The first time I put on a baby carrier, I felt like I had just put on a superwoman cape. Then when I discovered the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry position, I felt truly invincible. My ability to multitask while building a nurturing connection with my child grew tenfold.
Back pain became a babywearing ailment of the past. I grew to enjoy unloading groceries in my multi-level townhome with my little one in tow. I could even vacuum and fold laundry without little hands grabbing everything I touched!
Learn how the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry position can be a total game-changer for new parents (and toddler parents too!). We’ll talk about why the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow is a standout among soft-structured carrier competitors, the benefits of babywearing in the back carry position, and tips to get started with your little one.
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Of the 7 baby carriers in my collection, learn why I vote the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow as the best all-around!
The benefits of babywearing (in a great carrier)
Babywearing provides so many wonderful benefits to both baby and parent. It was hard to narrow it down to just five:
- Helps to grow your bond with baby
- Soothes baby
- Helps your child’s social and emotional development
- Creates hands-free convenience for multi-tasking at home and on-the-go
- Supports maternal mental health & self-care
Benefit #1: Helps to grow your bond with your baby
Parents with an attachment or gentle parenting style, or in other words, parents who emphasize the importance of building a secure connection with their baby, frequently utilize baby carriers or wraps in their day-to-day. Babies universally crave the love language of physical touch. By keeping your baby close, you are building your little one’s trust that you are their safe space!
Benefit #2: Soothes baby
If you have a high-needs baby like I did, he or she won’t just want to be held, they will demand it. If he or she isn’t wet or hungry, holding your baby and providing relaxing movement are two of the best ways to soothe them during a fussy episode. A carrier keeps your baby nice and snug. Just walking around the house can give them the bouncing and swaying they need to drift off peacefully to sleep.
Benefit #3: Helps your child’s social and emotional development
When you take your baby out of their swing or stroller and put them in a carrier, you are truly immersing them in your day-to-day life. While making dinner or walking to the mailbox may seem like mundane activities to us, they are super exciting adventures for our little ones! Babywearing not only makes babies happy, it increases their opportunities to observe and learn about their new world.
Benefit #4: Creates hands-free convenience for multi-tasking at home and on-the-go
This is a big win for new parents. It’s eye-opening how one tiny person can create so. much. laundry. (Not to mention, prevent you from having the time to do it!) Babywearing can help you accomplish responsibilities at home without making you feel like you have to abandon your baby on a playmat or bouncer.
Strollers and car seats are bulky and take up quite a bit of room when going grocery shopping and running errands. Once your baby can sit up in the shopping cart, you may discover (as I did) that he or she will not want to stay there for an entire shopping trip. Trust me, you don’t want to try to maneuver a cart full of groceries one-handed while carrying an upset baby to the checkout line! A great carrier can make a trip to the store a fun, refreshing experience out of the house for both you and your baby.
Benefit #5: Supports maternal mental health & self-care
According to Motherly, the mental health benefits of babywearing are backed by research. Moms who babywear may be at a decreased risk for postpartum depression. I can speak from personal experience that babywearing gave me a ton of confidence as a new mom!
Also, babywearing provides parents an opportunity to care for their babies while engaging in other activities. My son hated the stroller but loved being worn for a walk around the neighborhood. Yes, it was “we” time, but I popped in some headphones, listened to a podcast, and also made it my “me” time!
Recommended size range for the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow
Most babies can be carried in the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow starting at birth (7 lbs) and continue through toddlerhood (45 lbs). Unlike many soft-structured carriers, an additional “infant insert” is not required for newborns.
In terms of parents, the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow is a one-size-fits-most carrier! The padded, adjustable shoulder straps and waistband are easy to maneuver, which makes switching from one caregiver to the next a breeze.
Pros & Top 10 Features of the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow Carrier
1. Two Position Options
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow offers both the front (facing in) and back carry options. We’ll cover the game-changing back carry option in great detail a bit later!
2. Ergonomic, Hip-Healthy Design
3. Comfortable, Adjustable & Padded Shoulder Straps
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow is super comfy! Some carriers dig into your shoulders over time. Fortunately, these padded straps have never caused any shoulder pain for me.
4. Wide, Padded Waistband
The waistband of the Free-to-Grow is key when it comes to comfort. It’s easy to adjust and secure a snug fit, which alleviates the pressure and weight babywearers often feel in their back and shoulders!
5. Lightweight Fabric
The Free-to-Grow is super compact and lightweight. It’s super comfy even in the summer heat and easy to roll up and pack away when not in use.
6. Easy to Use
In full disclosure, I have 7 different baby carriers in my collection and the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow was hands down the easiest for me to figure out!
7. Breastfeeding Capability
Yep, with a little adjusting of straps, you can nurse your baby in the front facing-in position. Talk about taking multi-tasking to the next level!
8. Removable Hood
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow also functions as a nap whisperer :). Once your baby falls asleep, there is a removable hood that can provide a bit of support and sunshade for his or her head.
9. High Quality, Easy to Clean Fabric
Despite nearly two years of heavy use, my Free-to-Grow is showing no wear and tear! It’s 100% cotton material makes it super easy to machine wash as well.
