One of the most common questions we get asked is which size Tula to purchase. This is a natural question since there are indeed two sizes and since many parents looking for a great fit and good value will want to make sure they are buying the right carrier at the right time!
Let’s begin with the guidelines offered by Tula:
Tula says that the Standard Carrier can be used from 15-45 lbs (under 15 lbs should use an infant insert). Tula does not give an upper height or age limit for the Standard carrier. The guidelines for the Toddler Carrier suggest that babies be a minimum of 18 months old, 32 inches long and weight at least 25 lbs.
So that’s a good starting point but it’s really just a starting point. There are so many differences between babies that the actual fit can vary widely. So if you want to know more- read on for some additional clarity and guidelines, along with lots of pictures of kids at different ages and sizes to help you decide!
In the ideal situation, you’ll be able to try on a Tula by borrowing one from a friend or heading to your local babywearing group. So the first question is: how do you know if the Tula you are trying out fits your child?
How to know if the Tula fits your child
Your Tula fits your child well if:
1. Your child’s knees dangle freely over the edge of the Tula with the soles of the feet able to face the floor
2.Your child’s backside fully fills out the seat of the carrier without extra fabric and should support your child’s back so that they don’t slump in the carrier
3. The back of the carrier comes up to at least their armpits but not so high that baby’s mouth or nose is covered.
Q. But I’ve heard that the base of the carrier needs to support my child knee-to-knee?
A: Yes, it is ideal for a baby’s legs to be supported, seated, knee-to-knee in an “m” position. However, it is as not quite as important for a big kid’s legs to be supported fully knee to knee at all times. Given how fast kids grow, getting this exact fit could require a new carrier every six months! One thing to remember is that as kids get bigger, they tend to ride in the carrier for briefer periods, so even less-than-ideal positioning may not be as important since they will be in the carrier for a short time. As long as the carrier supports your child’s thigh roughly half way, and the carrier is comfortable for both of you, it is still a fine fit.
How to decide which Tula to buy if you can’t try them on first
If your baby is under 18 months: you will almost always need a Standard Tula. Yes, there are exceptions when kids are very big/tall for their age. If your child is *very* tall/big for their age and already wearing 2T pants (that fit length-wise), you might consider a Toddler carrier. Even in these circumstances, I still recommend trying the Standard first, then size up only if you need to.
Carriers are definitely not something to “buy big” on. A too-big carrier can be uncomfortable for your baby (and in some cases, result in improper positioning). A too-big Tula can also be uncomfortable for you: when baby’s bum and legs don’t properly fill out the carrier, the carrier can sag in the middle, causing it to pull on your shoulders and neck.
Q: But my 6 month old baby is already 23 lbs and the Toddler Carrier says 25 lbs! I don’t want him to grow out of the Standard too quickly. Should I get a Toddler Tula for him to grow into?
A: No, you should stick with a Standard size carrier. I have never met a 6 month old who could properly fit into a Toddler Tula – it really is a carrier designed for big kids. Yes, Tula recommends a minimum weight of 25 lbs for the Toddler Tula but this is meant as a guideline for making your sure older child is big enough for this big carrier. However, your baby’s weight is not the most important measurement for fitting a Tula! 25 lbs is simply the minimum weight for the Toddler carrier, not the maximum weight for the Standard Tula. The Standard carrier can fit children up to 45 lbs, and babies under 18 months usually still need the back support provided by a close-fitting carrier. Also, keep in mind is that babies who grow quickly in the early months do not always continue at the same rate. So even if you have a huge baby in the 95 percentile for weight/height, he may turn into a average-size toddler by 12-18 months.
If your child is over over 18 months: Continue to use a Standard Tula until your baby is in at least 32″ long, AT LEAST wearing 2T pants (that fit lengthwise) and also weighs 25 lbs. Even if your toddler meets these criteria, consider whether s/he will want their arms out. The back of the Toddler Tula can be very high for smaller toddlers and they may not be happy about having to keep their arms in! in spite of the 18 month minimum age, many kids don’t love the Toddler size until they are well over 2 years. Depending on how much they are babywearing as their kids get older and are walking, many families never move on to the Toddler at all.
If your child is over 2.5 years: you will almost definitely want a Toddler Tula for these big kids (unless they are very small for their age, in which case refer to the guidelines for over 18 months).
If you have two or more kids but will only be buying one carrier: Buy the carrier that fits the smaller child. Positioning and fit are more important for smaller children, and they are also likely to be worn for longer periods of time. While the fit of a Standard carrier might not be ideal for your 3 year old, it can serve you well in a pinch, whereas your 9 month likely can’t use the Toddler!
I hope this article has been helpful! Do keep in mind that these are only guidelines to help you shop, and that your mileage may vary. We have seen one year olds who do in fact fit into a Toddler Carrier and 3.5 year olds who are too big for a Toddler.
Questions? Concerns? Please ask in the comments!
A HUGE thank you! to all the parents who submitted photos to our Tula Fit Project for this story. We appreciate you!