Babywearing. So sweet. So cuddly. So precious. Just for babies. Right?

[image of a family of three - white man with glasses in a black sweater and wearing a purple backpack, east Asian woman with glasses using a navy blue carrier with orange, white, and light blue accents, and a sleeping toddler with medium brown hair inside the carrier on the front. The adults are looking at the camera and making the “shhhh” motion with their hands and mouths - index finger pointing up and over the mouth.]

Not exactly.

Image of a smiling east Asian woman with glasses in a grey and black dress. She has a blue and white gradient wrap around a pregnant belly. She also bas a green, yellow, and navy blue woven wrap on her back that is carrying a large, mixed-race preschooler in a red raincoat who is grinning hugely.

Our babies are our babies forever but “babywearing” isn’t just for babies. Wearing can continue as long as you and your wearee are interested and have a need (and want!) for wearing.

World’s Best Hug

Side profile of a white woman with short red hair and glasses standing in her living room and grinning at the camera while wearing her 2.5 year old daughter on her back in a houndstooth patterned woven wrap. The toddler has her arms snuggled in and is sitting up high on her mama's back with their heads at the same height as the young girl smiles at something behind her.
“Our 2.5-year old gets super overwhelmed in crowded spaces like markets or festivals, the zoo, or an airport. For her, being overwhelmed in a crowd can lead to running, grabbing, and arguing. Rather than battling these challenges, she gets worn! She safe, can see everything we see, can have her voice easily heard by an adult, and doesn’t have to feel so stressed. It’s an absolute win for everyone. Also sometimes, you just want to feel like you’re getting the world’s best hug.” (2.5 year old 36″ 30lb kiddo)

Ruckin’ It At the Mall!

[4.8 second GIF of two repeating images of a tan 2.5 year old toddler making silly faces at the camera while being worn on her amused, white mom’s back while Black Friday shopping. She’s being worn in a coral and cream wrap over her mom’s olive green coat. The wrap is a West of 4th wrap from the library. There are pink and blue clothes at the store in the background.]

Tandemwearing for the Win!

For those caring for more than one, being able to wear two children simultaneously can be a life saver! Wearing the younger one some times results in older siblings feeling left out. Big kids benefit from snuggles too.

White bespeckled woman wearing blue, with a white toddler on her front in a Wild Things hoodie and a Doctor Who Bei Dai. She has a white preschooler with blond hair and no shoes on her back in a blue and mesh Beco. The children are almost holding hands
“Catherine is four and about 35lb in 4T pants in a Beco toddler. This is her carrier and I’m not allowed to wear other people in it. It is excellent for holding her big feelings. Or when she does not want to wear shoes.” (Photo credit to Melissa Carlson)

 

Image of a tan skin bespectacled Asian woman looking down at the toddler worn on her front in a green soft-structured buckle carrier. The toddler is looking in the distance and holding on to lip balm and a baby doll. On the woman's back is the toddler's older sibling who's wrapped in a woven wrap carrier.
“4.5 year old on the back in a woven wrap ruck tied under bum. 1.5 year old on the front in a soft-structured carrier.”

 

OK, so all these cute kids up in carriers. But once baby turns 1, it means a “toddler carrier” is needed because all other ones are now too small right?

Nope. Not exactly.

Babies come in different weights and heights and builds. Some outgrow some carriers sooner than others. Plus, the key here is fit and finding the best carrier for you and your wearee. More details on that below!

[Image of the back of a blonde white 4 year old boy in a Beco toddler on the back of a dark haired male caregiver.]
Sometimes 4 and 5 year olds get tired or have big feelings. They still love the snuggles they got when they were little.

Toddlers and preschoolers are learning to explore and test the limits of their independence but there are also times they need to take a break (or times that caregivers need to keep them in a safe place). In addition, wearing can be such a helpful tool for those big feelings that come with growing up (and for containing those who you’d otherwise be chasing down grocery store aisles or touching all the lamps that shouldn’t have been displayed at child’s height in the first place).

[image of a brunette female toddler wrapped on her mom’s back in a light red woven wrap. The toddler is red-faced screaming mid-tantrum but safe and secure]
For when emotions are just too big and she needed a safe space.

Moving on to Safety

You may find you prefer certain carries or carriers for a newborn but not a toddler or vice versa. You may find it easier or harder to wear a newborn or a toddler or vice versa! Either way, the same “ABCs” apply for any age of wearing!

