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Travelling with a baby can be a daunting task. There are so many things to consider – what to pack, where to stay, what to do. But one of the most important decisions you need to make is how to get around. This guide will share with you the benefits of babywearing while travelling and recommendations for the best baby carriers for travel.
We have also included recommendations for the best toddler carriers for travel, to help you prepare for when your baby is older. The best thing about each of these carriers is that they are just as useful for travel as they are for everyday use at home!
When it comes to finding the best child carrier for your baby or toddler, there are loads of things to consider – from the type of travel you are doing to safety features and different styles. This guide covers it all!
There are many benefits of using a baby carrier when travelling, both for you and your little one. Many of these benefits of babywearing are just as useful for everyday life with a baby, making a baby carrier essential baby gear for parents!
Baby carriers allow you to have your hands free to do other things like carrying luggage or pushing a stroller. This can be a lifesaver when you’re juggling everything else that comes with travel and if you have other children to look after as well.
Baby carriers also keep your baby close to you, which can be comforting for both of you. Not only does it help with separation anxiety, but it also means you can keep an eye on your baby at all times. This is especially important in new and unfamiliar surroundings.
In many places around the world, babywearing is a normal part of everyday life, just like co-sleeping and it helps babies feel safe and secure, plus warm during the colder months.
Having your baby close is much easier when visiting crowded places as well, like markets or festivals. It can be difficult to manage a stroller in such places and you don’t want to lose sight of your baby if you have a front-facing stroller.
Here is a quick summary of the benefits of baby carriers for travel:
They allow you to have your hands free
They keep your baby close to you
Keeps your baby warmer in cold climates
You can keep an eye on your baby at all times
Easier than maneuvering a stroller in a crowded place
When we were researching our first visit to Vietnam, one thing that we learnt was to leave the pram at home as there simply weren’t the accessible footpaths we were used to at home. All our research suggested that taking a stroller through Asia would be more hindrance than a help.
This took us a little out of our comfort zone as we’d never really considered using a baby carrier before. We started doing some research and discovered there were so many different types of carriers and brands!
The other challenge was her age. Our daughter was already 12 months old and would be 14 months by the time we travelled. While she was very small for her age, this meant we were already past the early baby stage of finding the best newborn carrier for travel.
Knowing we planned on having more children, we went with a baby carrier that was suitable for newborns to toddlers. Our personal preference was for an adjustable soft carrier with straps after previously trying and failing with a wrap carrier.
And you can bet that the carrier got a lot more use after that, both at home, and abroad, with regular use for both our girls when they were babies and toddlers. It was one of the best investments we ever made and we wish we’d gotten it much sooner!
When To Use A Baby Carrier While Travelling
You might be thinking that a baby carrier or sling is a great option for when you arrive at your destination, but we can definitely say that they are just as useful right from the very start of your journey!
At the airport – Even if you do plan on bringing a stroller on your trip, a carrier is perfect for use at the airport! You can check your stroller in with the rest of your luggage (unless it’s a compact travel stroller) and be hands-free while wearing your baby. It makes check-in and boarding so much easier. Often they won’t make you remove your baby during security plus it makes it easier to wrangle your older kids through the process too.
On the plane – Boarding the plane and finding your seat is much easier with your baby in a carrier. Plus if you don’t have a bassinet seat booked on the plane, it means your baby still has a comfortable place to sleep during the flight without you having to hold them in your arms the whole time. And if your baby becomes unsettled, being able to pop them in the carrier and walk around to calm them is extremely helpful! For you and the other passengers!
Easing unsettled tummies – If your baby is prone to reflux or has an unsettled tummy during flights, the upright position of a carrier is really helpful in easing their discomfort.
On public transport – It can be tricky to get strollers onto public transport, often with little storage space and you have to take your baby out anyway, so a baby carrier is a much easier option when travelling on public transport such as trains, ferries, buses and trams.
Sightseeing – Avoid the struggle of getting a stroller around busy attractions by wearing your baby or toddler in a carrier instead. You’ll often find it’s easier to walk around and see everything.
