Babywearing Ages and Stages: Preschoolers and Beyond

Not many people regularly carry their child 3 years and older. After all, they’re independent humans with a desire (and a need) for exercise! However, sometimes the walk is too long, the airport too fraught with obstacles or the tantrum too distressing: it’s not babywearing any more! Big-kid-wearing soothes, distracts and helps you connect.

What Works Well

At this stage, you’ll need to think about heavy-duty SSCs or wraps. These are big kids you’re carrying! There is quite a specialist market out there for these kinds of carriers so ask around for advice (or in the comments below). Back carries are more or less essential as many children this age are simply too long to fit into a front carry.

What to Watch Our For

Listen to your body. You’re probably pretty strong, but make sure you’re aware of your limits. It’s OK to say “no” if it’s not working for you. It’s also OK to limit the time they spend up on your back.

This is an age where children are often very keen to relive their younger days and spend some time up on a parents’ back, but it’s not usually on a daily basis. They will communicate their needs with you. It’s also an age where it can be used as a great gentle-discipline tool. Instead of “time out”, “time in” can reconnect parent and child after a particularly difficult time.

Do you carry your big kid? What do you love about it? What does your child love? Leave a comment and let us know!

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A Week in the Life of Emma

Thanks to Emma for sharing her week with us :) It looks like a peaceful, dreamy week- at least while babywearing!

Would you like to participate in the “Week in the Life” project? Take a photo every time you baby wear for a week and send them in. We want to see the tiny babies carried all day, the big preschoolers once a week. We want to see the wrap jobs that didn’t quite work out and your old-faithful SSC that is a never-fail. Babywearing is as different as parenting, and we’d like to see lots of it!

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Beyond the Baby: A Toddler Wearing Moment

“Oooh…….buh……buh…ah, oh….wow” Little hands squeezing my shoulders, an excited bounce on my back and a little hand shoots out past my ear pointing, “Bird!”

Its moments like these that I experienced today that remind me how lucky I am as both a mother and a babywearer. The joy of sharing a new experience with a toddler who is learning and growing more each day is amazing in itself, but to do it while wearing him makes it just a little magical.

A simple walk through the local wildlife park, part bush-walk part attractions becomes so much more than a simple day out.

Its a chance to bond and chat – well he chats away in his unique and special toddler language; part words part babble; and I talk to him about what I am seeing and doing. He bops me on the head and pumps me on the shoulders to go faster, I catch his hat as it blows off in the breeze and perform a contortionist act to get it back on his head and then give up and stuff it in my pocket. We are close, we are connected, we are communicating in our own way and enjoying the time spent together.

As the walk goes on, the chatter from behind my ear slows and I start to feel little hands gently stroking the nape of my neck and lightly tugging on my hair. The excited shrieks and exclaimed words cease and are replaced by a soft sigh and a sleepy snuffle. I feel the weight on my back change as sleep takes hold and he rests his cheek on my shoulder and snores softly in my ear.

This shared experience is why toddler wearing is such an important part of my parenting, the interaction, the physical connection, looking at the environment around us from the same angle but with different eyes, its something unique to babywearing.

And those sweet sleepy sighs.

I cherish each and every toddler wearing moment, time is moving so quickly that these days will be over sooner than I want them to be, but the memories will last a lifetime.

Thankyou to Simone from Darwin Babywearers for this wonderful post. Do you wear your toddler? What’s your experience been like? 
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Babywearing Ages and Stages: Toddlers (1-3 Years)

You never thought you’d be carrying a baby THIS big- but she’s not a baby any more! She’s a toddler. She may have begun to walk by now, but she almost certainly will by the end of this stage. She’s temperamental, wilful and has a mind of her own: welcome to toddler babywearing!

What Works Well:

The ring sling or pouch is coming back into its own at this stage. Quick to put on, easy to fold up and stuff into a bag: it’s perfect for those “Carry me/put me down” situations.

When wearing for a longer period of time, by the end of this stage you’ll probably need to start thinking about a heavy duty SSC, mei tai, wrap conversion or wrap to do the job. Head to the forum to ask for advice on good brands: they’re not all created equal.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll know that toddler-wearing is ideal for crowded, busy places that your temperamental delight can get into mischief in. It’s also a great way to calm down a tantrum and reconnect when things have not been going right.

What To Watch Our For:

Carrier strikes are really common at this age. Sometimes they last for a day, sometimes for months: your toddler is asserting her independence. When you absolutely have to carry her out of a bad situation, try to use a front carry when she’s resisting: back carries are difficult and more likely to end badly when there’s a tantrum going on. Toddlers can be bribed into a carrier with snacks or milk or a toy. But mostly, accepting (as much as possible) their independence is the best way to deal with it.

The added weight of your toddler will tell more quickly on your back and shoulder and the precision of your babywearing technique (no matter which carrier you are using) will be the best way to stay comfortable.

Do you carry your toddler? What do you find are its advantages? Where do you find it difficult? Leave a comment and let us know!

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A Week in the Life of Natalie

Thanks to Natalie for sharing her week with us: rainbows, stars, tandem-wearing, laundry, bike riding! It doesn’t look like you stopped for a moment :)

If you’d like to participate in the “A Week in the Life” project, just take a photo every time you babywear for a week and send it in. We want to see the ring slings, the attempts at breastfeeding hands free that didn’t quite work out, the fantastic ruck-that-turned-into-a-strap-carry and your beloved, old beaten up carrier that may not be fashionable but you still use all the time. Babywearing is different for everyone and we want to see how!

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Babywearing Ages and Stages: Big Babies (6-12 Months)

Your baby is possibly sitting up now, or thinking about it. He or she may be keen on exploring the world from the ground, but still wanting lots of attention. Good head and core stability means that your baby is not going to be a baby for much longer!

What Works Well:

SSCs, mei tais and wraps are all great carriers at this stage. Ring slings and pouches are great for quick in-and-out carries, but you may find your baby too heavy for these over long periods. Back carries are fine in all suitable carriers and you may find that it’s easier to put a sleeping baby down for nap than it was.

Things To Watch Out For:

By the end of this stage, you may have one or two “carrier strikes”- periods of time where your previously sling-loving baby doesn’t want to know about the carrier. Don’t worry: it’s temporary. Your older baby is asserting his/her independence and desire to explore the world in his/her own way. It will end! The baby who previously was velcro-wrapped to your back may now suddenly develop an interest in all things stroller. Go with what works best for you both.

You may find that your previously comfortable carrier becomes uncomfortable after a short time. Although this may possibly be your baby’s growing weight, it’s also possible that it’s fixable with a few tweaks. See here, here and here first before deciding if you need an upgrade.

Have you carried an older baby? How was it different to the newborn? Leave a comment and let us know!

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