When do I need to get a Toddler or Preschool Carrier?
This question often comes up when you and your baby have fallen in love with babywearing and it has become a pivotal parenting tool but you notice that your baby is now a toddler and maybe it’s time to look at other options. Nowadays there are a lot of choice in terms of baby carriers including different sizes of baby, toddler and preschool but deciding whether you need to go up a size depends on a lot of factors. It is important to consider your current carrier and the reasons to go up a size or get a different carrier. Please note that a lot of carriers will last your whole babywearing journey and not every family feels the need to go up a size.
Things to consider:
- Does your current carrier still fit?
It is important to make sure that your current carrier is still suitable for your child as they grow. There are two main aspects – one is weight restrictions and the other is making sure your child is secure. Always check your carrier manufacture instructions in terms of weight restrictions as baby carriers can have restrictions from between 15kg to 20kg so it is crucial to follow these. The other aspect is to ensure that your child is secure while being worn where the carrier can still be tightened effectively and the back panel needs to go to their armpits so they aren’t a falls risk.
If you and your child feel that your babywearing days are coming to a close there may not be a need to get a new carrier. Sometimes as a baby learns to walk, they may be more focussed on this and may not want to be worn as much. Or you have a child like mine, who still asks to be worn almost daily at 3.5 years old (and yes we still Kanga AND she still sleeps!) and an upgrade was a necessity.
- Are you and your baby comfortable?
This is often when you start considering going up a size as your carrier just doesn’t fit like it used to! In terms of comfort, often as your baby grows the straps don’t fit as well or your child no longer fits knee to knee in the seat of the carrier. When your child grows and their legs start to dangle as the seat is smaller, this can add additional weight for the wearer. While it’s not unsafe for you or your child to have a narrower seat, having the seat go knee to knee assists with their weight distribution and is a lot more comfortable for both the child and wearer.
- Is your carrier just not working for you anymore?
Sometimes you might find that a particular type of carrier just isn’t working for you and your child’s needs, for example they are no longer happy to wait until you finish wrapping and tying off in a woven wrap or you want an option that is quick to get on (and off) as your toddler wants to get up and down numerous times. We will go through different options down below.
So what are your options in terms of toddler and preschool carriers? I’ve included my top picks below but fit for you and your child is key. Before purchasing it is useful to try them or at least measure your child and compare it with the measurements of the carrier as you don’t want to purchase one and realise that it will probably only fit your child for a couple of months. However on the flip side you don’t want to go to big too quickly as a baby carrier that is too big, there can be risks with this. If you are ever unsure, it is useful to have a babywearing consultation to try all the carriers available.
My top Toddler and Preschool Carriers:
Kokadi Flip or Tai Tai
Kokadi make amazing carriers and the fantastic part of these is that they also come with the adjustable seat so that you can fit the carrier to your child and extend it as it grows. The Flip also differs in the toddler and preschool size to the back as you can chose where to connect the shoulder straps either into the back panel or waist strap, this is amazing as you can choose how the weight is distributed. Toddler size is from approximately one year and the weight restriction is 15kg. Preschool size is from approximately two years old and the weight restriction is to 15kg.
The Emeibaby carrier is one of the longest lasting carriers in terms of seat adjustability with the baby size fitting from newborn to toddler and beyond (it fits my 3 year old) and the same amazing features are in the toddler size with a bigger back panel and more seat adjustment and it lasts to 18kg! It is also great for back carries as the waist strap can be adjusted for a large range of body types so it sits nice and high. This is mine and my 3 year old’s carrier of choice and we still use it in every Kangatraining class.
Fidella Fly-Tai or Fusion in a Toddler Size
Fidella have just released their Toddler Fly-Tai’s and Fusion range that now go to 30kg which is one of the highest weight restrictions on the market. As the Fly-Tai is also a meh dai carrier you can also use the shoulder straps to extend the seat and reinforce the carrier if required.
This is a great option for quick ups and downs for toddlers. Onbuhimo’s can be used generally once your child is one plus and they are walking as without a waist belt, a lot of the pressure is on their upper back in the carry. Not everyone loves this carrier (as positioning can be tricky and is pivotal for comfort) as the weight is all on your shoulders but is definitely a fast option for any impatient children.
If you haven’t used a woven wrap prior to your child becoming a toddler, there can be a bit of a learning curve for the both of you. In saying that woven wraps are amazing for toddlers as it fits you both perfectly each time and you can wrap them in multiple different carries including front, back and hip so it allows for a lot of versatility. With woven wraps, you can also reinforce the carry with multiple passes to keep your child secure and help to distribute their weight.
Options for Your Current Carrier
If getting a new carrier is not an option right now you also have alternative options for your current carrier (as long as your baby is within the above fitting requirements). Your options include:
– if your child is getting a bit too heavy, back carry can be a better option in terms of comfort and wearability for the wearer
– some baby carriers such as Tula or Manduca have add-ons to extend the seat of the baby carrier which can make them last longer
– with a Meh Dai, you can use the shoulder straps over your child’s legs to add additional leg support and will make the seat wider
– you can also use the hood of your carrier to add more back support if you find that they are starting to outgrow the back panel (ensuring that they aren’t a falls risk and are secure)
SAFETY NOTE: Never go up a size in the hopes that this one carrier will last longer and that you child will ‘grow into it’. This is especially important for little babies as they don’t have the spine or muscle development for bigger carriers. Manufactures develop size guides to ensure that your baby is safe in the carrier and if your carrier is too big, your baby’s hips and legs are overextended, the back panel will come up too high over their head and there will be excess fabric/material that they can slump into which is a suffocation risk and does not meet the babywearing safety guidelines T.I.C.K.S. So more about babywearing safety here
If you have any questions about Toddler or Preschool carriers please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For our current toddler and preschool carriers:
Toddler and Preschool Carriers
Certified Babywearing Consultant