Outdoor travel – Don’t let your plans to hike and enjoy the great outdoors be hindered. Simply put your baby in a carrier and go! There are some great toddler carriers for hiking with older babies too!
Now that we’ve covered the best reasons to use a travel baby carrier or toddler carrier, let’s consider what to look for in choosing the right carrier for you.
Different Types Of Baby Carriers
There are several types of carriers available, each with its own benefits. The main types of carriers you’ll come across are:
Wrap – A long piece of fabric that is wrapped around your body to create a secure seat for your baby. These can be used from birth and often offer the most comfortable position for newborns as they can be positioned high on your chest. They can be a little tricky to tie for beginners.
Ring Sling – Similar to a wrap baby carrier, ring slings are a long piece of fabric with rings sewn in at one end. The fabric is threaded through the rings to create a pouch for your baby, from one shoulder to the opposite hip, that can be worn on your front or back. These are often quicker and easier to put on than a wrap, however, they are not ideal if you suffer from back or shoulder pain.
Soft Structured Carrier(SSC) – A more supportive carrier with straps that go over your shoulders and around your waist. These are often adjustable to allow you to wear them for long periods of time without discomfort and can often be used from newborns through to toddlers. They can be a more expensive option.
Mei Tai – This type of carrier is a hybrid of the soft structured carrier and a wrap carrier. The straps tie around your waist rather than clip or buckle. Like a sling, it can take some practice to get the weight distribution and positioning correct.
Backpack Carriers – These are often the best type of baby carrier for hiking or outdoor activities as they evenly distribute the weight. They can be used from when your baby has good head control and can sit unassisted, making them a good option for a toddler carrier for travel. They are much heavier than the other types of carriers.
What To Look For In A Travel Baby Carrier
When you start looking at different carriers, there can be a lot of features to consider and it can be hard to know what’s important and what’s not. We’ve compiled the most important factors below to help make your decision easier!
Comfort: For both you and your baby. This is essential!
Ease of use: You don’t want something that’s going to be a struggle to put on and take off, especially when you’re trying to do it by yourself with a wiggly baby.
Support: A good carrier should distribute your baby’s weight evenly so you’re not left with aching shoulders and back.
Age-appropriate: It needs to be suited to your baby’s age, stage and weight
Easy to adjust: For both you and your baby’s comfort, it’s important to be able to adjust the positioning of the carrier. This is essential if you need to adjust the size to suit different people wearing it.
Durability: A carrier should be made from high-quality materials that will withstand regular use and multiple washes.
Safety: Always check that a carrier has been safety tested and approved before using it with your baby.
Price: There is a wide range in price for baby carriers, so it’s important to find one that fits within your budget.
It is also worth checking The Hip Dysplasia Institute website prior to purchase for advice on which baby carriers are recommended for each stage of baby development in relation to the potential risks of causing hip dysplasia. The baby carriers we have recommended are all approved by the institute.
The Best Baby Carriers For Travel
Now that you know what to look for, here are our top picks for the best travel baby carriers! We have created a list of the best baby carriers, with pros and cons for each of the baby carriers featured to help you choose the right carrier for you and your family.
Ergobaby Omni 360 All-in-One Baby Carrier – Best Overall Baby Carrier
The Ergobaby Omni 360 was our top pick for the best travel baby carrier as it ticks all the boxes for what you need in a great carrier. It also goes from baby to toddler, making it really versatile over many years of use.
We tried on so many different baby carriers, especially considering our daughter was already almost a toddler, and this was the one that felt most comfortable to wear for both myself (at 5’5′) and Simon (at 6’2′).
The adjustable shoulder straps made it easy to adapt to either of us. Plus, it has since had an upgrade and is even better, made from lightweight mesh that is perfect for warmer climates and destinations.
It’s comfortable, easy to use, adjustable and can be used from newborn babies through to toddlers. The Omni 360 also has the added benefit of being able to be worn on your front or back, giving you different positions for carrying your baby.
The only downside of the Ergobaby Omni 360 is that it’s one of the more expensive carriers on the market. However, we think it’s worth the investment as this versatile baby carrier will last you for years to come and can be used with multiple children.
