Aficionados know, babywearing is not just for babies. There are so many reasons to continue using baby carriers once a child can walk and many carriers that can comfortably accommodate a toddler or preschooler. Some people don't realize though that wearing toddlers is an option until their kids actually reach that age. Then, they continue babywearing or shall we say toddlerwearing out of convenience and even necessity. If you're already wearing your baby often, it's easy to see that just because they have learned to walk does not mean that they no longer need to be carried. In fact it's quite the opposite. Babywearing helps with so many issues that make having a toddler hard. If you think about it, toddlers are harder than infants because they're totally unpredictable. You never know when you'll need to carry your toddler!
My youngest is now 2 1/2 and I continue to bring a carrier wherever I go, even though most of the time her headstrong toddler personality refuses to be carried. For those who think that babies who are frequently worn won't walk, my daughter completely proves that wrong. She was worn whenever I was up and about unless she wanted to get down, and she still started walking at 8 months. Now she definitely has a mind of her own and just wants to be one of the big kids. She wants to walk everywhere - hikes, stores, parking lots, everywhere. Much to her dismay though, toddlerhood prevails and it's just not always possible. Sometimes it's not safe. Sometimes I just can't handle her touching every. single. thing. in the store. Sometimes we actually have to get there, *and* at any given moment she might have a breakdown or just plain refuse to take another step. So yes, we have a carrier all the time. I'm always ready for these moments with a Boba Air in my purse or a Boba soft structured carrier hanging from my waist.
In the middle of emotional toddler moments I sometimes have to make her go in the carrier even though she doesn't want to. This makes me pretty sad especially since my twins loved being worn forever and they would never say no (they'd love me to carry them now!). It was so hard with two babies at once. Sage doesn't know how lucky she is to have the option to be carried whenever she wants! But when she snuggles up, I think it reminds her that she's still a baby, and she's like a different person. She immediately calms down and gets centered. This is my favorite thing about wearing (and nursing-but that's another post) a toddler. It's like a miracle fix for all toddler problems and there are a lot of them! There are times when she is happy to have a ride and a different, higher outlook. When she is in good spirits, I wear Sage on my back. With an older baby I prefer to use a back carry. That way I can bend down and generally move around easier. For her it's a perfect spot to see everything that is going on while still being safe with Mom or Dad.
Besides the everyday toddler moments, babywearing is also extremely helpful in special situations. When Sage is sick or super tired I still have three other kids who need help. Babywearing is priceless for these times. Moms with more than one know how hard it is when you have an exhausted toddler (you might as well have an infant) but you still need to get through dinner and bed. It seems like there's no way to win. Sage loves to help me cook; she sits on the counter and mixes. But when she's tired, there's more destruction than helping. When I wear her she can see and feel like shes participating but stay calm and relaxed. Sick is pretty much the same deal. I have the choice to either sit on the couch all day and nurse Sage (sounds too good to be true) or wear her and get things done. Unfortunately, getting things done is mostly the answer (and we all know how much sick babies love to be held standing up anyway!).
Another situation that is helped immensely by babywearing is traveling. Whether you're traveling internationally or just going to the zoo, bringing a carrier along can mean a whole different experience. Not having a clunky stroller to push around and store is a savior in itself in places like the airport. Although for some places, like the zoo, I do like having a stroller or wagon to put all our stuff in! In a baby carrier, there's no escaping out of the stroller or running away into a crowd. Just a sweet and safe view, which makes for happy parents that can actually enjoy themselves. Lately I probably use my carriers the most for hiking. Sage enjoys being carried while we are consistently moving and if she walks for too long my older kids get bored by our slow pace!
Even though my babywearing experience isn't always the serene thing it used to be it is still beautiful in a different way, an intense and useful way :)