10. Unique, Stylish Prints
Unlike its soft-structured competitors, which mostly come in beiges, blacks, and grays, the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow comes in classic colors as well as a variety of adorable, trendy prints!
Cons of the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow Carrier
The biggest “con” of the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow Carrier, is that it does not provide a front carry, facing out option. I put “con” in quotes as this missing design feature is (in my opinion) a pro. I applaud the Baby Tula brand for not including this position option, despite it being a staple among top competitors.
Why the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow doesn’t offer the front carry, facing out position
Front-facing carriers are not recommended for a variety of health, safety, and developmental reasons. According to CarryMeAway.com, there are nine reasons not to wear your baby facing out:
- Does not provide enough leg support
- Can cause lower back pain for caregiver
- Places pressure on baby’s spine
- Places pressure on baby’s groin and inner thighs
- Can overstimulate baby
- Does not offer the option of head and neck support
- Limited benefit of thermoregulation through “kangaroo care”
- Limits caregiver’s ability to respond to baby’s cues
- Disrupts baby’s center of gravity
Cost of the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow
Due to the wide variety of colors and prints available, the price-tag on your desired Free-to-Grow Carrier may vary; however, on average you can expect to pay around $120-130. This is on the higher end of average for soft-structured baby carriers. This being said, the Free-to-Grow can be used from birth without the extra expense of an infant insert. Furthermore, I’ve learned firsthand that you get what you pay for when it comes to babywearing!
How is the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow different than other top soft-structured carriers?
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow falls into the “soft-structured” carrier category. Soft-structured carriers wear almost like a backpack on your front or back and provide lumbar support to reduce shoulder pain. While many parents start out using a wrap (I personally LOVED the Baby K’tan), they often find their baby eventually gets too heavy without a bit more support.
So what factors should you consider when choosing a soft-structured carrier? Price, position options, and safety were all up there for me. Let’s talk about how the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow stacks up against top soft-structured competitors.
The Lillebaby Complete Original 6-Position 360 Carrier
I’ll be 100% honest that the Lilliebaby Complete 360 was my first soft-structured carrier. I added it to my baby registry after seeing so many positive reviews!
The Lilliebaby boasts 6 different carry positions, which is a huge selling feature for new parents! The biggest difference is that the Lilliebaby offers a facing out carry position, while the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow does not. But, we’ve already talked about why this position is not such a good thing for you or your baby! Additionally, the Lilliebaby Complete Original 6 Position 360 is currently selling for a lower price than the Free-to-Grow (at the time of this post’s publication, it is going for around $100 on Amazon).
I personally sold my Lilliebaby and used the money to buy our Baby Tula Free-to-Grow when my son was 8 months old, simply because of the fit. Despite being an average-built person and having a rather large baby (90th percentile), the Lilliebaby was always way too big for us! I could not find a way to keep my son’s legs in the “M” position (knees above the rear-end), as recommended by the International Hip Dysplasia Institue, without placing a rolled towel or blanket under him. I ultimately decided we needed something more convenient for on-the-go.
Perhaps one of the best-known classic soft-structured carriers of all time is the BABYBJORN Baby Carrier Original.
The BABYBJORN Original is light and compact and designed for newborns through 12 months of age. Like the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow, the BABYBJORN Original conveniently does not require any additional insert for small infants. It’s also less expensive than many soft-structured competitors (currently sells for under $50 on Amazon).
First, the BABYBJORN Original does not have a back carry option. Additionally, many parents may be surprised to hear that the BABYBJORN Original is not endorsed as “hip-healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute! The BABYBJORN Brand does currently sell a handful of other carriers with this endorsement (as well as with a back carry feature); however, they do come with a much heftier price tag than the Original. Here are two currently available on Amazon:
The Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions Carrier is another popular soft-structured option for baby and toddler-wearing parents.
Similar to the Lilliebaby, the Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions Carrier boasts several different carry positions: Front (face-in), front (face-out), back, and side. The Ergobaby is a high quality (and slightly higher priced) carrier that comes with a lifetime guarantee!
While positively reviewed by the majority of users, the Ergobaby 360 can be a bit bulkier than Baby Tula Free-to-Grow. Additionally, the minimum age is 4 months, which is quite a bit older than its competitors.
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow Back Carry: A Game-Changing Carrier Position
So now that we’ve gone over all of the great features of the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow Carrier, as well as how it stacks up against competitors, let’s delve further into my all-time favorite function: The back carry position.
Benefits of the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry
As your baby grows and gets heavier, the back carry position will quickly become your best friend. The back carry position can make life with a little one so much easier, whether home or out-and-about.
Back carry benefits at home
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry feels much more “hands-free” than a front carry position. Additionally, you’ll feel like you’re toting around half the weight! At home, I have frequently relied on the back carry position for the following:
- Folding laundry
- General house cleaning
- Unloading groceries while supervising baby
- Carrying my baby to fall asleep (seriously works like a charm!)
