Should you get a Tula Free-to-Grow or Standard Tula baby carrier?

Babies don’t cry for no reason, but sometimes it’s soooooo freaking hard to find the reason!!!!!!!

Whenever I have eliminated all logical possibilities and cbb is still upset, I do the one thing that never fails me: Put her in her baby carrier.

Almost immediately, she calms down and settles. And before I know it, my crying baby has fallen asleep. I guess it’s not surprising to many that babywearing has been indispensable for me and cbb over the past 14 months! Out of all the baby carriers I have tried (and I have tried quite a few soft-structured carrier brands), our favourite is our Tula Baby Carrier, for two main reasons: ease of use and incredible support.

I have received a number of messages from new parents on choosing their very first Tula. What’s the difference between the new Free-to-Grow (FTG) and the Standard canvas Tula (referred to as ‘Standard Tula’ in this post)? Today, I’m going to be comparing the two.. hopefully this post will help you choose a Tula that’s right for you and your baby. Not including wrap conversions in the comparison as those are a different price point altogether! The FTG and Standard canvas Tula cost about the same at US$149-$159 thereabouts (SG$229-$239). And for your reference, cbb is 95% percentile in height and only fit a Standard Tula (without using an insert) at 6 months.

Tula also has a Toddler size carrier, which is still too big for cbb. Friends have said that toddlers start to fit when they’re around 33″-34″ onwards (83cm thereabouts).

All FTG pictures in this post are of ‘Soar’, one of Baby Tula’s latest releases. The Standard Tula you see is ‘Lucy’s Garden’, my absolute favourite canvas design!

So what’s the main difference?
The FTG and Standard Tula can both be used when baby is 7-45 pounds (3.2-20kg), although the fit is often dependent on how tall your baby is, instead of how heavy he weighs. The FTG, newly launched in the earlier part of this year, makes it possible for you to carry your baby from birth without the need for an infant insert. The Standard Tula requires the use of an infant insert for smaller babies, which adds bulk and heat. Read my review of the FTG here. It also extends up to the size of a Standard Tula, that’s why it’s named ‘Free-to-Grow’! Ok, so if the FTG can go up to the size of a Standard Tula, plus have the added feature of no-insert-needed, why would anyone still buy a Standard Tula then? Flat shot for comparison:

Because the support is different when it comes to older and heavier babies, when carried for longer periods.
I love our FTGs because it’s so comfortable and soft, but find myself reaching out for the Standard Tulas (be it canvas or wrap conversions) more often. Why? I carry my 11kg 14-month-old for long periods at a stretch – it could be up to five hours while we’re exploring the outdoors or shopping in a mall. While I still feel comfortable carrying her in the FTG for 1-2 hours, I felt much better carrying her for 3 hours and beyond in the Standard Tula. However, if she were smaller and can’t fit in the Standard Tula without an insert yet, I would use the FTG all day, every day! Read about the qualities of the FTG in this blog post!

What could be the reason for this? The selling point of the FTG is that the body panel can be adjusted from short to tall, and the seat can adjusted from the narrow setting, to the middle setting, and then finally to the widest setting (which is the same size as a Standard Tula) as your baby grows. This adjustment is possible because of three sturdy snap buttons between the waistband and the body panel. On the other hand, the Standard Tula isn’t adjustable, meaning strong seams (instead of sturdy buttons) hold the waist band and body panel together. I believe this translates to better support for the wearer (you!) over longer hours.

What about comfort for the baby?
Cbb loves being in ALL her Tulas, be it the FTG, Standard canvas, full wrap conversions or tencel-blend wrap conversions! She’s happy either way, but the features and material of the FTG makes it extra moldable to a baby, especially a newborn (while supporting their spine development). The FTG is made of ultra soft twill, very smooth and softer than the Standard Tula.

Which is cooler?
I do get this question a lot – but I think the difference is negligible. Consider a Coast carrier (which comes in FTG, Standard and Toddler) if heat is a concern. But even so, the difference felt is also not exceptional because we’re in SUNNY SINGAPORE. You really can’t escape this heat. And of course, if we’re talking about a newborn/younger baby who can’t fit into the Standard Tula yet, the FTG is 100% more comfortable and cooler as compared to being in an infant insert!

Are there any other significant differences?
The shoulder straps on the FTG is a little wider. It might be a consideration when ordering drool pads. I mean, my Lucy’s Garden drool pads can go around the Soar FTG, but it’s a bit tight.


The leg padding on the FTG is also thinner and curves slightly inwards as compared to the Standard Tula.

All in all
The FTG and Standard Tula are both incredibly supportive carriers. There’s no need to have just one! I mean it! But if you are intending to purchase just one for now (haha), consider a few things: Are you planning to have more than one child? Is your baby now still too small to fit in the Standard Tula without an infant insert? Do you intend to wear your baby from birth (at least 3.2kg/7lbs)? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then the FTG could be what you need. However if all your babies can fit into the Standard Tula with legs swinging freely at the knees, and you see yourself wearing your bigger babies for longer periods of time, then you might want to consider the Standard canvas (or even the more expensive wrap conversion) Tulas for better support for yourself.

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