Tula Free-To-Grow Baby Carrier review
In a nutshell
A no-nonsense carrier, with a fully customised fit for your baby from newborn all the way up to 4 years old, and a front and back carry option
What we tested
- Comfort for baby
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Comfort for you
4.2A star rating of 4.2 out of 5.
- Ease of use
4.2A star rating of 4.2 out of 5.
4.7A star rating of 4.7 out of 5.
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
- Worth the money
4.8A star rating of 4.8 out of 5.
- Suitable from newborn to 4 years, choice of prints available, ergonomic, comfy padded shoulder straps, suitable for breastfeeding
- Only two carry positions, wide waistband may irritate a recent C-section
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Tula is a brand highly regarded in the baby carrier world. Their love of baby wearing has translated into award-winning carriers, designed with comfort at the heart. Many designs are available in a wide variety of prints, colours and materials to suit all families and tastes.
One of Tula’s bestselling carriers, the Free-To-Grow can be used from birth – or 7lbs – without the need for a newborn insert. It’s fully adjustable for a customised fit for your baby and can be used by toddlers and children up to 45lbs – approximately 4 years old. It has two ergonomic positions and promotes healthy hips and spine development. It’s not all just for baby though; the Free-to-Grow is also fully adjustable for you and many reviewers have praise how comfortable it is on lots of different body shapes and sizes. It’s definitely a higher-price carrier, costing £119.90, compared to more budget options like the Red Kite Ara baby carrier, £25, or the Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 baby carrier, £30. Although it's still more affordable than premium models like Ergobaby Omni 360 All-in-One, £164.90.
The Free-to-Grow’s nearest competitor would be the Ergobaby Adapt, which is the same price but offers crossable straps, lumbar support and an additional option of a hip carrying position.
Sharna tested the Tula Free-To-Grow carrier with her 6-month-old baby Lola, taking walks in the local park, weekend walks and also on buses, and tubes running errands in London.
What were your first impressions?
Straight out of the box I could tell the product was very well made, the fabric felt soft and padded in all the right places. The ‘sleepy dust’ print was lovely and neutral, in muted pastel shades. It also seemed like there were quite a few different parts of the carrier that could be adjusted.
How easy is the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier to put on?
The carrier is easy to put on once you know how. There are a couple of bits to set up before you use it the first time, and after that you won’t need to do them again until your baby grows.
First you need to adjust the width of the carrier’s ‘seat’ and then the height for your baby, both very easy and straightforward to do. The instructions were clear with written descriptions and diagrams. The height can be readjusted if needed, once your baby is in the carrier. The first time I practised putting the carrier on in the front carry position it took a few minutes to adjust the waistband into a comfortable position. I went through all of the instructions without putting my baby in so that I could get the hang of it first.
MFM parent tester, Abigail, also found the Free-to-Grow straightforward: “It was very easy to put on for the first time and easy to work out how, even without the instructions. When looking at the manual, it was nice to see step-by-step photo instructions, with plenty of steps involved.”
Is it easy to put your baby into the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier?
Trying the carrier with Lola proved difficult at first; she’s very wriggly and was looking all around as I was putting the shoulder straps on and trying to tighten them. I found it very difficult to support her weight whilst fastening the back strap, but it definitely got easier after the first few goes. Lola knew what to expect so she was much less wriggly! I feel like it would have been a much easier process when she was a newborn. My partner struggled to fasten the back straps himself, so if you’re not very flexible you might need a hand from someone else.
The first time I took Lola out of the carrier I needed help. I found it difficult to reach the back strap and support her weight, this definitely got easier with time, and the last few times we have used the carrier it’s been very easy to get Lola out
Is the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier ergonomic?
Certified by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, the carrier has two positions, back carry and parent facing front carry to provide natural, ergonomic positions. Lola sat comfortably in an ‘M’ position, which promotes healthy hip and spine development. Sometimes she slipped slightly to the left, but I think that was more because she’s very wriggly and wanted to see what’s going on around her.
How comfortable is the Tula Free-to-Grow for your baby?
Lola seemed very comfortable in the carrier and even fell asleep on one of our walks, which she doesn’t often do in the carrier. She does usually like to see what’s going on, so there was a lot of neck craning until she started watching what was going on behind us. With extra padding around the leg openings, I wasn’t worried about walking long distances with Lola in this carrier; she always seemed comfortable.
Many of our other MFM parent testers praised the Free-to-Grow for baby’s comfort too, with mum, Abigail adding: “My 8-month-old daughter seemed very happy and comfortable in this. I’ve worn her for hours in it on long walks, around the house doing chores and on the school run. She settles easily and falls asleep for a good length nap.” Parent tester, Amy, agreed, saying, “My daughter has slept so well in the carrier since testing it – and it’s nice that we can do skin to skin in it, as there’s no straps between us.”
How comfortable is the Free-to-Grow baby carrier for you?
The carrier straps are fully padded to make it comfortable to carry your baby and, for the most part, it is extremely comfortable. I’m 6 months postpartum after having an emergency Caesarean section, so found the waistband slightly uncomfortable at times – although I appreciate this would be the case with most carriers. The wide waistband was praised by MFM parent tester, Abigail, for feeling “very supportive.”
The shoulder straps were comfortable to wear, and Lola felt very light compared to when I have her in other carriers, even after a speedy uphill stroll. Our other parent testers couldn’t agree more: “It’s super comfortable!” says Amy. “The carrier’s flexible yet durable material makes it very comfy, and the waistband and shoulder straps mean that the weight is balanced out – a lot of competitor carriers are shoulder only, which can be a killer for your back.”
How many carry positions does the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier have?
The Tula Free-To-Grow offers two positions – front parent facing carry and back carry. Lola doesn’t have good enough neck control to use the back carry, but I’m looking forward to it when she does. I can imagine she’ll enjoy the view!
