As you might know, I have a baby that will be 2 years old soon. But that hasn’t stopped us from traveling, and we also go around Barcelona a lot in together. I’ve tried a lot of different carriers and devices, and since lately I have had a few of tours with families with babies and toddlers, I thought it might be helpful for other travelers to share my experience.
So if you want to hear what has worked for our baby and me (and to see some cute pictures of her), keep reading!
These are our favorite carriers and lightweight strollers for travel:
Our first carrier was an elastic wrap that one of my guides, Miriam, passed me down. It was perfect until baby Edna was a 6 or 7 months old and started being too heavy for the elastic fabric (my husband is tall and my baby is like her dad, plus it was a second hand wrap anyway).
At the beginning wraps can feel challenging because you need to learn how to put them on, but I just found a Youtube video that worked for me and in a matter of days I felt totally confident. The advantage of elastic wraps like the Boba we used is that they allow you to put your baby in and out of the wrap without wrapping it from your body.
So I’d be wearing the wrap on me the whole day long even if I wasn’t carrying the baby, and then I could put the baby back in the wrap really quickly without bothering about redoing the knots – that’s something you won’t be able to do with a normal wrap (but a non-elastic wrap will last you longer in exchange).
I also loved that I could nurse her in a very discreet way. We never used a pram because our neighborhood is very hilly and I didn’t want to push it uphill, which is why I wouldn’t recommend them for traveling either.
This is an hybrid between a wrap and a carrier: it looks as pretty as a wrap, but it’s easier to put on. When baby Edna grew out of the elastic wrap, I got a beautiful meitai because we were going to attend several weddings and I wanted to carry her and still look gorgeous.
Most meitais are ergonomic (superimportant before buying a carrier to make sure they are ergonomic: they must allow a froggy leg position (knees higher than bum) and avoid outward-facing positions as they put too much pressure on the baby’s delicate genitals, developing hips and spine. Plus some of them are adjustable and can be used from birth.
I used mine until my baby started to walk around 13 months old because she was already quite heavy and it was getting difficult to keep her in place to do the knots. The fabric was also lighter than the elastic wrap, what makes it a great option for Summer babies (not so convenient in cold weathers unless you have a babywearing coat or jacket).
One of the weddings we attended was in Miami, Florida, and the meitai was such a great thing to have in the airplane: American Airlines never provided a baby seatbelt like other companies do, so I felt much safer with Edna on the meitai for take-off and landing. Plus I could walk around up and down the aisle with her until she’d fall asleep. BTW, the one I bought was quite expensive because I need it for 3 weddings, but you can find cute ones like these for less than half what I paid.
I must admit that my husband never used the meitai: he thought the salmon color I’d picked was too feminine for him (lol) and he didn’t want to learn how to buckle it anyway. So he used a regular carrier instead. It’s as easy to buckle as a backpack, and the baby can be used in the front or in your back (you can also do that with meitais and wraps but you need to be more skilled and practice before you feel confident enough).
Carriers are sturdier, so I’d also use it when we went out hiking in the mountains and when my baby got too heavy for wearing her in the front. My husband also used it on the bicycle before we got he child bike seat.
Before buying a carrier, remember that all the ergonomics recommendations also apply to them. We had an Ergobaby carrier and loved it, but in the Summer most carriers are a bit too warm and babies get hot in them. If you are traveling to warm weather countries, I’ve heard that the Boba Air is great: breathable and light (and when you are back you can leave it in your car as a backup carrier).
This isn’t exactly a baby carrier but a carrying aid: it doesn’t free both of your hands, but you still have to use an arm around your baby or he could fall. This is why it’s not recommended for long distances like day trips, but it’s great when you aren’t going to walk too far (like a quick trip to the grocery shop, if if the baby wants to be hold while you are doing housekeeping that only requires one hand).
It’s only for babies old enough to seat by themselves, but when I’ve truly started to appreciate it is now that my toddler can walk. Because sure she walks, but she still wants to be in my arms. And then she wants to walk. And then she’s asking up again… The concept of suppori is similar to that of a ring sling, but without the ring or the need to adjust: so setting it up takes virtually seconds.
On our recent trip to Ibiza, that’s the only thing we used most of the time. Plus it fits in my purse folded! Another great pro is that it can go in the water: perfect to enter the sea or a pool with your baby. Some friends of mine have used hip seats and are also happy with them.
Baby carriers aren’t designed for older toddlers. You’ll know yours is getting too small for your baby when the carrier doesn’t reach the knee pit anymore, and you’ll notice your kids knees aren’t higher than their bum either. Their posture won’t be comfortable anymore, and if you carry them too often in a too small carrier than can also hurt them long term.
But at such age they walk a lot, so unless you are doing long walks or hikes (and are a passionate of babywearing), you might not really need it. At this point most moms go for strollers, anyway. We do have a toddler carrier that was handed down by a friend and we have occasionally used it for hikes or when we visited places where we knew there’d be crowds or cobblestone streets where a stroller would be difficult to maneuver.
Toddler carriers like this one can be used until your kids is 5 years old – and you might be wondering how often you are going to carry such a big kid… Well, a toddler carrier saved a friend of mine when her boy twisted his ankle in the mountain and couldn’t walk back to the car.
AND BONUS! What about strollers for traveling?
Most airlines will let you bring your stroller for free, often all the way to the plane, then checked and delivered as special luggage. We’ve done this in our recent trips to Ibiza and Galicia and it went fine. We have a Bugaboo Bee, that we picked because it’s light and easy to handle. However, it’s quite bulky when folded and we won’t use it when we go on road trips like the South of France, Andorra or the Costa Brava because it won’t fit in our car with all the luggage.
And I was worried about the plane because it’s an expensive model and having it broken would have been a disaster. Your choice will depend on many aspects, but if price is a priority, the Chicco range is a great option. If you need the lightest possible buggy, the Maclaren Volo is a classic. And if easiness of folding and minimum space when folded is a must, you need to check out the Qbit LTE Travel. Another great option is to rent a stroller once you get in town.
What’s your favorite baby carrier when you travel with your baby?
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