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Hands-on Gear Review
Tula Free-to-Grow ReviewPrice: $159.00 List | $159.00 at Amazon
Pros: Comfortable to wear, machine wash and dry, cozy
Cons: Price, harder to adjust on the go
Bottom line: Comfortable carrier for parents and baby, but it's harder to use and expensive
Carry Positions: Facing In (7 - 45 lbs) Back Carry (Head/Neck/Torso Control - 45 lbs)
Weight: 1.25 lbs
The Tula Free-to-Grow is a soft structured carrier that is highly adjustable so it can work for babies from 7-45 lbs without the need for an infant insert or additional purchase. This carrier is somewhat harder to use thanks to the adjustments and additional features, but if you are patient your reward is a cozy carrier for little ones and one of the most comfortable options in this review for parents to wear. The Free-to-Grow has super soft fabric, is machine washable, and spot cleans with ease. This carrier may not be a good choice for families on a budget as the list price is the most expensive in the group. However, this carrier could be your one and done option for the life or your baby's babywearing years.
RELATED REVIEW: The Quest for the Best Baby Carrier
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Married couple, Ula and Mike, started the Tula company when they couldn't find just the right carrier or sling for wearing their babies. Inspired by women they saw working the fields wearing their little ones in colorful wraps the couple decided to create a carrier of their own. Eventually, they realized there was a demand for the kind of carriers they were creating, so they started selling them full time.
This comparison chart includes the overall scores for the products we tested in this review including the Free-to-Grow (in blue)
The sections below include performance details on how the Free-to-Grow compared to the competition in our tests.
The Free-to-Grow earned a 7 of 10 for baby's comfort. Only two other carriers are more comfortable for babies scoring only 8s.
This carrier has the softest fabric we tested and our tiny testers seemed content and often fell asleep. The Free-to-Grow has an adjustable seat, sides, and head support for a customized fit every time. Little ones feel secure but have enough freedom of movement to avoid feeling trapped.
The Free-to-Grow earned a 9 of 10 for parent comfort. This carrier is one of the most comfortable options we tested.
Users liked the padded shoulder straps and the thicker waistband that helps support baby's weight better than those carriers without a waistband. The Free-to-Grow has more adjustments for a better fit which allows each user to find the right support for long-term comfort.
Ease of Use
The Free-to-Grow earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use. The Free-to-Grow is harder to use than some of the other soft structured carriers.
The carrier is relatively intuitive, but the straps and buckles can be difficult to reach depending on how flexible you are. Putting the carrier on and putting baby inside are both surprisingly harder than we thought they would be.
The Free-to-Grow has a waistband pocket (above left) that closes with Velcro and can hold some smartphones or your keys. It also comes standard with a hood (above right) that offers support and can help protect your baby from the elements.
Ease of Cleaning
The Free-to-Grow earned a 9 of 10 for ease of cleaning. This carrier is machine washable and can be thrown in the dryer as well.
Being able to dry this carrier instead of hanging it means less downtime between use. The Free-to-Grow is also easy to keep clean on the go should your little one spit up or have an accident. The fabric wipes clean and dries quickly.
Tula makes a variety of carriers for babies and toddlers including ring slings, woven wraps, and different soft structured carriers. We also tested the Tula Ring Sling in this review, and it earned the highest overall score in the group.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and BabyGearLab Review Team
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