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?

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Wearing a Newborn

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Newborn babies are so tiny and precious.  There are a few things we need to watch out for when wearing them.  It’s important to keep in mind that they start out so tiny but grow SO rapidly (doubling their lowest weight by 6 months and tripling by a year).  A carrier that would fit a newborn well will not fit a 6 month old unless it’s a less structured carrier that you have to form to fit the baby.  It’s of special importance to be sure that the carrier supports baby’s legs and hips well, spine, and neck to set baby up for the most optimal circumstances.  While carriers can’t be directly attributed to causing hip dysplasia we do know that baby’s hips are cartilage until they are toddlers and that the femur cartilage is harder and will win in a battle.  Any wear and tear can cause issues down the road-whether this is immediate or when your child is very old or somewhere in between.  I promote best practices so all of my posts reflect this.  Best practices include supporting the spread squat positioning mentioned on the Babywearing Institute’s page here.  And in Dr. Evelin Kirkilionis book A Baby Wants to Be Carried: Everything You Need to Know about Baby Carriers and the Advantages of Babywearing (available on Amazon and through other book suppliers and book stores-link is an affiliate link to Amazon and funds received through the affiliate link helps purchase homeschooling books for my children’s education).

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I have traced my newborn daughter’s legs and bottom in this picture.  This wrap is supporting the spread squat position.  You can see how her body makes a capital M shape.  In this position her femur is sitting in the ball and socket of the hip per the research done by hip dysplasia doctors in Germany.  She does not have hip dysplasia but if she did this would be the position they would keep her in because they have determined that this is the best possible position for baby’s hips to be in to heal if baby does have an issue.  I’m exhausted in the picture and it’s not my favorite of me by a long shot but my daughter is only 2 days old in this and she was enjoying an wonderful nap on me.  She is close enough to kiss and the back of her neck is supported by the carrier being tight and smooth on her neck.  The carrier is smooth across her back and if this shot was taken sideways you could see the c-shape curve that a newborn’s spine is in.  (She should be straight up right but had a tendency to lean-I could have further supported her head and body by pulling one of the sides around the back of her head to support her more).

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This is a stock image.  The mother and baby are beautiful but this wrap is MUCH too loose.  It’s natural to snuggle and cuddle your newborn however I think this mom doesn’t feel very secure and in all images that I saw of this mother and baby she’s pulling her baby closer.  This can easily be adjusted by tightening the carrier by pulling very snuggly when wrapping the carrier (I will demonstrate this in a video in a later post).  The shoulders and arms are also very loose and the wrap is likely to slip down mom’s arms.  This is why in person help with a carrier is very important because once you FEEL and SEE how it’s supposed to be on your body you will always get it right and you are able to apply the feeling to any carry that you do.

This same looseness can occur with other carriers such as a ring sling, mei tai (I don’t recommend most mei tais for newborns though because they have to be adjusted quite a bit and don’t support the spine as well because of this unless they’re specifically made to size down to a newborn), or a soft structure carrier at any age or stage.  This looseness is not recommended no matter how old your baby is.

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My daughter is a week old in this photo. She is in a ring sling.  This picture shows the c-shape curve better (I have traced it to point it out better).  Her chin is off of her chest so she can breathe but the carrier is flexible so that her spine is allowed to do what it needs to do.

Now that we know more about what position baby should be in let’s talk about newborn carriers specifically.  These are my favorite carriers for newborns (with links back to my previous posts about these classes of carriers):

  • Ring Slings (not pouches)
  • Wraps-especially the front wrap cross carry
  • Gauze or hybrid wraps
  • Possibly stretchy wraps if they are wrapped very tightly (I don’t recommend them after 12-15 lbs though because baby’s legs will start to pull down out of the spread squat position and baby will become too heavy to stay in the right position on your body-they should NEVER be worn in a back carry)
  • Mei Tais that are specifically designed to adjust down both vertically and horizontally so that it fits snuggly around a newborn (no fabric going below the knee and fabric emulating the tightness from my first picture above).
  • Some infant soft structure carriers.  There should be absolutely no gapping between the back of your baby’s neck and the carrier.  If there is baby needs to grow larger to fit in the carrier well.  Many manufacturers of soft structure carriers say that baby can fit in the carrier from birth however there’s often not enough support until baby is a couple of months old.

If you are in the Oklahoma City area and would like some hands on help to prepare for wearing your newborn during pregnancy or after your baby has arrived please feel free to contact me or check out my website.

