Back in July, my brother and I took Coraline up to the Mohonk Preserve to do the Lemon Squeeze. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea given the 90-plus degree heat and unforgiving humidity. We’d made it barely 200 yards before I was taking Coraline out of the Ergo for a break — she and I were both soaked. And, my fitness not being what it once was, I was having a hard time walking uphill with 20 pounds of fidget strapped to my chest. Gone are the days when she would happily chill in the carrier, content to watch the world go by with her two breast friends. Now she wants to see everything, which she can’t if she’s worn tummy-to-tummy, nor if she’s on my back since she’s looking me square between the shoulder blades. And it’s no longer enough to merely see; she has to be involved, so there’s lots of craning, reaching, kicking, grabbing, and excited gesturing. And, lest we forget, the constant up and down: She wanted to walk, but clearly couldn’t walk the entire trail, at least not if we wanted to make it out anytime that week. So half the hike was spent passing her back and forth, the three of us getting increasingly agitated. Now don’t get me wrong — my daughter’s enthusiasm and adventurous spirit are two of her most wonderful qualities — but wearing a toddler is hard!
Two weeks later, my brothers gifted us with a Deuter Kid Comfort II hiking pack. Now, I don’t know much about hiking packs but this thing is sweet with a capital S. It totally changes the hiking experience for the whole family — it’s kind to our backs, puts Coraline up high enough to see what’s happening all around her, and even has a sun canopy, which is just brilliant. On our inaugural mission we braved Mohonk again, but this time went in the back way and climbed up Bonticou, Coraline perched comfortably on my back.
So if you’re on the verge of throwing in the towel (or the Moby wrap) check out some of these carriers that are particularly well-suited for toddler-wearing:
Hotslings This pouch-style carrier, while not appropriate for newborns, is ideal for when your little one has reached the “pick me up, no put me down, no pick me up, no put me down” stage. Made out of one swath of fabric, the Hotsling is easy on, easy off for you, and easy in, easy out for your eager walker.
Boba As I’ve mentioned before, the reason why ring slings, soft structured carriers (like the Ergo), and wraps are a better choice than a Baby Björn or Snugli is because they support the baby’s bottom in a seated position (knees above hips) so that the baby is not dangling from their delicate pelvis. But for a long-legged toddler, support underneath the butt and thighs may not be enough — many toddlers don’t like their legs dangling for long periods of time. Boba just announced a new line of soft structured carriers with foot stirrups, which increases leg support, taking further stress off the kid’s spine. They’ll be available in September.
Structured carriers While you may not want one of these heavy-duty utilitarian packs just to head to the farmer’s market, longer jaunts and hikes may be more comfortable for everyone involved with a pack like those made by Deuter or Kelty. It’s worth mentioning that Ergo now has a Performance line of carriers made with a high-performance polyester exterior, breathable mesh liner, and more comfortable shoulder straps.
Ring Sling I’ve heard a couple people mention that they couldn’t get into their ring sling, it just never seemed to work right. And I know several others who exclusively used a ring sling with their kids. Often times the frustration with a newborn is getting them positioned safely; and as they get bigger, it can be difficult to adequately distribute the weight of the baby over one shoulder. But, for the same reason the Hotsling is great with a toddler, you may want to revisit your ring sling, especially for short use, like running errands.
Scootababy Hip Carrier While almost all carriers can be adapted to carry baby on your hip, the Scootababy is designed exclusively for that purpose. It has a wide, fleecy shoulder harness, and a soft structured seat for your toddler whose incessant need to see everything going on around them may appreciate the better view.