For many new parents, a baby carrier is an essential piece of baby gear they will get a lot of use out of, from the newborn days to early toddlerhood. Whether you’re looking to use a baby carrier for getting some household chores done or you’re using it for longer periods when you’re out hiking, you want the best carrier for the job.
The Tula Explore is currently Tula’s only baby carrier that you can use with your baby in a forward facing position (instead of in towards you). However, that’s not the ONLY thing that makes the Explore a great baby carrier. The Explore has a really comfortable infant head support system and a few other details that make it unique and wonderful. In this review, I’ll go over all the pros and cons of the Tula Explore baby carrier and its features.
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How Easy Is It To Use The Tula Explore?
The Tula Explore baby carrier is super easy to use. It’s just like the Tula Free to Grow, Standard and Lite. You put on the waistband by fastening one buckle around your waist, then you load in your baby and fasten one more clasp behind your neck/upper back.
Lots of soft structured carriers function like this, with two buckles. The only problem you may come across is if you have mobility issues or tight shoulders that make it difficult to reach the clasp behind your upper back.
If you’re looking for a carrier that will allow you to fasten all the buckles at the front of your body there are a few options you can click on here that I’ve reviewed like the BabyBjorn One or the BabyBjorn Harmony. An Ergobaby 360 or Ergobaby Breeze will also allow you to cross the straps behind your back and do the buckles up at the side of your body instead of behind your neck.
Tula has a lot of great video tutorials on their YouTube channel that you may want to reference when you’re trying to adjust your carrier. Or… hang on to your user manual. Making adjustments is easy because of the kind of snaps and straps this carrier has. Knowing WHICH adjustments to make is the tricky part. Because this carrier is so adjustable, a new user might feel overwhelmed with how to set it up in order to use it properly (but that can happen with any versatile baby carrier). You can also schedule a virtual fitting with a Tula baby-wearing expert for free, which is a wonderful feature to take advantage of if you’re concerned about how to use it safely and get the perfect fit.
How Comfortable Is The Tula Explore For Babies?
The Tula Explore is well padded without being bulky. My baby loves this carrier so much that I use it when I’m trying to get him to nap and he’s feeling fussy. The head support system is well padded without feeling rigid; there is some padding around the legs to help evenly and comfortably distribute the baby’s weight, and the Explore baby carrier is fully adjustable to get the right fit for just about every size of baby.
I also decided to go with the ‘Coast’ version of the Tula Explore carrier. You can get almost every type of Tula baby carrier in a regular version that is entirely fabric, or a ‘Coast’ version that has a large mesh panel in the main body of the carrier. I prefer mesh carriers because baby wearing can get sweaty! You can always layer up in the winter if it gets cold outside, but I find a mesh carrier to be more versatile in the long run.
The Tula Explore is also really soft to the touch. I quite enjoy how this cotton fabric feels and the mesh in the Tula Explore Coast is much softer than the Ergobaby 360 or Ergobaby Breeze I’ve used. Soft fabric is important since it will be up against my baby’s skin.
The Explore is also certified by the IHDI (International Hip Dysplasia Institute) as being safe for healthy hip development. It’s important to use a good ergonomic carrier with newborn babies because they are at risk of developing hip problems if they’re in a poorly designed carrier. When it’s used correctly, the Explore is a great option for proper hip and spine development
How Comfortable Is The Tula Explore For Parents?
The Tula Explore does a good job of distributing weight evenly across well padded shoulder straps. The fabric is nice and soft and the carrier is very adjustable so you can get the right fit to keep your body from getting sore.
The Tula Explore does not come with lumbar support, which has its pros and cons. Many carriers that have built in lumbar support are not going to work for petite or narrow waisted customers. However, lumbar support can be really helpful for adult comfort during longer babywearing sessions, like if you’re going hiking. You can purchase a lumbar support add-on from Tula if it’s an important feature for you.
The Tula Explore Coast mesh carrier also adds to my comfort as a parent because the mesh helps keep me and my baby cool when it’s hot out.
The Tula Explore is on the more expensive side of soft structured baby carriers, probably because it’s a premium quality product that’s capable of making many adjustments for fit and comfort.
