Here are a few babywearing truths you need to know BEFORE you can adequately share the love:
1. If you wear your baby... you are a REAL babywearer.
I've had so many people say to me at meetings, "I want to learn more so I can be a REAL babywearer. I only have a frontpack or big box store soft-structured carrier." Babywearing isn't like the Velveteen Rabbit. An expensive German-style-woven doesn't shed a thread into the ground to grow a fairy and make you into a REAL babywearer. You ARE a real babywearer, don't let anyone tell you that you aren't. Even if you measure in yards or inches. Even if you own "only" one carrier, and even if you made that carrier in your kitchen or bought it from a BigBox store, you ARE a real babywearer.
|A "REAL" Babywearer|
|Also a REAL babywearer with her real DIY mei tai (and awesome matching headband)|
2. Babywearing is a SKILL and not a product. Let me repeat, Babywearing is NOT a product that you buy.
|Towel kanga at the beach|
|Pillowcase and duct tape podegi from the |
first Babywearing Conference Emergency
You do not need a carrier to babywear. You're shocked right now, aren't you? It's true, a product may well make it EASIER for you to babywear, but it isn't the end all and be all. If you have the SKILL of babywearing, you can use any carrier, as well as a large variety of *not a carrier* to carry your baby/toddler. For example, a sheet, towel, or pillowcase and duct tape can be used in a pinch. For more examples, check out my emergency babywearing posts.
3. No carrier works for everyone.
Have you ever had a friend tell you, "omigosh, I just got the most amazing shoes, you HAVE to get some." You head to the store and the shoes pinch your toes or your feet swim in the shoes, or you just think they look like boats on your feet? Carriers are like that. The one I think is awesome may be misery for you. Brand doesn't matter. The Latest-Greatest doesn't matter. Does it fit your child? Is it comfortable? Does it fit your aesthetics and more importantly budget? If so, it's a good choice for YOU.
Ouch that rubs!
4. Toddler carriers are not made for the moment your baby can toddle.
Most toddler carriers don't properly fit children in the 90+ percentile for height/weight until after 2. So, most kids have been running for a long time before they fit a toddler carrier properly. A too small child in a large carrier is at risk of over-extending their knees and hips. I'd go so far as to say this is much MORE not ideal than a baby/child in a narrow carrier, and a too small baby is certainly at risk of getting lost in the fabric and possibly suffocating. In this way, smaller is better than bigger.
Too tall: Bamberoo, 5mo
Toddler Kinderpack, 13.5mo, has been walking for 5mo
Carrier is too tall and too wide. You can see the side of the carrier
where the buckle is sits well past her leg bend
5. Toddler carriers aren't necessary to wear a toddler, or preschooler, or elementary schooler, or high schooler.... and there is no such thing as "toddler worthy." If a toddler is in it, it's worthy.
Okay, I'll admit, wearing a high schooler wouldn't be my first choice, but if I had a standard carrier and I had an injured high schooler I needed to carry, I'd make use of that standard carrier like a boss. In general, you don't wear big toddlers for multiple hours a day like you might with an infant. So, if the carrier/wrap isn't the MOST comfortable carrier to ever hold a kid, so what? You're wearing for 15-20min, maybe an hour tops. Are there situations where a toddler carrier makes sense? Sure. Special needs kids who might be worn more often, kids who struggle with new situations and might be worn more often, parents with an injury that requires more support, or even a parent who just wants one for their toddler, all of these might make a toddler carrier make sense, but let's stop saying everyone needs one, and especially not with a 12mo old.
|ErgoBaby 15yr old, Diane is SO Boss|
Recently, I've heard of folks telling women who founded the modern babywearing movement, women who are leaders in advocacy and the establishment of babywearing as an acceptable universal practice that they aren't REAL babywearers. To be frank, How DARE they? Even if she was a new mom who'd been wearing for a week, where does anyone get the right to tell others their babywearing isn't real enough for them?
Remember as advocates, our first goal should always be to help them work with what they have. If what they have truly won't work for them, start with a few examples of carriers that will do the job that are easy to find at a reasonable price point. If someone wants to jump down the collector's rabbit hole, they can make that decision on their own without feeling pressured to do so. So, I ask you to take this time to become familiar with these carriers that I have heard "can't" carry a child over 8-12mo. Notice the wide variety of sizes that children of the same age are. Notice that all of the pairs seem to be wearing and at the very least content with their *not specifically toddler* carrier.
Kozy Mei Tai