The Benefits of Babywearing Your Toddler

by Diana Stone on September 15, 2011

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My daughter, Bella, is almost 22 months. My husband Sam and I still babywear her many times.

To some, this might seem a little crazy. She is perfectly able to walk and we own a stroller she loves. She isn’t as easy to carry anymore, and it requires some maneuvering to get her in an arrangement we’re comfortable with for a while.

But Bella had severe reflux when she was born. Because of this, she threw up for the first 6 months of her life around the clock. We tried every babywearing device we could think of to help; Moby, slings, wraps, Bjorn, Ergo – but nothing helped. I remember clearly the time Sam wrapped her forward facing in the Moby to walk around and she projectile vomited all over it and the floor so much we had to take her out and wash it. I had to use layered burp cloths when I wore her facing me – and each time she’d throw up I’d pull one out, shove it in the diaper bag and keep going.

The reflux ruined our love of wearing her. It was hard for her to enjoy it either. I felt awful that it was so difficult for us to be close. I eventually tucked most of our carriers away because it was frustrating to clean them and only be able to have them on for a few minutes at a time.

When she turned a year old and was no longer throwing up, I decided to try again. I bought a ring sling, got out the Ergo. I don’t know how to explain it, I simply felt a need to be close to her in some way that we had missed before.

It wasn’t easy. She was used to be on her own and while she loved to be carried, she wasn’t keen at first on being snuggled against us. Sam tried different ways to wear her and she came to love the Ergo with him. He was gone for 4 months with the Army, and coming home he carried her around all over in it.

The ring sling was something we both ended up loving – I could wear it for hours without it hurting my back and shoulders, Bella was up high enough she could see and use her hands to point and hold onto things, but when she grew tired it was simple for her to rest against me. I can adjust it, take her in and out of it quickly, and it’s sturdy enough I never wonder if she’s safe.

I feel as if I’ve gained back some of the time we lost with her as a baby. I love having her next to me as we walk through zoos and museums, knowing that she’s seeing what I see and I can easily talk to her about everything. I also love that I probably burn twice as many calories carrying her around :) but that’s just another benefit.

There are so many benefits of babywearing an older child. For us, it proved to be the bonding experience that most people get in the early months. I’m thankful we were able to do it successfully the second time around, and for the carriers that made it possible and easy.

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Diana Stone (4 Posts)

Diana is a SAHM to Bella, and has been married for 9+ years to her Army husband Sam. She is a babywearing, cloth diapering, homeschooling AP'er who loves to cook, knit, write, and travel. She blogs about realistic parenting, the loss of their twin boys, and trying to adopt at Hormonal Imbalances. She's on Twitter @lifeasaSAHM and Facebook.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

kristian darnley elgamal September 15, 2011 at 5:08 am

i would so love to wear my 17 month old around. i tried doing it when she was little but i have a very bad back to the point that i cant stand for long periods of time. im very fat so the standard carriers dont fit me. i had gotten some jersey knit material and learned to tie her to me. i think maybe if i put her on my back it might counter balance the fat stomach wieghing me down in the front hurting my back and maybe i could do it. i would love to. do u have any suggestions for me?

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

I love my ring sling – it has extra fabric to pull and maneuver around. I have a bad back as well but I find I can wear Bella for hours in this – the weight is distributed evenly through my shoulders/front/back. http://www.etsy.com/listing/55666174/baby-carrier-ring-sling-baby-sling This is the one I have but she sells others!

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Julie McDonald September 15, 2011 at 5:14 am

Agreed 1,000%! I carried my daughter in a sling until she was well over 3 and I absolutely couldn’t anymore. She walked all over the place, plenty, but the sling was always with us when she wanted it, for any reason. It was so valuable for bonding and for her emotional, intellectual, social, and verbal development. Most of all, we just loved being SNUGGLY! I vote for wearing your kids as long as you both can do it!

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:38 am

I love this! 3 is amazing, I certainly hope I can do it that long with Bella!

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Margie H September 15, 2011 at 6:44 am

I know exactly what you are talking about with the layered burp cloths! I do that to!! My son is 9 months old and has had severe reflux since we brought him home from the hospital.

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:38 am

Oh I am SO sorry. :( Isn’t it awful? If you ever want to chat about what (eventually) worked for us or just vent in frustration, you can email me anytime. I know how it feels…

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Cole September 15, 2011 at 7:26 am

we don’t think you’re crazy – I’m almost 25 months and *still* get worn all the time!

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Cindy May September 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing it – I do still wear my toddler and thought I might be the only one. I never see anyone else around me (or online much) do this. It’s the same with us, our son had reflux and so we couldn’t wear him very much. Who wants to smell like barf all day?

Thanks again for sharing!

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

Lol – I hated smelling like barf. So did Bella.

