The benefits of baby wearing in a carrier do not end at a specific age. In fact, toddler wearing (12 to 36 months) has tons of benefits. While toddlers weigh more and are increasingly independent, there are still numerous times throughout the week or even the day that toddler wearing comes in handy.
Benefits of Carrying and Baby Wearing Your Toddler
● Promotes and supports extended breastfeeding
● Promotes emotional self-regulation
● Keeps them safe
● Hands-free parenting during times of illness
● Toddler wearing is a form of positive parenting
● Benefits of being hands-free and being able to multitask
Breastfeeding the Older Baby or Toddler
I’ve spoken with many women whose goal is extended breastfeeding. With support, women have a better chance at meeting these goals. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, and then continuing breastfeeding while introducing complementary foods until your child is 12 months old or older.”
The CDC agrees with this stance on breastfeeding and states, “continuing breastfeeding … provides your child with ideal nutrition and supports growth and development...” While the World Health Organization writes, “continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.” If breastfeeding past a year is your goal, baby wearing your toddler can help. Baby wearing gives a baby and toddler easy access to the breasts, and it allows mothers to breastfeed on the go while remaining mostly hands-free. The continuation of baby wearing is a wonderful tool mothers can use that will help them meet their long-term breastfeeding goals.
Toddler Wearing as a Tool for Tantrums
Toddlers are notorious for throwing temper tantrums. I’m sure you’ve seen the memes: Reasons My Toddler is Crying. As dramatic as they seem, being a toddler is hard work! It’s difficult to learn independence and realize your actions are always followed by natural consequences, whether good or bad. Toddlers are like infants (little ones under 12 months) in that they can get overstimulated and overwhelmed by the end of the day - or even at 9 am, depending on the day.
Baby wearing your toddler in a carrier helps them regulate their own emotions. Imagine a hug that lasts for 20 minutes or more. Professor Dacher Keltner of Berkeley University writes about the research done on physical touch and how it is shown to give us “emotional balance and better health.” Read the full article here. Physical touch is our primary language of compassion. Toddler wearing keeps them close to our bodies, like a loving embrace, and is a beautiful way to communicate to them that we understand and validate their feelings. This usually leads to fewer and shorter meltdowns. And since those meltdowns can happen anywhere and at any time, having a baby or toddler carrier as a tool in your toolbox is very valuable.
Toddlers and Safety
Babies and toddlers learn to walk and then run in their own time. When they do, they’ll unknowingly risk their own lives following their curiosity or sense of adventure. Moms with multiple children will tell you that at some point their toddler has let go of their hand and run into the parking lot or the street for the joy of running free.
Toddler wearing at the bus stop while waiting for older children to get home from school or on a walk to the park is an effortless way to keep your child safe. Wearing them at the store helps prevent them from running to the next aisle without you or knocking things down as they walk by. Wearing your toddler at a friend or family member’s house that has not childproofed their home also comes in handy to prevent accidents.
Toddler Wearing During Times of Illness
Toddlers like to touch everything. They’ll pick their nose, wipe it on their shirt, and then proceed to hug their friend. Ask any preschool teacher or parent and they’ll confirm that this is the time you might see an increase in stomach bugs and colds. When your toddler gets sick, their needs remain the same as a baby’s. They want extra cuddles and require more of mom’s attention.
During these times, it can be nice to slow down and relax for a couple of days on the couch with your toddler, but many times life does not slow down when we need it to. You may have older children that require your help with homework or need to go to public events. At the very least, you’ll want to get up to make a meal. Having a baby carrier that can support the weight of your toddler and will allow you to comfortably carry them can be a lifesaver in these situations.
The Best Carrier for Toddler Wearing
Not all baby carriers are made to wear toddlers. Each carrier has an upper and lower weight limit that ensures comfort and safety for both you and the child. Since the upper weight limit varies from carrier to carrier, you’ll want to double-check the weight limit before purchasing.
Most babies have tripled their birth weight by the time they are a year old. That means that the average 7lb baby will be 21lbs by their first birthday. However, weight gain after the first year
slows down. The average two-year-old weighs 27lbs, at three your little one might be up to 32lbs, and by four years of age, the average weight hovers around 40lbs.
A wide, padded waistband will make wearing your older and heavier toddler more comfortable. Toddlers need a wide panel to support their hips, as well as a panel that has added height to support more of their back. Wearing your older toddler in a back carry position will be the most comfortable as it will put less pressure on your lower back. The Amphiba Baby Infant to Toddler Carrier can comfortably hold children up to 45lbs and the design helps distribute the weight evenly on each shoulder. In addition, the extra-large hood can also be put up to provide back support for your growing tyke.
Toddler Wearing As A Positive Parenting Approach
Positive parenting is a discipline model that focuses on behaviors and natural consequences for those behaviors. This model promotes strong parent-child relationships with an emphasis on communication. Learn more about it here. If you need help at each stage, this is a fantastic course.
Toddler wearing is a form of positive parenting and a gentler approach to unwanted toddler behaviors. It’s also okay and important to set limits. Set expectations by letting your children know ahead of time what the plans are and what their role is. Baby wearing your toddler in a carrier is a tool in your parenting toolbox and the more tools we have as parents, the better prepared we are to handle a variety of situations. Being well equipped helps us parents stay in control of our own emotions which models the right behavior for our children who are learning to understand theirs.
Not to mention, all the usual baby wearing benefits still apply - just ask Dr. Sears.