Wearing a Toddler

My son Jacob is 22 months old. He loves to run and climb and jump and throw balls and all those things that toddlers do. He is no longer the babe in arms that he was for the first months of my life, carried from place to place by others. Today, he motors under his own steam and heads in his own direction.

I have been practicing babywearing with Jacob since he was a few days old. He is my second child – his big sister Hannah is 3 1/2 years older than he is. Babywearing was one of the tricks in my parenting toolbag that helped me meet the needs of both children. When Jacob was small he was frequently worn in a sling or mei tai as I took Hannah to the library or to the park. He came along for the ride wherever we went and I was like a walking billboard for babywearing.

Hannah trying the BecoI still wear Jacob regularly. It’s not the same as when he was little, of course. These days he’s not content to nap on my back while his big sister plays on the playground. He wants to get down and engage with the world. But when he’s having a hard time falling asleep, or when he needs to nap while I do other things, babywearing saves the day. Secure in the carrier he sleeps better than most anywhere else. And I know exactly where he is, and feel confident that he is safe and comfortable.

There are some tricks to wearing a toddler. Having a sturdy baby carrier that will safely bear your child’s weight is always important, but your options change as your child gets bigger. An exuberant toddler can really wiggle, so you have to make sure they’re secure enough that they won’t fall out when they suddenly decide to throw themselves to the left. You’re also working around a much bigger child, not a small bundle curled up in a sling – which is why I usually put Jacob on my back.

Babywearing hasn’t become uncomfortable for me as Jacob’s grown bigger. Sure, carrying 25 extra pounds around can be tiring. I feel it in my legs when I crouch down and stand back up. But with a good carrier that distributes weight well and fits me properly, I don’t find it painful. My back and shoulders don’t hurt, and I am able to wear Jacob far more easily than I could carry him in my arms.

As my daughter Hannah moved through toddlerhood, she drifted away from babywearing and returned several times. Just when I thought we were really and truly done, she’d pull out her favorite carrier and ask me to put her in it. I expect the same thing may happen with Jacob, as well. Some days he may want to walk, some days he may want to be worn, some days he won’t be able to make up his mind. But as long as he needs me and I am able I will be here, ready to wear him.

Have you worn a toddler? How did you make it work – or not? I’d love to hear your tips, tricks and stories!

You can catch up with Amber’s adventures in parenting and babywearing on her blog at Strocel.com.

Hanging Up The Sling

When my second child was born, my first was just two years old. Life with a baby and a toddler was a lot busier than life with a singleton, and I didn’t have the luxury of spending hours sitting in the glider rocker nursing or lying on the floor watching my baby wave her arms in the air. Because of that fact, one of the most important pieces of baby gear was my ring sling.

Appearance-wise, it looked so simple. A long piece of olive green fabric attached to two silver rings. The non-ring end had a pocket with a zipper. (People said to stay away from black because it gets hot, and also linty. I thought the green color might be less girly in case my husband ever wanted to use it. He didn’t. I should have gotten the purple one I wanted.) And people were amazed that I paid fifty dollars for it. But I got so much use out of it that fifty dollars was a steal.

With my ring sling, I was able to breastfeed my infant hands-free while making a sandwich for my toddler. With my ring sling, I was able to carry my toddler across my back while pushing the baby in the stroller to get across a busy, dangerous street. With my ring sling, I was able to keep my baby, born during cold and flu season, tucked up against me and away from germy, poking fingers.

The kids are bigger now though. My son is almost 6 and long past the stage of being carried. My daughter is 3 1/2. I’ve used the sling twice in the past year. Once was when I took both kids and a friend of my son to see Disney On Ice by myself. I used the sling to carry my daughter on my hip so I had both hands free to help the boys navigate the parking garage and crowded arena. It worked great.

The second time was this past week. My daughter had been napping and I had to wake her up to go pick up her brother from preschool, but she was still groggy and sleepy. Rather than waste gas to drive the five blocks to school, I used the sling to position her so she could lay her head on my shoulder, draped the long end of the sling over her face to shield her eyes from the sun, put my keys and phone into the pocket and walked.

Some of the other moms were surprised. They thought she might be too heavy, or that my back must be aching. And that really wasn’t it. She is small for her age, but my back felt fine. And while carrying her for five blocks in my arms would have been difficult, the sling was doing most of the work.

On the way home though, I started to feel uncomfortable. Again, not because of her weight, but because it was 80+ degrees and despite my shorts and tank, carrying her was making me hot. Seriously hot. As in glug water and lie on the couch to recover hot.

It may be time to hang up my sling. At almost 6 and almost 4, we’re approaching not having kids small enough to carry. I’m done having babies. I’m done babywearing. I’m done breastfeeding and co-sleeping.

At this point, I’m curious how parents with older children continue to practice attachment parenting. I never thought much beyond the baby and toddler years, but I’m looking at it now. And contemplating how to incorporate the principles into my parenting style as I raise older kids.

Those of you with elementary age children, tweens and teens–how do you continue to use AP practices into those later years?

Babywearing, Infant Massage, and More

Although today was supposed to be the Use Nurturing Touch blog carnival, we are going to push it back one month and combine it with next month’s carnival on Ensuring Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally. If you’ve already submitted your carnival post on nurturing touch, rest assured that it will make it into next month’s carnival post. If you’re here looking for information on using nurturing touch including babywearing, infant massage, and more, fear not for I have compiled a list of links for you to peruse.

