Tandem wearing is something people keep asking me to write about since I am, apparently, experienced in it! Er, not sure if that is true but I have certainly tried to tandem carry. I have carried both my girls on long walks, and for emergency carries (fallen over bumped knee NEED A CARRY MAMA!). On pavements, buses, and cross country. In all weather, hot and cold. I have found ways that owrk (for me) and ways that don’t. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
There are two types of tandem carrying. One of babies/children of the same age or size (approximately), and one of children of different ages. I only have experience of the latter, so that’s what I’ll talk about. Of course there is also babywearing while pregnant when you have to factor in a bump. Again, not something I know much about, since my SPD prevented me from carrying much when pregnant.
There is no hard and fast rule as to which child goes on your back and which goes on your front. Yes, it usually makes sense to put your biggest child on your back, but not always! No child is “too big” for front carries; sure, they begin to obstruct your view a little but I can still front-carry M, who is 3 and a bit, without much difficulty!
You do not need a ‘special’ carrier to tandem wear, although you might need to adjust how you carry. You can tandem with a single wrap, two wraps, a wrap and a mei tai, two SSCs (soft structured carriers), and probably many other combinations! Work with what you already have before you go buying a carrier specifically for tandem wearing.
There will always be some compromise with comfort. One or both or all three of you might be slightly more squashed or poked than if you were only carrying one. And of course you have extra weight to lug about, and nowhere easy to carry a change bag! Tandem wearing is hard work, but a good workout!
The child on your backs needs to go on first! I have tried the other way round, an it does not work! This is because when you put a child on your back you need to bend forwards a certain amount, and if you have a kid on your front a) you overbalance and b) they flop backwards uncomfortably. If anyone finds a way of getting your front carry baby on first please let me know!
Here are a few ways I’ve found that work for me:
Tandem using pre-tied stretchy wrap and SSC. This is my favourite method! It works very well when your front baby is very small (probably 0-4 months) and comfortable in a stretchy wrap. Pre-tie your stretchy using a pocket-wrap cross carry (the standard way of pre-tying), then get your older kid on your back in the SSC. If you’re using a chest strap, you’ll need it nice and high to avoid poking the front baby in the head! Once back baby is in place, pop front baby in the pre-tie.
Tandem using one wrap. This is advance babywearing! Not easy to achieve, and I never got comfortable with it, beause my wrap is a bit too short. You really need a long 7 or an 8 for this to work well. Pop your older kid on your back using the Ruck carry, then tie the tails off Tibetan style, with your front baby in the Tibetan passes. I don’t have a photo of this, but here’s a good video of it in action (not me):
Tandem using two wraps. Put baby on your back in a Ruck carry, but don’t tie off Tibetan style. This leave two ‘rucksack’ style straps over your shoulders. Thread your second wrap under each of the shoulder straps and pop front baby in this ‘pocket’. Tie off under their bum, or cross over and tie at your back if the wrap is long enough. I haven’t found a good video for this. It’s not easy to get right or comfortable!
Tandem using a woven and an SSC. This is how I do most of my tandem carrying now E is older and I don’t use the stretchy much. Pop older baby on your back in a comfortable back carry. Double hammock is good for this. Try not to tie off on your tummy, but behind your back, or your front baby might end up sitting on a knot! Now pop front baby on in the SSC. Again, your chest strap (if you’re using) needs to be quite high or you won’t be able to do it up due to the child on your back. Lighter SSCs without heavy duty structured waists are excellent for this, like the Connecta. But I have successfully used the Rose and Rebellion just fine. It’s a bit diggy but comfortable enough. I haven’t tried this with a mei tai on the front yet.
There are LOADS of other combinations I have come across. Connectas, with their light waist straps, are fab and I have heard of people using two to tandem successfully. I only own one toddler one, so that’s all I’ve tried!
This is what hasn’t worked for me:
Baby on back, toddler on front in Connecta. I couldn’t get the chest strap done up, and everything hurt!
Tandem wearing with a babywearing coat. Because the coat hangs down over the baby’s legs to keep them warm, you need to hoist it up in order to put your second child on your front. Then you have a large amount of coat material squashed where it shouldn’t be, compromising the fit for everyone.
Trying to put a baby on your back in a SSC with one already on your front. As I mentioned above, this involves bending down, jiggling, jumping, bouncing to get a good deep seat… all the while baby on your front is bending backwards and looking uncomfortable! It’s a little easier if you can get your back baby to stand on something to prevent you bending down, but it’s still not easy and very hard to get a good seat in the carrier.
The one thing I haven’t tried is a baby on my back in a frame backpack, because you can pop the child into these, then put them on your back. But they are bulky, heavy and cumbersome! I’m not sure I’d want to wear one while walking to a playgroup, and certainly not on a bus!