Let me just start out by saying, I’m a huge fan of babywearing (and attachment parenting generally). I wore Adeline all. the. time. during the first four to six months of her life. I mean, seriously, all the time. We co-slept as well, and there was one day when I realized that I’d been in physical contact with her for almost twenty-four hours. And then I wanted to scratch my eyes out with my dull, unkempt, new-mom nails. I’m kidding, it was lovely. Ok, actually it did make me a little insane. But that’s not really the point. Let me get to the point.
At the risk of losing any natural mama credentials I’ve built up, I have to say: I think it’s really weird when people are still babywearing their toddlers. I was at the park with Adeline the other day and a woman had a two-year-old in a sling. I mean, what’s the point of being at the park? Aren’t you there to let your kid run around, play on the playground, interact with other kids?
I get that sometimes you just need to get somewhere and walking a long distance with your young toddler isn’t going to work. Fine. I think it’s weird when three-year-olds are in strollers, too, but I can recognize that sometimes it’s necessary. But there seems to be a culture of just straight-up babywearing toddlers for extended periods of time. That, I don’t understand.
Even for infants I think it’s important to give them a lot of free time to just explore their surroundings. I used the sling when we were taking a walk or when she was fussy and I didn’t want to have to just hold her. I would put her in the sling, bounce a little, and she would calm right down. Then I could do the dishes, fold the laundry, or just walk laps around the house to keep her calm. Sitting down was never really an option. But, again, as long as she was happy with it, I loved letting her lie on the playmat and explore her toys. She was army crawling at five months, so by that point she didn’t even want to be in the sling – she wanted to be moving around!
And once she started walking? Forget about it! Girl had places to go! Now when we want to put her in the backpack for a long hike she’ll sit for a bit, but then we have to take a break so she can get out and walk. I couldn’t put her in a sling if I tried. And isn’t that the way it should be? Toddlers should be toddling (and running, and climbing, and causing trouble).
Toddlers should be learning lessons about independence and exploration and having fun. And if you practiced babywearing and attachment parenting when your toddler was an infant, he should be securely attached enough to branch out on his own at this age. I mean, isn’t that the point?
OK, go ahead and tell me why I’m wrong.