It’s exciting as a parent to watch your baby grow and develop. Starting with their oohing and aahing, recognizing faces and places, to eventually crawling and walking, these milestones are met with awe and joy. At around 12 months, your baby will likely start walking if they haven’t yet already, or perhaps they haven’t yet, but will be soon. With this new significant change, many parents will still want to wear their baby for the many benefits baby-wearing offers. Eye contact, hands-free mobility, parent-child bonding, and cognitive development are just a few reasons why parents and caregivers want to continue using a baby carrier.
It’s hard to believe that at 12 months, your baby is now considered a toddler and will be in this category until around 36 months! This means that everything from mealtime to naptime and everything in between will be changing. According to HealthyChildren.org, toddlerhood means that “your child is advancing from infancy toward and into the preschool years. During this time, his or her physical growth and motor development will slow, but you can expect to see some tremendous intellectual, social, and emotional changes.”
Lots of transitions are on the horizon, but when it comes to baby-wearing, keep reading for some FAQs about baby carriers for toddlers.
Can You Put a 1 Year Old in a Baby Carrier?
You bet! Once your baby has complete head and neck control — typically at around 6 months — your baby can not only be put in a carrier, but you now have even more options than when they were an infant. This means that when baby can hold their head upright on their own, you can start to face them outward in addition to the variety of ways your carrier has been designed for baby-wearing.
The good news about baby carriers is that many of them can be used from birth through toddlerhood. The best baby carrier for 1 year old is one that’s comfortable and easy to use. Whether it’s a sling, wrap, or more structured baby carrier, chances are by the time your baby is one year old, you’ve figured out not just how to wear them, but how to wear them comfortably — and in a way that’s suited to your lifestyle.
With that said, some baby carriers for 1 year olds are made specifically for toddlerhood. They may be more structured and have more, or even fewer, specific carrying positions. Some parents prefer a baby carrier sling for 1 year old as that’s what they’ve grown accustomed to.
Some experts suggest that wearing your toddler at the front of your body, chest to chest is easiest to carry. This distributes the weight and makes for easy soothing when it comes to naps and/or bedtime. Others swear by back-pack style carriers, many of which come with sunshades and leg stirrups to keep baby safe from the elements and in proper alignment.
Can You Put an 18 Month Old in a Baby Carrier?
As long as baby and baby-wearer are comfortable, then yes, you can put an 18-month old in a baby carrier! At 18 months, most toddlers can’t wait to explore the world. But with all of the excitement… can come a lot of exhaustion — for both your toddler, and you! So, it’s important to find a carrier that is comfortable, easy-to-use, and works with your lifestyle.
As mentioned, most carriers can be used from birth through toddlerhood, so don’t put yours away just yet. However, some parents and caregivers may prefer a newer carrier that works better for this stage of toddler development.
Toddler carriers, similar to infant carriers, come in a variety of shapes and styles. Many parents prefer a soft-structured carrier with adjustable padded shoulder straps, which make wearing easier if several adults are using the same one. With any toddler carrier, it’s important that your toddler’s weight is evenly distributed to avoid strain on your neck, back, and shoulders.
This is also a great time to introduce a baby carrier hip seat for toddlers that can be used up to 45lbs or so, or until your child outgrows it – usually at around 3 years of age. That’s where the Tushbaby hip seat carrier comes in: it’s easy to put on, is compact, folds up quickly, and weighs less than 1-pound. The Tushbaby carrier is a breeze for the parent to manage the toddler who likes to get up, down, and back up again. It’s designed to evenly distribute the weight of your child across your hips, abdomen, and pelvic area to save your back which, let’s face it, usually needs a break from carrying baby all the time. Because it sits on your hips, Tushbaby also protects the muscles in your arms, neck, and shoulders.
Another benefit of wearing a hipseat carrier for toddlers is that Tushbaby puts your baby’s hips in the pediatric-recommended “M” position — a natural position for baby which keeps their knees slightly higher than their tush while supporting their thighs. Hip carriers are not totally hands-free, but still allow for close contact with your baby without having to deal with complicated hardware and instructions.
What Age Can You Use Baby Carrier Until?
With so much information available about when to start using a baby carrier, many parents also wonder when it’s okay to stop. The truth is, your parental instincts will kick in, and you’ll have a sense that wearing your toddler will soon be a thing of the past. Sometimes your toddler just gets too heavy to carry or outgrows your favorite carrier. Some toddlers may no longer want to be held because they want to assert their independence and not feel like a baby! Most carriers come with weight and size limitations, so be sure to follow those guidelines, too.
It’s a good idea to trust your instincts when it comes to parenting, and that will get easier to do as your baby grows and develops. Of course, always consult with your pediatrician or healthcare provider for any questions or concerns related to your child.