Back carry benefits for shopping & errands
As your baby grows, he or she will become more curious about his or her surroundings (and less interested in looking at mom or dad 24/7!). The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry position allows your child to expand their gaze while running errands. I also found with the back carry position, it was much easier to give my son a toy to hold or play with, without getting knocked in the face!
I’ve found that babywearing in general is so much easier than using a stroller or shopping cart. Babies simply don’t like to go long periods without being held. Most babies are so much happier being worn. The carrier also frees up more space for you to take care of your shopping.
Back carry benefits for walking & hiking
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry is so comfortable for long duration and distances! Once your baby is old enough to sit up independently for long periods, he or she is also likely getting a bit heavy for long stretches in the front carry. If you want to include your baby or toddler in your exercise routine (but also want to minimize the likelihood of back and shoulder pain), the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow can help accomplish your goal!
Back carry benefits for travel
Okay, now we’re really talking about how the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry has had a positive and profound impact on my own family! Anytime we’ve checked into a hotel, I’ve immediately put my son on my back. By being hands-free, both my husband and I can transport everything out of the car, onto the cart, get checked in, and unpacked in a breeze. Bonus, baby is occupied and not tearing into everything the second we walk into a new environment!
If you’re headed to the beach this summer, the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry can be a lifesaver. When you’re vacationing with a baby, there’s just so. much. stuff. to carry! It’s unavoidable. When your baby’s on your back, it’s simple to focus, grab what you need, and go.
How to get started with the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry
When is my baby old enough to back carry?
According to Carrying Matters, your baby is generally old enough to back carry in a soft-structured carrier once he or she can sit up unassisted and hold their head up for long periods. They also advise that safe positioning is far more important than any “rules” about age.
What safety guidelines should I follow with the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry?
T.I.C.K.S. Safety Guidelines
Regardless of your wrap or carrier brand, T.I.C.K.S. is an excellent acronym to remember when babywearing. According to Close Enough to Kiss, your baby should be:
- Tightly secured in the carrier. Baby’s spine should be supported in the upright position.
- In view at all times. For the back carry, you may need to rely on mirrors or a loved one to help you check on your little one!
- Close enough to kiss. This is a common misstep of new babywearers. You should be able to easily look down and kiss the top of your baby’s head in a front carry position. Check a mirror and ensure they are equally as high up (if not higher!) in the back carry.
- Keep chin off chest. Ensure there is space between your baby’s chin and chest, especially after they have fallen asleep!
- Supported on their back. Again the carrier should be tight, but not “too tight”. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to slide your hand between your baby and the carrier.
“M” Hip Position
In addition to T.I.C.K.S., it’s vital to keep your baby’s legs and bottom in the “M” position. In other words, your baby’s knees should always rest above their rear-end to ensure hip health and safety.
How do I get my baby into the back carry position?
I know the first time you attempt a back carry, it can feel super overwhelming. I’ve been there! I want to assure you that with a little time and practice, it will become second nature to both you and your child!
First, begin without your baby
The first step is to get comfortable with your Baby Tula Free-to-Grow Carrier on your own. Try it on, play around with the adjustable straps, and read over the instructions. Then, I recommend hitting up YouTube for some amazing video tutorials. If you aren’t feeling confident, your baby will pick up on those emotions. I recommend doing a little prep work before you bring your baby into the picture so he or she is less likely to resist trying a new position!
Below is Baby Tula’s very own instructional video on how to back carry. This short and sweet video shows you how to put your baby straight onto your back.
Next is a lengthier, 10-minute tutorial by Macy Nicole, which I personally relied on when getting started. Macy walks you through both the front and back carry options. I personally preferred this video because she shows you how to begin with your baby fully secured on your front, then rotate him or her onto your back. I personally found this method to be much easier and less nerve-wracking! I’ve stuck with putting my son on my back this way even after becoming much more experienced.
I may suggest watching both videos and going with the method that feels most comfortable for you!
Where can I get my Baby Tula Free-to-Grow?
The last thing you need to know about the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry position
The Baby Tula Free-to-Grow back carry option may be total game-changer for you if:
- Babywearing is your jam, but your little one is getting too heavy or disinterested
- You’re struggling to find a way to get everything done with a baby or toddler in tow
- Walking and hiking are among your favorite hobbies and you want to include your little one
- You have upcoming travel plans and want to make sure things go smoothly
- You have a little one who loves to be held as much as possible
- Like me, you have a baby or toddler who tends to get fussy in the shopping cart or stroller
- You have (or are going to have) another baby and want to skip the double stroller
- The carrier you’re currently using is not comfortable, safe, or easy to use
- You’re looking for an easy way to get your older baby or toddler down for a nap and want to skip sleep training
- You want peace of mind that you are using a safe carrier that’s healthy for your child’s development
Get the support of like-minded parents!
When I was struggling with my first soft-structured carrier, I was blessed to find out about the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow through my network of like-minded babywearing parents! If you ever have moments when you feel like you’re walking through parenthood alone, I wholeheartedly want to help you make today the last. Being a parent is truly the hardest job in the world. We all deserve the support.
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