Toddler refuses to be carried or to ride in stroller - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 02-05-2012, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I apologize if anyone is seeing this post more than once - I wasn't sure if this should go in the babywearing or the toddler forum, so I've cross posted it - I hope that's ok.  I'm just not sure if this is more of a toddler issue or a babywearing issue...


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 10 Old 02-05-2012, 07:15 AM
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It is  a phase and how long it lasts just depends on the kid. She has discovered that she has two feet and can get places herself and where you want her to go is not where she wants to go or how she wants to get thee! A newly walking toddler is a nightmare to take anywhere IMO because all they want to do is walk/run away. It does get better, eventually when some of the newness wears off. 

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#3 of 10 Old 02-05-2012, 09:26 AM
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I agree, it does get better.  My dd just turned 2 and is better but not great? But it goes from trying to herd wild cats to dealing with something with more of an intent.  I've been tempted to use a child leash/backpack thing.  I also try to bribe dd with food "can't eat unless sitting in stroller, etc.


My oldest was agreeable to slings for a long time,  baby stopped around a year..  I have found a back carry works sometimes.


It does seem that once you get a great routine kids like to mix it up again.  Maybe walk stairs together for exercise

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#4 of 10 Old 02-05-2012, 07:26 PM
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I have no advice, but just wanted to send you a hug hug2.gif... I pretty much could have written your post myself!


DD turned 1 last week, she started walking at 10 months. She won't sit in a stroller, she won't be carried in my arms or a wrap, sling, or structured carrier (although, she does give me 10 minutes in a backpack carrier from time to time - which could be useful for your walk to MIL?). She walks everywhere, and won't hold my hand, and often doesn't even like to go in the same direction. On weekends, we allow this to be fun. DH and DS go whatever direction, and I follow DD whatever direction she's meandering. It's good for park, path, nature play, playground environment. It doesn't work at all for sidewalk environment, and when it's time to pick her up and put her in the carseat..... well, let's just say you can hear her scream the next town over.


And yes, it is somewhat saddening to me that she's so ridiculously independent. My DS wasn't like this at all until nearly 2. She comes to me for milk, and when she's very tired, but otherwise prefers to be on her own and playing with her brother. I've accepted that our quality time is now mostly nursing, our part-time cosleeping, and one-on-one play... if I get down on the floor with her, she LOVES to play her version of hide/seek/peekaboo, blocks, take turns kissing her doll, tickling, making funny faces, etc. That seems to have mostly replaced our carrying time. I had expected the newness of walking to wear off... but she started walking in late November and no signs of that yet.


In terms of exercise, I am a runner. On nice days, I sometimes do this with the kids in the jogging stroller (they're much more agreeable to a stroller when it moves like that!) and I have friends that do the same while rollerblading. But usually, I run by myself and let DH have a bit of 1-on-1 time with the kids. Sometimes, we trade off, DH will run while I play with the kids, and then he'll play with them while I run. Perhaps not ideal in terms of everyone-time-together but at least we can do it from home which means no extra time taken.

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#5 of 10 Old 02-06-2012, 11:09 AM
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I feel your pain, DS (17 mon) prefers to walk and it's a "random-go where I want" walking, and it's a fight to hold his hand. I actually broke down and bought a child leash/backpack thing, but I haven't tried it yet. I don't really want to use it, but at times it seems the best option.


Good luck! I hope everyone is correct and they out-grow this phase.


Originally Posted by chel View Post

... I've been tempted to use a child leash/backpack thing...


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#6 of 10 Old 02-06-2012, 11:45 AM
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They do outgrow it.  In time.  My DS didn't hit that stage until he was about 18-20 mos, but now at 27 mos he's getting better about holding hands and walking with me instead of against me.  We spent a lot of time with him screaming while slung over my shoulder (only way I could carry him) in the intervening months.  The leash only made it so he couldn't run away from me - it did nothing else (good) for us.  If I wanted to a go a different way than he did, he'd just throw himself down at the end of his leash and start screaming, it did nothing to help him move along with me.


