With a baby or toddler in tow, going places in general–much less traveling extensively–can be a bit more challenging. But don’t go lugging that carseat everywhere, when you can carry your baby in style!
For each of these, I’m including a set of pictures with my 3 month old, my 22 month old, and my 3-1/2 year old each trying out the carrier, so you can get a feel for how your baby might fit. Make sure you ALWAYS follow the instructions with whatever carrier you choose, and keep your baby’s face “visible and kissable” at all times.
BONUS: check out the YouTube video review I did for each carrier to get an even better idea of what each one is truly like!
* Disclaimer: this is NOT a sponsored post, though it does contain a few affiliate links to get these awesome baby carriers through my favorite retailer ever, Nurtured Family. Seriously, amazing customer service, free shipping on any orders over $49, and they just plain rock. Plus, you’re supporting a small business. Win-win.
In this post, I’ll be featuring four baby carriers–the only ones that, after hours of research, came out on the top of our list. Since we weren’t able to find adequate size and quality references online, I just ended up having to try them out for myself! Hopefully this post will save you the trouble. :)
The carriers are (left to right): ErgoBaby Performance, ErgoBaby Stowaway, Boba Air, and BityBean… And a US standard 13oz can for size reference.
As you can see, they’re all fairly small, but let’s start with the very smallest for this review. :)
This thing is seriously awesome. The BityBean is actually not available to the public yet (it ships March 15th, preorders available), but we got a sneak peek! And let me just say, for a grab-and-go, keep-it-in-your-purse option, this is definitely it! The BityBean totally lives up to its name. And it’s actually quite comfy, too!
After testing it extensively on many different types of excursions, I’d say this carrier is best for short trips out, where you need the convenience of carrying your baby, but don’t want to sacrifice the extra space one of the other carriers might require. It has a lot of awesome features, like being made from mostly rip-stop nylon (aka great for beach trips or other wet excursions!), being tiny-baby friendly (you can even carry an 8lb baby with the built-in safety seat/buckles), and being compatible with a detachable hood. However, I wouldn’t recommend wearing it for more than a couple hours at a time–though it is amazing given its size and capabilities, it (as expected) has almost no “padded” areas, and buckles more around the waist than the hips. Which is totally fine for short trips, but can wear on you a bit for longer ones. Everything else about it is great, though!
Check out the YouTube for a more detailed view of the BityBean and its features…
Next up, another extremely compact, yet very useful carrier…
This carrier is super small, yet has the features of a full size carrier (albeit without padding). But words just don’t do it justice. Take a look at the comparison pic at the beginning of this post, then see what it folds out into below…
The most common complaint about the Boba Air is that the sternum strap digs in, due to the plastic being somewhat exposed in that area. I’ve found that with a bit of adjusting you can fairly easily overcome this problem, but if you’re planning to wear it for an extended period of time, the issue may resurface. I’d say it’s best to evaluate what your needs are and go from there.
As far as features, this carrier has a great (and quite decently-sized!) zipper pocket, which inverts to become the storage pouch, and it is also made out of thin yet durable rip-stop nylon. I LOVE how easy it is to stuff it into the pouch–literally takes 30 seconds or less to put away! It also has a built-in hood, which is quite handy. The back comes up a bit higher over the baby than some carriers, which can be good or bad depending on your preferences, but I liked the extra support it gave. Not so good for little babies, but helpful for slightly bigger ones. Again, just make sure they’re visible and kissable! :)
The YouTube will give you an even better idea what this carrier is like…
Now onto the ErgoBaby carriers…
Though a bit on the large side for a travel carrier, the ErgoBaby Stowaway definitely makes up for it in comfort. You can easily wear your baby for a few hours in this carrier without feeling strain at all. It doesn’t have the same type or amount of padding as one of the original ErgoBaby carriers, but it does have the same structure, which distributes baby’s weight evenly and makes for a much more comfortable ride for both of you.
This is the only “travel size” carrier I found that actually does have padding. Not a lot, true, but enough to be a full-featured travel carrier without being super bulky. I still wouldn’t go a whole day with the Stowaway, but a few hours, sure. And my kids all seemed to absolutely love it.
There is one pocket, the inverted storage pouch, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to store anything in there while wearing a baby. It’s just not meant for that really. But it does have a pretty awesome hood that pulls out of the top, and very even weight distribution, as you would expect from an ErgoBaby carrier. Plus, when folded up in the storage pouch, it’s still small enough to throw in a diaper bag or hook to a backpack when you’re on the go.
Onto the last carrier (and the one we now use on a daily basis)…
If you are looking specifically for a carrier that can hold up for extended hours of use, whether you’re hiking, traveling a long distance, or just dealing with a super fussy baby, this is it. It’s not the most compact, it’s not technically even a “travel” carrier, but I’m telling you, THIS is what you’re going to be most happy with at the end of the day when you’re using it hours and hours at a time. You can still roll it up to make it as compact as possible if you need to clip it onto a bag while not in use (which I demonstrate our method for in the YouTube), but overall, you’re just going to have to bite the bullet in terms of size on this one. You won’t regret it when you’re hours into your trip, and baby and mama (or daddy) are still riding happily.
Where to begin… The ErgoBaby Performance is really all about just that, performance. It’s breathable, has a zippered area for the hood (the only ErgoBaby carrier that has this!), an extra zippered pocket on the side, full ergonomic padding in shoulders and hips, and tapered shoulder straps for even better weight distribution. It’s hard to explain the full awesomeness of this carrier in words alone, so you’ll just have to view the YouTube to get the full experience. The Performance is definitely not the smallest carrier, but it makes up for it in so many ways, we find it worth it.
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, you just really need to sit down and figure out your needs in a baby carrier.
Do you need something you can grab, throw into your purse, and go? Get the BityBean.
Do you need a compact carrier with hip support? Get the Boba Air.
Do you need a padded, ergonomic travel carrier you can wear longer? Get the ErgoBaby Stowaway.
Do you need a comfortable, supportive, full-featured carrier you can wear all day? Get the ErgoBaby Performance.
Each of these baby carriers have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are not meant for longer use during the day, some are not meant to be super compact. But if you choose based on your needs and the strengths of each carrier, I think you’ll be happy with your decision. :)
Which one of these three would you recommend for a bigger child, eg. 4-year old? I´m looking for a lightweight carrier for short distances. Thanks!
Thank you for your website, it is truly useful. Please not that unfortunatly the stowaway is not produce anymore.
Tula Carriers Australia
Great recommendations!! These innovative carriers are the perfect solution for parents who want to explore the world with their little ones by their side. Just wanted to add that there are more brands out there worth considering! Travel-friendly baby carriers are a must-have for any traveling family, so I hope you find the perfect one for your adventures!