Why would I want a toddler carrier for travel when I can just continue to carry my toddler in the regular baby carrier for travel? The toddler carriers are made specifically for toddlers. They are wider and taller making it more comfortable for your toddler. When your toddler is well supported, it’s also much more comfortable for you.
I can speak from experience when I say, if you still carry your toddler frequently you won’t regret getting an appropriate toddler carrier! What I love most is that I can bring it along when traveling with our toddler, just in case my toddler gets tired. I throw him up on my back and we are on our way.
Two of the best toddler carriers for travel below even have a maximum weight that goes to 60+ lbs! So even though it seems like you might not get as much use out of a toddler travel carrier, with a max weight that high you still have plenty of time to use a toddler carrier!
Best Toddler Carriers for Travel
- Types of Toddler Carriers for Travel
- Best Toddler Travel Carriers
- 1. LÍLLÉbaby CarryOn Airflow Toddler Carrier
- 2. Tula Carrier - Toddler Size
- 3. Beco Toddler Carrier
- 4. Deuter Kid Comfort Pro Child Carrier and Backpack
- 5. Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier
- 6. ClevrPlus Cross Country Toddler Backpack Hiking Carrier
- 7. Kelty Journey Perfectfit Elite Child Carrier
- 8. Piggyback Rider SCOUT Toddler Carrier
- 9. Luvdbaby Premium Baby Backpack Carrier for Hiking
- 10. WIPHA Toddler Hiking Backpack Carrier
- Benefits of Using a Toddler Carrier for Travel
- Picking the Best Toddler Carrier for Travel
- Features to Look for in Toddler Travel Carrier
- Our Toddler Carrier for Travel Recommendation
- Toddler Travel Carrier FAQs
- More Toddler Travel Gear
- Pin It For Later!
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Types of Toddler Carriers for Travel
There are so many different types, brands and models of toddler carriers available in the market, that picking the right one can be quite the task. With no “one size fits all” approach to this, it depends on us to choose the right type of toddler carrier that will suit all our individual needs the best.
Understanding what those different types of carriers are is the first step to narrowing down your choices to a few options:
Wraps are the most basic form of carrier, best known for being the most versatile. They’re made from a variety of materials, come in a wide range of styles, and are essentially long pieces of fabric that you tie around your body to secure your toddler safely in place.
Wraps are most ideal for carrying your toddler around when you are doing simple chores around the house, and since they are very adaptable too, they can be tied around your body in different ways to best suit your preferences, needs and body type.
Getting a hang of the specific tying technique that is most comfortable to you can take some time, but with practice, it gets easier! Keep in mind that wraps made of sturdier materials like cotton, hemp, wool and linen are best used for carrying toddlers and older kids who weigh more on the back, while stretchy wraps are used for newborns.
Soft Structured Carriers
Soft structured carriers or buckle carriers are carriers that come with padded waistbands and shoulder straps. This type of carrier is easy to use, adjust and can generally be worn in a variety of different ways as well; you can use them on your front, back and even your hip. It is due to these reasons that they are ideal for parents who love spending time in the great outdoors, hiking, camping and doing other active things.
Most of the best baby carriers for toddlers allow you to use the same soft structured carrier from infancy right into toddlerhood without any problems. Depending on your child’s weight, switching to toddler specific carriers may give you both more comfort.
Mei Tai carriers work great for toddlers, because they are a hybrid type that combines the best features of both the buckle carrier and wrap style carrier. It has two padded shoulder straps, two straps that tie around your waist, and a long piece of fabric that ties around your body. Because it uses ties in the place of buckles, it provides infinite adjustability.
Toddler backpack carriers are great for parents and toddlers who enjoy going on outdoor adventures together. This style of hiking carriers comes with a lot of heavy boning and additional padding to secure your toddler safely in place. However, it does well to note that this additional security does tend to add weight to the carrier, resulting in it being heavier to carry than the other types.
They are also only made for carrying toddlers on your back, so if your little one is not comfortable sitting up on their own just yet, this one might not be for you.
