A baby carrier might well be your most indispensable item when it comes to traveling with babies (or toddlers! Or pre-schoolers!).
In a lot of countries, a stroller will be more of a complication than a help, while a travel baby carrier gives you all the freedom you need. You get to use your two hands to look at all those lovely souvenirs! And for those sneaky touchy little fingers: it is a lot more difficult to grab something if your little one is high up!
Read on to gather the best baby carrier for travel info. We will tell you about the different types of carriers, what you should look for and we will review several soft structured baby carriers, baby slings,
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What is a baby carrier?
A baby carrier is a device invented to safely carry your baby handsfree. Plus it’s great for bonding too!
There are about a million different types and brands as it is one of the most important baby list items. But don’t worry, we’ll help you decide which one is perfect for you and your family.
You can divide baby carriers into 5 large groups:
1. Soft structured carrier (SSC):
This kind looks a lot like a baby carrier backpack. It consists of a preformed back panel, a padded waist belt, padded shoulder straps, and adjustable strings, which add to the usability and comfort. You don’t have to practice knots or anything complicated to wear your baby while you travel.
By being carried your baby receives all the benefits of skin-to-skin care and it really isn’t much harder than putting on a backpack!
The biggest con is that it doesn’t adapt to your child’s age. For starters, most carriers need an additional baby insert for the first 4 months (although the new generation of baby carriers is designed to adapt from birth to toddlerhood. You can read more here). Between 12 and 18 months the regular carriers will get too small and you have to trade up for a toddler carrier. But hey, it’s a good excuse to buy a fantastic new print!
If you’re new to babywearing and you’re not really sure how you’re going to pull off wrapping, head straight for this one!
A babywearing wrap is basically a 10 to 20 feet (3-6 meters) long piece of fabric which you can knot around your body. You have both stretch and woven wraps.
The first type is the typical newborn baby wrap and is designed to be used in one way (despite what it says in the manual! It is dangerous to use a stretchy wrap as a front-facing baby carrier or a baby back carrier): on the front with your baby’s head facing to your chest.
Because this is a carry with 3 layers of fabric, it is rather hot for your baby, so make sure he or she wears appropriate clothing. Some brands developed a cooler version of their stretch wraps, you can take a look here.
Woven wraps definitely have the most possibilities when it comes to diversification. You can use them as a front and back baby carrier and as a baby hip carrier. The amount of carries is endless. Not to mention the various colors, patterns, and blends. The sky really is the limit.
The biggest advantage of a baby carrier wrap is that it adjusts perfectly to your baby’s body (almost as if it were hugging it), while
Wraps come in sizes, depending on what kind of carry you want to use combined with your own size. Most people get along fine with a size 6 for the most standard carries. Click here to learn more about wrap sizes!
3. Ring sling
A ring sling has all the benefits of a baby wrap, but as they usually come in one size and a with lot less fabric, they take up less space in your suitcase!
The most important benefit of a baby ring sling is the grab-and-go feeling. You just put them over your shoulder, put in your baby, tighten the loose fabric and of you go.
Because you put a baby sling over one arm, however, all your baby’s weight will come down onto that shoulder. With a newborn, that won’t be much of a problem, but with a toddler, it will start to strain.
That’s why a ring sling baby carrier isn’t the best for long distances and extensive carrying (f.e. hiking). However, it is one of the best baby carriers for traveling when you’re going somewhere hot and you want to be
TIP: In this article, we’ll tell you more about the best baby carriers for hot weather.
4. Mei Tai (Meh Dai) & Half buckle carriers
A mei tai baby carrier is a traditional Asian ergonomic baby carrier that looks and feels a lot like a woven baby wrap, but with the easiness of a structured baby carrier.
The back panel is preformed like the back of a structured carrier. Adjusted to that panel are usually 4 pieces of fabric. The bottom two are meant as the waist belt and the top two are the shoulder straps which you should cross at your back and tie under your baby’s bottom.
