Farm Mom Favorites: Baby Carriers

If you follow me on instagram, you know I’m a bit obsessed with wearing my baby boy in our baby carriers. On the farm, at the grocery store, while cooking supper… pretty much all the time.

Baby wearing was something I knew nothing about when I was pregnant with my oldest. I’d see moms wearing their babies and automatically assume they were extreme “attachment parents.”

Then I actually became a mom and tried to work-at-home with a baby.

Suddenly, I understood!

Babies need to be held while you need to cook or vacuum or wash dishes.

They go through phases when they will only sleep on top of you.

They learn to walk one day and learn to run the next so you have no choice but to carry their 25 pounds of wiggling craziness everywhere you go.

Needless to say, investing in a really good baby carrier was on the top of my Baby #2 shopping list!

I spoke to lots of mom friends and researched different brands. I wasn’t interested in wraps, partially because I’m not very coordinated and partially because I make heavy babies. I specifically researched what’s called a “soft structured carrier” or as I called them “the kind with buckles.”

Eventually, I narrowed my search down to three brands: Tula, Kinderpack and Lillebaby.

After trying on a few, I felt like the Tula was the best fit for my lifestyle. To understand how I came to that conclusion, here’s my pros and cons of the other brands.

*** This post contains affiliate links. Your support is greatly appreciated! Opinions and experiences shared are 100% my own. ***

Kinderpack

Pros: Has a plus sized strap option.

Had I realized that my husband would wear our baby as much as he does, I probably would have tried to order a Kinderpack with plus straps for him. The Tula straps fit him fine but because his shoulders are so broad (think offensive lineman) he would be a bit more comfortable on longer wears if he had the extra padding the KP’s plus straps provide. (As you can see below, it doesn’t stop him from baby wearing though!)

Cons: Less availability in patterns/prints, highest retail price

I spent about 4 months looking at different pattern and print releases before ordering a carrier. In that time, Kinderpack never released a print I liked. Sure there were some cutesy ones, but nothing gender neutral and timeless.

At a retail price of $179, Kinderpacks were the highest priced of the carriers I was considering. They are also the smallest company so the supply of KP carriers with plus straps was very limited. Even if I wanted to purchase one used (in order to get a discontinued print that I liked) it was almost impossible without paying even more than retail.

Lillebaby

Pros: Lowest retail price

Lillebaby Complete carriers (the comparable model to my Tula) come in at $130.

Note: Some people prefer Lillebaby because it does allow the baby to forward face in a position that is safe for their hips. Personally, I would never forward face a child while baby wearing for several reasons. This post sums them up well

Cons: Mostly solid colors, lumbar support

I really wanted a patterned carrier so that it would help hide the dirt, drool, spit up and other nastiness my farming and mom life would inevitably get all over it.

The lumbar support is a feature that Lillebaby really promotes. Some people love them, some people hate them. Personally, I didn’t find that it made much of a difference in comfort while wearing, it just made my back sweaty. Once you figure out how to properly wear a carrier, there’s not a whole lot of strain on your lower back anyway.

Now… let’s talk Tulas!

Pros: 

Balance of function and style

Tula Standard Baby Carriers come in a very wide range of patterns and prints, from solid colors to cartoon animals to geometric patterns to abstract designs. You name it, there’s probably a Tula that fits your style. Unlike a Lillebaby, Tulas are a simple carrier. Not a ton of snaps and flaps and buttons. Everything on my Tula adjusts by tightening or loosening straps, simple but very functional.

My first Tula was the Equilateral, a triangle pattern in different shades of green with dark grey straps. Its still my favorite!

Availability

Tulas are widely available. You can order them directly from Tula, on Amazon, purchase them at Target or at locally owned boutiques. I ordered my first one directly from Tula but many of my friends have purchased theirs with Amazon or Target gift cards they received as baby shower gifts.

There is also a huge market for used Tulas, especially in facebook groups. Certain prints are discontinued and highly sought after but the average standard canvas Tula is available for $20-$50 below retail, depending on the print and condition.

I actually purchased my second Tula used for $90. (Its a multicolored chevron called “Stitch”). I wanted something cheaper to use on the farm and at livestock shows. The previous owner had used it for all three of her kids and all that use made the canvas panel so soft and the straps extremely easy to adjust. I was fully expecting that I wouldn’t really like my used Tula but I loved having one that was already broken in!

High weight limit

The weight limit on a standard Tula is 45 lbs. (The toddler size Tula is significantly larger and goes up to 60 lbs). I knew that this meant my Tula would accommodate my baby from birth until he had outgrown the need to be worn. That was a major selling point for me.