Keep in mind that while the best toddler backpack carrier is amazing for hiking, you can also still use it for travel! They can be a bit bulky for cities but flying with a hiking backpack carrier will be worth it if you plan to do a lot of hiking.
Best Toddler Travel Carriers
1. LÍLLÉbaby CarryOn Airflow Toddler Carrier
If you're looking for a carrier that will grow right along with your baby, the LÍLLÉbaby CarryOn might be exactly what you are looking for. Made with a wider and taller torso than most carriers, and adjustable side panels to widen and narrow down the seat, this carrier is designed to accommodate the changing needs of a quickly growing toddler like no other! The seat width is 16.5″ and torso length is 18.5″.
Parents can carry their toddler in three different ways; on their front, back or hip, and will love the unique lumbar support the carrier offers above all else. The feature provides stability and relieves lower back pressure by distributing your toddler's weight evenly across your back.
The LILLEbaby toddler carrier on its own weighs 2.1 pounds, and allows you to easily carry little ones that weigh anywhere between 20 and 60 pounds.
This carrier or the Tula Toddler Carrier are our recommended options for a best toddler carrier for air travel.
Other features include a large storage pocket and removable sleeping hood. Fabric options also include the All Seasons line that has a temperature-control panel that easily zips-up for warmth and zips-down to expose cool, breathable, 3D mesh.
2. Tula Carrier - Toddler Size
The toddler Tula Carrier is a favorite among parents in the know, and is a highly regarded carrier in the babywearing market. Easy to adjust, comfortable to wear, and available in a wide range of colors and patterns, the toddler Tula carrier is not only stylish but also designed to be used for a long time.
The Baby Tula Toddler Carrier size is designed to hold children that weigh between 25 to 60 pounds (and a minimum of 32 inches tall). It has both front and back carry options. Like the other soft-structured toddler carriers it has a large seat width (18.5") and longer torso (17.5") than regular soft-structured carriers.
Fabric type options for the Baby Tula Toddler Carrier are either cotton or canvas an the Coast Mesh line has a breathable mesh panel. It also has a removable hood to support head while sleeping.
If you have a tall toddler, Tula also makes a preschool carrier that is good for toddlers who weight between 35 and 75 lbs.
3. Beco Toddler Carrier
The Beco Toddler Carrier, according to most parents, is one of the most comfortable carriers for toddlers aged 18 months and above. Weighing about 2.2 pounds, this carrier offers a generously wide ergonomic seat and a taller back for extra support and comfort for your little one.
Featuring adjustable crossable shoulder straps and sternum supports, the carrier is designed to carry kids that weigh between 20 and 60 pounds on the back or front without a problem. It also comes with a detachable clutch and a hood that can be used for shade or as a nursing cover for additional privacy.
Made with 100% cotton and featuring a 3D Mesh option for enhanced airflow and ventilation, this carrier makes carrying little ones a breeze!
4. Deuter Kid Comfort Pro Child Carrier and Backpack
The Deuter Kid Comfort Pro carrier for hiking is an 8.8 pound hard structured carrier that comes packed to the brim with unique features, making it the most luxurious toddler carrier for travel on our list.
Let's start with comfort. The high quality backpack carrier features highly adjustable shoulders straps and waist belt for even weight distribution on the parent's back. The backsystem is made out of mesh and thoughtfully designed in a way to allow for airflow between the parent's back and the toddler. This has even been proven to reduce sweat by 25%!
The fully padded toddler back carrier has color coded buckles on its safety harness to ensure the most comfortable and secure fit for your toddler as well. The toddler backpack carrier also has a safe step-in side entry allowing your independent toddler to climb in and out out on their own.
What really sets this high-end carrier apart and makes it the best toddler hiking carrier out there is its adjustment system. Deuter Kid Comfort Pro's Vari Slide Back Length Adjustment System makes adjusting the height of the carrier excessively easy. Parents with different torso lengths (like moms and dads) will be able to customize the size of this carrier by simply lifting the easy-to-use plastic buckle!
