Wooing Your Toddler To Babywearing

When Ruby was just over a year old and began walking well, she started rejecting the sling. This was a real surprise to me, since my other babies had been quite happy to be worn well into their third year of life.

But babies like to keep you on your toes. Just because all the sibs did one thing doesn’t mean the new baby will be the same. Ruby also began disliking sitting in the stroller for our daily walks. She wanted to use her own two legs!

I bought an Ergo carrier to see if she would be happier in a sturdier carrier or would prefer a back carry (my other slings were a Baby Hawk and a Sleepy Wrap), but no go. She would begin violently protesting as soon as I tried to put her in. (She didn’t mind being held, just being worn.) I decided not to worry too much about it or try to force the issue.

But as she gets heavier and I get more pregnant, I find myself really missing babywearing.

There are so many benefits to babywearing a toddler. For instance:

  • Naptimes. Ruby has started fighting naps, which mean that the usual tricks I use to get her to sleep aren’t working. Then she often falls asleep too late in the afternoon and sleeps too close to bedtime. Since daddy is handling bedtime most nights, this means he’s up later than he wants to be. I love it when a toddler becomes so cozy in a sling that s/he forgets not to fall asleep on mom’s hip! In addition, sometimes Ruby doesn’t want me to leave her side during naps. Since I can’t always nap with her, it would be nice if she would nap in the sling while I get other things done.
  • Shopping. She has also begun an UN-fun stage when it comes to shopping. She wants to get down and investigate everything she can reach. In my experience most toddlers would rather sit on mom’s hip in a sling than be buckled into a shopping cart.
  • Fussiness. She is still cutting her “eyeteeth”, and those seem to be especially uncomfortable. It would be nice to calm her using a sling the way I did with my other fussy tots. The combination of closeness with mom and movement often provide enough distraction to help with teething pain or other fussy times.
  • Discreet nursing. Ring slings are wonderful for nursing discreetly, since the top “rail” of the sling can be pulled up over the business areas. (I also don’t like flashing the kids with my pregnant belly when Ruby nurses, and the tail of the sling is great for keeping me covered.)

The other day while shopping at a consignment shop, I snagged a brand new Maya Wrap for $20. The Maya was my favorite sling for years, but I had not bought one since having Ruby. I took this find as a sign.

I wondered if maybe I could woo her back to babywearing.

As I said, I’ve never had a toddler or any baby at all reject the sling, but I have talked to moms in the past who had problems with young babies new to babywearing, and offered suggestions. Some babies do fuss when they’re first put into a sling, but I’ve yet to meet one who didn’t eventually end up loving the idea.

Today I started by slipping it over her while I rocked and nursed her (hopefully) to sleep. For a minute she said “Out”, but not with much conviction. And she kept kicking her legs and arms out, like this.

Maybe it just felt too hot or confining.

But within a few minutes, she was asleep. And it was only noon!

I’m determined to keep trying, especially when I’m doing something interesting (like chopping veggies, she always wants to sit on the kitchen counter when I’m doing stuff in the kitchen) that she wants to observe. Or when she’s sleepy or fussy.

Have you ever had a toddler suddenly reject babywearing? What did you do, if anything, to woo them back?

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One Response to Wooing Your Toddler To Babywearing

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