A half buckle carrier is very similar to the mei tai’s. The only difference is the buckled waist belt. Like a full buckle carrier, there is a preformed waist belt that you tie around your waist and buckle up. The shoulder straps are pieces of fabric that you can tie around your baby.
Some people feel like they can’t get the knot of the mei tai waist straps hard enough to offer full support. A half buckle saves that problem, while they still give the comfort of a woven wrap.
Both the mei tai carrier and the half buckle baby carrier can be used from birth without an insert and they don’t take up that much luggage space!
A lot of people love the mei tai carriers and half buckles because they are the perfect combination of the easy child carrier backpack style with the comfort of a wrap carrier.
Because you don’t have the shared support on your hips, the onbu can sometimes get heavy on the shoulders, especially with bigger babies or toddlers.
However, it is wonderful when you are pregnant and your belly has all the space in the world! For people who don’t like or can’t stand a waistbelt, an
When you would like to carry 2 children together (tandemwearing), it is a great choice as well.
The lack of waistbelt means that the
An onbuhimo carrier can only be used when your child can sit independently. When your child is big enough to stand, it is super quick to put on. This makes them a good companion for shopping trips, on and off the bus hopping etcetera. You might want to consider an onbuhimo toddler for bigger kids that love to switch between walking and being carried.
Why would you use a baby carrier?
It is not a secret that babies love to be cradled and held close to their caregivers. Yes, you can hold them in your arms, but that may get tiring quickly. Putting them in a carrier will give you the freedom to do the things you like, while your little one still gets that closeness they crave.
Moms, dads or other caregivers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Carrying your baby has a positive influence on their physical, emotional and intellectual development. They will, for example, pick up speech quicker because they are included when you are communicating with other people.
Being in an upright position does wonders when it comes to reflux and cramps. Research shows that babies who are carried often, cry 40-50% less!
Wearing your baby makes it easier to breastfeed and/or spot the early hunger signs.
And last but not definitely not least: carrying your child is great for bonding. Especially for dads, non-biological mothers, grandparents and the rest of your baby’s family, it is a fantastic way to connect with that tiny little human.
Why would you use a baby carrier on your next vacation?
Apart from the benefits listed above that evidently still apply when you’re on holiday, there are some very distinct advantages to babywearing while traveling.
Everyone who regularly carries their child will confirm those baby carriers usually come with sleepy dust. It might be the closeness and steady beat of your heart or the rhythmic bouncing when you walk, but
You may already benefit from the very start of your trip. Getting a baby carrier for plane travel is actually a pretty good plan because it is so much easier when you have to go through airport security.
Flying with a baby or toddler is always a little scary. Nobody wants to be “the ones with the screaming child”. If your little one doesn’t want to go to sleep, you can put them in the carrier and walk little circles at the back of the plane (been there, done that).
Many cities in the world aren’t stroller friendly. Trying to maneuver around holes in the road or loose stones on the sidewalk isn’t stressfree at all.
Furthermore, many attractions won’t be accessible with a stroller. Think for example about visiting Mexico’s ancient temples or walking along the cliffs of the Isle of Wight. You’ll be way better of if you take your baby carrier.
Other moments when you’ll be the biggest fan of babywearing on holiday are, when you want to use public transport or when you have to walk through a lot of people, for example on a busy (night/food) market.
If you are convinced that a carrier is indeed a good idea to take along on your next trip, let’s take a look at the characteristics of such an item.
How to choose your perfect travel baby carrier?
There is not just one absolute best baby carrier. The one that is best for you depends entirely on your preferences. It is best to try a few first. It all comes down to your preferences. Do you want a carrier that grows with your baby from birth to toddlerhood? Do you want it to be in wrapfabric? Or do you only want one with a cute pattern that is easy to put?
A couple of things to consider:
When buying a baby carrier for traveling the most important thing is to make sure it is an ergonomic one. There are plenty (well-known!) brands selling non-ergonomic carriers. You can
The term often referred to
Here at Travel Gear for Kids, we firmly believe in ergonomic babywearing, that’s why we won’t be listing any brands that offer otherwise.