Image is an informational graphic with the header: Quick Babywearing Reminders. Subheader text: Sometimes, using a carrier comes naturally. Sometimes, it takes practice. Remembering these ABCs can help you achieve a safe and satisfying fit for you and your child. Next to the headers is a shape person wearing a shape child with a word bubble and text, Now I know my ABCs! To the left in large bold red orange font is A B C with the test Airway, Body Positioning, and Comfort underneath each letter respectively. Text to the right of A - Airway: Ensure baby's airway stays open by keeping chin off chest, and allow fresh air to circulate around baby's face. Keep child close enough to kiss and in view at all times. Text to the right of B - Body positioning: Be sure the carrier supports baby in a way that is appropriate to his/her level of neck and trunk control and prevents slumping, ideally with baby's knees higher than bum and weight borne by thighs and bottom. Text to the right of C - Comfort: The carrier should be comfortable for you ad baby. If you do not feel comfortable and confident with the carry you are doing, have a spotter nearby to help you. If you need help using your carrier, contact your local BWI chapter. In the footer of the graphic is www.babywearinginterational.org and the multi-colored Babywearing International logo.

Infographic of a brown skin man wearing a toddler on his front and back in size photos. Title text "Optimal Positioning: Toddler." Sub text is a list: typically around one year, excellent head control, able to sit up unassisted, arms can be in or outside carrier, carrier supports legs in an M position, legs should be out.

Note, “optimal” and “safe” are not equivalent. A child may be carried safely without being in “optimal” position. For example, a child may be worn safely in a soft-structured buckle carrier without legs in an “M” position where knees are higher than bum.

 

Break it Down!

Below we have broken down toddler and preschool wearing into a few carrier categories. Scroll to the one of interest or read them all!

Bei Dais/Meh Dais

A carrier that doesn’t necessarily label itself as “standard” or “toddler” or “preschooler” type of carrier are bei dais/meh dais. Some have “wrap style” shoulder straps giving one the option to “extend” the seat beyond the panel width when wrapping, if desired. Doing so makes the seat knee to knee if a child’s legs are longer. Panel height varies from brand to brand so make sure to check specifications!

Below is a chart (not comprehensive list but all are available in our lending library!) of several brands of bei dais/meh dais with their manufacturer weight recommendations and tallest panel height measurements (measured from top of the waistband to tallest point on panel).

Brand-Carrier Weight Range Recommendation (pounds/kilograms) Tallest Panel Height (inches/centimeters)

Measured from top of waistband

Babyhawk/Moby 8 – 40 lbs / 3.6 – 18 kg 16” / 41 cm
Babylonia 5.5 – 44 lbs / 2.5 – 20 kg 20.5” / 52 cm
Fidella ‘new size’ 7.5 – 33 lbs / 3.5 – 15 kg 19” / 48 cm
Fidella ‘toddler’ 22 – 66 lbs / 10 – 30 kg 19” / 48 cm
Infantino 8 – 36 lbs / 3.6 – 16.3 kg 15” / 38 cm
Kol Kol 7 – 33 / 3 – 15 kg 19.5” / 49cm
Lenny Lamb – ‘mini’ maximum weight 40 lb / 18 kg 14” / 35 cm
Lenny Lamb – toddler maximum weight 44 lb / 20 kg 18” / 45 cm
Soul 15-40 lbs / 7-18 kg 16” / 41 cm

 

Ring Slings

Ring slings can be great for quick ups and downs for bigger kids. Running into the store. Just in case the shopping cart isn’t fun anymore. Etc. Ring slings don’t come in age-specific categories. However, some are narrower in width and some are longer than others. Some brands offer different lengths. Wearers may prefer fabrics similar to what they would look for in a “toddler-worthy” woven wrap (more on that below!).

Image is a bathroom mirror selfie of a bespectacled white woman wearing a blonde white toddler in a purple ring sling on her front. The woman is smiling while the toddler is

 

Soft-Structured Carriers

“Standard” is all but that! Not all carriers labeled “standard” or “toddler” mean the same thing. Make sure to look at the weight/height recommendations and panel sizing, etc.  to look for in determine if a carrier is the best fit for you and your wearee. For example, a carrier may be labeled as “standard” but the minimum weight recommendation may start at 15 pounds and even then your child may or may not fit comfortably in it because height makes a difference too! Also, when fitting for a soft-structured buckle carrier, it isn’t necessary for a child to be in the “M” position where the knees are higher than the bum. If the child’s knees may extend past the edge of the panel and that’s OK! It isn’t unsafe though for the child or wearer’s comfort, you may prefer a panel that’s wider to go knee to knee.