What is/was your favorite carrier for a newborn?

Types of Carriers: Asian Inspired Carriers (Soft Structure Carriers, Mei Tais, Pods, Onbu, etc)

First Published: Oct 2, 2015 2:31 AM
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Welcome to another Types of Carriers series post! To see all of the types of carriers as an overview as well as to see the posts about each class please go check out this post. Today I will be talking about Asian Inspired Carriers.

Included in this type of carrier are the Mei Tai, Soft Structure Carriers (often abbreviated to SSC), Onbuhimu (often shortened to Onbu), and Podagei (often shortened to Pod). These are all based on traditional carriers used for many generations in Asian cultures. This class features a body of the carrier and straps. Sometimes there is a chest belt between the shoulder straps (many Soft Structure Carriers) or you are able to create one with a tie off. Some carriers have waist straps (SSC and Mei Tais) and some have long shoulder straps to be used instead (Pod and Onbu). There is some structure to all of these carriers so there are limits to how these can be tied off and used but some babywearers prefer this and this also makes for a friendly carrier to have in your car. Many dad really like this class of carrier though dads can like all types of carriers. In the past this class has also been called ABCs (for Asian Back Carriers).

  • Mei Tais (pronounced may tie):
Thank you Katie Waugh for the awesome daddy wearing picture!

Thank you Katie Waugh for the awesome daddy wearing picture!

Mei Tais features 4 straps: 2 for the shoulders and 2 for the waist (coming off symmetrically). These can come off from the top or side or from the corner depending on the brand. These are very adjustable because you tighten and tie off where you need to which makes these a great carrier for differing parent body types. Mei Tais can be converted from a woven wrap for extra strength and comfort. Out of all of the classifications and types of carriers Mei Tais probably have the lowest learning curve, next to a soft structure carrier. You can make your own with the right pattern and materials-it’s important to note that you do need to make sure that the straps have a long enough portion of fabric sewn in to the body panel and X-boxes need to be sewn in to support the pull and strain that is put on that part of the carrier. Some common brands are Baby Hawk, Kozy, and even Didymos and Girasol make reasonably priced wrap convert Mei Tai carriers.

  • Soft Structure Carriers (often abbreviated to SSC)
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Thank you Sarah Smith for the picture with your sweet baby in a Boba carrier.

There are many brand options in the SSC class. The most common that you may hear are Ergo, Boba, Beco, Kinderpack, Tula, and Lilibaby (though there are many options at a big variety of price points). These feature a buckling waist and structured arms that adjust with webbing or adjust with webbing and unbuckle so they can be crossed if you like. Most also have chest buckles. Most are built to only wear on your front and back but hip carries may be an option if the shoulder straps unbuckle from the body of the carrier (check with the manufacturer if they do). Brands differ slightly in the body shape, length and width of padding in the shoulders (though the width is very similar in all the major brands except Kinderpack), materials used (some feature a mesh panel against baby’s back), amount of padding in the shoulders, etc. Because of these small differences though you can get a VERY different fit between brands or even within the brand with their different types of carriers. You may have to try several brands to find what works well for your body type. You may even find that with different body types between parents and others that want to wear baby the carrier might not fit very well because there are often big differences in body types.

These carriers are quick to get on and off though and probably have the lowest learning curve of any carrier (with a few exceptions between brands that some may find harder to use than just simply buckling the waist, putting baby in, and buckling the chest buckle). While these might be able to be made by yourself, the buckles and materials that need to be used are harder to find than other types of carriers and I don’t recommend most people make them at home.

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  • Other Asian Inspired Carriers (not pictured): Onbuhimu, and Podagei (often abbreviated to Pod).

The Onbuhimu features rings instead of a waist strap which may be very comfortable for a pregnant mom’s growing belly but puts all of baby’s weight on your shoulders. The Podagei features long top straps and a blanket-like panel. The long straps are used to cross under baby’s bottom. All of baby’s weight is on your shoulders. These can possibly be made at home with the right materials and patterns (the X-boxes and depth of the straps in to the body of the carrier mentioned in the section on Mei Tais are important to note).

*For full disclosure I am a Boba Ambassador. I became a Boba Ambassador because I love their products. They send me free products to review from time to time but I do not receive any other compensation from them. I like to offer my honest opinion and free products do not influence my views*

What is your favorite type or brand of Asian Inspired Carrier?