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Dena September 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

I still wear my 16 month old, who weighs 25+ pounds, though not as much as I used to. When he was an infant he needed to be in constant motion, and loved being close to me. He has NEVER tolerated a stroller for very long. Now that he is a bit older, he loves to go in a tricycle that you push, but he also still loves to be worn. I think he especially loves it because I work full time and don’t get to spend as much time with him as I wish, so it’s nice for both of us to be close. I travel for work and the other place I always wear him is at the airport. It keeps him out of danger, my hands free and when he gets cranky, he can breastfeed. I don’t think it’s strange that you still wear your daughter, I’m glad you found a way to make up for something you feel you missed.

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

Thanks Dena. I love that you guys do it for a bonding part too – that is really special.

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Christina J September 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

My 3.5yo dd still likes being worn. Her little sis (14m) gets carried most often, but when she’s good for a break and dd1 needs extra cuddles I am so happy that the Ergo will support her and make it easier for me to cuddle :)

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Adam September 15, 2011 at 10:37 am

Okay, get out of my head, I put this on my list of posts I need to write last night.

I, personally, now use a Boba and a Mei Tai to carry Isaac on my back. When he was little bitty I used a Moby and then I graduated to a Front Wrap Cross Carry with our Didymos Waves.

My sister-in-law thinks we’re crazy, but her kids (4.3 and 2.5 years old) LOVE to be worn in the Boba and will actually semi-fight about who gets to ride in it.

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:40 am

Ah, the crazies in the family. I understand. I have to check out a Didymos waves.

And I’m off to email you…

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Whozat September 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

My daughter will be 3 in a few months, and weighs a bit under 30 lbs and we still wear her. Usually it’s in situations where we’re going to be walking more than she can handle, or where I need her contained and my hands free (airport). We used our stroller about 3 times – all in her first 2 months, and every time it ended up just carrying the diaper bag, which we carried or wore her – and gave it away to a friend when she was about 18 months old. We also bought a backpack to use for a diaper bag, and have made many trips through airports (she and I fly to visit my family about every 3 months) wearing her on my front and the backpack on my back.

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

Yep – ditto the backpack. The shoulder diaper bag never worked for us with any carrier. One time I did the shoulder one and the ring sling in the airport. FAIL.

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FindingPatience September 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I still wear my 16 month old who is around 29lbs. She is still in the 99 percentile for height as well, but we are most comfortable out and about in the ergo. A few weeks ago I took her out in a stroller and decided NEVER again! How limiting my life became and my daughter, kept looking back up to me trying to see me and talk to me…we felt so far away from each other. I am proud to baby wear and I hope my daughter never grows out of it! (or at least until she is able to walk on her own at a good pace while holding my hand!)

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:42 am

Love this! We did the zoo in a stroller a few times, and I kept taking Bella out over and over to see everything. Finally I thought, “Why don’t I just wear her so she can see everything next time?” And we’ve done it ever since.

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Jess September 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I love it! I can’t wait to wear Allie more. It is so hot right now so I really don’t like to wear her right now when it’s 100+ degrees. I need to watch the YouTube on how to do the bigger baby wraps for the Moby. Do you have a great sling you love? I think we need to try the Ergo too.

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:43 am

http://www.etsy.com/listing/55666174/baby-carrier-ring-sling-baby-sling I love this one. I love how it can be tightened or loosened with age and what kind of wear you want. And the Ergo (for us) was great after about 9 months? She wasn’t a fan of it before.

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Deanna September 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm

My son turns 3 in a few weeks and he and I both still love using our Ergo. He enjoys his stroller and likes to run around freely, too, but he also really enjoys “riding on mommy’s back.” We use it in crowded situations that can feel stressful for him, like fairs, or the airport. I think it really calms him down to feel so safe, so close, when surrounded by so many people and so much noise. I wish more people understood the intimacy of wearing toddlers, and the kind of comfort it can bring for both children and parents.

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:58 am

What a great perspective on babywearing. I know Bella can get nervous in large crowds and loud situations (like any toddler) and it’s always nice to have the carrier/sling handy to keep her close.

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Fancy Pancakes September 16, 2011 at 4:29 am

I wore my son until he was around 2. That’s when I got pregnant and soon started having loose pelvic and hip joints and ligaments (like I did after I had him and had to do physical therapy!). I loved wearing him for two years- it was cuddly and convenient and made life so easy, so many times! Airports, grocery stores, street fairs, the city… so awesome to move around together.

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Diana S September 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

I also wonder if getting pregnant a second time would mean the end of babywearing for us. But we’ll do it till we can’t anymore – just like you did!

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Judy A. September 25, 2011 at 11:41 am

Lovely to hear this. I learned that I was an AP mom after the typical babywearing stage was over, but I have always held my LO a lot. I was starting to feel like I should stop–social pressures?–when LO reached two. But then I decided, if she wants to be held and I don’t mind, why should we stop?! :)

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Amber March 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I carried my little one almost daily for a year and a half, when she decided she didn’t like it so much anymore. My husband still totes her around in a frame back carrier, but I’ve decided she is too heavy to carry for extended periods anymore. Plus, once the snow finally melts she’ll be able to walk for at least part of an outing and burn up some excess energy.

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