Baby wearing for toddlers and preschoolers: child carriers for kids up to 45 lbs

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Mama and Jacob try the Ergo

When I started researching baby wearing while pregnant four years ago, I never looked up carriers beyond what I thought I would use during my child’s infancy. It seemed to me that once my kid started walking, he’d… you know, walk everywhere on his own. Now that I’m a parent of a three and a half-year-old who has been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, I’ve realized that what you think will happen isn’t always what actually happens. Enter my new obsession: child carriers designed for kids above 20 lbs.

It turns out there are a LOT of carriers for preschoolers — and they run up and down the budget scale. Here are a few that I found:


This is the one everybody talks about for a reason, of course! Safe up to 45 pounds, and sturdy as heck. So many great options, and definitely a reader favorite.

Boba Air

Boba Air: $65

The Boba Air is one of my favorite options — kids can be safely carried up to 45 lbs and the carrier itself is $65. You can sometimes score a deal on the carrier at The Portable Baby.

Boba Classic: $120

The Boba Classic is made by the same folks, and the main difference I can spot is that the Classic can be used from the time your baby hits 7 lbs until he or she is 45 — which is generally a long time. It comes with foot straps for when your kid’s feet need a break. This is actually the carrier we ended up going with — the foot straps help keep our son’s feet at a 90 degree angle AND I found the carrier itself for $65 on eBay. WIN.

Beco Baby Gemini Carrier: $129

The Beco Baby Gemini Carrier is a 4-in-1 option: you can wear a baby facing in, facing out, on your back, or on your hip. As your child gets older the way you wear him or her will change, and the Gemini can accommodate a kid up to 35 lbs.

Beco Butterfly: $139

Last on the list is the Beco Butterfly, which is similar to the Gemini but only allows for front and back carry. The customer reviews on Amazon are all stellar, and the carrier holds kids between 7 and 45 lbs.

Those are my favorites — what options are fellow toddler-and-preschooler wearing parents using?

Comments on Baby wearing for toddlers and preschoolers: child carriers for kids up to 45 lbs

  1. I love my Beco Gemini! Now 15 months old, Olive quickly tired of facing into my chest in her early days, and facing fully outward wasn’t my favorite since I liked being able to see her face. I love wearing her on my hip! I also put her on my back for household chores like vacuuming or anything where I’m hustling around the house and not staying in one room with her. She’s usually good there for at least 20 minutes and often up to an hour. I’ll be sad when she gets too big to carry!

  2. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I got from my yoga/pilates teacher was that spinal compression was fine (i.e., put your kid on your shoulders), but taking your spine out of alignment is not (i.e. carrying your kid on your hip). Once I switched to shoulder rides and horsey back rides it made a huge difference in my back pain, so if you don’t have one of these cool carriers around, this is a good option, too.

    • Totally this. My husband carries Jazz around on his shoulders often, but it KILLS my back for me to do it. Carrying him on my back works, but then I don’t have my hands free — since we seriously walk all over the place, the carrier makes the most sense for us.

  3. First, I love my Boba Air. My son is only 16 pounds, but it’s just so light and compact and really supportive. Second, if you are open to learning how to use wraps, most good woven wraps (like Didymos, Girasol, Natibaby, Vatanai, Storchenweige, etc.) are supportive enough for toddlers, plus they’re beautiful (though can be expensive.) It can seem daunting at first, but you really only need to learn two or three carries to get started.

  4. We LOVE our Ergo. We got the one that you can snap different patterns on, which is handy if you’re a pattern person ( think it’s called the Ergo Options). I like my basic black. It’s a little spendy, but it’s made of super long-lasting material. It goes up to 45 pounds as well.

    • My cutie is 19 months and 38lbs.

      I carry him for parts of hikes in an ERGO which has been awesome since he was 3 months.

      I also still carry him in a sling, on my hip or back, occasionally and when we vacuum.

  5. We have the Babyhawk Oh Snap! It is pricey (around $150, though you can find it for around $100 on discount websites), but has a bigger carrier body and a lot of adjustment features. The straps cross in back, which I think makes a front carry more supportive and easier to adjust, but what I especially like is that the waistband has two adjustment straps that allow you to have it tighter at the top (if you have a small waist/big hips) or at the bottom. I have no hips, so I like being able to tighten it more at the bottom–feels more secure. Especially in a back carry, I hardly feel my daughter. She is only 19 months/around 24 lbs, but I anticipate using it for a long time.