Storage is yet another highly appreciated aspect of this backpack carrier. Compact and economical, yet simply genius, the carrier features plenty of space for everything you might need to pack with a variety of pockets and a removable daypack with inside pockets. It also has a hydration sleeve to insert a water bladder, ensuring everyone is kept well hydrated.
You can use this toddler back carrier from 16 to 48.5 lbs (that max weight also includes the weight of the carrier so the max weight for your toddler is closer to 40 lbs).
Inside, you will also find included, a large pillow for impromptu outdoor naps, a sunroof and a mirror for a rear-view of your little rider!
5. Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier
Ideal for parents with a vibrant outdoor lifestyle, the Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier has great design quality, functionality and comfort, and is amazingly well rounded. The Osprey Poco and Deuter Kid Comfort are the best toddler backpack carriers on the market. If your budget allows for it, we'd recommend either of these best hiking carriers for toddlers.
The back carrier for toddler features an adjustable torso that is made to fit a wide range of adults, as well as an adjustable hip belt with zippered pockets, and a large front panel compartment. The child cockpit comes with a double halo child harness that is also adjustable, and removable foot stirrups. Parents especially love the suspension system and ventilated back panel for easy carrying. And the built-in sunshade and washable drool pad are great features too.
The minimum child weight for this carrier is 16 pounds and maximum weight, including your child, gear and the weight of the carrier itself, is 48.5 pounds.
6. ClevrPlus Cross Country Toddler Backpack Hiking Carrier
Built with a lightweight frame, and an adjustable seat that can be customized to fit any toddler's height, the ClevrPlus Cross Country BackPack Carrier is both an affordable and smart option. The carrier itself weighs 5.5 pounds and can hold a maximum weight of 33 pounds. Designed to be comfortable for both baby and parent, the carrier features energy-absorbing lumbar padding, a sun canopy, a rain cover, and a washable drool pad on which your toddler can rest their face.
Note that although this carrier costs almost half the price of other framed backpack carriers, it's not necessarily the most ideal option for parents who plan on attempting more rigorous outdoor activities. The carrier's lightweight frame and materials make it a better option for shorter hikes and milder activities.
7. Kelty Journey Perfectfit Elite Child Carrier
The Kelty Journey PerfectFit Elite is another one of the best back carriers for toddlers if you are taking them out on hikes. Featuring an advanced suspension system to make it comfortable for both mom and dad, a plush child cockpit and an integrated sunshade, this model has everything you need for a fun time outdoors.
This carrier for hiking has a 5-point harness and padded aluminum roll ensures your little one has the most comfortable and safe trek possible, and the multiple grab handles allow you to lift and shift the carrier with care and ease.
Storage is another aspect that makes this one of the best carriers for toddlers. It comes with a large zippered pocket with internal stretch pockets for storing extra layers, toddler travel toys and other toddler travel essentials.
It also includes a reservoir sleeve for keeping both toddlers and parents hydrated. The nylon carrier weighs 7 pounds and 4 ounces in all, and is capable of carrying toddlers that weigh anywhere between 16 and 40 pounds.
Kelty also makes a standard and lightweight version: Kelty PerfectFIT Signature and the Kelty Journey.
8. Piggyback Rider SCOUT Toddler Carrier
If you're bored with bulky strollers, wagons, and kid harnesses, this uniquely designed carrier might be just what you are looking for. It's different than most carriers for toddlers on the back since your toddler is standing instead of sitting.
Made for kids aged 2-4 years old and up to 50 pounds, this is a great option for when you're at the zoo, at festivals or out and about doing some shopping. The Piggyback Rider ensures your child has a more comfortable view of what's going on around them, and avoids uncomfortably strapping or containing them to a seat. This, in turn, makes for a more exciting and involved experience for both parents and toddlers during your travels!
The Piggyback Rider toddler carrier consists of two main parts; shoulder straps and a bar that hangs below for your toddler to stand on. The adjustable straps succeed at shifting most of your kid's weight to your shoulders, giving your back a rest. However, if your toddler crosses 25 pounds, it is advised to invest in an additional hip belt accessory for extra comfort.
