From the moment we published “Best Strollers for Airplane Travel” our mailboxes were flooded with e-mails from baby wearers touting the advantages of baby wearing while traveling. With so many different kinds on the market, we decided to ask the experts (moms and dads like you!) for their expertise and put together this comprehensive baby wearing guide!
As a baby wearer with my first by choice, and with the subsequent kids by necessity, I tend to use a carrier-stroller combo to keep my three kids in line. In anticipation of this article we headed out on a trip with all three of them, a bunch of carriers…and no stroller.
Why Carriers Are Great For Travel
- Convenience. Carriers pack small. You’ll always be able to carry them on board any form of transportation. Also there is no hassle heading through airport security with a carrier.
- Go Anywhere. With a carrier you don’t have to worry about cobblestones, dirt roads, curbs or crowded streets. Also museums and other places that don’t allow prams won’t have a problem with a baby in the carrier.
- Multiple Positions. Most carriers offer multiple carrying positions. Put the baby forward so he/she can see the world. When baby grows tired flip him around on your front or back for a snooze.
- Easy Breastfeeding. Once you get the hang of it, it is easy to nurse your baby in a carrier. It means you don’t have to find a place to stop and feed, which is a huge bonus when you are in an unfamiliar city!
Finding the Carrier That’s Right For You
A big trip is not the time to try out a new carrier. There are so many good options and each child and adult body type may find a different baby carrier comfortable. The advice from our members time and again is to find somewhere that you can try out a carrier first. Ask a friend to borrow theirs, rent a carrier to give it a try, or find a store or baby wearing group that lets you try on a variety of carriers.
Chrissy, club member and mom to a 2 year old, has tried dozens of carriers. She suggests “attending a local baby wearing group meeting (ie BWI) since they have experts to help you try out various carriers and find what’s best for you. Everyone’s body is different so what works for a friend may not work well for you. Also, when attempting new types of carries (for example putting baby on your back) it’s helpful to have experts guide you. Most groups also have lending libraries which will allow you to try out various carriers to really see if you like it before purchasing.”
Before we get into our list of top rated baby carriers by our members, take a peek at this blog post by Mom Loves Best and check out the pros and cons to these soft-sided carriers.
The Ergo is a go-to carrier by our Bébé Voyage members. There are so many different options under the Ergo brand. It is an approachable option for both price and usability. All Ergo carriers are machine washable. My carriers always come back from trips filthy so this is a huge plus!
The ERGO 360 All-In-One is a great option. (The Omni 360 is newborn ready and doesn’t require any sort of insert.) It has four carry positions, including forward-facing. Parents love the lumbar support and that you can cross the straps on the back for more support in some carry positions. The 360 weight limit is 33lbs.
This is Madeline’s go-to carrier. Madeline is a club member and mom to an 18 month old. She loves “the Ergo 360 because the child can be on your chest facing inward, on your chest facing outward, on your hip, or can be carried on your back. I also love the head cover when they are front inward facing as it makes baby feel secure while napping.”
We personally use the Ergo Original as our daily carrier. I almost always have it with me as an option to carry one of the kids. I love the extra large storage pocket in the front of the carrier. I can fit a slim wallet and my phone (yes, yes I know putting the phone near baby’s head is not a great idea) in the pocket where I can easily access them. The weight limit on the original is 45lbs.
Sarah Kate is also an avid Ergo user. “Our daughter is 4 now and has travelled to 12 countries in her Ergo! It’s been especially useful on long flights when she needed to nap, or to help us get easily through a busy airport.”
” The Ergo is lighter, leaves our hands free and if we wore our daughter on our front we’d still be able to carry a backpack for day trips.”
Babs, a member and mother of a 9 month old and 2.5 year old, also loves her Ergo. “What I love about it is that it is so easy to put on and use even for my dad who is now totally addicted to baby wearing, and he is 68 years old! I can use the carrier for both of my boys depending who is needing mommy at the time.”
Lille Baby offers carriers, ring slings and wraps. (Check out all the options in this handy comparison chart.) They offer a variety of models, made of different materials so you are sure to find one you love. Lille Baby carriers are designed for kids up to 45lbs, except for the Carry On which can accommodate children up to 60lbs.
We like the Lille Baby Complete All Seasons for its versatility in travel. It has 6 carrying positions, so there is a position for every situation. What sets the Complete All Seasons apart though is the weather control panel. You can zip the panel down if you and baby start getting hot to allow more air flow. You won’t need an infant insert as the Complete All Seasons accommodates babies from 7 lbs. A lumbar support pad helps you maintain proper alignment and prevent back strain. You can also adjust the carrier so you can have crossed straps or backpack style. The Lille Baby accommodates our taller third child (12 months) better than some of the other options.
Tula baby carriers are beloved not only for their fun patterns but for being comfortable baby carriers for parents and kids. The Tula Free to Grow carrier adjusts as your baby grows so it can accommodate babies from 7 lbs up to 45 lbs. Parents with smaller frames tend to find the Tula to be more comfortable than other options thanks to the straps being easily adjustable.
Bethany, club member and mom to a 6 month old, has been using the Tula since her little one arrived. She likes that the “Tula is the perfect amount of structure but simplicity. It feels like it has less complicated straps and buckles than similar carriers. Also it comes in fun prints!”
We use the Tula Toddler Carrier for our middle child. He never liked riding in the Ergo on our backs, but the Tula Toddler Carrier has wider and taller panels making it more comfortable. He is happy to ride in this carrier and has even taken a few naps while in the carrier. Even the five year old was happy being toted around in the carrier for short periods of time.
The Tula baby carrier is intended for age 3 – 18 months and toddler carrier for 18 months – 4 years.
Soul Slings are another great option for baby wearing on the go. Members say the price point is perfect for great quality. Christine says “they are buttery soft, thin so not too hot and easily fold up very small to carry in your backpack or diaper bag. It even comes with its own carrying bag!” All Soul carriers are machine and hand washable.
Soul Slings makes full buckle carriers as well as traditional ring slings. They also make a Toddler carrier. Check out the comparison chart to see what will work for you.
We love how quickly we could adjust the carrier between the kids using the snaps on the waste band. The Soul Slings Carrier is great for the wallet and perfect for baby wearing while traveling.
The Baby K’tan functions like a sling or wrap but is a two loop system, making it a bit easier to manage on the go than larger wraps. Since it is sized there is no adjusting. Once you learn how to put baby in it, it is easy to do on your own. The K’tan packs easily into a caring pouch, which is part of the belt, perfect for keeping it all together. The K’tan is suitable for children up to 35 lbs.
The Baby K’tan was my go-to carrier for the first two months. I love how it kept baby a bit closer and cuddled. Once baby was a bit bigger I kept this carrier in my bike pannier so that I was never without a carrier when we were out and about.
The challenge with the K’tan is ordering the right size. The fabric stretches as you use it so you want an initial snug fit. I ended up washing mine frequently to keep it the correct size.
BittyBean is the most compact carrier on the market. It stuffs into a small stuff-sack that easily packs away. It is nylon and polyester so you can wear it into shallow water with your child. It has two carry positions – cuddled on your chest and backpack carry. The BittyBean is designed for kids 8 – 40lbs.
We love how compact the Bittybean is! If you’re traveling with kids and love to babywear the Bittybean is a lifesaver. You can tuck it into a pocket or the bottom of your purse for those moments when your toddler just can’t walk any more, but you have places to be.
If you are a traveling family and looking for more advice or just want to talk to other like-minded globetrotters, become a member of our exclusive club and get all the info and support you need!
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