The idea of carrying a 4 year old in a sling can seem quite unusual. It is unusual, but sometimes, for some families, it can be helpful. Do your 4 year old’s legs get tired? Or have you seen someone carrying a big kid in a sling and re wondering why they would choose to? We offer 10 reasons people why they carry a 4 year old, or child of any age, really.
Carrying a 4 year old can be pretty practical
- Comfort: For many people it’s more comfortable to use a sling or carrier which distributes weight across your body rather than carrying a heavier child in a piggyback, on your hip, or on your shoulders. It also means your hands are free for holding other children or bags!
- Speed: Walking with a small child isn’t always quick! If you must be somewhere quickly this can be a practical option, you can let them walk a bit and then carry them without having to deal with an empty pushchair and walking child situation! Children get tired walking well past toddlerhood, even the hardiest 5-year-old might tire out on a long walk. It’s also far quicker and easier to carry a tired child than try to force them to walk!
- Off roading: It’s practical when you want to get somewhere a pushchair can’t go. If you enjoy mountain walks or sandy beaches, a pushchair can be a hindrance. Taking a carrier means you can explore a wider range of places without worrying about stairs, small spaces, rough terrain or more.
- Compact: It’s more compact than taking a buggy. If you are travelling you might not want to take a maybe empty buggy everywhere, especially if you are getting on and off public transport. Some slings are small enough to fold up and have in a bag for emergency back up when needed!
Safe, simple, and slings improve access
- Safety in numbers: If you have more than one child, you know how hard it is when you’re trying to get them all to go in the same direction. When one child is in a sling there’s got one fewer to worry about; you know they are safe and your hands are free for the others.
- Equalising access: If you have a disabled child, carrying can be a great tool for getting around. It can give you freedom to explore a world that a buggy, wheelchair or walking aids can’t easily manage and give your child a different view of the world. We have helped parents carry children as old as 8 or 9 because it was the best way to meet the needs of that family. Read Ruth’s story about how carrying helps her ten year old access the world.
Calm and connect
- Neurodivergent needs: For neurodivergent children carrying can be tool providing lots of useful things. It is a safe space up away from crowds or unfamiliar people. You can communicate at their level. It can provide deep pressure to help with sensory input and calming. Carrying can be amazing for coping with meltdowns. (Many of these are helpful for all children at some time or other!)
- Reconnection: By 4, most children are in childcare or even at school. Carrying a 4 year old can be a valuable way to reconnect after time apart. They are close, they can chat to you on the same level, you can go and explore and have an adventure together or you can have that connection and still get dinner ready!
- Fun: Carrying can be fun! You can make it a game, it can help you try new things, it can enable you to play Pokémon Go or geocache or hunt for rocks together . Whilst carrying is a practical tool, it can also be fun; slings can help you enjoy activities with your 4 year old even when they are too tired to walk.
- Because you want to! You don’t need a reason to carry your child. If it works for you and your family, then go for it. Find what works for you!