Babywearing with a toddler: She ain’t heavy, she’s my daughter

The big questions people have about my continuing to wear 20-month-old Talitha in slings and carriers are: “Doesn’t that hurt your back? Isn’t she heavy?”

Usually, it’s just curiosity or even intrigue. Sometimes, the insistence of the question makes me wonder whether the person asking it thinks I’m killing my back to prove a point, day after day. I’m really not.

I don’t like pushchairs much. I can see how they’re useful and I’ve taken one out on occasion. I mainly keep one in the house for nap times.

I also am prone to back ache since I have scoliosis so I do have to watch it.

She is heavy. I began to find so when carrying her in the Ergo on my back around 17 months. I absolutely couldn’t wear her on my front in it without running out of everything.

I began to only wear her in woven wraps, which was far more comfortable. I’ve since bought a shorter Storchenwiege wrap for quicker back carries.

My parents also bought us a toddler Wompat as a step up from the Ergo. It’s another buckled soft structured carrier but made of soft, beautiful fabric and insanely comfortable. Talitha often falls asleep in it.

I’ve a wrap conversion ring sling on the way for quick ups and downs too.

So, no, our babywearing days aren’t over. Certainly, she’s walking a lot more. Sometimes we go out and the sling doesn’t leave the bag.

But there are fussy mornings, days when we’re out at naptime, shopping trips when I need my hands, overstimulated evenings – lots of opportunities for slings and things to come into play.

She is only little and still needs a lot of holding. Also, she’s only little and still gets a better view being up where the grown ups are!

A few thoughts if you’re finding babywearing uncomfortable:

Is this the right carrier for you?
Commercial carriers with narrow bases or which don’t allow you to fully adjust them so you can bring your baby close or which position your baby facing outward in a front carrier tend to be trouble your back or shoulders after not too long. They’re generally not designed to be used for more than a few minutes at a time anyway.

Even a carrier your friend liked just might not be the right fit for you. It’s a good idea to at least try one in-store or at a sling meet. Better yet, hire one from a sling library (some do postal hires) so you can be sure you won’t regret your purchase.

Is it adjusted correctly?
You might find that you need to change something you’re doing over time as your baby grows. Have a play with it and if in doubt, get thee to a sling meet! If you haven’t the time, then book a visit with a babywearing consultant. Yes, they exist and they’re fab.

Do your muscles need time to catch up?
If you wear your child from the newborn stage like we have, you probably won’t notice them getting heavier, particularly. Your body just gets stronger. If you’ve discovered babywearing later on or your child goes through a sudden and epic growth spurt, your muscles might just need time to get used to the idea. Listen to your body and just take it little by little.

I so love, love, love this part of our life together. I know it’s not for everyone but I just can’t help but wish everyone could enjoy this special way of being with a baby.

There is a bit of geekery attached to babywearing, though, so I’ll send you off with a video a friend showed me on Facebook today for a laugh.


12 Comments

  1. February 20, 2013 / 1:30 pm

    I’ve recently been reading about stretchy wraps, like the Moby that I’ve got, are not so good for carrying bigger/older babies, despite claiming to be good from birth to toddlerhood. So I thought I’d pick your brains: would you suggest moving from a stretchy to a woven wrap or a SSC? My baby is 8 months but big. He loves being carried and I love carrying him and want to do it as long as possible. Are the SSCs as supportive as the wraps? And do you have a preferred wrap/carrier?
    Sorry for the interrogation! Would love to hear your thoughts tho x
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    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      February 20, 2013 / 2:39 pm

      I found a stretchy uncomfortable around four months. Few mothers I know have managed to use one beyond six months. I honestly like both soft structured carriers and woven wraps!

      Woven wraps are the most comfortable and adjustable but you can get very comfortable buckled carriers which allow for speed and ease (particularly key if your partner isn’t keen on wrapping).

      A third option is a mei tai which allows the adjustability but many find quicker and less of a learning curve than wrapping (though, honestly, with a bit of in-person help and at-home practice, wrapping is fine).

      I loved my Ergo Performance from six months until around 17 months. I then moved to another SSC called a Wompat which is unbelievably comfortable. It comes in baby, medium and toddler sizes.

      The advantage of a woven wrap is that you can get by with just one from newborn to toddler and beyond and it actually works that way. Also, if you’ve used a stretchy, the idea of wrapping is not alien to you. I love Storchenwiege but that’s what I started with. They are supposed to be very good for toddlers though and a great workhorse wrap. Most people start with a size 6 (4.6m).

      Is there a sling library near you where you can try some stuff? Watch out if buying second hand. There are a lot of fakes around.

      Check out http://naturalmamas.co.uk That will give you more advice/inspiration.

      Sorry for the essay!

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      February 20, 2013 / 9:12 pm

      You definitely ought to do a little explore. Sling library, my dear!

  2. RahSlowe
    February 20, 2013 / 6:45 pm

    I carry my nearly 5 year old if we’re doing a long journey and he can’t go do anymore (I have to declare here that this very rare & generally only happens after a long day out with train trip to London or a weekend away on the train) and it an awful lot easier on my arms/back to stick him up in a woven wrap than it is to piggy back him. People never ever ever comment if my husband is giving him a piggy back, but in the wrap, everyone asks (although they ask about the 2 year old too)!

    I found a whole range of new benefits to babywearing once they hit the confident walking stage – having a sling takes next to no space in a bag, they always seem to walk further if they know they have a back up, if a situation/place becomes overwhelming/dangerous there is an easy fix and for the days when they walk everywhere, you’re not left wondering what to do with it. You also have an emergency warm layer/picnic blanket/shade-maker/wind-shielder/flag/kite at the ready

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      February 20, 2013 / 9:12 pm

      That’s a very interesting point of them walking further if they know they can be carried. I agree, no comments about my bags being heavy but always about my daughter and she often weighs less.

  3. February 21, 2013 / 8:39 pm

    Gorgeous post. She looks so happy in there! I think the muscle thing is a big one- your muscles do develop to support slinging, and quickly leave if you have a break! x
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    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      February 21, 2013 / 8:53 pm

      Yes! I had a break from slinging while out in Trinidad for a month because it was just too hot for anything I had so I just carried her in my arms everywhere. When I got back, my muscles had to readjust!

      Have you found this having had a break yourself? I suppose you probably don’t feel much like babywearing at the moment!

  4. February 24, 2013 / 4:18 pm

    I’ve got my Moby wraps all ready for this little one’s arrival. But I’m undecided as to what I will upgrade to after four or five months (If I remember correctly I found the Moby uncomfortable around the five month mark last time – maybe a bit sooner).

    I had thought I’d get an Ergo – but then I got burned recently when it turned out that the Ergo I’d bought in good faith was fake. So I’m back to square one and have decided to wait until this baby actually arrives before deciding what type of sling to get for long-term wearing.
    Lisa | Mama.ie recently posted..Undermining breastfeeding

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      February 25, 2013 / 9:45 pm

      Oh no! Sorry you got burned with a fake. It’s so wrong that people sell them. If you buy one from a registered distributor it tends to be OK.

      If you’d really rather do another, there are so many options for soft structured carriers (be careful about fake Becos too) or you could opt for a woven wrap or mei tai. Hope you find something you like.

  5. March 10, 2013 / 9:48 pm

    I love babywearing although I have quite a buggy collection as well and managed to wear my 32lb toddler even towards the end of my pregnancy (only for short periods)and am so glad I got into it as nothing is nicer than carrying my newborn now! lovely post and great advice x
    Bex @ The Mummy Adventure recently posted..Mother’s Day

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