Front facing baby carriers
We do not recommend outward facing positions on this website because they are usually not ergonomic. By that, we mean famous brands like Babybjorn or Chicco.
The forward facing baby carriers that are listed below are, however, in fact ergonomic. Just make sure you wait until your baby can sit unassisted and has sufficient neck control. On top of that, be aware of over-stimulation! Turn your baby in time back to you for comfort and rest.
If you want to read more about the reasons for not wearing your child in a front-facing baby carrier, click here.
There are 2 forms of adaptability you should be aware of:
The first would be the possibility to adapt the carrier for the caregiver. Especially when sharing the carrier with another person, it is important to choose an
Secondly, it might also be important for you to adapt the carrier for your baby. As wraps and
It is important to ask yourself what kind of support you need. You won’t have a problem carrying a 7 lb (3kg) newborn in a stretchy baby wrap, but when they get heavier, the wrap will sag a bit and that strains your shoulders and neck. A stretch wrap doesn’t offer enough support for the majority of the people.
The same goes for a woven wrap. It supports a lot more, but when you get a bigger child (2+), most people find that it becomes a little too heavy for long distances and well, your toddler usually wants to go up and off a lot of time. Unless you’re a carry wonder that can tie a wrap in a couple of seconds, a (partly) buckled carrier or mei tai might be preferable.
A soft structured carrier usually offers the most support for the person carrying. Some people prefer a SSC with crossed shoulder straps to adjust the weight more on their upper body. You might want to take a look at the waist belt as well, some are more or less padded than others. The ergobaby for example offers a thick and stiff padded waistbelt, while the Wompat comes with a soft plush padding. As much as I’m in love with the gorgeous design of our Wompat, I only used it twice because it doesn’t offer enough support. The Ergobaby original marine was used every day from 4 months until 18 months.
Every type of baby carrier for traveling has its options when it comes to fabric. A wrap, sling
The safety is probably the most important feature of your baby carrier for traveling. You don’t want anything that is unsafe. So always, always make sure the baby carrier is tested and approved for babywearing. Furthermore, pay attention to the size and the minimum age the carrier requires. A newborn needs a lot more support than a 2-year old.
Your choice may be influenced by the accessories that usually come with a soft structured carrier in contrast to other forms of babywearing. A sleeping hat and pockets can come in handy. Some wraps or slings come with a carrying bag. Ask yourself if any of these add-ons are indispensable for you and your family?
We’ve listed the best-rated baby carriers for you, divided into the 5 main types. Every type of carrier has its own comparison chart so that you can easily check those features that matter to you.
THE BEST SOFT STRUCTURED TRAVEL BABY CARRIER
This is about as famous as a baby carrier can get! An Ergobaby travel carrier will get you and your baby anywhere you want to go. They are well-made, sturdy and pretty. As it is one of the most popular brands of soft structured carriers in the world, you can rest assured that they are more than decent. The hardest part will be deciding which type you want!
The Ergobaby Original baby carrier is a real asset when it comes to any travel gear for kids. The extra padded waistbelt and the shoulder straps are super comfortable and can, furthermore, accommodate petite to larger body types. This makes sharing easier!
This baby carrier allows you to carry on the front, the hip or the back starting from around 4 months, or you can use an infant insert for your newborn.
Made out of 100% cotton, it is machine washable, so get your hands on those yummy exotic fruits! An extra big plus for the XL zippered pocket and the UPF 50+ babyhood.
The Ergobaby Original can be used for newborn babies (with the insert) until 45 pounds and is available in a whole range of colors.
Ergobaby 360 All Positions
The ergo baby carrier 360 All Positions has all the features of the Ergo Original such as the extra thick waistbelt and the big zipper pocket.
As the name states, it added the possibility of wearing your child on the front facing outward. This way your little one can look around.
The Ergo 360 carrier was voted Mom’s pick Best of 2018 by Babycenter.
The Ergobaby Adapt is an expansion of the Ergo Original. You can still carry your baby in 3 positions: in the front, on the hip and on the back. A new feature is that you can cross the shoulder straps, which ensures a better distribution of the weight over the upper body.