The carrier itself weighs less than 3 pounds, which makes it lightweight for carrying, easily portable and durable. And if you're concerned about safety, don't sweat it! Your little one will be perfectly safe and secure in their child harness which clips onto your pack, and they’ll love grabbing the handles on your shoulder straps for balance!
9. Luvdbaby Premium Baby Backpack Carrier for Hiking
The LuvdBaby Premium is a budget friendly toddler backpack carrier with great storage and some interesting features. With padded straps and stirrups, a mesh hood, a raincover and a height adjustable back, you can rest assured both you and baby will feel snug and comfortable. There is also a foldable diaper changing pad that comes included with carrier for hiking, which is a lifesaver during outdoor trips, if you ask us!
Now, when it comes to storage, this carrier has plenty! It includes multiple pockets, mesh pockets, and several pockets on the waist belt as well, so you won't have to worry about misplacing your phone, keys or baby bottles ever again. It'll all be in one place, riding on your back along with your toddler!
10. WIPHA Toddler Hiking Backpack Carrier
Designed with the purpose of saving wearers from backache, The WIPHA Baby Backpack Carrier makes your long outdoor adventures more joyous and pain-free. Its flexible adjustable straps provide parents with just the right fit , and the wide, padded waist belt helps distribute weight more evenly. This takes a lot of pressure off of parents' shoulders, allowing for easy wearing over prolonged periods.
Toddlers are offered just as much comfort as parents when inside this backpack carrier. With an advanced safety belt that protects toddlers from falling out when things get bumpy, use this toddler carrier up to 50 lbs and 39" tall without a problem.
The soft cushion in the front and back adds comfort, and makes cleaning easy too since it is removable. It also features a collapsible sunshade and plenty of storage, including thoughtfully designed insulated pockets for storing warm milk. Easy to fold and highly durable, the WIPHA Baby Backpack Carrier is worth considering when looking for the best backpack carriers for toddlers.
Benefits of Using a Toddler Carrier for Travel
While using a toddler travel stroller definitely has its benefits, there are also many benefits to using toddler carriers for travel.
- There may be places that are easier to sightsee around without a stroller. Especially places like Cinque Terre with a toddler.
- If you enjoy hiking, having a back carrier for toddlers will enable you to go on all your adventures. Toddlers will want to be doing some of the walking.
- By using a travel carrier for toddlers, you still have free hands to chase your toddler instead of pushing a stroller.
- When your toddler is tired of walking, back in the carrier they go!
- Snuggled in close to mom or dad helps some toddlers sleep. You will also be especially grateful when you glance down and see them snoozing, saving you the time and effort you would have otherwise had to spend trying to get them to sleep in an unfamiliar location.
Picking the Best Toddler Carrier for Travel
Since there are so many options for toddler carriers in the market, choosing the best one comes down to your budget, lifestyle, body type, and last but not the least, your toddler.
Prices for toddler carriers vary significantly from model to model. Models that come with all the bells and whistles available in the market can easily cost you up to $400 or more. Other models with more basic features can cost no more than $50. Just make sure that price isn’t the only factor in your decision. Always remember to verify the carrier’s comfort, safety, and fit before making your purchase.
Always consider the weather conditions of the place you’ll be using your toddler carrier. in when making your purchase. For example, if you are traveling to a warm climate, choose one that’s made of lighter fabric as some others can get a little warm when it’s hot out.
Instead of buying a one-size carrier, consider buying a carrier that’s adjustable. Look for an adjustable model so you can make the necessary adjustments as your child grows.
Features to Look for in Toddler Travel Carrier
Here are the top features to consider when buying a toddler travel carrier:
Child comfort and safety
Choose a carrier that provides good head and body support for your child. Make sure the leg holes are loose enough for your toddler’s thighs, but not so loose that they feel they might slip through.
