Enticing Mr/Ms Independent on to your back

Many toddlers go through an independent phase when they don’t want to be worn at all, or only in certain carriers/carries. Emmy became very resistant to back carries at about 20 months and would scream and struggle if I tried to put her on my back. Here are few tips to get you through this phase with your sanity intact.

Grumpy Emmy tandem carry

  • Remember that this is often just a phase. A few months later, they may realise how lucky they are to get to ride everywhere! My three-year-old is now happy to be worn any time, in any carrier, and enjoys trying out and demonstrating new carriers.
  • Try a different carry or a different carrier. Hip carries in a ring sling became our standby during the back-carry strike. It wasn’t much use for long carries but fine for quick trips to the shops etc.
  • Encourage them to climb on to your back themselves. Make a game of finding something for them to stand on, like a step or wall. This idea worked better than anything else for us, and still entertains us! It appeals to their sense of independence.
  • Ham up the getting-on process with a loud ‘Whoop’ and over-exaggerate any bouncing or swinging up you do.
  • Sometimes they will kick up a stink being put on, but will be fine once you get moving and relax and enjoy the ride. If this is the case, just ignore the protests and forcibly put them on your back. I used to do this if I had no option but a back carry – i.e. for long walks. She was fine after a few seconds and the rest of the walk would go without a problem.
  • Carry another child. It’s amazing how jealousy can change a child’s attitude.
  • Bribery. Handing back an occasional biscuit worked like a dream for us. I still take a stash of junk food to guarantee a happy passenger on a long hike.
  • Negotiate ‘up’ and ‘down’ time if your child is old enough to understand.
  • These strategies are just what worked for us…. Please share any other ideas that helped you!

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    3 Responses to Enticing Mr/Ms Independent on to your back

    1. Steph says:

      Thanks Rachel, I’m going to give these a go! I think that getting him to climb up himself may be just the thing we needed. Much appreciated!

    2. Kate says:

      I just love that scowl on her face in the pic!

      In order to get Mr Reluctant I Am A Toddler And You Can’t Tell Me What To Do on my back, I used a phrase from Peppa Pig. Daddy Pig is always throwing things around (pancakes while flipping, Mummy Pig in a ballet throw etc), and saying One Two Three Hoopla!. Since Peppa and her mates were a big favourite of Mr Reluctant, and One Two Three Hoopla! was his own catch cry, I used it when I chucked him up on my back.

      Our party trick, especially in the shopping mall or public place where he could be the total centre of attention (and I have to admit to a certain personal satisfaction in making the older ladies gasp when we did this!), I would have him stand in front of me, with a mei tai tied on my waist. Then I would put my hands on his shoulders, cry out One Two Three Hoopla! On the Hoopla part, I would swing him up, around and over my head, until he was in a piggy back position, then I would bend forward, balance him up on my back and tie the top mei tai straps. Worked a treat with a wrap as well.

      He was happy, he was constrained and safe in the mall/carpark/wherever, I was comfy, and the spectators were shocked and stunned at the display. 100% success!

    3. Tina says:

      We do something similar to Kate’s game – 1! … 2!… 3!… I start by tying the mei tai on around my middle, then I pick her up. 1 is the up part, 2 is the prop her momentarily in a sitting position on my shoulders (to shift my grip) and then 3! over my shoulder she goes and bingo, she is piggy back, I grab the straps and lift the mei ta up over her and wrap the straps around myself, do a little settling wiggle/bounce thing, tie them off, and we’re ready for our walk. She hasn’t gotten too fussy about it, but based on what others are saying, my guess is, she is approaching that stage fast – I am hoping our little game will help make it an easier phase.

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