Our Expert Picks of the Best Toddler Carriers and Preschool Carriers
There are many different toddler carriers, so how do you know which one to choose? It's a tough decision for sure, but luckily we've got you covered with our in-depth guide.
What is a Toddler Carrier?
Toddler carriers are carriers that are specifically designed to carry older babies, toddlers and preschoolers. They are bigger versions of baby carriers, that often have reinforced stitching and extra padding.
Toddler carrying is very much the same as carrying a younger baby (it's just doing it with a bigger, heavier baby). You know that you carry your toddler every day in your arms - it’s where your toddler is often most comfortable, it’s where you love to hold them, where you know they are happiest and safest. A toddler carrier makes this easier - a toddler carrier is the same as a baby carrier, but it is bigger in its proportions to account for the larger size of child.
If you want the best toddler carrier for your little one, the most important thing to think about is fit.
It’s the perfect fit that makes a toddler carrier safe and comfortable. Aside from this, you can choose between different fabrics and designs, as well as different sling styles that are suitable for different situations.
Do You Need a Toddler Carrier?
Most families start with a stretchy wrap or ring sling for newborns to keep them tight and close and supported at their neck. As your baby grows, though, you’ll need more support to carry them for longer periods of time.
It's a fact that toddlers get tired, and when toddlers get tired, or you don’t want them roaming around (such as busy streets or airports), having a place where they can safely sit and rest or nap is not only helpful for them, but for you too.
Using a sling to carry your toddler is an extension of carrying your toddler in arms. A sling or baby carrier for a toddler allows you to carry your toddler, to continue the loving touch they need, whilst at the same time having your hands free to get on with every day things, whether that's indoors doing chores, out with the family, or, most often, looking after another child.
But it's not just the practical aspect of babywearing a toddler that has its benefits. Toddler-wearing has such meaning, it’s deep bonding that lasts. With everything going on in a small child's world, so much to absorb and learn, and so much to cope with, the downtime and connection they achieve when carried is very profound.
Carrying a bigger baby or older child can have a profound and lasting impact on you both. It's never too late to start carrying & how long you carry for, is completely up to you both. It may be every day, it may be now and again. It may only be when they are poorly or as an out-the-blue-you-haven't-been-carried-for-years surprise. It doesn't matter - it's closeness, deep bonding and absolutely cup-filling. The closeness, the chitchat, the jibber-jabber and sharing of experiences, it’s amazing!
Granted, carrying an older baby, toddler or preschooler can be no easy feat given their size. But sometimes they absolutely need that 20 minute nap/rest after running around, and this is of course one way to manage it. They may be heavy, but carrying your toddler in a sling is much more comfortable than carrying them in your arms, and ultimately, they'll be a happier child for that little reconnect and nap!
The Best Toddler & Preschool Carriers
The Best Carriers for Younger Toddlers
These are the best carriers for older babies / younger toddlers.
The Didymos DidyKlick is the semi-structured half buckle baby carrier from Didymos. It is a buckle wrap carrier with all the beauty, comfort & support of a woven wrap, combined with the simplicity and practicality of a buckle carrier. It may be the perfect baby carrier for your newborn and baby, but it's great for your toddler too (up to around 3 years old). We find that customers love the waist buckle, as it makes a big difference to comfort and ease of use, and the extra padding where baby's legs rest is a wonderful added feature.
Plus there's a great range of fabrics and designs to choose from to suit your style. Choose from solid coloured options such as the Didyklick Jade, or beautiful jacquard designs such as Didyklick Leo and Didyklick Sole Occidente.
The Didymos Meh Dai is a meh dai-style carrier - a halfway point between a structured carrier and a woven wrap. It has shoulder straps and waist straps that you tie.
The Didy Meh Dai is made from Didymos woven wrap fabrics. The quality is outstanding and they are ethically woven in Germany, always using organic cotton.
It is great for carrying newborns as it softly supports their shape, adjusting across the width to narrow the panel size for smaller babies, but it works equally well for older babies and toddlers, allowing you to carry them on your front or back.
The Didymos Meh Dai is a lovely, less structured style and is a super option for bigger babies and toddlers. They have all the softness and mouldability of a wrap, but with some structure - a main panel with two pairs of straps. One pair ties around the waist, securing with a knot, and the other pair sits on the shoulders and crosses on the wearers back, tying either at the front, side or back. Super-adjustable for the wearer too, it offers a custom fit to every body.
