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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
What is your favorite carrier for a toddler or preschooler?