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.
Tula Free-to-Grow Review
Pros: Comfortable to wear, machine wash and dry, cozy
Cons: Price, harder to adjust on-the-go
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|Pros||Comfortable to wear, machine wash and dry, cozy||Easy to use, comfortable to wear, cozy for baby, affordable||Budget-friendly, easy wrap, machine wash and dry||Easy to put on, super comfortable to wear, cozy for kids||Machine wash and dry, comfy for baby and parents, economical|
|Cons||Price, harder to adjust on-the-go||Hang to dry||Size specific, no adjustability||Long drying time, lots of buckles and straps, expensive||Harder to use, lots of fabric|
|Bottom Line||Comfortable carrier for parents and baby, but it's harder to use and expensive||Easy to use, comfortable sling to wear and sit in||Inexpensive, easy to use, wrap style without the wrap hassle||Most comfortable to wear with a cozy seat and easy attachment||Budget-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%)|
|Parent Comfort (35%)|
|Ease of Use (30%)|
|Ease Of Cleaning (10%)|
|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
|100% Cotton||Cotton, Polyester, PU Foam||95% Cotton
|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
|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.
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 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.
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 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
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.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and BabyGearLab Review Team
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