We used ours for approximately 4 years from newborn to toddler with our two girls and it was still in perfect condition when they grew out of it.
Weight Range – 3.2-20 kg (7-45 lbs)
4 different carrying positions – front, ergonomic front facing, hip carrier and back carry
For something different with older babies and toddlers, check out the Ergobaby Hip Seat Baby Carrier. It allows you to hip carry your baby or toddler and easily put them down to explore or switch to a hands-free carrier option for rest times.
If you’re looking for a carrier that is well ventilated, then the LÍLLÉbaby Complete Airflow 6-in-1 Baby Carrier is a great option. It’s made from a lightweight mesh material that is perfect for hot weather and has six different carry positions.
The carrier also comes with an integrated sun hood and padded lumbar support for added comfort.
The straps are adjustable, so you can customize the fit to suit your own body type and the child’s size. Plus, it comes with a handy storage pouch that is great for carrying snacks or other small items.
The only downside of the LÍLLÉbaby is that it’s not as comfortable as some of the other soft structured baby carriers on the list. However, if you’re looking for a well-ventilated carrier, then this is a great option.
Weight Range – newborn to 20 kg (45 lbs)
Lightweight mesh material
Six carrying positions
Integrated sun hood
Padded lumbar support
The child is supported from knee to knee with the best ergonomic position for their hips
Adjusts from wide seat to narrow seat
Well ventilated carrier Adjustable straps for a custom fit Comes with a storage pouch
Not as comfortable as some of the other carriers on the list
If you’re looking for another budget-friendly option, the Baby K’tan Original Baby Wrap is a great choice. It’s made from a stretchy cotton material that is comfortable to wear and easy to put on.
The Baby K’tan comes in sizes based on the wearer’s clothing size, making it simple to find the right fit. Instead of having to adjust rings, clips and wrap fabric like the other types of carriers, this one slides over your head like a t-shirt and is ready to wear straight away!
Fantastic if you are travelling solo with your baby and need something easy to wear.
Weight range – 8lbs to 35lbs (16kg)
Suitable from newborn
No rings, clips or buckles – it slips over your head like a t-shirt
The Boba Wrap is a great choice for parents who want an affordable and easy-to-use baby wrap carrier. It’s made from a stretchy cotton material that is comfortable to wear and easy to put on. The Boba Wrap comes in one size and can be adjusted to fit different body types.
It mimics the natural position of a baby in the womb making it a wonderful way to bond with your child right from newborn and up to toddler stage. Ergonomic seat and shoulder positioning for a comfortable baby and parent.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the best carrier options for babies (and some that work right through to toddler years), we’ve also put together a few recommendations for the best carriers for hiking and for toddler and child carriers.
If you are looking to travel with a toddler, thankfully there are some fantastic toddler carriers for travel that include many that suit baby to toddler. These speciality backpack carriers for toddlers that are fantastic for hiking and outdoor activities, with many suiting up to pre-school-aged children.
Here are our top picks for toddler carriers for travel and hiking:
Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier Backpack
If you love hiking and being outdoors, then the Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier Backpack is an excellent choice. It has a comfortable hip belt and shoulder straps that distribute weight evenly. The child can sit in the padded seat with leg loops or lie down in the cocoon-style carrycot for naps on the go.
The aluminium stand makes it possible to sit on the ground and have it stay upright while you remove your child from the carrier. This definitely makes this easier since backpack carriers are much heavier!
Weight Range – 16 lbs for use and a maximum weight including child, gear and carrier is 48.5 lbs (approximately 7 to 20kg)
Built-in sunshade for UPF 50+ UV sun protection
Double Halo child harness with adjustable and removable foot stirrups
Washable, removable drool pad
Zippered hip belt pockets with adjustable hip belt and large front panel compartment
Adjustable torso to fit different adults (up to 6 inches of adjustability)
Lower zippered compartment and an external hydration sleeve that fits up to a 1.5L reservoir (sold separately)
Carrier weighs 3.58kgs when empty
The lightweight aluminium frame makes it easy to carry
Built-in sun protection
Lots of built-in storage
Adjustable torso, shoulder straps, stirrups and back panel
Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Carrier – Best Carrier for Hiking
The Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Carrier is a great choice for parents who want a comfortable and easy-to-use carrier. It has padded shoulder straps and an adjustable waist belt that helps distribute the weight evenly.