Customers love how easy it is to use combined with the fact it has the coziness and support of woven wrap material (without the learning curve of a woven wrap). The wide straps increase support and comfort for babywearing with a toddler, up to around 2-3 years old.
The multi-award winning Love Radius (JPMBB) Physiocarrier is cleverly designed with lots of thoughtful features - it's simply fabulous.
The panel on the front of the carrier is made with the famous JPMBB wrap fabric too, so it's totally soft and mouldable to your baby or toddler. This can be rolled away to reveal a mesh panel, allowing you to stay cool on even the hottest days.
It's a carrier that's suitable for carrying toddlers up to around 3 years old, so it's a great option for carrying your big kid. The generous padding and breathable straps and waistband provide comfort and unprecedented lightness. Plus, it has a rear viewing mirror when you're back carrying, just to keep an eye on them.
The Hoodie Carrier from Love Radius gives parents a tool that blends even more subtly into your world, without cramping your style or imposing the child-carer look.
They believe that parents who feel comfortable about their appearance when they’re equipped with a good baby carrier are more likely to start using it. And if more people start to use baby carriers, they’re accomplishing their mission.
The JPMBB Hoodie Carrier is a simplified carrier - it's a baby carrier in its purest form. The fabric is made of a 100% cotton, 3D, breathable, all-seasons material offering a soft and slightly stretchy wrap-like feeling – OekoTex 100.
It's a different kind of comfort to any other baby carrier - the way the fabric adjusts to baby's shape reminds us more of a wrap, than of a structured buckle carrier and in that way it is an exceptionally comfortable carrier for carrying toddlers too.
The Hop-Tye Buckle Carrier combines the functionality, softness and mouldability of a woven wrap, with the ease of use of a fully structured buckle carrier. It's perfect for your newborn, your baby and your toddler. So you can carry a newborn in it and switch it up to carry an older sibling.
The Hop-Tye Buckle Carrier works for front, back and hip carrying. It fastens with a buckle waist and has shoulder straps that tie and is made from Hoppediz woven wrap fabrics.
Want to use it with your toddler? The Hop-Tye has wide shoulder straps which allow you to extend the seat position for longer legs to help provide super comfort and support.
The Best Carriers for Older Toddlers
A superb buckle carrier with extra lumbar-support, the Air X is fully adjustable and will grow with your little one from 4 months to 3 years thanks to the width-adjustable body panel; so this carrier lasts and lasts well until your baby is a big toddler.
It comes with an integrated neck support, sleep hood and a large, detachable zip pouch. The AIR X has has a roll away and mesh panel to help keep you cool in warmer weather, because we all know that carrying toddlers can be hard work.
Great padding in the straps makes for comfortable and supportive carrying, even when wearing a toddler.
Little Frog make toddler carriers from their woven wrap fabrics. This means their carriers are super comfortable, soft and supportive - great for carrying toddlers. They come in a range of designs and because they are made from wrap fabric they are simply stunning!
The soft contoured panel ensures your toddler is carried in their natural ergonomic close-enough-to-kiss position with their knees slightly higher than their bottom.
The crossable shoulder straps can be adjusted 3 ways to ensure a great comfortable fit for both you and your toddler, ensuring both of you are as comfortable as possible.
Customers love how easy it is to use and how comfortable it is.
And now for one the classic toddler carriers - the Tula Toddler Carrier.
We were the first to bring Tula Carriers into the UK and Ireland, and we were instrumental in helping design the Tula Toddler Carrier.
It's tough being a toddler - no matter how much you want to walk everywhere all the time, those little legs do get tired. So we've always thought it fab that Tula have designed this carrier suitable for toddlers from around 18 months/25lbs to 4+ years old.
Customers love the huge range of designs available - with designs ranging from vintage and classic to funky and floral, there's a colour and pattern for just about everyone.
Plus customers love that the The Tula Toddler Carrier is ergonomic and comfy, and it's easy to use, whether you're carrying your toddler on your front or back. The waistband sits on the hips or waist spreading toddler's weight to help keep you carrying all day long! The extra padding at the legs means your toddler stays comfy, happily snuggled up close to you, whether you're hanging out at home, or out for long days at the zoo, or long country walks.
