Spotlight on Toddler Carrying
Generally people don’t start out thinking they will be carrying a walking age child in a sling or carrier but as children get older sometimes we find that toddler carrying is still the most practical option when little legs get tired.
It’s possible to continue carrying well into toddlerhood, into the preschool years and beyond. How comfortable an option you find toddler carrying or older child carrying will depend on your body and the tools that you are using. Many people find as their children get older that they find back carrying easier on their bodies than front carrying, and that using a different sling or carrier can help everyone feel more supported.
Read on to hear our thoughts on some commonly asked questions around toddler carrying and older child carrying!
Shouldn’t they be walking? / Aren’t they too old?
Whilst many people believe a child who can walk ‘should’ walk, in real life toddlers get tired easily. Most of the time people accept 3,4 and even 5 year olds using a pushchair, and a sling is no different – it’s just a different tool for the job. If you are going to be walking long distances and don’t want to or can’t use a buggy then toddler carrying can be an excellent choice for keeping everyone comfortable.
Doesn’t toddler carrying hurt your back?
A well fitted and appropriate size carrier can be a really comfortable option even when carrying large children. Many carriers are tested to carry 60lbs (27kg) which is the average weight of an 8 year old! As with everything however different people will have different experiences, and different bodies tolerate carrying weight in different ways. Many people can carry a 5 year old comfortably, but others may find that their 2 year old is too much and find other ways to manage. The key is in finding the tool to suit you.
Do I need a toddler size carrier?
Typically ‘toddler’ size carriers fit from approximately age 2. As a guide when we speak to parents we suggest that your child should comfortably be wearing 2-3 trousers before moving to a toddler carrier. Most standard or ‘baby’ size carriers can fit comfortably until 2 years old. Overspreading the legs in a carrier which is wider than a child’s knee opening can be uncomfortable and potentially damaging so it’s worth being sure before moving to a larger size carrier.
Do I need a preschool size carrier?
Similarly to moving to a toddler size carrier, preschool size carriers are larger again and typically fit children from around age 3 or 4. There aren’t as many carriers which come in this size, but they are popular with people who are used to carrying every day and aren’t ready to stop, and with families who have older children with additional needs.
Do I need a woven wrap blend for toddler carrying?
A commonly stated claim online is that you NEED a linen/hemp/silk/other fibre blend wrap to carry a bigger and heavier child. This isn’t strictly true. Many things affect how supportive a wrap feels carrying a bigger child, and blend is a factor in this. Other factors which can affect the supportiveness are the thickness of the wrap, how loose the weave is, the design, the way the fibres are treated, even the dyes used. It’s possible to carry a large child in a good quality, tight weave cotton wrap – in fact some of my favourite ever wraps have been all cotton!
If your wrap isn’t working for you the first thing we would suggest would be to tweak your technique or change the type of carry you are using. Different ways of wrapping suit different ages of baby and different shapes of people. A sling library or consultant can really help with this, and if you can’t get to a library we offer Skype consultations too!
If your wrap still isn’t working for you then it may be time to look at changing it, and trying some wraps out to see what you like. We have a range available to hire and can help you narrow down some choices!
Do I need to back carry?
You don’t need to back carry an older child. You can continue to front carry or hip carry in whatever way you find comfortable!
Help me choose a toddler carrier!
If you’d like some help choosing what to use in your toddler carrying journey, check out our Help Me Choose A Sling article for some suggestions, or book a consultation with us to talk through or see some options. We have an extensive range of wraps, ring slings, meh dais, onbuhimos and buckle carriers available to hire and many to buy as well!