  6. kinderpacks are great carriers that offer toddler plus sizes! There are also a ton of WAHM that make custom carriers for babywearing and you can customize with hoods,pockets,waist and strap length. Doing research or looking into a babywearing group is a great way to find carriers to try out or leads on reputable makers

    • there are a bunch of groups on facebook for babywearing – there’s a big international one and then often you can find a local one as well. also there is a babywewaring swap group – the main reason i mention this is these are great places to buy or trade used (and sometimes new or barely use) wraps/carriers (as well as get lots of advice).

  7. The Ergo is hands-down the best baby/toddler invention ever. I literally wore my 2 year old while horseback riding with my Ergo. I can wear it for hours without getting tired and without back pain. Also, love that it has a little pocket in the front that is just big enough for a diaper, some wipes, my wallet, and my car keys. If I am wearing him, I rarely carry a bag. It has been a lifesaver and we use it everywhere we go. In fact, I am planning on selling my stroller when baby #2 comes along because it is just so much easier to wear them.

    For reference, my son is 32 lbs and while he CAN walk, he definitely prefers to be carried!

    • I’ve never used one! Ergos have also been mentioned frequently on the site, and I had never heard of Beco or Boba, so I thought I’d mix it up — I knew the Ergo fans would come out in the comments. 🙂

        • Yes. It’s ALL about the Ergo. Our kiddo is just approaching 25 pounds, but he is long, sneaky, and really active, and our Ergo Classic is possibly my husband and my favorite baby-related thing we own. We’ve never used it in the side position, but neither of us get any kinds of aches or pains carrying him on our fronts or backs. In fact, my husband feels like his normally miserable shoulders are actually doing better with more walking around carrying kiddo in the Ergo!

          • Add me to the ergo fan list! My 2.5 year old is a skinny 25 lbs and I can carry him easily, barely feel the weight.

            My only negative comment is I’m quite small – 5 feet nothing – and the waist strap sits a bit high for me. Wish I could lower it somehow.

  8. This article is great timing. We live in a very walkable city and don’t drive and also have toddler twins with medical issues that make walking any distance uncomfortable and difficult. I had been using a sling for one twin and my husband used his shoulders for the other but now that the kiddos are about 20 lbs we are getting sore and tired.

    We just bought one Beca Gemini carrier and LOVE it (found it 50% off at that!). We didn’t want to take the plunge and buy 2 until we knew it work for both of us and for our kids. My daughter also has some sensory issues so some fabrics or positions don’t work for her.

  9. We just got the Ergo for my 23lb 14 m.o. – was looking for an alternative to the stroller. From all the different review sites that compared diff’t carriers, most said “You have to try it yourself for your body and your baby’s”. I got the Ergo for back carrying and I love it but my hubby can’t wear it! He is not particularly large (5’10, 190) but my son is so awkward and screams when my husband tries to carry him. It’s almost like my son’s face is just mashed into his back and neither of them can get comfortable. At $125 for the carrier, I’m so disappointed 🙁

    • Your husband could try wearing the carrier a bit higher up on his body, then putting your son in it.

      If my husband wears our Ergo on his hips like the instructions insist, there is no way that it fits comfortably for him or our son. He wears it so that the belt is near his belly button and that seems to be best for both parties. Maybe your husband could try that?

  10. This is a great article. But I have to say that upon reading the headline I was expecting (and curious about!) an article about how toddlers could carry/wear babies. 😀 (That’s not a criticism of the grammar; it’s just a comment on the funny place my brain went when I read it.)

  11. I love the Beco Gemini. It’s a little bit more of a hassle to put on than the Ergo, since the straps are really long and drag on the ground, so I use the Ergo if I’m running a quick errand or otherwise just want to throw the kid in the carrier and run out the door. But if I’m going on a hike, a long walk, or otherwise am going to leave the kid in the carrier for awhile (street fair, etc), the Gemini is perfect. It distributes weight better (on my body, anyway), it lets the kid face outward, and it has a handy headrest (you can see it folded down behind the baby’s head in the photo up there). My kid tends to fall asleep once he’s been in the carrier for awhile, and so I can fold that piece up and it supports his head and makes him all cozy. The Ergo has a hood, but it seems more claustrophobic and it isn’t supportive, so his head ends up bobbing around as I walk.

    My solution was to get both (luckily I got them as gifts, since both are pretty pricey) and to use them as the situation demands. If I had to pick one, though, I’d go with the Gemini. (the other way the Ergo wins is with the handy pocket on the front, which is why I’m just going to sew one onto my Gemini)

    Also: both carriers are very high quality, so you can find them used at a much more reasonable price.

    (can you tell how much I love baby carriers?)

