Saturday, January 16, 2010

When will you stop wearing your Toddler?

Recently at a religious conference that my family and friends attended, we fished out our carrier so I could keep Monster safely with me, while I got food from the crowded buffet area. My 19 month old chuck-a-Monster was getting quite a few looks from the women, most of the reactions however were positive as it was obvious it was either this or I would be running around the Flash-reincarnate and totally miss dinner.

At the same conference, I commented to a friend whose almost 3 year old (hmmm could have been older) was refusing to get off her lap that she could use a carrier. She and her own mother responded with a laugh and told me they felt the kid was too old to be carried. I considered pointing out the fact that she hadn’t put her son down for the duration of the day…so maybe he doesn’t agree with her logic there. Well, I passed the opportunity but I’m sure after this post she’ll hear about it haha.

Toddlers generally do not need to be carried all the time: they are active and curious enough that they will probably prefer to be on their own.

I stopped wearing my daughter when she started screaming and running away from being wrapped/worn.

Occasionally however, a new place, strange places, may cause anxieties in some children and they turn from Diego/Dora to super clingy kids. At times like these, it is essential to reinforce a sense of security and trust between child and mother.

My friend’s remark made me think about the future when I too would completely stop wearing Monster and as expected, the thought saddened me. I cheered up quickly though imaging more children and newborn snuggles in our future.

For a general feeling of when to stop baby wearing, I turned to the trust moms on The Baby Wearer and just as I had expected, this was a long standing discussion in one of the forums. I’ll try to break down the reasons and requirements according to developmental stages.

Stopping because of weight/height:
If you’ve been wearing your baby for the last 1 year, your muscles have already become used to adjusting and developing tone to support the added weight and gravitational center. With continued baby wearing, you wouldn’t register a great difference in wearing a toddler day to day. However, if you have only worn your child sporadically throughout the weight gain and loss stages, a heavier toddler would definitely register as aches and pains the first few times your wear her. Therefore, not many consistently baby-wearing parents feel the need to stop baby wearing merely because a child is getting heavier. They however, still end by cutting down on Up-time drastically, as you’ll read below.

Stopping because of increased activity of toddler:
This in fact is the main reason baby wearing times get shorter and scarcer in toddlers and preschoolers.

Wearing is much less now. N is 22 months and about 22lbs. She prefers to walk, screaming "no wrap, Norah WALK!" but once she's in is usually happy. I can wear her for about an hour without any pain these days, but mostly it's for sleeping when we're out

At one point they just want to be on their own. This is the time where baby wearing becomes rarer and rarer, mostly because of the toddler’s own choice. Certain (adorable) 4, 5 year olds will occasionally ask to be carried and you can indulge them for a little while just so they can enjoy the novelty of being carried in a new carrier. There is no need to carry the toddler at this point, but you can continue dabbling in using carriers just for the ease and convenience of it. Believe me, holding a 19 month old in arms for two blocks is a lot harder than carrying one on your back in a good carrier and hiking a mile or two. Trust me on this one.

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