From the first days with our little ones, I have chosen to wear my babies. It was a great way to bond during adoption, and later, to keep a nursing baby close while chasing a toddler (and I’m sure I’ll be wearing our newest infant soon!).
But I’m not the only one wearing the baby.
But as our little ones have outgrown those infant years, they still end up in the baby carrier on occasion. A fussy toddler in our home often means “baby-wearing time!” (In fact, our small 5-year-old has still hopped into the Ergo on occasion when she’s really needing some special closeness, too.)
There may also be seasons when your busy little one seems to have “outgrown” the desire for the baby carrier, as they learn mobility skills unrestricted, but then comes back to wanting that option later.
Now walking, these busy little ones love exploring their world. But they still come running back for reassurance and comfort. After his/her adventures, a toddler still needs time of reconnecting with Mom and Dad, with those cuddly hugs and affirming words.
At this age, toddlers are aware they might be missing out on something! Clinging to your leg, saying, “Hold me,” is often just a plea to be picked up so they can see what you’re doing! These pint-sized people often want to be at eye level, “just like Daddy,” instead of looking at your knees.
From the viewpoint of a baby carrier on a parent’s back, they can observe what’s going on. Toddlers are fascinated by Daddy’s projects, just as much as Mama’s. Is Daddy cleaning the garage, pruning vines outside, or sorting tools? Baby-wearing is perfect for letting little ones share the experience, at a safe distance, especially if they’re worn in a “back carry” instead of in front. (Obviously, choose your activity appropriately.)
Backpacking (or other outings) with Daddy is a grand adventure, but little feet can only walk so far. While baby-wearing, Daddy’s hands are free to move rocks and limbs, and safely step over creeks without juggling a weary toddler. (Just make sure to give these little explorers down-time, to wiggle their toes in the dirt, and run around for awhile, too!) The whole family can embark on the hike together, instead of hearing “You’re too little” or “I’m tired.”
With his/her arms wrapped around your neck, and peering over your shoulder, your toddler is aware of the conversations and interactions you have during the day.
Baby-wearing is a wonderful opportunity for them to soak up new vocabulary skills, as well as gleaning your values. Even at toddlerhood, these little ones will start recognizing what is important to you.
Whether you’re speaking of spiritual matters, encouraging a neighbor, or shopping at the Farmer’s Market, they’ll start picking up your worldview and values. (An incredible responsibility of parenthood!)
Baby-wearing gives your little one the anchor of a safe place in a busy world, full of quality time with Mom and Dad!