  12. I love my Baby K’Tan carrier and anticipate using it for a while longer. (My daughter is 6.5 months and 17 lbs.) It goes up to 35lbs, but there’s no back carry option since it’s a stretchy wrap-type carrier. I’ll definitely looking into some of these options once she gets a little older.

  13. One thing I’ve found with baby-wearing is that even if the carriers are fully adjustable you may find that the comfort really varies from person to person. I’ve been loving back-carrying my chubby bub (at 5 month she’s nearing the 20lb mark already – eep!) in the Boba classic. However my partner hates it. He uses one called a Manduca. I’m not sure if it’s sold in the U.S. It’s a German design, and I’ve only ever seen them here in Australia and some people here swear by them. Yet when I try to wear her in the Manduca she screams. Go figure.

  14. I love my Boba carrier. I wasn’t honestly thinking about wearing my humongous toddler, only that the longer than standard straps meant my husband could wear the carrier, but now that my son is a gigantic 40 lb 3 year old, it helps to wear him to keep my hands free, especially close to nap times or in crowded conditions.

  15. We have a Kinderpack, toddler size. It’s great! My 14 month old is already 30+ lbs, so I’ve had him in the toddler sized one since he was about ten months old. My daughter was much smaller, so we used our Ergo with until she was 3 years or so.

  16. In my opinion, woven wraps are the best carrier for any age. They work from newborn to toddler and beyond, and the only weight limit really is how much you can carry. I’m only at the 20lb stage with my 14 month old but my woven wraps are going to be in use for a long time to come (I have two Girasol wraps, Didymos is the other well known brand). I think they are by far the most comfortable type of carrier (I’ve also tried a mei tai, ring sling, Ergo and Lillebaby) and they are so flexible with regard to carrying position. I’ve carried my wee man almost every day since he was born and the wrap has grown with him, because I’ve changed the way I tie it. These days he usually travels on my back tied in a way so that he can see over my shoulders, which I feel is often not the case with carriers such as the Ergo, Boba or Beco. They take a little time to learn to use, although not as much as you may think, but it is really worth it.

    • I think the workability of woven wraps varies a lot with the size of child for their age – which varies so much! My son was the same size as your 14 month old by time he was 4 months old. Younger kids act more like a “dead weight” lump than older ones who can grip and dangle. So the way a 20 lb 4 month old and a 20 lb 14 month old ride is totally different even though the weight is identical. I found the hip belt on the Ergo to a be life saver! My 3yo is now 40lbs and I can still carry him on my back comfortably.

  17. I loved wraps for when my baby was itty bitty, then Mei Tais for when he was older, and now we have both a Kinderpack and a Kanga ( He is currently 20 months and 28 pounds and it is GREAT to be able to carry him! I did like wraps a lot when he wasn’t getting up and down so much, but for now, they are a bit tedious for me.

    I would also echo that there is a lot of info out there about carriers — and some FANATICS — so enter into the discussions with caution. The Babywearer site also sells a lot of used carriers, if you are looking for somethign less pricey!

    • This is what we did. Stretchy wrap, then a mei tai (high back carry FTW!) then an Ergo. I also tried a couple of slings, but didn’t really care for them. I could never get with woven wraps. Even as an infant, my little person was so up and down that it just seemed impossible. A stretchy wrap lets you pop them in and out, at least, but my child was apparently not woven-wrap-compatible.

      Then, at about 18 months, he decided he was DONE being carried, and that was that. I’m jealous of those whose preschoolers still consent to being worn! I try it periodically, but it’s always a no-go.

      The comment about babywearing FANATICS made me laugh and brought back memories. I remember trying to figure this stuff out, discovering thebabywearer, and thinking “Wow, this is… this is intense. A lot of these people are really, really into buying stuff.”

      I think a nice thing about soft-structured carriers like a Beco or an Ergo is that the less-into-babywearing parent is often more willing to use them than a complex system of tying and adjusting. (At least this was the case with my partner!)

  18. I am a walking/public-transport-taking mom who uses slings exclusively. I have an Ergo for my 2 year old, which we’ve used since he was 1 and outgrew his Moby wrap (he got too tall to lift him out of it). But I have to say I don’t understand why everyone loves the Ergo so much. I find it fiddly and difficult to put on, and impossible to do the back carry without a second person to help on and off. I hate struggling to reach behind my back to close up that cross strap (located exactly in the middle of your back – who can reach back there?? With both hands??). Even snapping up the head support when he is sleeping is difficult as the snaps are too far back to reach easily. The thick padding on the shoulder straps means my bag keeps falling off my shoulder, my clothes get rumpled and disarrayed (try wearing an Ergo with work clothes!) and in winter, when we both have bulky coats on, it just gets even more difficult and uncomfortable. Is this true for all slings, or can I remain hopeful that I can find another that will work better?

