"Isn't she heavy?" I'm asked for the 100th time as I grocery shop with my 32-pound toddler on my back. When you "wear" your toddler, there are questions, judgments, and yes, even looks of envy. There have been plenty of instances where I've had my daughter on my back as we smoothly make our way down the store aisles (sometimes while singing) and a parent with a screaming toddler gives me the look of, "Sh*t, I need one of those." Yes, you do. There are so many reasons I still "wear" my daughter, despite her being long out of the small baby phase. The main one? It's made my life as a new mom so much easier. I've come to think of it as the greatest parenting hack that everyone needs to know. Here's why.
- Your shopping dreams will come true. OK, you may not be gifted millions to buy whatever you want (that's what my shopping dreams are made of), but something that's almost as valuable will happen. You'll be able to get through the store without chasing your toddler around and avoid some epic tantrums. Carrying your toddler gives them a great view of what's going on, and as soon as that little hand reaches for a glass jar on the shelf, you can step back and avoid a mess.
- You can both explore and have adventures. Have plans for a beautiful hike but unsure if the little one can keep up and not get tired? Bring along your carrier. I always let my daughter explore in nature for as long as she wants. But she'll likely get tired after a while, which is when I'll pick her up and strap her to my back. They may put up a little fight since the fun and exploring independently has ended, but they'll quickly ease into the comfort of your body and the view from above. And if you're very lucky, they'll nap.
- Bonding. Wearing your baby is a great way to create or maintain a strong bond. It can also calm them. For me, wearing my toddler has continued our bond after our breastfeeding journey ended at 28 months. She still gets the closeness of being on my chest, and I love the snuggles.
- Safety in busy situations. I don't know about you, but I still remember that time I got lost in a grocery store and was given a red balloon as they called for my mom on the intercom. Baby-wearing is a great way to keep kids close and safe if you'll be in a high traffic area.
- Traveling. The only reason I've ever brought a stroller while traveling is because my husband suggested it. Our first trip with our girl was when she was 11 weeks old. The stroller ended up being useless weight since she slept on my chest. The next time we brought a small umbrella stroller, I accidentally left it on a train platform. It was just an extra piece to carry around. Having your baby get used to being in a carrier is essential if you love to travel. I've rocked my girl to sleep in the carrier on a number of international flights, train rides, and outings. She's spent hours, literally, on my back as we toured the cobblestone streets of Germany, and when she really disliked the back seat on the bicycle we rode in Amsterdam, I rode with her on my back. She laughed the rest of the way.
- Hands-free. If you can't have an extra hand, you should at least be able to use the ones you have. Enough said.
- Naps on the go. Ever had to cancel plans because it was going to interrupt naptime? Sleep on the go is possible with a cozy front carry or back carry! Whether you work long hours, don't feel like canceling plans, or have a long day of errands you need to get done, carriers will be your new BFF. Start them young.
Editor's Note: This piece was written by a POPSUGAR contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of POPSUGAR Inc. Interested in joining our POPSUGAR Voices network of contributors from around the globe? Click here.