Babywearing beyond infancy…

Have you ever experienced a babywearing strike with your child; a period of time where he/she did not want to be worn? My second and third son both went through this right around the same time. At about 13 months of age they became resistant to being in the Ergo. Their new found independence definitely coinciding with becoming a more confident walker and wanting to explore their environment in a new way. It was however a somewhat difficult adjustment for us both. Up until that point they happily spent a great deal of time in the Ergo both at home and while out and about. Babywearing was an essential element to the rhythm of our day.

Because babywearing was a way of life for us, it was quite a transition for us to get through our day without babywearing. Particularly because they still wanted to be held frequently throughout the day, but they did not want to be confined in a carrier. They still desired lots of physical closeness with me but would get upset if I tried putting them in the Ergo. I desperately missed being hands-free as well as found holding an older baby in arms for extended periods to be hard on my body. My back, arms, and hips felt quite strained from carrying an older baby in arms as opposed to using a carrier where their weight would be more evenly distributed. Additionally they were not as peaceful in my arms as they were in a carrier. They were more far more restless and wiggly.

We eventually navigated through the babywearing strike to find a balance for us. Here are a few simple suggestions to successfully continue babywearing beyond infancy as it still holds many of the same benefits to both mom and baby:

1. Try a new carrier – Perhaps now that your baby is older, a new carrier would better meet their needs. A ring sling in particular is a nice option for an older baby who likes to get in and out/up and down. It is very easy and quick to get a baby in and out of a sling. You could wear a beautiful sling across your body almost as an accessory and have it all ready to go for baby if/when they want to be worn.

2. Experiment with new carries/positions – Now that baby is older he/she might be interested in more visual access to the environment while they are worn. A hip carry is a really great option for older babies who want to see what’s happening around them, but still want the comfort of mama nearby. Minor adjustments and tweaks to your favorite carries could help increase the comfort level for your older baby.

3. Breastfeed while babywearing– Combining babywearing with mama’s milk is usually a winning combination for babies. By breastfeeding while babywearing you are maintaining a positive association with the carrier for your baby plus allowing yourself the freedom to nurse on the move. This is also helpful if you nurse baby down for naps. Rather than laying in bed for 30 minutes trying to get baby to sleep and hoping you’ll be able to unlatch him/her so you can sneak away to get some stuff done, you can simply nurse baby down for a nap while simultaneously knocking off items on your to-do list.

4. Keep trying/offering – Even if your baby goes several days or even weeks without wanting to be worn, it doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is completely done with babywearing forever. Be sure to keep your carrier handy because with all the developmental milestones, teething, potential illnesses, etc, that occur beyond infancy, it’s likely your baby will go through a phase that requires some extra physical contact with mama. You may be surprised that after a long babywearing strike, your baby is suddenly very interested in being worn again.

Babies on the brink of toddlerhood are going through a significant transitional time where they still need a great deal of nurturing and physical closeness, yet at the same time they seek new adventures, experiences, and stimuli to assist their rapid development. Babywearing can help build a bridge between these two polarizing forces that exists within many one-year-olds by by providing a familiar love and comfort to them.

Happy babywearing all!


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