    • From your description, it sounds like the ergo just doesn’t fit you very well – it’s too big. For me the clip is just behind my neck (easy to reach) and the snaps for the head thing are in the front of my shoulders. Maybe you can find a different carrier that suits your body type better?

      • I found the ergo very difficult to put on at first (front)but it has gotten MUCH easier and don’t think twice about using it now. I haven’t tried the back carry yet. My son is 22 mos and over 30 pounds fyi.

    • I’ve been using our Ergo for four years now across two kids – still using it with the littlie at 3 for long walks.

      Back carry – I stand my daughter on a raised surface e.g. chair and hop her into a piggyback position with the shoulder straps off, and then put these on second. I’ve been doing it that way since she could stand. In the absence of a raised surface, I sit on the ground to do it.

      Back clip in front carry – I adjust this to a fairly low position on my back, and then do this up before I tighten this strap or the shoulder straps, so that there’s more slack to play with.

      Bags – I always use the ergo backpack that clips onto the carrier.

      Hood – this is the only bit I find tricky now she’s bigger, since her head comes up higher! Usually I just get my four year old to do it or someone on the street. If I have to do it myself, I bend right forward, reach back and grab one strap, and sort of throw it over her head… If I’m bent far enough forward, gravity usually helps the straps flop into position so I can reach back and clip them on.

      Dressing – I usually wear much lighter clothes on my upper body than I otherwise would, but add thermal leggings under jeans, warm hats, scarves and gloves. I’ve considered adding arm warmers but it doesn’t really get cold enough here.

      I also own a Yamo and find this similar to use. Good luck!

    • i used a beco butterfly 2 until baby was about 9 months old. we scored an olives and applesauce ( ) carrier when he no longer had knee-to-knee coverage in the beco. now at 13 months, 24 lbs, he’s *almost* big enough for a tula toddler ( ). i also loooove using Didymos or Natibaby woven wraps because they distribute the weight much more nicely than a structured carrier.

  19. We live in a community with lots of refugees, not to exploit the exotic- but totally find your self a Somali or Burmese mama and have her teach you all the magic that is an $8 piece of cloth

    My four year old happily naps while I walk.

    • Ugh, I feel for you. I live in Northern Canada and winter baby wear, and 5 minutes inside with baby and coat and backpack on sucks big time. I use the Beco Gemini and my getting dressed to go outside goes like this.
      1) Have baby dressed and laying next to baby’s snowsuit which HAS LEGS AND FEET on it (so you can fit them through the carrier). Have whatever bag you are carrying set up and ready to go on the same place.
      2) Put on your coat and the Beco carrier (leave off hats and mitts on bed))
      3) Put baby in snowsuit without hat (while you are standing up) pull baby up into the carrier, hugging baby to your chest.
      4) Turn around and sit down with carrier on, pulling your hood up if you have one on your coat, flip the straps across your shoulder with a “throw” motion. I have a mirror which I use to help me find the strap on my back, since jackets make it impossible to grab behind you
      5) After getting first strap on, tighten it accordingly, then repeat with second strap- your baby is probably starting to get hot and uncomfortable now
      6) Put bag of stuff on your back, grab your hat/mitts/babies hat mitts with one hand, head to where your slip on boots are and put them on with the other hand
      7) If you have a carrier cover, it had better be near your boots, grab it, head outside
      8) Once outside in the cold air, put on your babies hat, mitts, carrier cover with your hat mitts between your knees
      9) Start walking because now baby is really fussy, and while walking put on your hat and mitts. YOU ARE BABY CARRYING WINTER STYLE! Congrats!

  20. I don’t have kids, but am a backpacker, and I must say that carrying a 40 lb child in a soft carrier for any length of time sounds like hell on the shoulders and back. I would think that an external frame child carrying pack like those built for hiking would be more comfortable with the bigger kids, and it looks like most of them are meant to carry between 30 and 45 lbs. an example of what I mean:

    • We have a Deuter pack and my husband prefers it for our 40lb 3 year old, but I actually like using my Ergo just fine – I find the Deuter just adds additional pounds to the whole operation. I’m a backpacker too and I think a big difference is that a toddler/preschool child isn’t dead weight. There’s something about the way they sit on your back that is fundamentally different pound for pound than a loaded pack would be.

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