My oldest was 4 when we got our first Tula and since she was still within the weight limit, we gave it a try. I was shocked at how well the Tula distributed her weight and how comfortable it was for me to wear her. I loved knowing that if the need arose, I could put her in the Tula too.

This came in extremely handy for a couple of doctors visits that required shots or blood draws for both kids. Because I had two Tulas, I was able to “tandem wear,” which means wearing both kids at the same time. (One on the front and one on the back).

For moms of twins or kiddos close in age, tandem wearing is a game changer!

Cons:

Requires an infant insert. 

My least favorite thing about Tulas is the need for an infant insert until baby weighs 15 lbs. Since the infant insert is sold separately, you’re looking at an extra $40.

A lot of moms will tell you they just rolled up a receiving blanket under baby’s bottom until they were big enough to go without the insert. Obviously, Tula does not recommend doing that for safety reasons because it creates a lot of room for operator error. Being a baby wearing newbie, I bought the insert just to be on the safe side.

Personally, I much preferred using the insert to a rolled up blanket. It provides more stability for their back and I felt comfortable bending over and doing things with my older child while wearing my newborn. As the baby gets bigger, you can remove the back part of the insert and just use the pillow below their bottom until they’re big enough to go without it.

In the Spring of 2017, Tula came out with a new kind of carrier called the “Free to Grow” that does NOT require an infant insert. I’ve heard lots of good things about them from other moms online but since my kids are passed the newborn stage, I don’t have any personal experience with them.

Using the infant insert to ensure a proper, safe fit in the Tula. In the middle photo, Landon fell asleep and I was able to lay him down without waking him.

So right now you’re probably thinking, “Um… isn’t the price a con?”

With a retail price of $149 and an additional $40 for the infant insert, I can understand the sticker shock.

Or maybe you’ve heard from your cousin’s best friend’s hairdresser that she had “a $30 carrier and she swears it was just as good as the expensive ones.”

Let’s clear up a couple of things… I wear my baby 3-5 times a week. Sometimes 7 days a week. I almost always wear him for more than an hour.

When I invested in my carriers, I wanted to make sure I was investing in something that would be comfortable for both baby and I for hours of consecutive wearing, whether he weighed 10 lbs or 30 lbs.

When Landon weighed about 20 lbs I tried him in an Ergo carrier my friend had. The straps are significantly thinner than my Tula straps which made them cut into me, especially in the back of the waist strap.

The weight distribution was the biggest difference I noticed.

I can adjust my Tula in several different spots to ensure a comfortable fit for my baby and that his weight is distributed across my back instead of him just being dead weight pulling down on my shoulders.

No matter what I tightened and adjusted, I just couldn’t seem to get the Ergo to distribute his weight in a way that would be comfortable for wearing for an hour or more.

Yes, a Tula is a more expensive carrier but it is also more suited for the way I baby wear. I love them just as much now as I did when he was a newborn.

Baby wearing has allowed me to get so much more done as a work-at-home mom!

To sum it all up, baby wearing with our Tulas has been wonderful for our family!

It has allowed me to get more work done on my computer. It gives me two free hands to cook, craft and play with my oldest. It takes up MUCH less space in my vehicle than a stroller.

Being able to baby wear on the farm has allowed me to play a more active roll. It allows my son to safely be a part of nearly everything I do on the farm or at a livestock show.

Baby wearing has been a game changer for us at hog shows. 

My son is able to nap in the carrier and I can still take photos or help my siblings with their pigs. We don’t have to worry about bringing a stroller up and down the aisles of the barn and all the safety risks that come with it.

My arms aren’t sore at the end of a long show day from holding a 25+ lb baby!

Now that he’s walking (and by walking I really mean running) I know when he’s in the carrier he is safe and won’t be trying to run off and get himself hurt!

Baby wearing has made our farming and livestock showing life so much easier, whether I’m working or watching. Left photo by Rae Wagoner.

Trust me, if someone had told first-time-mom me that she would someday invest nearly $300 in baby carriers, she would have NEVER believed it. 

I promise, that our Tulas have been worth every penny! 

P.S. Tula has a ton of great resources on their YouTube channel if the actual act of baby wearing is overwhelming you. These are hugely helpful for learning how to wear your baby properly, in a way that is both safe for baby and comfortable for you.

*** This post contains affiliate links. Your support is greatly appreciated! Opinions and experiences shared are 100% my own. ***

About Celeste

Celeste grew up on a family beef cattle and show pig farm in Western Kentucky. In addition to farming and life as a restaurant wife, Celeste owns Celeste Communications where she works as a photographer, graphic designer, videographer and consultant. This blog is Celeste's personal soapbox. Any ranting or raving is her own and does not reflect the opinions of any of her clients. All photos and posts are copyrighted property of Celeste Communications.

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