Baby wearing has a sort of sweetness to it. The baby is snuggled against your chest, the place where the feel the most safe. They are so attached to you as to almost feel like a part of you, their chest rising and falling with yours.
I loved baby wearing. When the Popple was angry, I’d put her in the baby carrier and she would fall asleep within minutes. At least, that’s how it worked when she was a newborn. As she got older, she needed a bit more persuading. Music was used, mostly U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer and Let it Go from Frozen. There was a lot of swaying. Dummies were inserted into mouths and spit back out again. It could take ages, but once she was asleep, I still got that warm, fuzzy feeling when I looked down at her squashed, sleeping face and her half-open mouth.
Baby wearing is a beautiful, cuddly thing.
Toddler wearing is a whole other matter.
The Popple refuses to sit in her pushchair and her tiny toddler legs can’t walk for long distances, so I often end up wearing her. If you were to run into me on my morning commute or out and about on the weekend, you’d see the Popple strapped to my chest, facing out, her legs kicking wildly.
That’s the big difference between baby wearing and toddler wearing. The baby is a more or less passive passenger, while the toddler is very much active. They are squirming around and pulling your hair. They are reaching for things and asking for snacks. They are desperate to get down, although as soon as you put them down, they want to get back up again.
People will stare at the two of you, which is hardly surprising, because there’s a clear struggle going on between wearer and wearee. They will watch your child hurl themselves backwards and bash you in the throat, asking themselves why anyone would willingly append a toddler to their torso.
It’s a fair question.
In an ideal world, the Popple would sit happily in her pushchair for the entire the time that it took us to get from point A to point B. My back wouldn’t hurt from carrying her extra weight, and my hair wouldn’t look like it had just been through a hurricane (which has nothing to do with toddler wearing, but this is my ideal world, and I’m done with frizzy hair, thanks).
But I don’t live in an ideal world. I live in a world where if I want to leave the house, I need to strap my child to my body and hope for the best. It’s better than the alternative – being stuck indoors all day with a toddler who has just learned that she can control THE VOLUME OF HER VOICE.