For some parents, babywearing is something that they want to do from the time that they find out they’re expecting, and for other, they will start at some point in their baby’s life out of pure necessity. It doesn't matter how you arrive at babywearing, but how you do it can have a huge impact on your ability to do this comfortably and also long-term.
For many caregivers, once their baby reaches 20 or 25 pounds, they start really feeling that weight and find that babywearing is becoming uncomfortable. For others, they take their baby’s curiosity and desire to explore as a sign that it’s time to stop wearing them. Both of these situations can be remedied, however, and it's definitely possible to comfortably carry your child well into their preschool years if needed! Follow the tips below to carry into toddlerhood.
10 Start Early
One of the most helpful tips for carrying your baby into toddlerhood is to start as early as possible. The earlier in your baby’s life that you start carrying, the more content they will be with being carried, and less likely to put up a fight as toddlers.
Also, if you start wearing from the beginning, your back, shoulder, and core muscles gradually get stronger as your baby gets heavier, so it’s you're less likely to notice the extra weight. If you don’t start wearing until they’re already 20lbs, that sudden extra weight on you may make your muscles tired and sore, just like a workout!
9 Find the Right Carrier
While starting early is hugely beneficial for your body and your toddler’s demeanor, finding the right carrier is just as important. Baby carriers are like jeans. Just because your friend loves a certain brand and a certain size doesn’t mean they’re going to fit your body.
Baby carriers (with the exception of wraps) need to be tried on and purchased according to personal preference. Many companies also offer multiple sizes (a baby size and a toddler size) so the size of your baby and how long you want to wear them needs to be considered for optimal comfort long-term.
8 Have Your Carrier Fitted
The easiest way to make sure you have the best carrier for you and your baby, and to be sure that it fits comfortably, is to use a babywearing educator. They typically have a learning library, where they can let you try on all the carriers in their stash and find what works for you before you buy.
They can also help adjust and fit your carrier for you and your baby once you own it, so that you can wear safely for as long as you’d like to!
7 Find A Toddler-Specific Carrier
Is it necessary to purchase a toddler-sized carrier when your baby hasn't yet reached the weight maximum for your baby carrier (usually 45 pounds)? That depends on how comfortable both you and your little one are with the carrier.
Toddler carries have a taller panel to better support the full trunk and a wider panel to better support their legs and keep them seated (instead of essentially hanging by the crotch area). If you have a smaller child, the toddler size might not be necessary, so if you're both comfortable and your kid falls within the safety regulations of the manual, your carrier should be fine.
You can also find a carrier that allows you to adjust the size. It's the best of both worlds: the carrier can work for big and small babies alike. This is what most babywearing experts now recommend.
6 Establish Habits
Establishing babywearing habits early on can be very helpful if you hope to wear into the toddler years. If you always wear your baby in the carrier to pick up their siblings from school, or you always wear them in the grocery store, it’ll just be the norm for them and they won’t typically put up a fight, even as toddlers.
However, there are certain developmental phases that babies reach where they start pushing off your body, using you as a jungle gym, and trying to turn so they can see the world around them. Even though they may seem like they’re not enjoying being worn because they are so squirmy and curious, this is part of their development, and the stage doesn’t last too long. Keep putting them up!
5 Keep Your Body Healthy
If you start wearing while your little one is an infant, your muscles will develop as previously mentioned, but you should still make an attempt to keep your body healthy if you’d like to comfortably wear your child into the 30-45lb range.
Keeping your back, shoulders, and core active and strong will be imperative to keep carrying those busy little bodies! As well, in the summer heat make sure you both are also wearing cool clothing, drinking lots of water, and taking breaks when needed.
4 Follow Your Toddler’s Lead
Caregivers like to think they have control over their children’s behavior and the situations they find themselves in, but those little people have minds of their own and can sometimes surprise you! Following your toddler’s lead can help prevent meltdowns and can make your life easier.
If your child seems hot and cranky, or in a mood, they might not want you to hold them close in the carrier. Or perhaps this is when they want some snuggles to calm down. You definitely know your baby best! Make your babywearing experiences happy so this is a time and place of solace for your baby. You don't want this to become something negative that they want to avoid.
Babywearing has become more and more popular with each passing year, and the local communities are growing too, but toddler wearing is still a relatively recent development as bigger and better carriers come out. If you find yourself feeling out of place while all your friends' two-year-olds are running wild, and you are still wearing yours, you are not alone!
Find the closest babywearing community to you, or an online Facebook group, and surround yourself with other like-minded parents who will support and encourage your extended babywearing journey. These caregivers have likely also received all the comments wondering if their child can walk okay, and how they’ll ever learn to be independent when they're attached to you. (Insert eye roll here.)
2 Take Photos
Maybe you love babywearing or you find it necessary and also convenient. If you're so passionate about babywearing that you want to carry your baby even as they enter toddlerhood, it's a good idea to take photos.
Carrying your child is one of those things that isn't going to last forever, so you should take tons of photos to help you remember the love that you felt during these special moments. You will look back on them fondly in the years to come, and you will be so glad you took some snapshots.
1 Know When To Let Go
Finally, at some point in your babywearing journey, it will be time to let go. Whether your baby is simply too heavy for you to carry (despite a good quality and perfectly fitted carrier), or if your child is now old enough that they’re asking to get down and walk, there will be a point when you have to stop wearing your little one.
This can be extremely emotional for some caregivers, and may be hard to admit is coming. But it's in your best interest (and your kid's best interest, too) if you let go while it's still a positive experience for both of you. Babywearing at any age is such an incredible bonding experience, but carrying your babies into toddlerhood is such an accomplishment. Enjoy it while you can, and happy carrying!