A stretchy wrap can work really well with a toddler or older baby. Some people say that a stretchy wrap only works for the newborn stage, but this is a myth! Stretchy wraps are especially lovely in the newborn stage, but they can be cozy, snuggly, and comfortable with a toddler or older baby too!
Check Weight Limit of your Wrap
To get started, first check the weight limit of your particular carrier. Most stretchy wraps have a weight limit of 25 to 35 pounds. You shouldn’t carry your toddler in your stretchy wrap if the toddler is over the weight limit.
Weight limits of a few common brands
Moby Wrap: 35 pounds
Boba Wrap: 35 pounds
Solly Wrap: 25 pounds
Happy Baby Wrap: 25 pounds
Wrapsody Stretchy Hybrid: 35-40 pounds
The Secret is Tightening the Wrap Well
The secret to making a stretchy wrap work well with a toddler is tightening it well! A lot of people think that since their toddler is bigger than they were when they were a newborn, that they should leave the wrap a bit loose. This isn’t true! If the wrap is loose, the toddlers weight will cause the carry to sag over time, which can be uncomfortable for you both. A loose carry is also not secure enough to hold a wiggly toddler. The key is to wrap much tighter than you think!
Three Main Stretchy Wrap Carries
You can do three main carries with a stretchy wrap:
Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (PWCC)
Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC)
Hip Wrap Cross Carry (HWCC)
Every wrap company calls these three carries different names in their wrap instructions They use names like “hug hold, kangaroo hold, pocket carry” and so on, but the carries are really the same three main carries, PWCC, FWCC, and HWCC.
Each of these three carries can be done with a toddler! The secret is in the tightening!
Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (PWCC)
This is the most common carry that people like to do. PWCC is wonderful because you can pre-tie the carry and pop your toddler in and out as needed. Toddlers tend to want to be up and down a lot, walking on their own or exploring for a while and then wanting to be held again. Pocket Wrap Cross Carry works great for this. You tie the wrap on one time and pop the toddler in and out as they need.
The secret to using this carry with a toddler is to get it tight! You might think that since your baby has been growing, you need to pre-tie the wrap looser than you did when they were tiny, but that’s actually not the case! Since the wrap stretches and your baby has gotten heavier, you can pre-tie the wrap pretty tight.
This video shows how tight to tie the wrap. REALLY TIGHT. Tighter than you think! The video has captions if you press the CC button.
Front Wrap Cross Carry
Front wrap cross carry is also really nice because you can get the wrap perfectly tightened around your toddler. You partially pre-tie the wrap, put the toddler in it, and then tighten and finish tying. This carry can also be treated as a poppable carry once it’s tied. After you tighten around your toddler and tie off, you could pop them out of the carry (leaving the wrap tied) and pop them back in later.
This video shows how to do FWCC with a toddler. Watch closely at the 1:55 minute mark and see how the seat goes from knee to knee. This is key! Also, pay close attention to the tightening technique starting at 2:15. The secret is to pull the whole tail up and out to tighten (keeping that opposite elbow lifted), then tighten each strand of the wrap as shown.
The video is captioned if you press the CC button.
Hip Wrap Cross Carry
Hip wrap cross carry is just front wrap cross carry shifted to the hip. It’s a two shouldered hip carry. This video shows how to do Hip wrap cross carry.
Your stretchy wrap can work really well with your toddler! It takes a bit more tightening skill than using your stretchy wrap with a smaller baby, but it the snuggles are worth it!
Toddler Wearing Comfort Tip
It can be much more comfortable to spread out the back of the wrap. If the wrap is left bunched and twisted, this will likely be uncomfortable after a while.
It is not safe or recommended to do back carries in your stretchy wrap. This is because the wrap stretches. If you were to back wrap loosely or your baby was wiggling or leaning, they could fall.
The one exception to this is a stretchy wrap hybrid such as the Wrapsody Hybrid Stretchy Wrap. Stretchy hybrid wraps have been tested for back carries and do not stretch the same way as other stretchy wraps.
If you love your stretchy wrap and you are wanting to try back carries or find that your toddler is approaching the weight limit of your wrap, you would probably love a woven wrap. Woven wraps have the snuggliness and second skin feel that stretch wraps have, but without the stretch. A woven wrap can be used for back carries and carries with just one layer of fabric over the baby.
When to Wear your Toddler
There are some times when it is really convenient to wear your toddler and a stretchy wrap can be a wonderful tool. Here are some times that I find it helpful to wear a toddler:
When your toddler is sick, a stretchy wrap can be a wonderful tool to provide kangaroo (or skin to skin) care which can be soothing and help baby regulate temperature or lower fever.
Grocery shopping and running errands can be much easier with the toddler securely wrapped to your chest (rather than running around wreaking havoc!)
Long visits with family or outings when the toddler will need to nap. A walk while wearing the wrap can get an overtired or overstimulated toddler to sleep quickly.
Little legs get tired easily. When taking a long hike with a toddler, wear your stretchy wrap in a poppable carry and pop the toddler right into the wrap when their legs get tired. Then you’re not carrying a heavy toddler in arms.
Wearing your toddler can be a great way to reconnect after a separation. Many parents like to wear their toddler after a long day at work or after traveling and being away for a bit.
Babywearing can soothe a child who is overstimulated and needs a break.
Stretchy wraps can be an absolutely wonderful tool for caring for your toddler. Toddlerhood can be rough (on toddlers and their caregivers!) A stretchy wrap can help a toddler find calm after periods of overstimulation, reconnect after separations, settle to sleep, and rest their tired legs. I hope that you bring your stretchy wrap back out and give it another try with your toddler and that this post helps you to use the wrap comfortably.