Toddler refuses all babywearing - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 02-05-2012, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Our daughter turned 1 a few weeks ago, and she started walking a bit after 11m.  Since then, she refuses to be carried in a carrier/sling or out of it (in my arms) for more than five minutes at a time.  I've tried every possible carrying position in both slings and structured carriers, and none of it makes any difference.  (She won't ride in the stroller, either.)  She will complain, yell, and progress to outright tantrums if we don't just put her down and let her walk.  And walking, by the way, means not holding our hands, not going in any specific direction, and ignoring us completely - it means meandering wherever she wants for hours at a time.  No matter how much official walking and physical exercise time we give her, it's never enough.  She loves climbing stairs and will literally go up and down them for hours, and only stops because we just take her home. 


This is becoming a real problem for several reasons.  We live in NYC, and the only way for us to get anywhere is for us to carry her. Just to take her to my MIL for my workday involves walking 10-15min.  Also, we used to take a long walk every morning and evening, and this has always been a really important tradition for me because it is some of the only meaningful family time and exercise that we all get.  I don't mind having some of our family walk time involve her walking along while we stand around and watch her, but it's really making it impossible for me to get either the exercise or the quality time with her and my husband that I need to stay sane when I can't have any time to just walk a bit and have a conversation (without constantly having to steer her clear of dogs, bicycles, pedestrians, making sure she doesn't fall down marble steps, or play with dog poop, or try to slip through the railing into the Hudson river, etc). 


In addition to the practical considerations, I'm starting to just get very resentful.  I feel like she's robbed me of the one interaction that we used to have that was actually really relaxing and meaningful to me - we would walk together while I pointed out things and chatted with her, and it was the only time (outside of BFing) where we got any touch time and where we had any extended "conversation."  Now I feel like she only comes to me when she wants milk, or someone to hand her a particular toy. 


I had expected to experience the "no - I want to walk by myself phase" when she is two, but I'm really depressed that already at 1 year old she just doesn't want anything to do with me anymore.  I don't know how to have any quality time with her now. 


I also don't know how to get any exercise - I literally spend almost all of my non-baby time catching up on work and I'm already desperately behind - I can't take an extra 90min out of my workday to get exercise without the baby. 


And I'm totally sick of beginning every day with a fight.  I can't even get her to my MIL's before work without a huge argument, since she won't let me carry her without screaming at the top of her lungs in my ear, and if I let her walk, she won't go in the direction we need to to get to grandmas. 


Does anyone have any suggestions?  Is this just a passing phase that we'll just have to get through that is likely to go away after a month or two?  Is there any other way I might be able to get her to let herself be carried, at least some of the time?

DD born at 40w2d on 1/19/2011
DD born at 40w1d on 3/1/2014
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#2 of 9 Old 02-05-2012, 09:49 AM
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I can really understand how hard this is for you. We also went through this when our son started walking. It will shift, know that. In the mean time check out There are some amazing tools on there, fabulous articles, ways to get connected with your child that will really help you. Setting limits will be a great read for you. Our children want limits set for them so they can stay connected to us. patti Whipflers work had changed everytng for us. I learned that the tantrums my son were having when I needed him to get I'm the stroller or the carrier, were really healthy ways for him to release upsets. I learned how to "stay listen" while he has his crys and worked through things and when he comes out of them he is so happy and connected and we have such fun together AND willing to sit in his stroller or carrier or whatever. It's a really new amazing perspective to consider. I know it will help. It will help you as a mom so much. Good luck. Your baby wants to be close to you and she wants you to be happy, these will help you with both areas. Hang in there! It will get easier.
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#3 of 9 Old 02-07-2012, 10:06 AM
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Maybe offer her a special toy she can only have when being worn? My best guess is that she will come back and ask to be worn when she is ready. I do get that is her time line not yours, sorry for that.


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#4 of 9 Old 02-07-2012, 06:47 PM
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I'm not here often as mine are older now, but I couldn't help noticing.


I wore all three babies but my middle child was like this (except that she walked at 8 months).  What I ended up doing was seeing walking as a developmental priority for my daughter and riding with it.  She got to walk herself, but holding my hand, and encouraged to walk fairly quickly.  There was no choice given, she held hands, or it was in the baby sling or stroller.  In no time she was "trained" to be an excellent and quick walker.  When I wanted to talk to her I ducked down to her level and showed her things or talked.  She's 10 now and can walk 8km to go swimming, take lessons, and head back with no complaint. I think part of why she's like this is that I honoured her need to walk while honouring my need to have her safe by hand holding and having some efficiency in speed. I handled my need for the quiet time I needed walking by cycling with the kids in a bike stroller (which for some reason she viewed differently, and which at the time was also transportation to baby sitter before /after work)and by getting DH to watch the kids on evenings when I went walking.

Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!

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#5 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 02:20 PM
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I agree with farmerbeth. I hate to sound so crass, but it's not about you and your need for closeness, it's about your daughter and her need to develop her skills. Once she has mastered her skill she might come back to you and sling, she might not. Just like how eventually she will wean herself from the breast, it is a transition that is made for her, not for you.

