Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ergo vs. Boba vs. Tula carrier comparison

I used to think I knew a thing or two about baby wearing... that was, until I moved to the Bay Area!

About a month after I moved to town, I decided to go to a PAXbaby Playdate, in hopes of meeting some other like-minded moms.  It was tons of fun and I met lots of sweet babywearing mamas... and realized that I really know nothing about baby wearing!

Natibaby, KoKaDi, or Oscha wrap?

I was clueless!  (I bet there are a couple of ladies in that photo who could not only tell you the maker of each of the wraps above, they could tell you the name of the design too!!)

I had heard of Girasol woven wraps and learned a fun fact about them from someone at the playdate... Girasol makes a XELA wrap! (For any readers who don't know, Xela is my name!)

I also knew that woven wraps typically cost over $100, which seemed like a lot to me (considering I had made several wraps for as little as $5), but I learned that some hard core babywearers often pay up to $1000 for really rare wraps!

But I digress... one of the most important things I discovered at the PAXbaby Playdate was the wonderful world of Tula carriers!

Tula carriers come in some of the coolest, funkiest, and most beautiful prints I've ever seen.

They also specialize in Wrap Conversion Carriers (something I had never heard of before the PAXbaby playdate) which are made partially or entirely from a woven wrap.  Apparently the woven ones are super soft and comfy, but I don't know that I could ever bring myself to pay over $200 for ANY baby carrier!

I think the best thing about Tulas though is that they come in standard or toddler size!

A year ago, I'm not sure I would have been excited about a carrier that came in two sizes... it's kind of like the cloth diapering conundrum of whether "one-size" diapers really fit ANY size very well.  But now I'm definitely a fan of sized diapers and baby carriers!

Here's a quick comparison of the dimensions of the Ergo Original, Boba 3G, the standard and the toddler Tula carriers:

Standard Ergo
Boba 3G
Standard Tula
Toddler Tula
Back panel height
Seat width
13" (17.5" at widest point)
Shoulder strap length/ length of padding
41"/ 21"
40" /17"
44"/ 17" - 20"
Waist belt length/ length of padding
25" - 43" (51" w/extender)/ 23.5"
25" - 58"/ 25" padded
29" - 56"/ 30"

(Please note that these are estimations.  The manufactures don't disclose most of this information, so most of the measurements were taken by me with a soft measuring tape.  Special thanks to my friend Whit for getting the measurements on the Boba, since I don't have one anymore!  And I don't have a standard Tula, so if anyone does and could send me the info I'm missing, I'd really appreciate it! :o)

The first thing you'll notice is the height difference between the three carriers.

The Tula carriers fit about 3 to 5 inches higher than the Ergo (depending on the model), and that makes a huge difference in the comfort and security of the carrier!  Emi has always been a wiggly little worm and it really put a lot of strain on my back and shoulders when she would lean away from my body.  The Tula keeps her close and comfy.

Next, you'll notice the difference in the seat width.  A nice, wide seat is important for helping to prevent "dead-leg" for the baby/toddler and also for proper weight distribution for the wearer.  Ideally, the seat of the carrier should touch from knee to knee on the baby and the baby's bottom should sit lower than the knees (making a nice "M" shape).

The seat of the Boba is the narrowest, followed closely by the Ergo.  The standard Tula is only a half inch wider than the Ergo, but the toddler Tula is 5 inches wider than the Ergo and 6 inches wider than the Boba!

A cool feature of Tula standard carriers is that they sell a "Room to Grow" extension which widens the seat base and converts the standard carrier to a toddler size.  (Don't ask me how it works though... I haven't seen one in person and there aren't a lot of details on the website.)

Another difference in the carriers is the length of the shoulder strap and the amount of padding.

Tula straps have the thickest padding, but the padding is longest on the Ergo (an inch longer than the Tula, and 4 inches longer than the Boba!).  One of the most uncomfortable things I found with the Boba was how little padding there was on the straps, and a common complaint I've heard/read is that it rubs against the back of your arms when front-carrying a child.

Notice how the padding stops mid-back on the Boba, but comes all the way down
and around with the Tula and the Ergo

Another cool feature of the Tula is that it has an adjustment where the panel meets the straps that allows you to bring your baby closer or let the baby sit back from you (which is why the "length of padding" measurement is 17" - 20".)  It's really handy when nursing in the carrier!!

I would say the only drawback to the Tula is that it might not fit well around the waist if you're super petite (smaller than probably a size 24/25.)  The smallest the waist belt goes on the Tula is 29 inches, compared to 25 inches with the Ergo or Boba, but I think the measurements are a little misleading.  I have a friend who felt the Ergo was too big for her petite frame and she loves the Tula.  Also, just to give a little perspective, I typically wear a size 26/27 jean and as you can see in the photo below, I don't wear it cinched down to its smallest size.

Personally, I like the fact that the padded area is longer on the waist belt, because I find it more supportive... and it helps to hide my love handles :o)

So right now the Tula is about the only carrier I ever use.  Occasionally I use my Maya sling carrier, if I just need to make it from the car to a store without Emi running away, and once in a blue moon I'll pull out a wrap.  But there was a time that I thought I didn't need anything other than a baby wrap!

Tula has a great philosophy that I whole-heartedly agree with:
We love babywearing and all it has to offer. It's practical for the parent, it has amazing benefits for the baby and it feels so good to have your baby snuggled in close!   
We do not support criticism and looking down at parents for the type of a wrap or carrier they chose to use. We believe that every parent tries to make the best decision for his baby. 
Over the past four and half years of wearing my girls, I've discovered there really is no "best" carrier. Certain carriers are better for certain body shapes.  Each type of carrier has it's pros and cons, and work best at different ages and stages.  I highly recommend trying out different carriers before making a purchase.

If you're lucky enough to have a chapter of Baby Wearing International in your area, the leaders are a great resource for showing you how to properly use different types of carrier and they typically have a large "library" of carriers to loan/rent out.

If not, contact  One of their babywearing experts can give you a "personalized carrier prescription!"  Then you can rent a carrier for as little as $30, and as an added bonus, they'll give you a coupon for $10 off your next carrier purchase!

And if you happen to be in the market for an Ergo, I have a very gently used, super cute Galaxy Grey for sale.  I used it for just a few months before buying my Tula.  (I even have the original box and owner's manual!)  Update:  The Ergo has found a new home :)

Ergo Galaxy Grey Carrier - $70 plus shipping

 I'd love to hear from some readers... what's your favorite carrier and why?


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