I was reminded the other day of something that happened when my son was 2 years and 2 months old. Back then we lived in West Kensington close to the tube and my son and I been out for the day and we were coming back on the District line. As he was 2 he had been walking by himself for most of the day and was now sitting on his own seat on the tube. I had the changing bag and 2 bulky bags of shopping with me. We'd got on the tube with me carrying both big bags in one arm so I had a hand free to Tom's hand. And it was all fine right upto the point, 2 stops away from West Ken Tom's emotions and the long day over took him and a massive tantrum eschewed.
One of those humongous lie on the floor beating it with your fits while screaming at the top of your lungs tantrums. One of those tantrums where you are sure the entire world is looking at you and judging you accordingly screaming tantrums.
My first thought was fuck, we are getting off in 2 stops time, what am I going to do.
I think of this often when parents ask me how long a carrier might last and I say 2, 2.5 or 4 (depending on the carrier) and they look at me like that is crazy and say "oh well they will be walking long before then".
And yes, yes they probably will be walking by then but that doesn't mean they'll be walking all the time, or in the direction you want. Or on the timescale you want.
You see, if I hadn't had a baby carrier that fitted Tom in that moment on the tube 2 stops from home when tiredness and emotion had overwhelmed Tom.... really I'd have had 3 choices
- Wait for him to calm down and was ready to walk off the train with me, even though that would certainly have involved missing our stop by some margin and finding ourselves in Hammersmith or Chiswick somewhere miles from home
- Get off the train abandoning the shopping because I wouldn't have been able to carry the shopping plus a boy in full tantrum
- Ask for help and hope someone is wilingl to help the woman the screaming toddler
But fortunately I did in fact have a carrier that did fit Tom and I was able to pop it on, and get him in and onto my back mid tantrum screaming and kicking me (using the secure hip scoot method!), then calmly pick up all my shopping and changing bag and walk off the train at the right stop.
And you know something miraculous happened, now securely on my back the sobs started to subside, Tom began to calm down, he was able to start to regulate his emotions again and by the time we were home he hopped happily out of the carrier like nothing had happened.
You see, that yes while children do generally start walking somewhere between 1 year and 18 months, and will be walking confidently by 2 ish, they do still have tiny legs. They do get tired. They do become overwhelmed. Sometimes they just simply want to walk in another direction. That direction might suddenly, inexplicably be into a busy road. Or maybe like in the photo above you want to walk over all the city walls in Dubrovnik pretending your in Games of Thrones and its simply too far for little legs! There are all kinds of reasons you might still want to carry beyond 2. If you do there are many baby carriers that will last to beyond 2 years of age, and many toddler and preschooler carriers that will go even further.