Now he loves both a back carry and his stroller, and he'll walk with me for the most part. 

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#7 of 10 Old 02-08-2012, 08:48 PM
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My DS who is now 26 months, was exactly like that. He just wanted to explore, and he is a very independent boy. Now of course he will listen and hold my hand when I tell him to, but I will admit that it was pretty hard for about a year. I was always chasing him, grabbing his hand, telling him to stay with Mommy. Only to have him drop to the ground as soon as I grabbed it. He still does it sometimes.. But he's a little more understanding now. Either that, or I've gotten so used to it, that it doesn't seem as bad anymore! Just hang in there Mama. This too shall pass!

Oh and to get my boy to stay in a stroller, I would save his favorite special snacks for that time. I'd tell him he could only eat them in the stroller. He would happily sit there! It would usually buy me 15-20 min.

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#8 of 10 Old 02-13-2012, 01:07 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!


Peony, thanks for the encouraging words and for letting me know that it was just a phase in your experience.  I hope this phase doesn't go on for too long in our case!


chel, thanks also for your response!  I haven't done the back carry very often, because I can't figure out how to do it when I am by myself, but maybe I will try it more often.  I have used the ergobaby carrier for that, but maybe I should try a different carrier that might be easier as a backpack.  This is something I will think about...


anjsmama, thanks for the hugs. :)  I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling with the same thing!  We, too, have done the walking as a game thing, but there really is a different between play time and going-from-one-place-to-another time!  I wish I knew better how and when to set limits with a kiddo that is not yet really rational...  Thanks for the suggestions about running - I guess I am resistant to that because I already feel that we have so little family time together that I hate to use some of the only down time we have to separate off for exercise, but maybe it's our only option for now. 


MsDolphin, thanks for the commiseration - I hope things get easier for you, too, soon!


cristeen, thanks for sharing your experience - I'm glad to hear it got better (but sorry it seems to have taken so long in your case!).  I haven't tried a leash, but my MIL has ordered one (mainly for the reason you cite - she is over 70 and can't always keep up, so she needs to know that the little critter can't totally run away from her!). 


Mama4life14, thanks for the sympathy and the suggestions about the snacks.  We've never eaten on the go before, but maybe I will try that with a particular toy?  It seems like distraction is maybe my best shot at getting her to be carried for enough time to get from one place to another. 


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 10 Old 02-13-2012, 02:10 PM
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One of the tricks I used at that age (and still use) is to let my son push the stroller. I hold onto it too so he doesn't go off course.

The other thing I do a lot now is I offer a choice: "Hold hands or ride?" He has to choose and if he doesn't then I say "OK, you get to ride." Then I just ignore any screaming. Usually it stops soon enough.

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#10 of 10 Old 02-16-2012, 07:13 AM
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I try to give my toddler as much time as I can where she can run freely, but in parking lots, near roads, in stores, etc. I tell her she has 2-3 options, walk holding hands, she can be carried or ride in the cart/stroller (if that is an option). I give her a chance to choose and then pick for her if she won't choose. That often prompts her to choose which I'm fine with. If she tries to run off or not hold hands, I tell her that she will be carried or go in the cart for a minute (I use this word pretty fluidly right now to mean from 15 seconds to 5 minutes or so FYI) and we can try again with her holding my hand. She does get mad sometimes, but there are places she can't just run around everywhere, it's not safe or fair to other people trying to use the space.

I do try to make the cart ride fun or being carried fun, running a bit, making zooming or beeping noises, that sort of thing can really help sometimes and it is fun for me too smile.gif

But yeah, giving time where they can run free really helps. And I totally hear you on the stair thing, my daughter goes through bouts where she wants to repeat the same thing over and over, like she is practicing it really. I indulge if I can and then give her a 1 more minute or 1 more time warning, she may still fuss, but giving the warnings helps her much more to adjust than just abruptly stopping. Sometime to try if you haven't yet.

And I agree her insistence on complete independence with walking right now is a phase, she'll go back to asking and wanting to be carried more too.

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