So you’ve cracked carrying one baby or toddler, but what about when you’ve got two little ones close in age? Have you considered the possibility of carrying them both at once? This is known as ‘tandem carrying’; it can be surprisingly comfortable, easy, and has lots of practical benefits too.
In this article, we’re going to focus on families with an average 2 year gap, though these considerations and carrying solutions can also work for smaller/larger age gaps, and for twins. At the bottom of the page you’ll find some great video tutorials to get you started.
How to choose a carrier or sling for tandem carrying
Each carrier must be suitable for your child’s age range. You’re carrying extra weight so need the maximum support. Make sure you’ve got carriers that are well fitted to each of your children and are the most comfortable for you.
So how do you know if your current carriers are going to work well for tandem carrying?
- Multi-position Carriers that can be used both front and back give you the most options.
- ‘Poppable’ Carriers allow you to pop your children in and out of the carrier easily, as needed. If you can leave the carrier on yourself and still get your child out this can really help too.
- Baby to Toddler Slings, whether an adaptable buckle carrier, or a woven wrap, being able to switch your children between the carriers will give you even more options.
- Shoulder straps. Two sets of bulky padded shoulder straps is not ideal – going for one padded (e.g. a buckle carrier) and one softer or spreadable (e.g. a meh dai or wrap) is often comfier. If your straps have a connecting buckle on the chest or behind the back, can your still fasten this without hitting your other child in the face!
- Waistbands. Again, two heavy padded waistbands is bulky and it can be hard to work out where all the buckles sit. One padded and one (or both) that are unpadded or fasten with knots tie is usually better.
What you’ll need to consider when tandem babywearing
Plan your journey
How far are you travelling? For shorter journeys prioritise quick and poppable; for longer trips maximise support and comfort.
Which child needs to get in and out more easily? Which needs to get out first? Is it your toddler who wants to walk, or your baby who needs feeding and changing regularly?
Will you always need to carry both? Your children may not eat or nap at the same time, and your eldest won’t be carried if they want to do something more active.
Where on earth do you put your stuff?!
What do you really need? Work out exactly what’s absolutely necessary and pack as light as you can. A shoulder bag slung under one child’s bum works, as do carriers with pockets. If you’re struggling, a wheely shopping trolley isn’t stylish but is very practical!
Nap and Meal Times
If they’re both old enough (6 months+), back carries make these much easier. A sleeping child on your back will be out of the way and less likely to be disturbed. For meal times – unless you can have both seated in a chair or your lap – it’s easier to feed one if the other on your back.
The easiest is for your toddler to hop off and sit next to you – your baby can be front or back. If carrying both, make sure your toddler’s longer legs still allow you to sit down!
Where will you feel the weight?
Even with the most supportive carriers you’ll feel the weight of two. Do you prefer this on your hips, shoulders, or distributed between both? Even if the weight feels fine on your back, how do your hips and knees hold up? If you’re feeling tired or unwell maybe today’s not the day to tandem carry. Don’t push yourself too hard.
Our top rated slings and carriers for tandem babywearing
The options suggested here are by no means exhaustive but are our favourite options for adaptable and comfortable tandem carrying. Watch our tandem carrying videos below for more details on how to tandem carry safely.
Soft Structured or Buckled Carriers
Ideal for an easy up-down back carry or a supportive front carry. When tandem carrying you’d usually use this style of carrier for a toddler back carry, but baby-to-toddler carriers give you the option of changing this around to suit your day.
We recommend either a toddler size carrier for your big one, or a multi sized carrier that could fit both. The Isara The One has a HUGE range to fit babys from newborn to preschool; the Manduca XT is also a great baby to toddler option.
We also love the Tula Toddler Carrier for a simple, larger sized option for toddlers aged 2-3yrs+; the Izmi Toddler Carrier which has wide, unpadded straps to sit neatly on your shoulders (9m-3yrs); and the Integra Size 2 (18m-3yrs+) with no padded waistband to reduce bulk.
These sturdy, multi-position wraps are ideal for tandem carrying. With multiple tying methods to suit newborn to toddler you have ultimate flexibility to carry however you like.
We love the Double Hammock Back Carry for a snug, super supportive baby or toddler back carry with no excess bulk or knotty bits. For an easy poppable front carry that you can leave tied throughout the day, try the Front Cross Carry (FCC). For a toddler who’s mostly walking, try using a shorter wrap for a quick compact back carry like a Ruck Tied Under Bum to reduce bulk.
The ultimate poppable sling, stretchy wraps are perfect for front carrying newborns and some can still be comfy with bigger babies too. Once tied you can leave it on all day without needing to undo anything when taking your baby in and out.
We’d recommend the bamboo Izmi Wrap which is wide and supportive without feeling too hot to wear.
Wrap-style Meh Dais like the Hoppediz HopTye or the Didymos DidyTai are lightweight and you can tie the shoulder straps in a multitude of positions. Whilst you’d normally need to untie this each time, it is possible to use these as a poppable front carrier.
For a super quick and easy toddler back carry, consider the Didymos Buckle Onbuhimo, which has no waistband at all (though this may get heavier on your shoulders).
Our favourite carrying combinations
You can basically combine any two suitable options for tandem carrying so find out what you like best; what is most supportive and that you find easy to use and adapt if needed. We particularly love combining one wrap or tie-on carrier with one buckled carrier, to reduce bulk at the waist and shoulders.
Here are our favourites
Stick with what you know
Stretchy wrap on the front and a toddler sized buckle carrier on the back. For an easy tandem carry tie your stretchy wrap on first, pop your toddler in their carrier on your back (the waistband will sit just under your wrap knot), then pop your baby into their wrap. Fasten your carrier chest belt under your wrap straps and away from your baby’s face. It’ll be easy to take either child off as you need, without disturbing the other. Perfect!
Or mix it up
Use a Woven wrap combined with any baby-to-toddler option for ultimate adaptability. Combine with another woven wrap, a lightweight mei dai, or an adjustable buckled or half-buckle carrier. You can carry each of your children front or back in whichever carrier you fancy.
Going for a long walk? Tie your smallest in a comfortable front wrap carry (easier to see over them) and whichever other option you find most supportive for a toddler on your back. Nap times? Tie your sleeping one on your back in a secure woven wrap carry and use a buckled carrier or another woven wrap tied in an FCC for an active child on your front. Your toddler’s playing in the park and your baby wants to watch? Use your woven wrap for a supportive hip carry or high back carry so they can see. The possibilities are endless!
Flexibility without any tying
Tandem Babywearing Video Tutorials
There really are so many options! If you’d like more help, give the Wear My Baby team a call on 0345 222 9004 or contact us at [email protected] We also offer video and in-person consultations, from just £10.