In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Tula Free-to-Grow Review

Comfortable carrier for parents and baby, but it's harder to use and expensive
tula free-to-grow baby carrier review
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Top Pick Award
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Price:   $179 List | $179.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Comfortable to wear, machine wash and dry, cozy
Cons:  Price, harder to adjust on-the-go
Manufacturer:   Tula
By Juliet Spurrier, MD and BabyGearLab Review Team  ⋅  Feb 19, 2018
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 16
  • Child Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Parent Comfort - 35% 9.0
  • Ease of Use - 30% 6.0
  • Ease Of Cleaning - 10% 6.0

The Skinny

The Tula Free-to-Grow is a soft structured carrier that is highly adjustable, accommodating children from 7-45 lbs without the need for an infant insert or additional purchase. It's somewhat harder to use due to the adjustments and extra features. However, if you are patient, your reward is a cozy carrier for outings with your little one and one of the most comfortable options in the baby carrier review for parents to wear. The Free-to-Grow has super soft fabric and is machine washable. This carrier may not be a good choice for families on a budget as the list price is high, but it could be your one-and-done option for the life of your baby's babywearing years.

Editor's Note: The Tula Free-to-Grow gear review was updated on October 18, 2022, with new sections to provide further product comparisons between products to help your decision-making process.

Compare to Similar Products

 
tula free-to-grow baby carrier review
This Product
Tula Free-to-Grow
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award 
Price $179 List
$179.00 at Amazon
$90 List
$62.99 at Amazon
$60 List
$47.96 at Amazon
$190 List
$189.99 at Amazon
$45 List
$39.95 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Comfortable to wear, machine wash and dry, cozyEasy to use, comfortable to wear, cozy for baby, affordableBudget-friendly, easy wrap, machine wash and dryEasy to put on, super comfortable to wear, cozy for kidsMachine wash and dry, comfy for baby and parents, economical
Cons Price, harder to adjust on-the-goHang to drySize specific, no adjustabilityLong drying time, lots of buckles and straps, expensiveHarder to use, lots of fabric
Bottom Line Comfortable carrier for parents and baby, but it's harder to use and expensiveEasy to use, comfortable sling to wear and sit inInexpensive, easy to use, wrap style without the wrap hassleMost comfortable to wear with a cozy seat and easy attachmentBudget-friendly wrap that is comfortable but harder to use
Rating Categories Tula Free-to-Grow Nalakai Ring Sling Baby K'tan Original BabyBjorn One Boba Wrap
Child Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Parent Comfort (35%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
8.0
Ease of Use (30%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Ease Of Cleaning (10%)
6.0
8.0
10.0
3.0
10.0
Specs Tula Free-to-Grow Nalakai Ring Sling Baby K'tan Original BabyBjorn One Boba Wrap
Min/Max Weight 7 - 45 lbs 8 - 35 lbs 8 - 35 lbs 8 - 33 lbs 7 - 35 lbs
Carry Positions Facing In (7 - 45 lbs)
Back Carry (Head/Neck/Torso Control - 45 lbs)
Facing In (8 - 35 lbs)
Hip Carry (8 - 35 lbs *BGL recommends Head/Neck/Torso Control)
Kangaroo Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Hug Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Adventure Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Explore Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Hip Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Facing In (0 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
Facing Out (5 - 15 mo./26 lbs)
Back Carry (12 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
Facing In (Newborn - 35 lbs)
Weight 1.25 lbs 0.9 lbs Sm: 0.89
Lg: 1.04 lbs
2.26 lbs 1.41 lbs
Packable Size Medium Small Small Large Small (5.5 yards in length)
Fabric 100% Cotton 58% Bamboo
42% Linen
100% Cotton Cotton, Polyester, PU Foam 95% Cotton
5% Spandex
Hood Yes No No No No
Storage Options Velcro pouch on waist belt Pocket on the tail Pouch on the belt. None Storage Pouch
Other Features & Notable Adjustable Seat Width, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1 None Azo Dye-free Adjustable Seat Width,
Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1
None
Included Accessories None None None None Storage Sack
Care Instructions Machine wash cold, tumble dry low Machine wash cold, hang dry Machine wash cold, tumble dry low Machine wash warm, hang dry Machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Our Analysis and 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 making, so they started selling them full-time.

Performance Comparison



tula free-to-grow baby carrier review - our little testers seemed content and happy when sitting in the...
Our little testers seemed content and happy when sitting in the Free-to-Grow.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Baby's Comfort


Only a couple of other carriers are more comfortable for babies than the Free-to-Grow.


This carrier's fabric is supremely soft, 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 has thickly padded shoulder straps and a wide...
The Free-to-Grow has thickly padded shoulder straps and a wide waistbelt to help support baby's weight.
The cross strap on the Free-to-Grow helps pull the shoulder straps...
The cross strap on the Free-to-Grow helps pull the shoulder straps together to support baby's weight when you wear the carrier with the baby on the front.

Parent's Comfort


The Free-to-Grow is one of the most comfortable options we tested.


Wearers liked the padded shoulder straps and the thicker waistband that helped support the baby's weight better than those carriers without a waistband. The Free-to-Grow has more adjustments for a better fit, allowing each user to find the right support for long-term comfort.

tula free-to-grow baby carrier review - the large buckle on the free-to-grow may take some practice to work...
The large buckle on the Free-to-Grow may take some practice to work well, but it isn't difficult to operate.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


The Free-to-Grow is harder to use than some other carriers.


The carrier is relatively intuitive, but the straps and buckles can be difficult to reach, depending on your flexibility. Putting the Free-to-Grow on and putting the baby inside is surprisingly harder than we thought it would be.

The pocket on the Free-to-Grow waistband can hold most smartphones...
The pocket on the Free-to-Grow waistband can hold most smartphones or a set of keys.
The Free-to-Grow has an included hood for head support and...
The Free-to-Grow has an included hood for head support and protection from the elements.

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.

tula free-to-grow baby carrier review - the free-to-grow is easy to clean on the go and in your washer and...
The Free-to-Grow is easy to clean on the go and in your washer and dryer.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Cleaning


This carrier is machine washable and can be thrown in the dryer on low, making it one of the easiest options to keep clean.


The ability to dry this carrier instead of hanging it means less downtime between uses. It's also easy to keep clean on the go should your little one spit up or have an accident, as the fabric dries relatively rapidly.

Should You Buy the Tula Free-to-Grow?


If finding a baby carrier for the long haul is your goal, and you're willing to give up some ease of use, the Tula Free-to-Grow may fit your needs. It can accommodate children from newborn to toddlerhood and is soft and comfortable for the wearer and child. Plus, it's easier to clean than some contenders, which we appreciate when messes occur (and they will).

What Other Baby Carriers Should You Consider?


A sling-style carrier, like the Nalakai Ring Sling, could be an appealing contender. It's more affordable and easier to use, which are two aspects the Free-to-Grow can't beat. Plus, the sling-style design offers fit customization, which may be a perk if you plan to share the baby carrier with another wearer. Once your family is ready to move on from a baby carrier, consider a baby backpack, especially for longer excursions.

Manufacturer Video



Front Carry


Back Carry

Juliet Spurrier, MD and BabyGearLab Review Team
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