A baby carrier is the best alternative (or addition) to a stroller and the most convenient way to navigate crowded malls and airports with your baby strapped on your back. What about a carrier for your toddler?
Toddler carriers are slightly larger and stronger, made of sturdier and heavyweight fabrics that are meant for older and bigger kids.
Just so you know what we are talking about, the best toddler carriers including the Baby Tula and the Lillebaby Carryon Airflow can accommodate children weighing up to 60 pounds.
But wait. Kids feel already heavy to wear once they hit 20 pounds. Actually, many parents find the weight unbearable as the they past 30-35 lbs. So, why would you want to babywear a 3-year-old toddler or 5-year-old preschooler who can easily walk by him/herself at this time?
Why you may need a carrier for your toddler?
Similar to extended breastfeeding, toting a toddler who is capable of walking isn’t something that most of people are used to in the modern world.
So, in addition to the benefits that we will talk about, when you decide to baby wear your toddler expect to gather some weird and judgmental looks, as well as admiration from envious moms and dads.
It brings a sense of added security before, during and after meltdowns
Kids who have an amygdala hijack (brain term for toddler meltdown) view mild stressors as a predator and this is what triggers the fight, flight, or freeze reaction.
While there are other ways of managing meltdowns, a carrier offers a secure place to retreat when the world becomes “scary”. But what’s more important to them is the constant contact with their most loving attachment figures – the parent/caregiver.
If you have a kid who becomes over-stimulated in places like the zoo and museum, giving them a ride on a carrier might help a great deal.
An excellent bonding tool for dad
Bonding – that intense attachment that parents develop with their babies – is an important tool for the kids’ social and emotional development.
According to Sanghag Kim, a researcher in psychology at the University of Iowa, the first 2 years are the best time to create a secure bond with the child.
Of course, bonding starts immediately for the mother, at first during the pregnancy, and then during breastfeeding.
On the other hand, although most dads also become immediately attached to the child from the first days of their life, it takes a little bit longer for some. But that is perfectly normal.
Cuddling up the toddler in a carrier is often recommended as an excellent bonding hack for fathers, grandparents, and babysitters who come into the baby’s life later in childhood.
On the same note, the best carriers for toddlers might also help moms who were separated from their infants immediately after birth to create a loving relationship later.
Great for toddlers on the run
There is a whole of ways of how not to lose your kid in Disneyworld and during shopping at the mall. The greatest of all is not to let your toddler wander away alone.
Unfortunately, this is better said than done especially if you have an older kid who loves sprinting drills whenever some space opens up.
If you cannot keep control over your preschooler and don’t want to yell their name all over the airport, get a carrier for them. It will save your sanity and that of your toddlers too!
Walking and shopping becomes fast and hassle-free
This is the main reason why I got a carriers for my preschoolers and I have to admit that it has really made walks really fast when I need them to be.
It’s really impossible to make your kids understand that they need to walk a little bit faster when going through airports. Besides, 2 or 3-year-old can’t walk that fast anyway.
Your toddler can accompany you during hiking
Carriers for bigger kids are great solution for active parents – those who like long walks in woods, hiking and trekking. 3 or 4-year-old can’t walk by him/herself on a mountain trail, but in a toddler carrier? Why not!
Keep in mind that for long-distance walks and trekking there are special carriers. They have bigger seat for the baby – comfortable enough for longer periods (my boys can even take a nap in their Deuter hiking carrier!). More about hiking carriers you can read in my article here.
How to choose the best toddler carrier
Getting the perfect carrier for your toddler boils down to 2 things: comfort (for the two of you) and your kiddo’s safety. These 2 aspects differ between brands and models and this means that there can’t be anything like the best toddler carrier for everyone.
The idea, however, is to get a model that your passenger will want to be in and one that won’t be weighing you down.
To that end, here are a few tips that really matter when buying a carrier for toddler:
Consider manufacturer’s age/weight recommendation
The first step towards getting a carrier that you’ll both love using is to go with the manufacturer’s recommendation in regard to weight and age appropriateness. This ensures that the carrier will offer the much-needed support for your passenger while being comfortable on your shoulders and back.
Ensure that the fabrics used for the carrier will be easy on your kiddo’s smooth skin. `the materials should be soft and non-toxic. Ensure that they are breathable too more so if you live in or you’ll be visiting regions that get really hot.
The weight of the carrier
We can’t talk about the comfort of the carrier without touching on its overall weight. Usually, the weight of the carrier is determined by its design and the amount of padding used. My recommendation is to go for a nicely designed and light carrier that won’t be a burden to carry by itself.
Keep in mind that carriers for hiking are more heavy, but they are built to carry even an old child and provide comfort a few hours of hiking.
Most baby carriers offer 3 major carrying positions: front, hip, and back. The latter is the optimal carrying position for toddlers since they are considerably heavy at this time and it’s definitely not comfortable wearing them on your front.
In addition, unlike in their early days when they really need to maintain M-shape position of the legs and rounded back, a toddler is ready to ride on your back in more upright position. Besides, the back carry position meets your toddler’s increased need for greater independence and increased curiosity towards the surroundings.
How to use a toddler carrier safely
- Put on the waist belt and clip it to sit snugly around your hips. The body panel should be behind you
- Squat and let the passenger hop onto your back with his/her hands on your shoulders
- Put on the shoulder straps around your shoulders – one at a time
- Fasten the chest straps around the chest and adjust the shoulder straps until comfortable
- Check to see that the child is sitting in the middle of the body panel with no excess materials folded under the buttocks
Who shouldn’t buy a toddler carrier?
Babywearing a toddler has tons of benefits to the caregiver and the passenger. Unfortunately, regardless of how excited you are towards wearing your baby, keep in mind that it’s not automatic that the kid will share your excitement.
If your little guy isn’t comfortable in the carrier at first, try several different models and ensure that you are using it correctly. You can always ask for expert advice – find a babywearing specialist in your area.
If you’ve done all these and nothing works, then perhaps a carrier isn’t your toddler’s thing. But that’s okay – every child is different and has different preferences. There’s nothing wrong about that. 🙂