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When traveling with a toddler, bringing a great carrier can be a real trip saver. But there are a lot of options out there and it can be hard to know which one to pick. This post has all the information you need on the best toddler carriers for travel!
Toddlers are at that tricky stage where they want to do everything independently…but often need a little extra help.
Bringing a carrier when you travel means you can allow your toddler freedom to explore, but still have a lightweight, convenient option for carrying them when they get tired.
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the best carrier for travel; all toddler carriers are not equal.
Luckily for you, we’ve done the research for you by choosing seven of the best toddler carriers out there and breaking down all the details you need to get the right fit for you and your child!
Picking the Best Toddler Carrier For Travel
Toddler carrier vs stroller
One of the things you have to decide when traveling with a toddler is how to transport them.
Strollers can be a great option for places such as airports, museums, and accessible cities. However, when you’re traveling there will often be locations that aren’t stroller friendly.
Whether it’s cobblestone streets, old bell towers, ruins, outdoor hikes, etc, you might find yourself in a situation where a stroller just isn’t an option. Or you might just prefer carriers in general!
Either way, it’s often a good idea to bring a good quality carrier with you when traveling with a toddler, even if you’re bringing a stroller.
When we’re going on a trip with our young kids, the carrier is something I make sure to never leave behind!
Features to look for in a good toddler travel carrier
Comfortable– Obviously comfort is a top priority, both for the wearer and the child. Look for a carrier with thick, padded straps and a design that distributes your child’s weight in a way that doesn’t hurt your back.
Ergonomic- The best carriers are designed with a seat and fit that encourages a child’s natural posture and protects their hips. All the carriers we’ve recommended place the child’s legs and hips in the M shape recommended by pediatricians.
Easy to adjust– It can be very helpful to have a carrier that is easy to adjust for different wearers. That way you can easily share the load of toddler carrying with your travel partner.
Has options for different carrying positions– Make sure to pick a carrier that supports the carrying preference of both you and your child. Would your child prefer to be facing your or to have a view from your shoulders? Would you rather have a secure fit to keep your hands free or the easy on-off quality of a hip carrier?
The Best Toddler Carriers for Travel
Carriers at a Glance
|Carrier Type||Weight Limit||Weight of Carrier||Carry Positions||Best Features|
Ergobaby Omni 360
||All-In-One Soft Structured||7-45 lbs||1.7 lbs||Front, forward-facing, back, hip||Sleep hood, removable storage pouch|
|LÍLLÉbaby CarryOn||Toddler Soft Structured||20-60 lbs||2.1 lbs||Front, hip, back||Adjustable side panels, removable hood|
|Tula Toddler||Toddler Soft Structured||25-60 lbs||1.5 lbs||Front, back||Ergonomic seat, sleep hood|
|Beco Toddler Carrier||Toddler Soft Structured||20-60 lbs||1.1 lbs||Front, back||Removable sleep hood, zippered bag|
|OE Carrier||Shoulder Carrier||Head control- 45lbs||3.4 lbs (4.4 with backpack)||Shoulder||Backpack included, sunshade|
|Tushbaby||Hip Carrier||8-45 lbs||<1 lb||Side carry, front-facing, face to face||Large storage pockets, memory foam seat|
|Osprey Poco||Frame Backpack Carrier||16-48.5 lbs||7.7 lbs||Backpack carry||Roomy child cockpit, sunshade, lots of storage|
How these carriers were selected
After a lot of research, these carriers were chosen as the best toddler carriers for travel due to their high quality, useful features, and overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents.
Any one of these carriers would be an excellent option for traveling with a young child. The final decision is mostly a matter of personal preference. And in this list of the best toddler carriers for travel, we have all the details you need to make the right choice for you and your child!
So without further delay, let’s get to the task at hand: the best toddler carriers for travel!
An all-in-one carrier is one that you can use from the newborn stage through the toddler years.
This is a convenient option because you don’t have to buy different carriers for different stages. And it’s cost effective because you only have to purchase a carrier once.
The Best All-In One Carrier for Toddlers: Ergobaby Omni 360
The Ergobaby Carrier is one of the most popular baby carriers on the market, and for good reason.
This all-in-one carrier can be used with children from newborn to toddler, with a weight range from 7-45 pounds.
