There's nothing as precious as watching a group of children walk down the aisle just before the bride enters. Alas, those adorable moments can occasionally be fraught with meltdowns, kids who dart in the wrong direction, and some very stressful parenting moments. In order to avoid the meltdowns, here are a few things to consider with each age bracket.
While the under nine-months crowd are undeniably precious, they're simply too young to be escorted down the aisle. Napping is a constant and there's no reason to mess with an infant's REM cycle. An infant's behavior is unpredictable and having them carried down the aisle is usually more stress on his or her mother than it's worth.
Babies less than two years old should be carried down the aisle, so their participation will depend largely on their nap schedule and how comfortable they are with being carried. They're a bit too young to walk unescorted and make it to the right place, so it's best if an older cousin or sibling carries them, or, at the very least, holds their hand. It's a good idea to assign a seat for their mother and father in the second or third row along the aisle so these little ones can bail and run to their parents if they get shy, fussy or confused.
Ages Two to Four
Depending on the personality of the child, they're usually able to take direction well somewhere around ages two to four. Again, their likelihood of a meltdown depends a lot on personality and the time of day they'll be walking down the aisle, but they're certainly capable at this stage, especially if they're walking with an older kid who they're comfortable with. Kids this age might be a little too young to bring to the ceremony rehearsal, but it's a good idea to walk them through the space prior to the ceremony. If their parents can arrive half an hour before your guests, they can show them where the aisle is and talk them through the process.
Ages Five to Ten
Children between the ages of five and ten are the perfect flower girls and ring bearers. At this stage, kids are able to walk down the aisle without much cajoling or convincing. They're also old enough to be responsible for the younger kids if they'll be taking anyone else along. It's a good idea to bring these kids in on the ceremony rehearsal to quell their nerves and show them exactly where and when they'll be walking.