The biggest difference, however, is in the adaptability of the baby carrier. You no longer have to use an infant insert to carry a newborn (which is a big plus as our daughter did not like that insert at all!). You can put the seating in 3 positions and the back panel as well. The adjustments are done with a velcro fastener.
The Ergo Adapt offers extra neck support for newborns as well through a little pillow that you can be folded inwards.
Ergobaby Omni 360
The Ergobaby Omni 360 combines all the features of the baby carriers above. You can cross the shoulder straps, you can carry your baby without an infant insert and 4 babywearing positions (including face forward) are possible.
Ergobaby Cool Air Mesh
Every type of Ergobaby is available in a cooler mesh baby carrier. However, the Ergobaby performance (which is the summer version of the original), is no longer available on the Ergobaby website. At the moment you can still buy one on Amazon.
The Tula baby carriers are famous for their collection of colorful designs. They offer standard ergonomic carriers, mesh baby carriers, carriers that adapt to your growing child and they even have a new collection with an outward facing baby carrier. On top of that, they even offer half buckle carriers, woven wraps,
The Tula ergonomic baby carrier is another huge name in babywearing land. You don’t ever get disappointed when buying a Tula!
The wide padded waistband provides all the support you’ll ever want and holds a pocket on the waistbelt for your phone, keys, and other small items.
This baby carrier for traveling offers both a front and a back carry position, so you can easily spend a couple of hours walking around with your little one. The hand-made carriers are made from 100% OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified canvas and are breathable and lightweight.
You can carry your child with a Tula carrier from 15-60 lbs or even from 7 pounds with the infant insert. The great thing with Tula is that you have 2 size options. The Tula Standard which ranges from 15-45 lbs and the Tula Toddler from 25-60 lbs for the diehard babywearing fans (or addicted little ones).
The absolute biggest plus for Tula is the incredibly beautiful and diverse patterns that are available.
TIP: If you like the Tula, but you need a baby carrier that is more appropriate for hot weather travel, make sure to check out our article on the best baby carriers for hot weather.
The nice thing about Baby Tula is that there is a special toddler version of their regular carrier. It is in theory possible to carry up to 45 pounds (20kg) with a regular carrier like the Ergobaby or the Tula Standard, but for an optimum wearing comfort you need a bigger seat and a higher back panel.
That’s where the Tula Toddler steps in. With the same features as the Tula Standard, you can carry your child from 25 to 60 pounds (11-27 kg).
Tula Free To Grow
The Tula Free-To-Grow baby carrier has all the benefits of the standard
Due to the innovative body panel, you can wear your baby without insert from newborn to toddlerhood. The back panel adjusts in 3 width settings and 2 height settings to fit perfectly around your baby.
You can use the Tula Free-To-Grow from 7-45 lbs and it’s available in a lot of nice designs (though not as many yet as the regular Tula). If you are looking for one carrier to get around, this might be your new best friend!
As one of the biggest names in babywearland, Tula couldn’t be left behind when it comes to the front facing baby carriers.
With the Tula Explore it is now possible to carry your child from birth without an insert in 3 positions: front face inward, front face outward and on the back. Make sure to respect the minimal age for the face outward position.
Thanks to a system with buttons, adjusting the carrier to fit perfectly around your baby’s body is easy. The neck support pillow provides extra support for newborns and sleeping children.
The Tula explorer is available in funky new designs!
Tula knows how difficult carrying in hot weather can be. That’s why they’ve designed a mesh version for every type of baby carrier (although they are not available in many designs). The Tula Standard Coast is no longer available.
If you are looking for the best baby carrier for summer you might be better off with Ergobaby or Lillebaby. Check out our post about hot weather baby carriers for more information.
Founded by a traveling family, what better way is there to know how the perfect baby carrier for travel should look like. Boba carriers are made from a very light fabric, which makes them very suitable summer baby carriers as well. They are definitely a great choice if you want a versatile carrier for newborns, while you are living in or traveling to a country with a hot climate.