The Ergobaby puts comfort first with lumbar support in the waist belt and padded shoulder straps as well as the option to wear the straps in a backpack–style or crossed.
The carrier has four carrying positions, including forward-facing and back- useful positions when wearing an older toddler. Also included is a sleep hood (a helpful feature for naps or nursing) and a storage pouch to hold small items.
The one drawback is that it doesn’t have as high of a weight limit as some of the other options, meaning your child will outgrow it sooner. But unlike the toddler-specific carriers, the Ergo can also be used for younger children.
- Lumbar support
- Option to wear the straps crossed
- Can use for babies as well
- Your toddler will outgrow it sooner
- Pricier than the other toddler carriers
Toddler carriers are designed specifically for the toddler years. They have a higher weight limit and are wider and taller to fit a larger child. They are not suitable for a newborn or young baby.
The Best Toddler-Specific Carrier: LÍLLÉbaby CarryOn
The LÍLLÉbaby CarryOn AirFlow 3-in-1 Ergonomic Toddler Carrier is our top choice of toddler-specific carrier for travel. It’s one of the most comfortable toddler carriers out there, it’s easy to use, and it has a great price point.
The CarryOn has three different ways to carry your toddler, including front carry, hip carry, and back.
This carrier can be used for children from 20 to 60 pounds. The high weight limit means that you can comfortably use this carrier for large toddlers. Padded shoulder straps and lumbar support allow you to comfortably wear your toddler for extended periods of time.
It has a wide and tall torso, perfect for growing toddlers. You can also adjust the side panels to be narrower or wider in order to find the best fit for your child.
For added convenience, it also comes with a removable sleep hood and a zippered storage pouch. And it is made out of mesh fabric to provide greater airflow, making it ideal for warm climates.
- Removable hood
- Straps can be worn crossed
- Lumbar support
- Zippered storage pouch
Runner Up: Beco Toddler Carrier
Another great alternative toddler carrier is the Beco Toddler Carrier. It can be used for children over 18 months or between 20 and 60 lbs.
With a comfortable, ergonomic seat and options for front and back carry, you can find the best sitting position for your toddler.
This carrier has padded straps that can be worn crossed or in a backpack style, depending on your preference. A high back panel provides support for your toddler’s back.
This toddler carrier comes with a detachable sleep hood, a useful feature if you plan on having your toddler nap in the carrier.
Also included is a detachable zippered bag to hold your belongings.
- Straps can be worn crossed
- Has a detachable sleep hood
- Comes with a detachable zippered bag
- Only two carry positions
Runner Up: Tula Ergonomic Toddler Carrier
If you’re looking for a comfortable, stylish option for your toddler carrier, the Tula Toddler Carrier is another great pick.
Suitable for children between 2 and 6 years old, this carrier has a weight limit of 25 to 60 pounds.
This carrier has two ergonomic carry options, allowing you to wear your child in front or in back.
The carrier sees to the comfort of both parent and toddler with padded shoulder straps for the wearer and an ergonomic seat for the child. Easy to adjust straps make it simple to trade wearers.
- Sleep hood
- Wide panels ideal for heavier and/or taller toddlers
- The straps can’t be crossed
- Only two carry positions
Toddler Shoulder Carrier
A shoulder carrier secures the child directly onto the wearer’s shoulders. This provides a great perch for the child as they are easily able to see the world around them.
The Best Toddler Shoulder Carrier: OE Hiking Carrier
The OE Hiking Carrier is a great hands-free option for transporting your toddler. It is designed for children from 1 to 5 years old, the maximum weight being 45 pounds. There’s no minimum weight, but the child should have good head control.
Unlike the other options, with this carrier your child has a seat on your shoulders where they are safely secured with shoulder, hip, and feet straps.
There are many ways to adjust this carrier to find the right fit for people of different heights (including extensions for the back rods) or for a different weight distribution.
From their perch on your shoulders your child can enjoy an unobstructed view of their surroundings.
It conveniently comes with a detachable backpack for carrying anything you need to bring along and an adjustable sunshade. And as a bonus, it also comes with two hats and three cloth bags for organizing your belongings in the backpack.
- Unique shoulder carry
- Comes with a detachable backpack
- Adjustable sunshade
- Only one carry position option
With a hip carrier, the toddler sits unsecured on a padded seat fastened on the wearer’s waist. Unlike the other carriers, this is not a hands-free option as you will still have to hold your child to prevent them from falling.
