When I was first looking for baby gear, I was trying to find the best carrier for our needs because I knew we would be hiking and walking a lot, and babywearing is not only convenient and frees up mama’s hands, but it is so great for bonding with your little one. I poured over articles, advice sections, and joined a bunch of babywearing groups to help narrow down my search. There are tons of brands and styles out there, but ultimately, you’re looking at three types: ring slings, woven wraps, or soft structured carriers (SSC). I tried every type before deciding to go for a SSC. Wraps and ring slings are so great for their own unique needs, and some mamas prefer them all throughout their child’s early years, but I needed something easy to throw on, with comfort and security tightly bundled together.
After trying a few, I decided on a Tula carrier. For those of you who don’t know, Tula is a company based out of Poland that makes ring slings, wraps, SSCs, and blankets. This company is extremely popular and routinely out of stock online; when they restock biweekly, it’s pure pandemonium and things sell out within seconds, only to show up on the FB groups at double their retail cost. I didn’t care about the hype – I just loved how they fit and the cool prints they came in. Tula carriers rely on your hips to carry most of the weight, relieving pressure from your back, and they keep baby’s legs in an M position for maximum comfort and safe hip, spine, and pelvis positioning. Though they aren’t the only brand of carrier that offers this, their sizing worked perfectly for me and my husband (bonus points for a pocket on the bottom to store cell phone and wallet!).
A friend suggested I join a few FB groups where Tulas are routinely sold used, so I did. After spending a few weeks browsing and showing my husband prints, hoping for a good deal, I grabbed one called Lil Rascals for $130 USD and it was in my arms the next week. We took it on hikes, walks around town, and even drove across the country with it. My husband and I can both wear it comfortably without having to adjust too much, and Bee loves looking all over and having a good nap while she’s in it.
Even after purchasing this, I didn’t delete myself from those groups. I loved looking at all of the pretty prints, and I was fascinated with just how prized these carriers are to women, and how much money people are willing to put into them. You guys, it’s unreal what people are willing to pay. I thought $130 USD (so $170 CAD) was a lot to swallow, but my carrier is only canvas. Carriers made from wraps (so they are called wrap-conversions/WC) are so much more expensive – anywhere from $300 USD to $3,000 USD. I know. $3,000 for a baby carrier. Part of the price is from the high quality fabric, uniqueness of print, and availability (some are only one-of-a-kind), but I still can’t wrap (ha!) my head around it. But as I kept browsing, I started to love the idea of a more modestly-priced WC. I wanted to try the soft, floppy fabric out for myself. I fantasized about a comfier carry with my little one, and honestly, I fell prey to some of the hype. So after selling my Lil Rascals with a heavy heart to a local, sweet mama and saving up some, we bought the Lorelei Anthias WC.
After awhile, I realized I didn’t like it at all. It was pretty, it was soft, but it was not as structured, and the lack of firm support made hikes more painful. It wasn’t at all worth what I paid, and I found myself just missing my old carrier. I felt so much guilt just owning something so excessive, I panicked if I hiked because I was afraid to dirty it, and I wasn’t really a fan of the bows and frills that came with it on the suckpads. What’s the point in a baby carrier if you’re just going to freak out over it being exposed to motherhood? I take very good care of my carrier, but there’s a line that has to be drawn. So I sold the WC for what I paid plus shipping, and I bought another canvas Tula with bees all over it (aptly named Beeloved).
That one stayed with us briefly before I had a coincidental chat with the mama I sold my original carrier to. I found a buyer for Beeloved real fast because of that good old Tula love, and bought back my old Lil Rascals, with all of its memories and love. Miraculously, I lost no money throughout all this craziness. Having worn both WC and canvas carriers, I can honestly say the comfort level is not worth the price difference, but that’s just my opinion. Other mamas swear by WC’s and find them much more comfortable, and other mamas are on my end of things, so it ultimately comes to your own preference. I just found that the canvas was still super comfortable, but provided more support.
Ever since I got my original carrier back, I focused on customizing it the way we want and giving it character that reflects our personalities, with zero intention of ever selling again. This babe is staying in the family for good, and I feel so much better. I went through a bizarre journey to get it back, realized I handle grief in weird ways, and could not believe the things I learned when I stepped into the Tula world. Those buy-sell FB groups have over 50,000 people in the US one alone. People are constantly buying, selling, and trading these like Pokemon cards in high school. Only this time the money is higher, and it seems like people have forgotten what these carriers are supposed to be for. I’m all for finding a print you love and customizing it, but I got a little swept up in Tula-envy and it wasn’t pretty. I saw women fight over prints that were quickly spoken for, and others unveil FULL CLOSETS loaded with 10-15 Tula carriers in varying degrees of value (in the thousands). All I can say is people collect the strangest things, and for me personally, I couldn’t justify putting that kind of money into owning so many. What I own has to have meaningful purpose, and living tiny means putting careful consideration into everything that comes into my home.
Below is my beautiful, beaten up, character-filled Lil Rascals that will be in the family for years.
On a related note, I will say that Tula blankets are 100% worth owning, because they are the absolute softest, coziest blankets we’ve ever owned. EVER. They are all my kids want, and even my husband and I can be found snuggling with them. They’re made from 100% organic bamboo cotton, and at around $25 a blanket, they aren’t too unreasonable (sets of three are $65, and you can often score them for a good deal through another online retailer). Bee refuses to nap with anything else, and Little Fox takes them on all of her fort-building, camping, and cuddling adventures.
I firmly believe the reasonably priced Tulas are totally worth the hype, but I still caution anyone who starts to get sucked into that world to mind their step. Do the research on what prints you are interested in, and check out the Tula Market Value page to see if you’re getting a good deal or falling victim to a seller who wants to make obscene profit off of hype. Families shouldn’t have to pay an inflated price to have the convenience and to feel the joy of bonding that babywearing gives. Even with the blankets, you should approach with caution – people buy those fast and flip them at double the price (I have seen singles go for $70, instead of their $25 tag). Your best bet is to just go through an online retailer or find an honest mama who is willing to sell at retail value.
We love our carrier, we love our blankets, and maybe this summer we may buy a Tula that has a mesh panel for the hot days. When it’s time though, I’m going through an online retailer instead of standing on the edge of a pit full of Tula-frenzied buyers and sellers, risking my balance.