So You Want to Wrap a Toddler
Written by Sarah, edit and format by Marie
Babywearing. The name itself almost implies an early expiration date on your carrying days. But,
if you are anything like me, you may have foggily cruised past that one year mark, woken up one
morning (at, say, 5am?) to a walking, talking, opinionated volcano of emotion who did, indeed, still
need snuggles while you were in desperate need of a gallon of coffee and maybe a piece of
slightly charred toast. As you wrapped this suddenly heavier feeling kiddo up onto your back,
freeing up your hands to press the button on your Keurig, you realized something. That’s no baby
yanking the elastic off your ponytail. You have entered the realm of toddlerwearing.
It snuck up on me just like that. 5am wake up and all. My sweet little baby (known ‘round these
parts as the Bub) was now a rowdy little toddler and (spoiler alert) has only grown bigger since. I
think there is a misconception out there that babywearing automatically ends when babyhood
does. In our family, it simply changed. Over time, we shifted from wearing all the time to wearing
for daily walks and grocery shopping* to wearing just on sick days and when little legs get too
As my wearing routine changed, I realized that my needs in a wrap and in a carry were changing,
too. I started to add reinforcing passes to support the Bub’s weight. I began to prefer thicker,
heavier textiles to carry that weight and provide some cush for my shoulders. I often needed
something quick (remember that “opinionated” part? Yeah, I usually had to be fast) and in some
situations, I needed a carry that kept that volcano on my back somewhat subdued.
My first foray outside of my loyal base sized wrap was a shortie. I got my hands on a sturdy size
4 (that’s a base -2 in my case) and started to play. Small enough to fold up and toss in the car-
key devouring blackhole I called my bag, but long enough to give me quite a few options for a
quick back carry. My early favorites were a classic ruck tied in front (RTIF) and my now beloved
Shepherd’s Carry. Both a Ruck and Shepherd’s Carry are quick carries (after some practice) and
have supportive variations. As the Bub grew, I found I preferred doing Shepherd’s Carry with 2
leg passes (a nice defense against a seat popper) and that a Reinforced Ruck was super
supportive. Added bonus I was able to use those additional versions with the same size wrap.
Some other great shortie carries for toddlers include Back Reinforced Torso Sling (fka DHR),
Jordan’s Back Carry (JBC) and Reinforced Rear Ruck (RRR or Pirate Carry). (Hint, hint: We
have an awesome Pinterest page with fabulous videos to check these out!) https://www.pinterest.com/bwiaustin/
Next, I started my search for the perfect toddler prison carry. We walk and hike a lot,
so I needed something for when he would be up for a long time supporting his
weight and helping him stay put. I’m lucky in that these activities usually made for a
cooperative wrappee, so this could be a carry that took a couple of minutes without
fear of him losing his cool. My first go-to became Double Hammock (DH). It’s always
been very comfy for me and I honestly delighted in the challenge of getting that chest
pass down. :) (Yes, I am that kind of wrapper.) It took some practice, but once I got
it, it really became a great carry to have at my disposal.
The carry that really surprised me though and ultimately stole my heart
was Gisele’s Back Carry (GBC). At first glance, it appeared to be a whirlwind
of cross passes and leg passes and what’s that? A waist belt? Oh, no, no, I don’t
think so. But, I eventually gave it a try and (again after a bit of practice)…
oh my goodness. That kid never felt lighter and my shoulders were
absolutely gleeful after our first long outing. Also, I think it looks cool.
(Yes, I am that kind of wrapper.) Gisele’s became our go to carry for a base -1
when tied at the shoulder or even my base sized wrap when I added a candy cane
chest belt. I kind of feel like this carry is an unsung hero. But a hero at our house, nonetheless.
Other great back carries for a toddler in your base size you might want to try are Back
Wrap Cross Carry (BWCC), Christina’s Ruckless, or the wiggleproof version of
As we now enter the realm of preschooler wearing around here, things have shifted yet again and
my thoughts are often drifting towards the beautiful words of a wise woman I know. (http://www.bwiaustin.org/when-
its-over/) But, we do still have times when those long legs get tired and times when a sick little guy just wants to be
wrapped up and even times when he takes pity on his mama and says, “Do you miss back
snuggles, Mommom? Let’s get the wrap.”.
Bottom line is that reaching toddlerhood isn’t necessarily the end. There may be a whole lot more
wearing to do and there are a lot of great options to keep you both happy and comfortable!
*Grocery shopping was one of my all time favorite wrapping activities and it came to an abrupt
end one day when he noticed those race car carts near the entrance of HEB. Vroom vroom!