This Deuter Kid Comfort Pro Child Carrier and Backpack is comfortable to wear, has great back support and is adjustable to fit different wearers. It also comes with a sun/rain hood that zips away when not in use, a water bottle holder and plenty of other pockets for storage.
When on the ground or preparing to load your child, it has a broad kickstand that is tip-resistant, to make things much easier.
Weight Range – Maximum 22kg for child & 2kg for baggage
Aircomfort back system
Energy efficient carrying with flexible, moveable VariFlex ECL hip fins
Wide-ranging adjustment options so both parents can comfortably carry their toddler
The hip belt is easy to adjust via the Pull-Forward system construction
Height-adjustable child’s seat with varying cushion width for an ergonomic seating position
If you are planning a trip abroad, or even local travel with twins, then you will want to consider the best carrier for your situation. Thankfully there are some great twin baby carriers available that will make your hands-free travel a possibility!
TwinGo Air Carrier
The TwinGo Air Carrier is one of the best-rated carriers for twins, as it offers great comfort for both parents and babies. It has a lightweight design and can be easily converted from a double to two single carriers.
This makes it perfect for travel, as you can use it with one or two children. It also means you can either wear both your babies at once or have you and your partner wear one baby each. Either way, you get to travel hands-free even when travelling with twins!
Weight Range – Can carry two children weighing up to 20kg (45 pounds) each
Can be converted from a double to two single carriers
Ergonomic seat design for comfort
Padded shoulder straps and waist belt for support
Breathable mesh fabric
Shade and privacy hoods
Lightweight and easy to convert from double to 2 single carriers
Before you leave home, make sure you practice using the carrier with your baby so that you are both comfortable with it. If you try putting your baby in a brand new carrier for the first time when you are abroad, you may be met with resistance. Or worst still, you might not know how to correctly fit the carrier!
Practice putting the carrier on and putting your baby into the carrier with a helper at home so that you feel confident doing it by yourself when you are away. There can be quite a learning curve involved!
Always follow the instructions on your baby carrier or toddler carrier so that you can ensure you are using it correctly. This will ensure both you and your baby are comfortable and prevent any back or hip strain for either of you.
If there are other people you are travelling with who will also be wearing the carrier at times, make sure they practice as well and that you can work together to adjust as needed.
Give your baby a break from the carrier at regular times while you are travelling. Even with the high quality materials, your baby may get uncomfortable when travelling in warm climates if they spend a long time in the carrier without a break.
And make sure you go out and about wearing your baby in the carrier a few times before you leave home. Even just a trip to the grocery store or a short walk to the local park can be a great test run!
FAQs About Travel Baby Carriers
Are baby carriers safe?
Yes, when used correctly, baby carriers are safe for both you and your child. Always read the instructions carefully before use and make sure you follow all safety guidelines.
Can I breastfeed while wearing a baby carrier?
Yes, you can breastfeed while wearing certain front baby carriers. The privacy hood on certain baby carriers, such as the Ergobaby OMNI makes this very easy.
Baby Carrier Vs Stroller – Which is best?
This really depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you are doing a lot of walking, especially over rough terrain or where there is not proper footpaths, then a baby carrier may be a better option as it frees up your hands. However, if you are travelling with a baby and a toddler, you may want to bring both as lots of walking can be exhausting for young kids, even if they no longer need their stroller at home.
Can I wash a baby carrier?
Yes, most fabric baby carriers can be machine washed on a delicate cycle. Check the care instructions before putting in your washing machine.
If you’re looking for a safe, comfortable and easy-to-use baby carrier for travel, then we recommend the carriers on our list. They are all adjustable to fit different wearers and come with a variety of features that make them perfect for travel. We hope this detailed comparison of the best baby carriers for travel and best toddler carriers for travel helps you to pick the perfect carrier for your next family adventure!