Boba Classic 4GS
The Boba 4G baby carrier is a perfect all-in-one baby carrier for traveling. As it comes with an integrated (snap-in) infant insert, you can use it for your newborn and you can keep using it until toddlerhood.
The most noteworthy for the Boba carriers are the included foot straps for older children. This is a genius invention to accommodate longer legs. Furthermore, the sleeping hood is removable, so if you never use it you can simply take it off and leave it at home.
You can carry your little one on the front and the back with the Boba 4G. The baby carrier has several pockets, including one on the waist with a zipper.
The Boba Classic 4GS can hold your baby from 7-45 pounds (3.5 – 20kg) and is available in a lot of different, colorful options.
We’re usually not all too fond of recommending a baby carrier that is adjustable from newborn to toddler. It’s great in theory and we’re sure the fabric will be strong enough to support the weight. However, experience taught us that once upper bodies and legs start to grow, our kiddo’s won’t be all that comfortable anymore in a baby carrier.
We will make the exception for the Boba X though!
Both the seat (8-21″/20-53cm) and the panel body (12-16″/30-40cm) micro-adjusts to fit your child’s body perfectly.
On top of that, the designers thought about the babywearers as well: the carrier comes with a 25-58″ (63.5-147cm) waist belt. This way it will fit just about anybody and makes it easy to share!
An absolutely great feature of the Boba X is the seat extenders, that way even the oldest toddlers will be able to sit comfortably!
As is customary for Boba, the designs are absolutely wonderful!
We are totally in love with this adaptable carrier and recommend it not only as the best baby carrier for newborn babies but as the best baby carrier newborn to toddler as well!
THE BEST BABY WRAP FOR TRAVEL
It is so very hard to determine what the best baby wrap carrier is for you and your family. Woven wraps are a lot less distinct from one another, compared to buckle baby carriers. As we have stated before in the Buying Guide, the main decision-makers will be the blend, the weight, the size, and the color/pattern.
This woven wrap is both lightweight and made from cotton gauze making it the perfect combination for families traveling to hot climates. It is stated quite unanimously as the best baby wrap for summer!
At the end of the wrap, the designers inserted a pocket which can hold the wrap itself (very useful for toddlers that want to walk by themselves occasionally!) or some lightweight items when you are carrying your baby.
The only downside of this wrap is that you need to knot more precisely, while thicker wraps tend to be a bit more forgiving with sloppy knotting. This summer baby wrap is available in size 6, size 7 and size 8.
This baby carrier comes in a lot of funky designs. We especially like the Lily, but choose the one that is perfect for you here! This infant carrier wrap comes with a full -length DVD to make carrying easier.
Storchenwiege baby wrap
The Storchenwiege woven wraps are a true sight for the eye! They are made in Germany under the strictest regulations and all the cotton comes from controlled biological cotton farms.
Due to a special way of weaving, the wraps are more durable and the tied knot holds better. All the Storchenwiege wraps have tapered ends for easy tying. At only 2 pounds, this baby carrier is still a perfect travel mate!
The Storchenwiege wrap can be used for newborns as well as toddlers. The gorgeous fabrics are available in 5 sizes (size 3-7) and 20 amazing colors.
THE BEST RING SLING FOR TRAVEL 2019
What about this beautiful sling from Pura Vida! This incredible ringslings are made from a super soft bamboo a linen combination. Because it is no pure linen, it won’t scratch your baby’s back but instead, make the softest little shelter for your tiny one. Unlike many other wraps and slings, it is soft from right out of the box. Extra points for this fantastic sling is that you support a charity by buying this ringsling. 5% of the profits go to CEPIA, a charity that supports low-income families in Costa Rica. Oh, and did we mention you get a lifetime guarantee? Pricewise you don’t get to complain either! The only minus is that the Pura Vida Sling is only available in 2 colours: black and natural. But they’re stunning nonetheless. Check them out here!