However, it does provide a quick and easy way to give your child a rest when you’re out and about without having to take the time to strap them into the carrier. It’s easy to transition quickly between your child walking and being carried and vice versa.
The Best Toddler Hip Carrier: Tushbaby Hip Carrier
Our top choice in hip carriers is the Tushbaby.
The Tushbaby hip carrier carrier can be used for children from 8 to 45 pounds. A memory foam, anti-slip cushion provides a comfortable seat for your child and the padded waist strap evenly distributes their weight to protect the wearer’s back.
It also has large pockets for all of your storage needs and a bottle holder.
- Easy to switch your child from walking to carry
- Comfortable memory foam seat
- Large storage pockets
- Cost-effective option
- Not a hands-free carrier
Frame backpack carrier
If you’re going to have a very hiking-intensive trip, you might want to consider bringing a frame backpack carrier.
The benefit here is that they tend to be a little roomier and more comfortable for your child. They also have a better perspective for viewing what’s going on around them, given that they sit a little higher up than a soft structured carrier. These factors can mean that your child will be content for longer periods of time in their carrier.
Framed carriers carry your child a little bit away from your body, which keeps both the wearer and the toddler cooler during hiking. There is also more storage for your hiking or travel essentials.
The cons are that they are large and heavy. And for travel, that can be a deal-breaker.
Unlike soft structured carriers which can be easily packed into a diaper bag or suitcase, framed backpacks need to be checked with your luggage or at the gate. They are cumbersome and are one more large item to haul with you and keep track of during travel.
If you do opt to take a framed carrier, you likely will want to use the carrier exclusively and leave your stroller at home.
The Best Frame Backpack Carrier: Osprey Poco
The Osprey Poco Carrier has it all as far as framed carriers are concerned. It’s sturdy, comfortable for child and wearer, and has plenty of space for your gear.
The lightweight aluminum frame weighs in at 7.7 lbs. Your child must be at least 16 lbs to use the carrier, with an upper weight limit of 48.5 lbs (this included both the child and gear).
The roomy child’s seat is easily customizable with an adjustable harness and adjustable foot stirrups. It also has a built-in sunshade which is easy to store when not in use.
And the carrier is built with the wearer’s comfort in mind as well with padded shoulder straps and mesh backing for increased airflow. The torso can be adjusted up to 6 inches to fit a broad range of adults, making it easy to share the load.
The carrier has a larger pocket for storing your gear as well as hip pockets for smaller items and a place to store a hydration sleeve.
Osprey also offers a 7 year guarantee on the carrier for repair or replacement.
- Pockets for storing gear
- Roomy child’s cockpit with a great view
- Built in sunshade
- Toddler is carrier away from wearers body- reduces heat and sweating
- 7 year guarantee
- Heavy and large for travel
- High price point
How is a toddler carrier different from a baby carrier?
Like the name suggests, toddler carriers are made specifically for toddlers. They have a higher weight limit than baby carriers and are designed to comfortably carry a larger child.
They are also taller and wider so that they can fit your toddler with ease. Many of the brands you know and love for baby carriers also have a toddler carrier option.
Honestly for a long time I didn’t realize that there are carriers made specifically for toddlers. But I am a big fan of baby (or toddler) wearing my kids for travel, so I was so happy to know that once my babies outgrew their baby carrier there were still options for carrying them.
Do I need a toddler carrier?
Well, that really depends on you, your child, and your travel style. If you like hiking and/or exploring areas that aren’t stroller accessible, a toddler carrier is a life saver.
There’s only so long a toddler can walk until they are done. And when a toddler is done, that’s it for your exploring for the day. But if you have a toddler carrier you can pop them into the carrier when they get tired and continue on with your adventure.
And if they get tired enough, toddlers can even nap in the carrier on the go.
However, if you’re going to be in an area that’s not a lot of walking and/or highly stroller accessible, you could probably get away with just letting your child walk or using a stroller for your trip.
Traveling with a toddler can be so much easier if you have a great carrier.
Carriers provide an easy method for transporting your child no matter the terrain. This allows them to take a break whenever they need a rest.
Taking a trip with a toddler is hard enough, make sure you have the best toddler carrier for travel to make your trip easier!
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