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Carrying a toddler in a sling: your questions answered

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Carrying a toddler in a sling: your questions answered

sling school stretchy wrap newborn tester two way purple pink short long
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Dad back carrying blond child in wrap conversion preschool

Generally people don’t start out thinking they will be carrying a toddler or walking age child in slings or carriers. However, sometimes parents find that toddler carrying is the most practical option when little legs get tired. It can also really help with emotional regulation for when those little people have big feelings, and need the security of a safe and familiar carrier or sling.

It’s possible to continue carrying well into toddlerhood, into the preschool years and beyond. How comfortable you find carrying your toddler in a sling or carrier will depend on your body and the tool you are using.

Many people find that, as their children get heavier and taller, back carrying may be most practical. Using a different sling or carrier can help everyone feel comfy and supported.

Read on to hear our thoughts on some commonly asked questions around toddler carrying and older child carrying!

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Shouldn’t they be walking? Aren’t they too old?

Whilst many people believe a child who can walk ‘should’ walk, in real life toddlers get tired easily. Most of the time people accept 3, 4 even 5 year olds using a pushchair. A sling is no different, it’s just a different tool for the job. Toddler carrying can be an excellent choice if youre going to be walking long distances and don’t want to or can’t use a buggy. then t for keeping everyone comfortable.

toddler carrying Debs Lenny Lamb carrier sling

Doesn’t toddler carrying hurt your back?

A well fitted and appropriate size sling carrier can be a really comfortable option when carrying a toddler. Many carriers are tested to carry 60lbs (27kg). This is the average weight of an 8 year old! As with everything, however different people have different experiences, and different bodies tolerate carrying weight in different ways. Some people can carry a 5 year old comfortably, others may find their 2 year old too heavy or uncomfortable to carry in a sling and find other ways to manage. The key is in finding the tool to suit you.

Do I need a toddler size carrier?

Typically ‘toddler’ size carriers fit from approximately age 2. As a guide, we suggest that your child should comfortably be wearing 2-3 trousers before moving to a toddler carrier. Most standard or ‘baby’ size carriers can fit comfortably until 2 years old. Overspreading the legs in a carrier which too wide will be uncomfortable and ispotentially damaging. It’s worth being sure they’re big enough before moving to a toddler size carrier.

Preschool or toddler carrier

As with moving to toddler carriers, preschool size carriers are larger again. They and typically fit children from around age 3 or 4. There are fewer carriers available in this size. However, theyre popular with people have frequently carried toddlers who have frequently carried their toddler and aren’t ready to stop; and with families who have older children with additional needs; and for families who do lots of walking, or are going on holiday.

Reu toddler carrying in a firespiral woven wrap sling

Do I need a specific woven wrap blend for toddler carrying?

You may have seen claims that you need a linen/hemp/silk/other fibre blend sling to carry a toddler or a heavier child. This isn’t strictly true. Many things affect how supportive a wrap feels carrying a bigger child, and blend is only one factor in this. Other factors which can affect supportiveness include the thickness of the wrap; how loose or dense the weave structure is; the design; the way the fibres have been treated; even the dyes used. It’s perfectly possible to carry a toddler in a good quality cotton wrap. As seen in this photo! In fact some of my favourite ever wraps have been all cotton!

Wrap technique

If your wrap isn’t working for you, the first thing we’d suggest is that you tweak your technique; go back to tightening basics with our handy video on strand by strand tightening. You could also change the type of carry you are using. For example, if you have been using a ruck, perhaps give a double hammock a go. Double hammock has three passes for extra support and the chest belt directs much of the weight away from your shoulders. Different ways of wrapping suit different ages of baby and different shapes of people. A sling library or consultant can really help with this, and if you can’t get to a library we offer Skype consultations too!

Consider your wrap carry

If your wrap still isn’t working for you then it may be time to look at changing it. Some people find longer wraps work best for them when carrying toddlers, because the length allows for more passes. Other people prefer shorter wraps because they are easier to carry as a scarf when your toddler is walking. Try some different wraps to see what you like. We have a range available to hire and can help you narrow down some choices, or if you want to try several consider our Wrap Club!

sling school stretchy wrap newborn tester two way purple pink short long

Do I need to back carry?

You don’t need to back carry an older child. You can continue to front carry or hip carry in whatever way you find comfortable!

Help me choose a toddler carrier!

If you’d like some help choosing what to use in your toddler carrying journey, check out our article What’s the ‘best’ toddler carrier? for some suggestions. Or request a consultation with us to talk through or see some options. We have an extensive range of wraps, ring slings, meh dais, onbuhimos and buckle carriers available to hire and many to buy as well!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Back-carrying, Buckle carriers, Calming & nurturing children, Calming & nurturing toddlers, Carrying, Sling choice & fit, Toddlers, Why carry, Woven wraps
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