The German brand Storchenwiege does not only sell woven wraps, but they produce slings as well. As stated above, the textiles are made under strict environmental rules. Because of a special weaving technique, they are more durable and comfortable. This one-size-fits-all weighs only 1 pound, making it a very good travel companion. As other ringslings, you can use the Storchenwiege from birth well into toddlerhood. Click here to choose your favorite one!
The Little Frog Ringslings are just as pretty in ringsling as they are in woven wraps. This affordable brand offers safety certified baby carriers in funky colours. Check them out here!
Like the Beachfront Baby Wrap, the Ring Sling is specifically designed for hot weather and water use. The mesh fabric is lightweight and the aluminum rings guarantee safe carrying. If you would like an all-in-one ringsling for your beach holiday, this is your perfect choice! It can hold children from 8-30 lbs and is available in 3 sizes: a standard, a petite and an XL (depending on your t-shirt size) and a whole bunch of different colors. Choose one and start planning your trip!
The Maya Ringsling is the last item in our ringsling-list. The baby carrier is made out of 100% hand-woven cotton and has a lightly padded shoulder, which adds to the babywearing comfort and helps spread the fabric on your back. As with the other ringslings, there is no complex wrapping involved, you simply put in on and pull the long tail. You can carry your baby on the front or on the hip. The ringsling fits in your diaper bag and has a zippered pocket for small essentials (you can even put in a cloth diaper!). The long tail is convenient for nursing or cover. The Maya ringsling can be washed in the washing machine in cold water. The carrier is suitable for babies from 8 pounds up to 35. It is available in a multitude of colored designs. We are very much in love with the Bright Stripes, but you can pick your favorite one here!
THE BEST MEI TAI FOR TRAVEL 2019
DIDYMOS MEH DAI ♥ TRAVEL GEAR FOR KIDS FAVORITE ♥
The Didymos wraps and Mei Tais are made from wonderfully soft organic cotton and are super comfortable. True, they aren’t the cheapest on the market but what you get in return is babywearing in heaven! The Meh-Dais have the convenience of a full buckle carrier, but you still get the feel of a wrap which makes for a perfect combination. Furthermore, they are fully adjustable so you can easily swap between caregivers regardless of the person’s shape or size. You can wear your baby on the front, the hip and the back from birth till pre-school age. The Meh-Dais are made from organic cotton are dyed with safe and non-toxic dye. They are manufactured in Germany and Austria with only the highest quality materials. And last but not least, they come with a 3-year warranty.
It’s easy to get lost in the many beautiful fabrics of Didymos, so make sure to check every print and color option. We especially love the Ada Tourmaline, the Ada Malachite, and the Lisca Pastell. Click here to see more options!
The Infantino Mei Tai is another great buckle-free baby carrier. The long shoulder and waist straps make it easy to get your child into a super comfy position. It’s great for any size parent, as the waist strap fits anyone between 22-56 inch (59-142 cm). The extra wide padded straps add to the comfort for the babywearer. The infantino comes with a detachable hood, which is useful for the sun or to sleep. 3 carrying positions are available: front, hip, and back. Oh, and did we mention it’s really affordable?
This baby carrier is suitable for children from 8-36 lbs (3.6-16.3 kg) and is available in 2 pretty designs. Check them out here!
The Moby double tie is not an actual Mei Tai, but more of a soft-structured baby carrier without the buckles. It has straps on both shoulders and waist to tie the carrier and it’s a one-size-fits-all. You can carry your little one on the front, the hip and the back. As it is so lightweight, you can stick it in a diaper bag or backpack and trail it along. The Moby double tie is machine washable.
This baby carrier can be used for children from 8 to 40 pounds and is available in 2 patterns: Secrets of Salvador (black) and Blissful in Brisbane (grey). Click here to take a look!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara Rodrigus is passionate about travelling – especially with her wife and daughter. She loves to show others that it’s far from impossible to travel with (young) children. A big part of that is spent on making travelling easier by bringing the right travel gear for kids.
Babs loves animals, chocolate (what did you expect from a Belgian?), reading & writing and glorious mountain views.