"what's she doing carrying her in that still?"
"Oh I bet using that is hurting your back now."
"don't you think he should be walking on his own by now?"
"you're making a rod for your own back, she'll never want to walk nicely on her own..."
and my personal favourite that was said to me by a family member "you look weird".
Is this the time to hang up the sling and drag your toddler/preschooler around by the hand?
I'm a firm believer in baby wearing right from the beginning and then for as long as they need. Toddlers and bigger kids need this too. So here are my top reasons why I love toddler wearing. If you're at the baby stage still, read this knowing it's ok to continue on your baby wearing journey past 6 months, a year, 2 years... If you're at the toddler phase, read this knowing that what you're doing is great, baby wearing for as long as they need is a fantastic thing you are doing for your little one. And if you've ever heard comments like the ones I've listed, I'm sorry. Just know that for every person who criticises you there will be others who agree and want to support you. Find those people and stick with em. (come along to one of our coffee mornings!)
1. They still get tired.
Yeah I know toddlers have seemingly endless energy, but there is a point at which they are too tired to go on. If you're out and about with no buggy and need to keep going/get back home/back to the car your toddlers options are limited. Either throw a temper tantrum, moan and cry all the way back, or refuse to take another step. Thank goodness for slings in this situation. They have saved many an outing for me when a toddler gets too tired.
2. They don't want to go in the buggy
Maybe it's just my kids? Have you ever had a fight on your hands to just get them into a buggy and strapped in. When they become solid planks and refuse to sit down? Don't get me wrong, I love my buggy (in fact I tried to get my 3 year old to come to the shop with me yesterday so I could take the buggy and have it carry the shopping home) but there are times a buggy isn't happening but a sling will.
3. They get overwhelmed/need reasurrance
At 1/2/3/4...they are still so little in such a big crazy world. New situations, new people, new places, new feelings can be super overwhelming to little people. When Samuel started preschool in January he went through a phase of needing to be carried to preschool in a sling because for him it was a comforting and reassuring place to be when he was going through a big transition.
4. You can't go toddler speed
I love a toddler speed walk around the woods/to the park. But there are times when I can't go toddler speed (which seems to be either walking so slow I feel like I'm going backwards, or going so fast I feel we're competing at speed walking). Again, slings have saved the day for me many times, being able to put a toddler on my back and just GO!
5. They run off/you need to stay together
Sometimes and in some places it's even more important to stay together, hold hands. I love a sling in this situation. I have free hands for my bigger kids to hold on to, the toddler can't run off and I know where they are.
6. They still want to be part of your world
Life is very different all the way down there at the height of a 1/2/3 year old. Especially if they have been used to baby wearing from the beginning, they are well used to being at your height and being part of your world, seeing what you see and listening to what you have to say. Toddlers still like this, they still love being right up with you, seeing things as you see them. Experiencing things together.
7. They still love cuddles and closeness
The need to be close to you doesn't disappear when a child reaches toddler hood (although some are more independent than others). Using a sling is such a good way to maintain that closeness, especially if you're busy or out and about.
8. They can't do a particular thing that you're doing
We visited my husbands family in Ireland last summer and went for lots of gorgeous walks involving the hills and around waterfalls. My (at the time) almost 3 year old wasn't physically able to keep up or manage the type of walks we were doing. The toddler tula was amazing for me to be able to carry him when he couldn't walk.
9. They are fickle creatures
Toddlers are fickle creatures, one minute wanting to walk, another wanting to be carried and there isn't much persuading them to do the opposite to what they want. Using a sling which allows quick ups and downs can be life saver.
10. Your back
A note about your back when carrying a bigger kid. Baby wearing should never be uncomfortable. Using a well fitting sling for the age, size and weight of your child means that their weight should be well distributed and carrying them shouldn't be a problem. If you have carried your child from birth your back will have adjusted and strengthened as they grow. Obviously if you're carrying a large 3 year old for long periods of time you will find that when you've put them down that you are aware of a lack of weight on your back. But you shouldn't be in pain. Please come and see us for some help if you ever find baby wearing is uncomfortable.