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#6 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 05:32 PM
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I think toddlers just go through stages where they experiment with no and experiment with power. It is good to respect that but ultimately that parent should make the decision on many things- such as this one.

Ds (22 monts) often says no no no no no etc! to- getting dressed, getting into the car, getting into the stroller. I have found that for getting him into the car or stroller sometimes a small cookie does the trick. I guess its bribery but I say- here- have a cookie while I get you into the stroller- and I quick snap him into it. He forgets about saying no and eats the cookie.

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#7 of 9 Old 02-09-2012, 09:06 PM
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OP, I do sympathize with feeling like you are losing some connection where you feel you can give your all and don't need to hold back.  I don't think you're being selfish for having these feelings.


However, as a mom who really felt the most relaxed, close, and competent in the infant stage with DD in a carrier, and who also needed babywearing for transportation..... my opinion is.... put her in a stroller.  Don't stress yourself out over it.  She will come back to you.  My DD stopped wanted to be in a carrier around 18 months, and for six more months I just carried her on my shoulders because like you, I couldn't afford the time to wait for her to walk, and we also living in a high traffic (dangerous!) area.  She eventually got so heavy that I was dreading walks and errands, so I started putting her in an umbrella stroller because it was easy to take onto the bus.  (Maybe carry a pouch sling or ergo to actually ride mass transit?)  Some of the bigger strollers you can put down the back and they can wiggle in it.  Anyhow, I found that we both loved it.  Now sometimes we go for a walk and it's in the stroller.  Other times she asks to ride in the backpack.  Today we couldn't find it and she said, "Please will you make another backpack for me to ride in?"  I did find that once I got over the pain in the ass that I thought the stroller would be, esp. for things like the bus, I felt like the same relaxed and connected mom while we chatted and I pushed her in the stroller. 

DD1 6/2009 DD2 5/1/2013-5/5/2013 (HIE) DS 3/2014
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#8 of 9 Old 02-13-2012, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,

Sorry for the delay in replying - it's unexpectedly been a particularly rotten and crazy week at work.  Thanks so much for all of your responses!


brooke13, thanks for the link - it looks like there are a lot of interesting articles there!  And thanks for the encouragement. :)


TiffanyToo, thanks for the toy suggestion - I haven't tried that, but could definitely do that.  She's never had a toy to play with while being worn, so maybe that will work as a good distraction, since it will be new!


FarmerBeth, thanks for sharing what you did.  I've been trying a bit like this, to make walking fast with me a game, but she definitely seems to get angry if I try to make her hold my hand.  If you have any tips about how you managed to get your daughter to accept that she had to hold your hand while walking, and wouldn't mind sharing them, I'd love to hear more!


Snapdragon, you make a good point about distraction - I've been trying that some (singing, bouncing, silly walking, etc) while carrying her or while walking with her holding hands and it definitely helps some.  I'm going to keep thinking of other possible distractions that might help her to either hold my hand or to allow herself to be carried. 


cyclamen, thanks so much for sympathizing with my feelings!  Thanks also for your recommendations about the stroller.  We have occasionally used a stroller, but it's tough - I can't really get it up and down subway stairs without a huge expenditure of energy, and I have to take her out first, so it's a bit of a nightmare in many cases.  We could get a smaller umbrella stroller, but since my husband and I are both 6'2", we've had trouble finding one with tall enough handles.  She also doesn't typically seem any happier in the stroller than the carrier - if she is sleepy, the stroller might work, but it seems that basically she just never wants to be tied down!  Maybe an umbrella stroller would be different, though, because she'd be facing forward and closer to the ground?  We'll have to think about this. 


While experimenting this week, we have had some luck walking if I let her hold the dog leash when we are walking (then she will go straight if the dog goes straight, and she seems to be distracted enough to let me hold her hand); this doesn't always work, though, because she will sometimes drop the leash repeatedly (as an experiment?  b/c it's hard to hold through the down mittens she wears in cold weather?), and she never wants to give the leash up at the end without crying bigtime.  When both my husband and I are around to walk her, we've also had luck with each of us taking a hand and then making a silly game of either walking really fast (for her) or counting to three and then lifting her up repeatedly.  I've also tried explaining to her when she is in the carrier that "now it is carrying time" but that when we see Grandma, or when we get to a particular place it will be "walking time."  I try to do this in a very soothing voice, and sometimes it seems to help.  I don't know if she understands me, or if she is just getting used to the idea that sometimes I won't put her down to walk just because she complains, but I hope that she is actually getting some of the idea.  I think I will keep trying it and see how it goes. 


Thanks again to everyone for responding!

DD born at 40w2d on 1/19/2011
DD born at 40w1d on 3/1/2014
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#9 of 9 Old 03-07-2012, 12:50 AM
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Would a piggyback ride work for those times when you need her to move at your pace? It's also nice because it puts them close to your face so you can talk again.


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