I was hanging out with a friend the other day when she casually mentioned she may need to borrow back the Ergo she’s given me on extended loan to take with her on a trip to Italy this fall. I had a moment of panic. My first thought was “you can’t have my Ergo.” My second thought was, “no, really, you can’t have my Ergo.”
She had loaned it to me because she has back problems that make it difficult for her to wear her child for any length of time. I have an Ergo that I’ve used with three kids, but it’s ratty and worn and I slammed the waist buckle in the door of my car once and now it doesn’t latch exactly the way it’s supposed to. It still works though. I’ll be okay if I have to loan back the shiny new black one for a few weeks.
My littlest one is 20 months old and I still use my Ergo every single day. At the zoo. When I’m making dinner. For a walk around the block. At the grocery store. I’d rather give up chocolate than my Ergo. And if you know me at all, you know that’s saying something.
There’s no rule that says that you have to stop wearing your child just because he’s learned to walk. Toddler wearing is just as good for bonding and development as baby wearing. And it provides the same “hands free” benefits for parents. When you’re trying to make dinner and a toddler is crying at your knees, a good baby carrier is your best friend.
Toddlers especially love to be worn where they can be up in the middle of the action. It’s great for language development because mother and child can share the same line of sight. As baby points out interesting sights, mom can label the environment and mom and baby can share intimate conversations about the world.
Toddlers who are worn experience the world from a more adult perspective. They are better able to interact with the people around them and generally attract more attention than a child sitting in a stroller. This gives them a head start on social learning as they are able to witness how adults interact with each other and to practice interacting with others while enjoying the security of being safely attached to mom.
Toddlers typically like to be worn upright. Hip carries and back carries are convenient and comfortable for both parent and child. Carrying a toddler in a hip carry in a pouch is convenient for those in-and-out errands because it is easy to “pop” your child in and out. It also allows the child to see what’s going on as you mail a package at the post office, deposit a check at the bank or grab a few quick things at the grocery store. Or, if you’re truly blessed, you can point out original Michelangelo’s in Roman cathedrals.
For longer excursions, a soft-structured Asian-style carrier such as the Ergo or the Beco allows you to wear your child on your back making it more comfortable to carry him for a longer period of time. Rather than wandering the Denver Zoo with your little tyke in a stroller, keep him up on your back where he can get a better view of the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). The back carry is also great for grocery shopping if your child prefers being carried to riding in the cart. One word of caution though, watch out for grabby little hands so you don’t have to call for a “clean up in Aisle 5!” (Not that that’s ever happened to me. . . )
Soft backpack carriers also allow you to carry your toddler snuggled on your chest. While wearing a larger toddler makes it more difficult to get things done while toddler wearing, it provides a wonderful opportunity for close snuggles with your not-so-tiny baby. Even though he often seems more like a big kid than a baby, your toddler still enjoys the intimacy of being snuggled up tummy to tummy. If you’re at a back-yard party or company picnic, this can be a great way to keep your baby content so you can socialize. Or, on a day when your child’s attachment needs are particularly high, scoop him into the carrier and go for a long snuggly walk. Or turn on some music and dance. It will give you both the opportunity to reconnect and enjoy these last fleeting days of babyhood.