I’m looking for the perfect buckled carrier. I’m a wrapper at heart but sometimes you just can’t beat the convenience of buckles for quick ups and downs. They’re also extremely handy when travelling, as we found in Paris with our Rose & Rebellion. Unfortunately, Lucas has grown out of our R&R and it is no longer comfy to carry him in it, so I’m on the hunt for a replacement.
This week I’ve hired the Tula Toddler Carrier from Kerry at Chester Sling Library. A number of babywearers had recommended the Tula to me due to its comfort and pretty designs, but I was skeptical as I’m not usually a fan of padded-waist carriers.
My first impressions of the carrier as I opened the packet were that it seemed quite structured and stiff, which definitely put me off. I liked the fabric print (Ooga Booga) and as I tried it on (without baby – naptime!) I could tell it would be very easy to use.
When Lucas woke up, I tried a front carry first. I usually like to get to grips with a front carry when using a new carrier so I can figure out things like how the straps tighten before trying a back carry. I tried a back carry later on in the house whilst getting his tea ready.
Waistband: I was very surprised at how comfy the waistband was – although it is quite heavily padded, it didn’t feel cumbersome and seemed to mould very quickly to my waist. It supported the weight of my 23lb baby very well and didn’t press down on my hips like other carriers have, nor morph strangely in the middle under his weight!
Straps: I was impressed at how adjustable the straps are. They adjust slightly at the shoulders and more under the arms. However, because their position is fixed and they are not buckled straps, you cannot cross them over when front-carrying. At first, I thought this was a big negative, because I am fairly slim and have slopey shoulders, meaning the straps slid off quite easily in a front carry. However, after consulting the babywearing community, I think I can make it work by adjusting the chest strap and fiddling with it – I am going to try this tomorrow. On my back, I found it difficult to cinch the straps down enough to stop Lucas from being able to lean back slightly – however, it was less of a problem than with other carriers with standard-sized straps and he still felt very secure and tight to my back. I also think a bit of jumping about to get Lucas into a deeper seat might solve this problem.
Comfort: the carrier is extremely comfortable, certainly for me and I think Lucas found it so as well. It has padded leg cutouts for the baby, which prevents the material from rubbing their skin. Lucas felt absolutely weightless, whether on my front or back, and the padded shoulder straps were friction-free.
Ease of use: I can’t fault the Tula on this point. What could be easier than clipping one buckle around your waist?? I often struggle with getting the carrier over Lucas when he’s on my back, as he likes to try and sit up, presumably pretending I am a horse. It was no different with the Tula, but I found it easy to reach back and grab the top of the panel to shuffle him down a bit (even with my short arms).
Overall: I was very impressed with the Tula and it is on my shortlist of buckled carriers. It’s reasonably-priced for a toddler carrier, very comfortable and easy-to-use and has a wide range of panel fabrics to choose from.