Visual on panel height safety:

Image from the back of a sitting child wearing a cloth diaper. Title across top of image in a red banner "Fitting of a Soft Structured Carrier." Child has five semi-transparent rectangles overlaid in a vertical column. Top box covers back of head, text "Too High: Risk of asphyxia/baby is not visible." Second box at neckline, text: "Not ideal." Third box bottom line at armpit level, text: "Correct Height." Fourth box slightly below armpit level, text: "Over 3 years only." Fifth box highlights bottom half of torso, text: "Too low, fall risk." Bottom of image text "Portagedouble.com."

Below is a chart (not comprehensive list but most are available in our lending library!) of several brands of soft-structured carriers with their manufacturer weight recommendations and tallest panel height measurements (measured from top of the waistband to tallest point on panel).

Brand-Carrier Weight Range Recommendation (pounds/kilograms) Tallest Panel Height (inches/centimeters); measured from top of waistband
Babylonia Flexia 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 15.25” / 38cm
Beco 8 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 18” / 46 cm
Beco – toddler 20 – 60 lbs / 9 – 27 kg 19.5” / 49 cm
Beco Soleil 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 17” / 43 cm
Chimparoo Trek 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 16” / 40 cm
Easy Feel Full Buckle-Standard 15 – 50 lbs / 7 – 22 kg 15” / 38 cm
Easy Feel Full Buckle-Toddler 24 – 46 lbs / 11 – 22 kg 18” / 46cm
Easy Feel Full Buckle-Preschool 35 – 57 / 16 – 26 kg 22” / 56cm
Ergo-Ventus 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 14.5” / 37 cm
Lenny Lamb-Standard 13 – 44 lbs / 6 – 20kg 15” / 38cm
Lenny Lamb-Toddler 13 – 44 lbs / 6 – 20 kg 19”/ 48 cm
Lillebaby Carry On 20 – 60 lbs / 9 – 27 kg 20” / 50cm
Lillebaby – Complete 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 18.5” / 47 cm
Olives and Applesauce 8 – 50 lbs / 3.6 – 23 kg 18” / 46 cm
Soul-Full Buckle-Standard 15 – 40 lbs / 7 – 18 kg 17” / 43 cm
Soul-Full Buckle-Toddler 25 – 50 lbs / 11 – 22 kg 18.5” / 47 cm
Soul-AnoonA 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 16” / 40 cm
Tula-Free To Grow 7 – 45 lbs / 3 – 20 kg 17” / 43 cm
Tula-Standard 15 – 45 lbs / 7 – 20 kg 15.5” / 39 cm
Tula-Toddler 25 – 60 lbs / 11 – 27 kg 17.5” / 44 cm

 

Three image collage of a bespectacled white woman wearing her bespectacled son on her back in a multi-colored large plaid patterned soft structured buckle carrier. Image feature side and back angles of the carrier.
“Jack is 5 years old, wears 4T or 5T pants. 43 lbs, 43 inches tall. He fits perfectly knee-to-knee, and the headrest comes up to the middle of his ears. The fabric molds nicely and the padding is very comfortable for me. A more petite caregiver might have a hard time getting everything tight enough. If he had more significant special needs or low tone or anything like that, this would still be a great carrier for him.”

Woven Wraps

If you prefer woven wraps, people refer to some as “perfect for a squish” versus “toddler-worthy.” What does that even mean?? Typically people are looking for particular wrapping or fiber qualities that are more comfortable with wearing a “big kid” (versus an itty bitty squishy compliant newborn). Below are some descriptors of what people look for, but keep in mind it’s subjective.

  • dense
  • grip
  • cush
  • texture (not super smooth or soft)
  • ANYTHING THAT CONTAINS A TODDLER

 a collage of three images. The image on the left is a light skinned blonde woman smiling. Peaking around her shoulder from her back is a light skinned brown haired girl smiling. The second is the same woman with a light skinned boy with brown curly hair on her front. Both are looking at the camera. The third is the same woman with a light skined brown haired girl on the womans back. The girl has her arm curled around the womans neck and laying her head on the woman's head. The woman is looking at the black and green wrap. Both are looking away from the camera.

 

Additional Resources

“Choosing a Baby Carrier” by Babywearing International

“Growing as a Babywearer” by Babywearing International

“Safety” by Babywearing International

“Toddlerwearing” by Babywearing International of Greater Austin

“Wondering which SSC works for you?” by Tazz Muhd, Babywearing International

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Like what you see? Check out hashtag #BWITCCOTM on our Instagram @bwitc (https://www.instagram.com/bwitc) and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BWItwincities/).

Have questions about babywearing? Contact us (through our website or Facebook) or, come learn in person at one of our meetings! Wear on!

 

All images have image descriptions in the alternative text visible to screen readers.

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