As I walk up the steep hill to playgroup with my 33 month-old son on my back, I get the occasional look, comment or question that no-one would think of if I had him in a buggy!
Here are some thoughts on toddler slings, and how they can make your life easier.
“My toddler’s too big and heavy to carry”
“Why use a toddler sling?”
“What do you do when they want to walk?”
These are just a few of the things people say about carrying older babies and toddlers. Many parents believe that their baby has become too heavy to carry when the baby carrier they have been using starts to hurt their back and shoulders. This is frequently a reflection of the baby carrier they are using, rather than the weight of the child. Although many carriers will state that they can be used up to a certain weight, this means that they have been tested and found to be structurally safe at these weights, not necessarily that they are comfortable for the person using them! When parents of “heavy” babies try a well designed toddler sling they are amazed at how light their little one seems to have become.
A good sling will support the weight of the child being carried from their knee to their knee, allowing their hips to be fully supported in a spread-squat position, with the knees higher than the bottom.
Not only does this provide good support for the hips and spine, it also helps to spread the weight around the torso of the person carrying, so little weight is carried by the shoulders.
“Why use a toddler sling?” Well, what are the alternatives – buggies. It’s a good alternative for many, and, like slings, some use a buggy until their child is 3, 4 or older. However, while buggies have their place, they are not always the most convenient way to transport your little one. Buggies can be a challenge to get on and off buses, if you are lucky enough to find one where the buggy space isn’t already occupied! If you are going anywhere with crowds of people, or lots of stairs, your little one can’t see what’s going on through the crowds, or you spend all day queuing for the lifts. And that steep hill I mentioned? Back-breaking with a buggy!
A good, soft sling is lightweight, can be worn on the front, back or sometimes hip, making travelling easy. Your child is snuggled up next to your body, so you instinctively know whether they are comfortable or not. They can see what’s going on round about them and gauge your reactions to things that they see.
“What do you do when they want to walk?” This is where slings really come into their own. Have you ever tried to control an empty buggy with one hand and an enthusiastic toddler with the other? I have, and it’s not easy! With a sling in your bag, or rolled up and worn around your waist, you are free to run around with your little one while they investigate everything that’s new. When they have had enough of walking, you can carry them, and they are close enough to chat to you about everything they’ve just seen.
How often does your toddler insist on going out without the buggy as they feel they are grown up enough to walk? And how often do these trips without the buggy end in tears, as halfway home, usually when you have several bags of shopping to carry, they decide they can’t walk any further and demand to be carried? There is always some poor parent struggling to carry a tired toddler and hold on to their shopping at the same time. With a soft, compact sling, they can have their carry home, and you can have your hands free.
If you’re still not convinced, hire one online to try! You’ll never look back.