The Best Baby and Toddler Carriers for Travel
We’ve done it too many times. Schlepped our stroller across the country only to find that when it comes time to actually do some “strolling”, our picky little daughter has decided she’d rather not sit in it.
And there I am, left pushing the empty contraption. Awkward and usually only serving as a seat to our backpack, we navigate our way through crowds, look for elevators, and search for a place to stow it at any chance.
Yes, having a nice travel stroller is great and all, but it’s not that great if your child won’t sit in it!
It was after a few trips like this that we turned to baby-wearing. Of course, we always used our ErgoBaby to get through airports with Evelyn, but it wasn’t long before it became our go-to mode of transportation in nearly every situation. We could move freely on dirt paths and hiking trails; we could climb tall staircases and squeeze onto packed subway cars.
And when we left the stroller at home to exclusively carry our 25 pound toddler across Italy, people looked at us like we were crazy!
But that’s okay, because we knew better. Ditching the stroller had made travel so much easier for us, and there was no going back. With baby #2 here now, it’s time to up the ante and experiment further with our baby (and toddler) wearing skills.
Now, not all carriers are created equal. There’s lots to consider when deciding which type of carrier is right for you and your baby or toddler, and each has its own unique set of pros and cons. Trust me, it will take a few tries to find the perfect one! (thank goodness for Prime Shipping and free returns, right??)
But to help speed up your decision-making process, I’ve put together a round up of the best baby and toddler carriers on the market, tested and well-loved by fellow traveling families!
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Slings and Wraps
Boba Wrap | One of the most popular baby wrap options, the Boba Wrap can hold kids up to 36 months old, or 35 pounds. It’s made from a cotton/spandex blend which means it doesn’t sag as much as other wraps after a long day of carrying. That said, for kids over 20 pounds, some parents mentioned it becomes cumbersome to wear for daily use. Learning how to wrap it can also take several tries to master, but a simple YouTube tutorial will have you on your way in no time.
Baby K’Tan | Baby K’Tan is the wrap that doesn’t require wrapping. Parents will note that it’s not quite as comfortable as a sling, but being easy to take on and off, while effortlessly loading and unloading baby on the go, scores it major points. The wrap can be worn in 5 different positions and is good for kiddos up to 35 pounds.
Moby Wrap | Designed for babies 8-35 pounds, like the Boba Wrap, the super long fabric of the Moby can seem cumbersome and daunting at first. But once wrapped, baby will sit quite snug and comfortably with good head support. The traditional Moby is made with 100% cotton (read, warmer and more stretching), so for a more breathable fabric, try the bamboo/cotton blend. I’ve been testing the Moby out with Sophie and have so far found it to be a nice lightweight alternative to a traditional baby carrier.
Maya Ring Sling | Another alternative to traditional wraps, the ring sling is much easier to take on and off, though it’s heavy fabric makes it hard to adjust at first. There’s no complicated wrapping or extra long fabric though, so it’s easier to store away when not in use. Another bonus of the Maya Ring Sling is the zippered front pocket, where moms can stow away small items like cards, keys, or a binkie. It’s intended for babies 8-35 lbs and available in two sizes, medium or large, depending on the mother’s size.[irp]
ErgoBaby | ErgoBaby is a classic favorite and the one we chose to use for Evelyn when she was a baby. There’s a reason it makes everyone’s top list: the nice, thick shoulder straps, which adjust easily to get the perfect fit, lend themselves to comfortably carrying baby for long periods of time.
There’s really only one major con that came up again and again by parent reviewers (and one that I find annoying myself): the velcro strap on the redesign of the Ergo 360 is super obnoxious when you have to take the carrier off. Other than that though, it’s a sure bet for holding up to lots of mileage. The Ergo works for kiddos up to 3 years or 33 lbs, but for babies under 12 pounds be sure to purchase a separate infant insert as well.
Beco Gemini | The Beco carrier is very similar to the Ergo, but adds the option to criss-cross the straps in the back. Many parents note this makes the carrier a bit more comfortable as baby gets older. The Beco also wins points for a more sleek look, and for no infant insert being required for little babies. It comes in a cool mesh version as well, which is great for warmer climates where traditional carriers can get too hot.
Mei Tai | Affordable, easy to use, and comfortable, the Mei Tai is a great value for those not wanting to shell out $100+ for a fancy carrier. Unlike the other carriers in this category, babies can’t sit forward facing, but the Mei Tai does have the option for front carry, hip hold, or backpack positions. At this price point, the Mei Tai is great for even the occassional baby-wearer.
Onya | The Onya is lesser-known than the others above, but scores points for being one of the most unisex-looking carriers out there (hey, baby-wearing dads!). It also has tons of loops and pockets where you can clip things on or store away extra items, making it extra versatile for travel. Another odd but interesting plus: the Onya can convert into a built in high chair! It fits babies 7-45 pounds, with infants under 15 pounds requiring a booster (sold separately here).[irp]
Tula Toddler | Designed for kids 25-60 pounds, the Tula is fan favorite among family travelers. Its solid panel makes it super comfortable for kids of all sizes to wear either in the front or as a backpack. It’s simple design comes in a ton of fun patterns as well!
Beco Toddler | Similar to the Beco Gemini above, this carrier is specifically designed for toddlers over 18 months old, or 20-60 pounds. The difference is in its front panel, which is a bit taller and wider than other toddler carriers. This makes it an ideal carrier for bigger, bulkier toddlers who need more room to be contained.
MiaMily | Designed for both babies and toddlers (3 months-3 years), the MiaMily supports kids up to 40 pounds. While this is considerably less than the competitors in the toddler range, it was our personal choice because of its lightweight design.
The narrow front panel and solid “seat” allows our toddler to sit facing in, out, or backpack style, while still having a lot of flexibility to move her legs around. We also found that it’s slim design allowed for a lot more air flow, keeping us cooler on hot days. The built-in storage pockets on the front panel and hip seat are a nice bonus as well!
Lillebaby CarryOn Toddler | Lillebaby fans will tell you that it’s wide adjustable straps make it much comfier than its mani competitors, the Tula or Beco carriers. Perfect for kiddos over 12 months old (or 20-60 pounds), a mesh back panel also makes it super breathable in any climate.[irp]
So now you’ve got all these options, but how do you decide?
Selecting the perfect carrier comes down to a matter of personal preference and style, and while you really can’t go wrong with any of the baby or toddler carriers above, there are a few questions to ask yourself as you make your decision. What size is your child? How long do you intend to wear the carrier at one time? Where will you be traveling? And what types of activities do you plan to do in it?
When in doubt, there’s no better way to find the right carrier than by simply testing a few out until you find what’s most comfortable!
Have you tried any of these baby and toddler carriers? Do you have a favorite for family travel?
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