If you search online, you’ll find many discussions about ‘the best’ baby carrier. Manduca vs Ergobaby seems to be one of the biggest debates, although there are many other excellent baby carrier brands. We’ve found a baby carrier to be absolutely essential when traveling with young kids. There are even special lightweight travel baby carriers. Check out our Manduca baby carrier review below.
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After reading lots of reviews and seeing a few demonstrations I decided on the Manduca baby carrier. I bought it when our little one was just four weeks old and to be completely honest, the first 1,5 years we hardly used it. My shoulders are quite narrow and when carrying our son at my front, the shoulder traps kept sliding off. I’ve since learned that the trick is to cross the back straps to create a narrower fit, but I didn’t know this back then. Also, we lived on the ground floor, so taking the pram was always super easy.
In case you’re wondering, this video demonstrates how to cross strap front carry the Manduca carrier. Wish I’d known this before!
Baby carrier: an essential travel accessory
Transporting your child is a whole different matter when you’re on the road. During our 8 months in South East Asia we’ve used our Manduca carrier practically every day. So you could say we’ve thoroughly tested it! Travel with babies and infants is so much easier if you have a baby carrier! We almost left ours at home and I can’t tell you how happy I was that we did take our Manduca.
The importance of an ergonomic baby carrier
Before I start with our experiences and the pros and cons of the Manduca carrier, just one more thing… Whichever baby carrier brand you buy, please make sure you get an ergonomic carrier! If you know how to tie them, wraps can also be a great choice. The best position for your baby in a carrier or wrap is the so-called ‘M’ position, with their bum lower than their knees (which should be flexed) and hips spread to 90 degrees. This minimizes the stress on your child’s lower spine and evenly distributes their weight. Ergonomic baby carriers by design also make it much easier for you to carry your baby for long periods. Your child sits close to your body and this, combined with the padded waist strap, minimizes the strain on your lower back by letting you carry the weight on your hips.
So often I see parents carrying their baby’s in a forward facing-out carrier, like the Baby Bjorn. With little legs that are dangling, back forced in an upright position and hips not supported they look so uncomfortable. And the kids are often definitely not close enough to kiss (the trick to know if your carrier is adjusted correctly). I really have to fight to keep my mouth shut.
The best baby carrier for travel
Which baby carrier you can best use for travel depends on your needs. You can buy lightweight travel baby carriers, such as the Boba Air and the BityBean. They might work if you’re only using it for short stints, such as boarding and embarking an airplane. These travel carriers are lightweight and pack small, so you can easily put them in your daypack and they can also be used for infants and toddlers. Making them as small and lightweight as possible has a downside. They offer less support for both child and wearer. If you plan on using your carrier for longer periods a proper, ergonomic carrier, such as the Manduca, Ergobaby or Tula, is a much better choice. Not only does it support your baby better, but it also distributes the weight more evenly making it easier to carry your child. Ergonomic baby carriers are a bit bulkier than a travel carrier, but still small and easy to pack compared to a pram or stroller. I used to just clip the carrier around my waist and let it hang down when we weren’t using it. Not the most fashionable look, but definitely practical.
Baby carrier comparison table
|Type||Boba Air||New Style||Original||Urbanista|
|Check latest price >>||Check latest price >>||Check latest price >>||Check latest price >>|
|Features||Small and lightweight travel carrier
Not suitable for extended use
Made of 100% nylon (quick dry & breathing material)
|Integrated newborn pouch
100% organic cotton inner layer
Can be extended to support toddler with Manduca Extend
|Can be used from 7-12lbs with newborn insert (sold separately)
Easy breastfeeding & UPF 50+ tuckaway baby hood for sun & wind protection
Extra large zippered pocket
|Can be used for newborns with Tula infant insert (sold separately)
100% OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified canvas
|Weight||0.9lb (0,4kg)||1,3 lb (0,6kg)||1,9 lb (0,9kg)||1,6 lb (0,7kg)|
|Positions||front and back||font, back and hip||font, back and hip||front and back|
|Child’s weight||15 – 30lb (7 – 15kg)||7 – 44lb (3 – 20kg)||12 – 45lb (5 – 20kg)||15 – 45lb (7 – 20kg)|
Our experience with the Manduca baby carrier
Since we didn’t use the carrier much when our little world traveler was really young, we weren’t even sure if we were going to bring it for our big trip. We had way too much luggage and weight already! But on a whim, we decided to take it anyway. Our first two months in Dahab, Egypt we didn’t use it at all as we could borrow a pram with air tires, which worked very well on the beach and sandy roads. But from the moment we arrived in Indonesia, our first destination in South East Asia, we’ve used the Manduca almost every day. I think we qualify as experts by experience!