The carrier you choose should fit your size and body type, and allow you to carry your toddler without strain. Look for one with padded shoulder straps, as they provide a firmness that is both comfortable for the wearer and also sturdy enough to carry the weight of the toddler. Other things to keep an eye out for are waist belts and sternum straps. These help reduce the pressure on your back by evenly distributing your toddler’s weight across your lumbar region.
Added extra features
Some toddler carriers like soft structured carriers and backpacks offer a bunch of extra features like additional storage options, sunshades, rain covers, and toy attachment loops for practical use. While these features can seem cool, not every parent toddler duo needs them, so factor in your exact needs before making your purchase.
Ease of cleaning
Children can be messy. That’s why it’s best to choose a carrier that is machine-washable. While most carriers available in the market today are machine-washable, some can still only be washed by hand or dry-cleaning, so be sure to double-check!
Pick carriers with fasteners that have complex clasps or buckles, so that it is difficult for your child to undo them. Since the straps and buckles are the primary safety features of a toddler carrier for travel, it’s important to ensure that they are made of the best quality materials.
Our Toddler Carrier for Travel Recommendation
We’ve had plenty of experience with baby and toddler carriers over the years. We have used a Baby K’Tan, Ergo Original, Ergo Performance Original with & without infant insert, Onya Baby Nexstep, LILLEBaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier, Deuter Kid Comfort III, and the Piggyback Rider. We also rented a Kelty backpack carrier, but it wasn’t clear what model it was (or we forgot to check). We’ve used our carriers for around the house, hiking, city sightseeing and everything in between.
If carrying is still an option once your toddler is 2.5-3 yrs old, I would highly recommend a toddler carrier, like the LÍLLÉbaby Carryon Toddler Carrier. Though the baby carriers for toddlers are rated to 45 lbs, the toddler carrier is wider and taller, making it so much more comfortable for both toddler and parent.
I’ve carried my 4 year old in my Ergo and was surprised how much more comfortable the LÍLLÉbaby Carryon Toddler Carrier was. This is definitely one of the best carriers for toddlers I’ve used. I love being able to carry it around my waist or in my backpack and throw my toddler in it easily on-the-go. When he chooses to walk, I’m not still pushing around a stroller. I’m free to chase him!
Finally, if you plan to spend a lot of time hiking with toddlers, look into a hiking backpack carrier for toddlers. Both of my kids were happier for so much longer in the backpack carrier. They sat up higher, could see more and were cooler. We had two Deuter Kid Comfort toddler backpack carriers and traveled with them frequently.
If traveling with a backpack carrier is out of the question or you don’t plan to carry your toddler for extended periods, the Piggyback Rider is a great option. This standing carrier for toddlers packs up small, so you don’t have to worry about how much space it will take and it’s easy to carry around for the day.
It’s great for toddlers or preschoolers who want to do the majority of the walking but still need to be picked up every once in a while.
Toddler Travel Carrier FAQs
How do you carry a 2 year old?
You can continue to carry a 2 year old in much the same way you carried a baby. While most baby carriers will continue to work for toddlers up to 45 lbs, a toddler specific carrier will have a wider seat and longer torse for added comfort for both you and your toddler.
Can you put a 3 year old in a carrier?
You absolutely can put a 3 year old in a carrier. For 3 year olds, a toddler specific carrier or a backpack carrier will be your best options.
What is the best toddler back carrier?
While there are more budget friendly options, the best toddler backpack carrier is either the Osprey Poco Child Carrier or the Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier. Both come with a Pro version, the Standard version and a Lite version to suit the needs of parents. The different versions will vary in price, weight and other features.
How is a toddler carrier different from a baby carrier?
Toddler specific carriers are different from baby carriers in that they have a wider seat and longer torso to ensure the added comfort of both toddler and parent.
Do I need a toddler carrier?
Depending on the weight of your toddler, you may start to hit the max weight on your favorite baby carrier. If you want to continue to carry your toddler past 45 lbs, then a toddler carrier is the perfect option. The best toddler carriers have a max weight of 60 lbs.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.