Is the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier easy to adjust?
After using the carrier a couple of times and getting to grips with which straps tightened which part of the carrier, it was very easy to tighten and loosen the shoulder straps when wearing the Free-to-Grow. However, I definitely found it was easier to tighten the back strap before putting the carrier on.
Is it easy for you to do other things while wearing the carrier?
I found it to be a great help wearing Lola in the carrier while vacuuming the house. Instead of waiting until naptime I was able to get on with it at any time of the day, and Lola seemed happy and comfortable in the carrier while I got to work.
The carrier is suitable for breastfeeding. Personally I felt like this would have worked for us when Lola was younger and smaller, but now she is longer we couldn’t find the right position to feed in.
What is the sizing like with the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier?
I’m 5’3 with a narrow, petite frame and I felt that the shoulder straps, although comfortable, were a little wide for me and felt too big even when on the tightest setting. Once I’d tightened everything up to make Lola secure, there were very long straps which needed tucking in. My partner on the other hand is 5’8 and he found that the Tula fitted him perfectly and had no issues with the width of the shoulder straps. Our MFM parent tester, Abigail, also had no issues with the Free-to-Grow sizing: “It was easy to swap between me and my partner, as it was easy to adjust to fit us both.”
What age can the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier be used for?
Babies from 7-45lbs can use the Tula Free-To-Grow, which pretty much equates to birth to 4 years. I would have loved this carrier when Lola was 7lb; the fact that you can use it without a newborn insert is a huge bonus. It definitely feels secure enough but not too padded for a newborn baby, whilst keeping them close to you. I can imagine the back carry would be great for older babies and toddlers.
What are the buckles like on the Free-to-Grow carrier?
All of trimmings on the carrier feel premium. The large buckle to fasten at the waist is sturdy and the fabric material is soft. Babywearing expert, Katy Blundell agreed, adding: “The buckles are sturdy and feel great quality.”
Does the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier feel durable?
Absolutely. The quality of the fabric is thick and durable whilst still feeling soft. It feels very hard wearing and withstood lots of chewing from Lola! MFM parent tester Abigail, adds, “The quality is great and it doesn’t feel like it will fall apart – it definitely stands up to washing machine cleaning and everyday wearing.”
How easy is the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier to clean?
The carrier is machine washable at 30 degrees, and it can also be spot cleaned when needed. After having been out on a long walk and dribbled on all the way, I put the carrier in the wash and left it to air dry as per the instructions. The colours look exactly the same as before washing. It did take longer to dry than I thought it would, but I expect that was due to the padding.
Are there any extra safety features on the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier?
The carrier has an elastic strap on the waistband, which the buckle passes through, which makes it feel more secure around the waist.
What’s the Free-to-Grow baby carrier like to use on public transport?
The Free-To-Grow carrier is super easy to use on public transport, as it’s lightweight and convenient. The only thing I would change is that there is Velcro on the pocket on the waistband; I’d swap it for a zip just to make it feel safer.
How does the Free-to-Grow compare to other Tula baby carriers?
Tula has a variety of different carriers to suit different needs, this carrier falls between the Explore and Standard. All of them can be used up to 45lbs but, unlike the Standard, Free-To-Grow can be used from 7lbs without an additional insert. However, unlike the Explore, Free-To-Grow can’t be used facing out in the front carry position.
How does it compare to other baby carriers you have used?
I have used a Baby Bjorn Mini since Lola was born, and I find that much easier to put on – it also doesn’t have a strap around the waist, which due to my C-section was uncomfortable at times. The Free-To-Grow carrier felt like it distributed Lola’s weight more evenly, and I had no shoulder or back pain after long walks.
What’s in the box?
- The carrier
- Instruction manual
Are there any additional accessories you can buy?
- Tula lumber support, £10.90 (not essential but could be useful for longer walks or when your baby is heavier).
- Tula Droola Strap Cover, £17.
- Tula hip pouch, £45.
Who would the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier be most useful for?
This carrier is ideal for carers of newborn babies – the support and structure provides a safe and secure option, keeping baby close by and even being able to breastfeed whilst wearing it. Carers who enjoy long walks will also love the support this carrier gives them, while being a comfortable ride for their babies and toddlers.
Is the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier worth the money?
I believe it’s definitely worth the money; it may be more expensive than some carriers on the market but the longevity of it, the fact that this can be used up to 45lbs means that it could last 4 years, as well as the quality meaning it can easily be used with multiple children, justifies the price. It also feels like a premium product, the designs are stylish and most of all Lola seemed really happy in it.
How does it compare to similar baby carriers?
|Number of carrying positions
|Newborn to 4 years approx.
|Ergobaby Adapt Baby Carrier
|Newborn to 4 years approx.
|Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 baby carrier
|Newborn to 3 years.
|BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One
|Newborn to 3 years approx.
Where can I buy the Tula Free-to-Grow baby carrier?
If you’re looking for a comfortable baby carrier to use from birth, I think the Tula Free-to-Grow is a great choice. The padded shoulder straps and additional waistband really help to distribute your baby’s weight, meaning a more comfortable experience for you. It provides a safe and comfy place for your baby while you head out on family walks, the school run or a quick trip to the shops, and is durable enough to stand up to everyday wear and washing. As long as you don’t mind not having an option for front, world-facing carrying, you can’t go wrong with the Free-to-Grow.
Sharna Valentine is a freelance journalist and stylist with over 10 years industry experience. She's written for national magazines and newspapers as well as reviewing baby and maternity products for Goodtoknow and MadeForMums.
|Free-To-Grow Baby Carrier
|Child age (approx)
|Birth to 4 years
|7lb to 45lb
|Back and front – 2