Use Nurturing Touch – One of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting
Babies are born with urgent and intense needs and depend completely on others to meet them. Nurturing touch helps meet a baby’s need for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation and movement. Parents who choose a nurturing approach to physical interactions with their children promote development of healthy attachments. Even as children get older their need to stay connected through touch remains strong.
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Babywearing 101

So, you’ve decided you want to babywear, but when you begin looking for a carrier, you are overwhelmed by the many type of baby carriers there are. What’s a wrap? What is a buckle carrier? What’s the difference between a pouch and a ring sling? All these babywearing101questions and more become so much clearer once you know the basic carrier types. There are six basic types of carriers. They are woven wraps, stretchy wraps, ring slings, pouches, mei tais and buckle carriers.

A woven wrap is a long piece of fabric used to carry a child in various positions, including hip carry, back and front carry. It’s often chosen for its versatility, as well as support and weight distribution on the wearer. The lengths vary from short to long and choosing the length for you is determined by your body size and the carries you’d like to do with the wrap. A woven wrap is the most versatile baby carrier and it can be used fro newborn through toddler hood.

Stretchy wraps are a long piece of fabric (usually comes in one size fits most) that, unlike woven wraps, has stretch to it. It’s similar to t-shirt material and is often used with newborns and young babies. It is used mostly as a front carrier and while there may be instructions on using it as a back carrier, it is not recommended, as there’s not enough support in the stretchy fabric to do a back carry safely. Stretchy wraps are a favorite for newborn babies and can be used through toddlerhood if wrapped tightly.
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Babywearing at the Beach

DSC05288Babywearing saves my day once again! A couple of weeks ago we took the kids to visit a remote beach in Corona del Mar here in Southern California. To get to the beach, we had to walk down a steep and long set of stairs. I took with me a short woven wrap. It was a Girasol wrap that I’ve had for a while now. To get down to the beach, I put my little one in a rucksack back carry tied under his bum. Normally, with a long wrap I would be able to tie around my waist, but this was a short wrap, so I only had enough to tie a secure knot under his bum.

Once we got down to the beach, and it was quite a lovely beach, I took him down and we enjoyed the scenery as the kids played. It was a sunny day out, but the wind was giving me a little bit of a chill, so I used the wrap to cover both me and my baby. It felt so cuddly and soft against our skins and kept us warm.
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Close Enough for Comfort

It’s 3 in the afternoon on a Friday.  I’m tapping away on the laptop while fourteen-month-old Sweet Pea is sleeping in his sling on my chest.  As I idly kiss his head, I notice that he feels a bit warm.  Taking a break from reading my very important, up-to-date, tres cool websites on sustainable living (okay, I was probably checking Facebook for the fourth time that day), I look down at him.  His cheeks are rosy.  There are little beads of sweat on his hairline.  I fetch the thermometer, and wiggle it underneath of Sweet Pea’s arm without disturbing him.  The numbers climb rapidly.  96.5.  97.9.  99.0.  It beeps, and confirms my suspicion: 99.4.  We are officially, on a Friday afternoon, experiencing our first fever together.

I call our pediatrician and secure an appointment at 4:45, the last appointment of the day.  At the office, I snuggle Sweet Pea into the sling in the waiting room.  He’s quite hot, and looking somewhat glazed.  Nonetheless, I’m shocked when they take his temperature again and it’s hit 103.  I am desperate, having NICU flashbacks and feeling like a horrible mother.  The nurse, staring accusingly, says, “Did you give him Tylenol?!”
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Attachment Parenting and the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing and as families get together for celebrations, they might find themselves faced with several challenges: co-sleeping while traveling, maintaining balance with so much going on, nurturing a new baby, and much more. There have been several posts here at API Speaks related to the holidays and so today, I thought I’d compile them all in one place – Attachment Parenting and the Holidays.

Thankful – Even young children can learn how to be thankful for what they have this holiday season.

Attached During the Holiday – Learn how one family stays attached during the busy holiday season.

The Giving Tree – One mom shares her family traditions and asks you to share yours.

Creating Holiday Traditions – Every year you have the opportunity to create a new holiday tradition, what do you have planned for this year?

Attachment Parenting Makes the Holidays Easier – Babywearing leaves you with two hands free! What other ways has attachment parenting made your holiday season a little bit easier?

Holiday Expectations Denied – How do you handle it when your holiday plans don’t go as expected?

A Foundation of Trust – Santa or no Santa? Weigh in on this issue.

Guiding Children to Associate the Holiday Season with Giving – The holidays are more about giving than getting; help your children embrace this idea.

AP Picture Books Make Great Holiday Presents – What holiday list would be complete without a gift recommendation?

Ringing in the New Year – A New Year’s Resolution for each of API’s Principles of Parenting.

If you have an attachment parenting-related holiday post that you’d like to submit to API Speaks, please email apispeaks [at] attachmentparenting [dot] org.

Melissa is the mother of two children and has been an API Leader since 2004. Melissa blogs about raising eco-conscious children at Raising Them Green.

Attachment Parenting Makes the Holidays Easier

I am now into my fifth holiday season as an attached parent. Over the years my family has changed and grown, but one thing has remained true. Attachment parenting practices, like breastfeeding, babywearing and positive discipline, have made the holidays easier. They have smoothed the rough patches, helped me get things done, and provided everyone with a touchstone in the midst of the craziness that can happen at this time of year.

One of my big challenges over the holidays is my long to-do list. I am baking, crafting, shopping, wrapping gifts and on and on and on. A good baby carrier (or, you know, 14 good baby carriers, as the case may be) really helps me get through that list. When my toddler is on my back he’s happy and I have two free hands. It is much easier to mix up a batch of cookies when I know that my child is safely strapped to me, and not climbing on to the dining room table yet again.

Hannah and Amber try out the Storchenweige
My 10-month-old and I try out our new wrap in 2005
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