You finally made it to toddlerhood! They are (hopefully) sleeping through the night, feeding themselves, and saying good-bye to diapers. But this newfound independence may make wearing a challenge. Having to chase them into the carrier. Hair pulling or being smacked with random toys. Or seat popping in protest of leaving the park. A whole new set of challenges in wearing now.
The basic safety rules of babywearing still apply. The carrier should mimic how you would hold your toddler in your arms. Still high and tight—low and loose would start killing your back after a short while. High and tight on your body helps distribute their weight more evenly across your whole torso. Low and loose puts all the strain on your lower back. You would never (willingly) hold your toddler like that, it just wouldn’t be comfortable for you. Your toddler’s should also be supported knee to knee, with the carrier coming at least up to their shoulder blades. This mimics the way you would probably hold them, forearm under the bottom and the other arm over their upper back to keep them tight to your body (to keep them from escaping).
I’ve heard some wearers say that ring slings are not good for toddlers. The one shoulder carry can start to hurt your back as your child gets heavier, their weight isn’t evenly distributed. I argue that a one shoulder carry could hurt your back at any weight when wearing for long periods. Especially if you do not have the carrier adjusted properly. Personally, I don’t like ring slings for wearing for more than an hour continuously.I wore my newborn for a short hike the other day and my shoulder was hurting towards the end. It’s the design of the carrier, not the weight of the child.
I think ring slings (I am using a Wrapsody Jareth) are great carriers for toddlers actually. Prep the carry on your body so you all ready to put them up when needed. If you can catch them, simply open the bottom rail and slide the carrier over their head to get them in the carrier quickly (I call this the trap and secure). You can let them out similarly, loosen the bottom rail and let them gently slide out (useful for random crying fits that magically stops when they see a cookie). On your hip, they can see forward to appease their curiosity, without totally limiting your range of movement. But they can still tuck their head in for that elusive nap. Ring slings are a simple choice for toddlers. Pull the sling up over their back, then tighten and go! No buckles to reach for or passes to spread.
The key to a successful ring sling with a toddler is good seat. Get a decent amount of fabric between your bodies, this makes it harder for them to pop the seat when they wiggle. Getting the fabric knee to knee will keep your toddler in a spread-squat position, keeping both your and them comfortable.
I’ve also heard wearers say that a Ruck is a terrible back carry for toddler (I am using a Wrapsody Stretch-Hybrid Nammy O/S). The single layer pass isn’t supportive enough for all the toddler wiggles and the seat can easily be popped as they bounce around. I argue that any carry, multilayered or not, can be popped if your kiddo tries hard enough.
A ruck is very supportive at any weight if you get a nice deep seat. It mimics the way you might hold your toddler on your back, both arms under their bottom. Most toddlers have great torso control and don’t need an arm to hold them upright, just a place to sit their bottoms and secure their legs.
The key to a good Ruck is a supportive seat. There has been some discussion about whether a seat needs to be deep or just knee-to-knee. My personal experience is that both matter. A good amount of fabric between you and the wigglemonster will make it harder to keep the seat from popping. And knee-to-knee support will more evenly distribute your toddler weight across your body, making it more comfortable for you.
Enjoy those toddler wrap snuggles while you can! They may act all big, but they are till your babies who need you once and awhile!