broken down the differences in this post and I highly encourage everyone to read it to understand why there’s a difference.

I started a babywearing group in Ogden, Utah when my son was about a year old mostly to find like minded moms to bond with.  It didn’t really get off the ground until another awesome like minded mom came in and started really organizing things (she knew other babywearing parents at that time, I didn’t).  I really enjoyed the group for a few months before we moved to Oregon for my husband to attend graduate school.  Less than a year after we moved I knew I really needed to create a support group in my new community and I better knew how to get it off the ground.  I started Corvallis Babywearers in May 2012.  I had seen some dangerous babywearing practices and heard from a lot of families that they had wished they’d been able to babywear but the two options that they could purchase locally didn’t work well for them and they didn’t know there were other options available.  I was able to work in my community until we moved after my husband graduated last August.  There are still some wonderful women that are keeping the group going which I’m so happy about because it was a great passion of mine and I put a lot of work in to it.

While we lived in Oregon I had the opportunity (in March 2014) to attend the Babywearing Institute on one of our trips back to visit family in Utah.  I was taught by Beate, the founder of the Babywearing Institute, who has been babywearing since she lived in Germany and wrapped her siblings.  She and her husband own Storchenwiege which makes beautiful German-style woven wraps.  They also own the online shop, Children’s Needs.  I was surprised how much I learned and different wrapping techniques.  I also learned better practices for how to teach babywearing.  I used the skills in my babywearing group but also started offering babywearing consultations until we moved.  I took a short break while we got settled and I again offer babywearing consultations.

I love both types of support and both types will help you wear your baby.  There are advantages to having a paid consultation and there are advantages to a support group.  I would like to share some tools to help you find local support.

Here are some tools to help you find a babywearing group or online support:

  • Babywearing International (not all babywearing groups are affiliated with BWI and are still awesome groups so be sure to check out several tools to see all the groups available in your area).
  • Online baby carrier retailers with listings or look up tools:
  • The Babywearer (Online forum with a lot of babywearing information.  There are also local boards within this forum.  You have to register to view forums but it’s free!)
  • Baby Center (online support)
  • Facebook (do a search of common terms that you call your area and babywearing.  There are also online groups such as Babywearing 102)

Here are some tools to help you find a local educator:

A special note on YouTube. You can learn to do a lot of things on YouTube.  Some can be dangerous and some can show not-as-optimal positioning.  It’s important to learn what is optimal positioning before scouring YouTube for videos.  I have compiled many babywearing videos on my YouTube channel.  You can check out my babywearing playlists here.

Where is your favorite place to go for online babywearing support?

I am a Certified Babywearing Educator and a Lactation Educator.  I offer babywearing and breastfeeding classes and consultations in the Oklahoma City, Mustang, and Yukon areas in Oklahoma.  If you are interested in learning more you can contact me or visit my website.