Baby carriers: ideal for air travel
Have you ever tried boarding a plane carrying maximum sized carry-on luggage and your baby or infant at the same time? Or handling a toddler who’s just started to walk, while at the same time pushing or carrying your suitcase? With budget airlines you often have to walk a bit across the tarmac to enter the plane by a staircase, or take a bus to the airplane first. At 2 years old our son weighed a healthy 12 kgs and he was definitely getting too heavy to carry in my arms for longer periods. Carrying him on my back was a piece of cake though! I also found it quite reassuring to have him close-by and safe while in busy airports. It’s only too easy for a little one to wander off and get lost in unfamiliar places. While you can usually take your stroller all the way to the airplane, very often you have to pick it up at the baggage claim at the other end. Sometimes the airline offers complimentary strollers, but in our experience there usually aren’t any when you need them. With a baby carrier you don’t have this issue.
Hiking and visiting busy places
Baby carriers are ideal in any situation where you want to keep your little one close. Even when they start to walk by themselves kids can tire easily and a baby carrier is an ideal way to carry your child for long periods of time. Crowds can be quite scary (for both kids and parents!). We visited many busy (night) markets with our little boy and never had any issues. He’d snuggle safely on my back and had fun looking around. Sometimes he’d even fall asleep. Also, if you enjoy hikes, a baby carrier is the way to go. Our little one liked to practice walking whenever he had the chance and whenever possible we’d let him walk, but very often hikes were just too long or too difficult. We visited many waterfalls and did a lot of walks that wouldn’t have been possible without the carrier.
Motorbike rides with a baby carrier
The Manduca carrier also allowed us to take our little one on the motorbike. A very practical means of transportation when you’re traveling around Asia. I’m not sure if this is what Manduca had in mind when they designed the carrier, but we loved it 🙂 We definitely would not have seen as much of the places we stayed without the bike and I definitely would not have felt safe driving around with our little one without the carrier. The locals thought it very funny that I carried our boy on my back and kept waving and taking pictures of us when we were driving around. Still it seemed a lot more safe than the way they transport their kids, the little ones standing between their parents’ legs or sitting in front of the parents on the seat holding themselves steady with their feet on the dashboard. Now that’s a sight! Our little one really enjoyed himself on the bike and would often spread his little hands Titanic-style, trying to catch the wind while sitting comfortably on my back.
Manduca baby carrier: our verdict
From the above it’s not hard to conclude that we are very happy with our Manduca and would recommend it to all families that travel with small kids. Our baby carrier easily survived 8 months of very intense use. We’ve washed it a few times, but even with being in the sun all day every day the colors have only faded a tiny bit. The Manduca is very well made and the material is incredibly sturdy. I was a bit worried the plastic clips would be the weakest part, but they’re not showing any signs of wear. We payed €89.90 for our Manduca when our son was just born. It seemed a lot of money at the time, but considering that we’ve used our Manduca until our son was 2,5 years old it’s actually really good value for money. And it’s so sturdy that it can easily go another round.
At 2,5 years old our little world traveler had definitely outgrown the Manduca, his legs were no longer supported properly. But by then he could easily walk longer stretches by himself. A great option however, is to buy the Manduca ExTend, which will enlarge the seat from the usual 32cm till 50cm, allowing you to carry your child in the carrier even longer. We didn’t buy this, but it’s a terrific idea. We tried the Tula Toddler carrier and it was great, but this solution is much cheaper than having to buy a toddler carrier. We’d love to hear from people who’ve tried the Manduca ExTend!
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