My daughter is almost 3, almost 38 pounds. While she is well within the weight limit of our beloved baby carrier, which I still use from time to time, the truth of the matter is that the weight limit is what's safe and therefore technically possible, not what is practical. My babywearing days will soon be behind me. Still, despite knowing the impracticality of it all, there are just some things you don't want to face when your child is too big for a carrier. This largely boils down to reasons of convenience, habit, and sentimentality.
Firstly: convenience. Do you know how encouraging it is to know that you can move about freely in the world, even with a wiggly toddler, with the help of a baby carrier? It makes tasks that would be otherwise unbearable (a hike through the woods, for example) super easy and fun. I don't know how we would have gotten through Disneyland or the Women's March without my baby carrier.
Second: habit. Babywearing is just how I've lived my life for the past few years now. Oh sure, things have tapered off a bit, but seriously? Nothing? Admitting that your child is too big for a carrier is admitting that this mode of operating in the world, one that has worked so well for you, has to be re-imagined.
Third, and perhaps most powerful: sentimentality. I mean, you guys...
Look at how cute this is! She looks like an adorable, fluffy little mochi bun just chilling on my chest. Not only did it look cute, but it was so cozy and comforting (and also nice and warm, which was nice on a crisp fall day, but not so very warm that it wasn't also pleasant in the summer). So in addition to being convenient and easy, babywearing is like an all-day cuddle party with your happy, mochi bun of a baby.
Who would want to say goodbye to all that? Still, the writing is very often on the wall:
The Dull Throbbing Strain On Your Back
At a certain point, babywearing goes from being on par to carrying a slightly heavier than average diaper bag everywhere you go to becoming a bit of an ordeal. One that requires rests, switching off with your partner, or demanding that your child get down and walk for a bit while you do some cat-cow poses.
Suddenly babywearing is no longer "just so much easier than using a stroller or having them walk." Still, there are times when it is just slightly easier than the alternatives, so you put up with the fact that you're going to need some ibuprofen and a heat patch later that evening.
Other People Pointing This Out To You
"Whoa! You're still carrying them around!" "Are you going to drop them off at college in that thing?" "They're big enough to carry you, I think!"
Comments like these are never something that bother me (though it is a little annoying when the baby is still an infant and someone thinks babywearing is about as weird as snake handling or dolphin-assisted births). I've rarely come across anyone who has meant this as anything other than off-handed, good-natured, not-talking-down-to-me playful banter. But at a certain point when, deep in your heart, you know your babywearing days are numbered, someone will say something like, "They still fit in that?" or, "Aren't they bumping up against the weight limit at this point?" and you get all salty and defensive.
The Fact That You Needed Someone To Point It Out To You Before You Would Accept It
Like, well, you knew. You knew they were getting really heavy. You knew they're only a couple pounds away from being above limit. You recognized that lower-back pain really shouldn't be involved babywearing, as it sort of defeats the whole convenience angle. Still, you didn't want to believe it until you heard the truth from someone else.
Your Babywearing Days Are Done
Because even though it's gotten annoying, babywearing is pretty damn great. You have so many fond memories of strolling through the park with your baby wrap in the spring, or traipsing through a pumpkin patch wearing an Ergo around Halloween. Now, all of a sudden, that's gone? But it's so cute and cuddly and cozy and, frankly, really adorable. This hardly seems fair.
Having To Bring The Stroller Out More Often
That damn Devil stroller. I mean, it's not actually the Devil, but it's so annoying to have to schlep it around. Especially when your toddler changes their mind every three seconds as to whether or not they actually want to be in it. Like, "Oh gee. I'm so glad I'm carrying around this 20 pound stroller even though you haven't rested your tush in it for more than three seconds this entire outing. It just makes me feel so good to be weighted down by this thing."
Then they act all wounded and annoyed when they exit a moving stroller without telling you and you accidentally run them over. When you're babywearing, they're going nowhere without your permission and cooperation.
Having To Wait For Your Slow-Moving Child
Child, I know your legs are tiny and adorable but OMG you really have to move your ass. This would normally take us about a minute but we have been making our way across this parking lot like it's the dessert in the Book of Exodus. Honestly, 40 years of continued wandering seems optimistic at this point. Like Moses, I expect I will die before reaching the Promised Land (in this case, Target).
Explaining To Your Child That You Can't Wear Them Anymore
Especially if your child has a particular fondness for it. My son enjoyed being worn, but was fine when those days were done. My daughter, on the other hand, refers to our Ergo as "the kangaroo pouch," and asks for it with great frequency. You try telling a bright-eyed, dimpled toddler why she can no longer "cuddle mommy in the kangaroo pouch." It's tough, especially when you'd like to do it, too. This is not the first time my desires have been thwarted by practicality or physics, and I doubt it will be the last.
Parting With Your Babywearing Contraptions
For starters, they're expensive. In fact, depending on your level of commitment/obsession, the prices can exorbitant and unbelievable. So parting with this can feel sad on a strictly financial level. However, if you're the sentimental type, parting with an item that enabled you countless hours of snuggles can be tough on the ol' heartstrings.
The Realization That They're Actually Getting Along Perfectly Well Without You Having To Wear Them
This can go one of two ways. Perhaps you will find yourself annoyed that you've been killing your back for months only to realize it's been completely unnecessary. Your child is more than capable of walking, even walking long distances, without the aid of a carrier. This annoyance is often paired with a warm, maternal pride. Like "Look at you, big kid. You don't need anyone to get around. You're a modern child of the world, with ambition and moxy and spunk. You're going places, and you don't have time for your shorter strides to stand in between you and your goals. That's my baby!"
Your Baby Growing Up
Wait, you could keep up perfectly fine this whole time? Are you joking? Yes, you're joking. Because you need me. You are still tiny and precious itty bitty, and you just learned to walk, like, 2 years ago. So, yeah, I refuse to believe that you are a fully-formed mini-human, confidently walking on your hind-legs like a person. You're not a person, you're a baby. You're my baby. Get back over here! Stop walking! I'm sure we can fashion this King-sized sheet into a sling.
Good luck with all that, fellow parents.