The Lenny Lamb Wraptai is a meh-dai style carrier, made using Lenny Lamb woven wrap fabrics.
The Lenny Lamb Wraptai is completely soft - 100% pure cotton with no buckles, poppers or fasteners, so it's super-soft against your toddler's body and super-comfortable for you, and nestles like a second skin around your toddler, providing optimal support.
The Toddler Wraptai is suitable from around 12 months and as your baby grows up until around 3 years; you can carry your baby on your front or back so there's lots of versatility and gives you lots of options.
Originating from Japan, the Onbuhimo carrier is worn up high on the back and is designed for babies, toddlers, and children who can sit unassisted. It's fast and easy to put on and take off - great for toddlers who can't decide whether they want to be up or down or up!
We all know that toddlers love to explore the world on their own once they can crawl or walk. But as independent as they seem, there are times when they also love (and need) to be carried and held close to you. The Didy Onbuhimo baby carrier is a great way to fill that need.
The Onbuhimo is worn exclusively on the back and doesn't have a waist belt - great if you find a waist belt uncomfortable, or if you're pregnant, there's no waistband to put pressure on your growing tummy.
Made from the same high quality fabric as Didymos baby wraps, the DidyGo Onbuhimo perfectly supports your child's back and holds them in a healthy and safe position. It is individually adjustable and easy to handle, allowing for close, connected toddler wearing.
The Best Preschool Carriers
So now we come onto carriers for preschoolers.
Now, we all know that as our little ones get bigger and bigger, of course we carry them less. Yet there are still so many occasions when your big kid is just too tired to finish that hike or that weekly shopping trip. Sometimes they’re over-tired, overstimulated and just plain done, and that's when they need up.
Some of our kids need to be carried too - kids with more complex needs or additional needs, for example. Preschool carriers give you (and them) the freedom to get out to places you may not otherwise be able to reach. It gives you a way to carry them that’s easier on your body and keeps your hands free for other tasks that need handled at the same time and it does this brilliantly!
Just like the Little Frog Toddler Carrier, this is an even bigger carrier, for kids 18 months - 5 years old.
It's made from Little Frog woven wraps so it is both beautiful and soft.
The soft contoured panel ensures your toddler is carried in their natural ergonomic position with their knees slightly higher than their bottom.
The width- and height-adjustable panel means the carrier can continue to support your child knee-to-knee as they grow.
The crossable shoulder straps can be adjusted 3 ways to ensure a great comfortable fit for both you and your little one.
These are stunning wrap conversion carriers that will last and last.
In the same vein then we have the Lenny Lamb Preschool Carrier.
It too is made from woven wrap fabrics, so it's soft, supportive and comfortable right from the start.
This carrier lasts from 1 - 6 years, so you will get an awful lot of use of it for many years.
Customers love the 4 way adjustable straps that help get the fit just right, and the extra leg padding for baby to help keep them as comfortable as possible.
The Tula Preschool Carrier has all the amazing features of the Tula Carriers you know and love, but with added features to help you carry your big kid.
The largest Tula carrier yet with a panel of 51.1 x 50.4cm and reinforced with an added layer and strategic stitching, the Tula Preschool Carrier is designed to be secure and comfortable to help you continue your babywearing journey. The Preschool Carrier has a weight range of 16-32kg (35-70lbs) and is best meant for a child from 3/4 years to 5 years old.
Extra leg padding for your child helps keep them as comfortable as possible too.
The Isara The One is a truly singular carrier that is so ingeniously designed it is suitable from newborn right through to preschool, and fits all parents, too.
Completely and fully adjustable, it enables the wearer to adjust the height and length to fit a newborn snug and safe, and as little one grows, the carrier can be adjusted in order to fit all shapes and sizes to toddlers and even preschoolers. Transitioning from newborn to preschooler is done in just one step.
We're often asked to suggest a carrier which will work for a newborn up to preschool. I've always described this as a bit of a unicorn. Until now though; the Isara The One Carrier actually does this, and it does it really well.
The superb design really does fit snug and safe from newborn and yup, you really can carry a 4 year old in it too. Even better, it's now available in organic cotton twill (prints & plain) which makes the price absolutely fantastic.