Fabric Type and Care
The Tula Explore comes in a few different fabric options like Cotton, Hemp, Linen, and it comes in some ‘Coast’ options which means they have a polyester mesh body panel. Regardless of the fabric it’s made from, the washing instructions for Tula Explore are the same: wash in cold water and line dry. You can also spot clean the carrier if you’re in a hurry. Although it’s machine washable, it can take quite a while for the carrier to dry out if fully washed.
My cotton Tula Explore Coast is made from 100% cotton with a mesh panel that is 100% polyester. In addition to the testing required to meet ASTM standards, Tula also conducts rigorous third-party assessments of the materials they use to make sure they are free of phthalates, heavy metals and chemicals.
Can You Fold The Tula Explore?
Yes, the Tula Explore can fold. You can see the photos below of my Tula Explore, folded for storage. When it’s folded neatly, it’s pretty easy to stash under my stroller or in a big diaper bag. You just have to tuck in the shoulder straps, roll it up, and then use the waistband to secure the whole thing together.
Tula Explore Key Features:
Shoulder straps: The shoulder straps on the Tula Explore are well padded and quite comfortable. The inside of the shoulder strap is mesh and the outside is cotton because I purchased a ‘Coast’ version of this carrier (which means it features mesh to help keep cool). In a standard cotton only fabric carrier, the shoulder straps are completely fabric too.
Infant seat: The infant seat in the Tula Explore is quite adjustable to fit a wide variety of babies and allows you to use multiple different carry positions. Inside the waistband, there are snaps that allow you to adjust the seat to be more narrow or wider. On its most narrow setting, you can use the Tula Explore without an infant insert for a newborn baby (7 pounds minimum).
The Tula Explore is also currently Tula’s only baby carrier that will allow you to wear your infant on your front facing outwards. You adjust the infant seat with buttons on the front of the carrier to make for a more narrow seat.
Infant head support: I love the infant head support system on this carrier. You can keep it in a lower setting for a smaller baby, or when an older baby is facing forwards. You can also bring it up to offer optimal neck support for a bigger, older baby.
Sun hood: The Tula Explore has a removable hood that I store in the pocket of the waistband when I’m not using it, so it doesn’t get lost. You can use it to have more discretion while you’re breastfeeding in the carrier, or for sun protection. Make sure you can always see your baby’s face so you know they’re breathing safely. If you have an older toddler you’re using this carrier with and you’d like to wear them on your back, the hood can also be used as a sleeping hood, to provide them with head support if they fall asleep back there.
Waistband: The waistband is flexible and lightly padded to help with comfort. It’s a nice and wide, padded waistband that evenly distributes the weight of my baby across my waist and hips. The waistband can extend up to 57 inches (145 cm). If you need a bit more space, you can purchase an additional belt extender from Tula for an additional 10 inches. The Tula Explore is also great for petite or narrow-waisted parents and when I measured my carrier, it looks like it can accommodate even a 24-inch waist (61 cm).
Carry positions: You can use this carrier in front facing out, front facing in, and back carry positions. These front carry and back carry positions are really all the most popular carry positions the majority of parents will want to use a baby carrier for.
If it’s your personal preference to have a baby carrier that can hip carry on the side of your body, you could look at the Omni Breeze or Omni 360 from Ergobaby, but it’s not the most popular carry position since it puts uneven pressure on your body (like ring slings do).
Weight restrictions: The weight restrictions are 7 – 45 pounds without the need for a newborn insert to accommodate a tiny infant. This means you can really get a good number of years of use out of this baby carrier. If it’s the only one you ever purchase, you can use it from newborn into your child’s toddler years.
Pockets: The Tula Explore has one pocket on the front of the waistband. It’s fairly secure and large enough to put a phone or wallet in and has a velcro closure. I mostly use it to carry the detachable sun/sleeping hood when it’s not in use.
If you want a carrier with similar features but a lot more pockets you could check out my review of the Ergobaby Omni Breeze.
What Would Improve The Tula Explore?
- Ability to cross straps
- Lumbar support
- Sewn-in instructions
Ability to cross straps: It’s not possible to cross the straps of the Tula Explore behind your back. Crossing the straps can offer you even more support on a long hike, and depending on your body type, it might help you get the best fit in your baby carrier.
I personally don’t cross the straps of my other baby carriers often, so this wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but it’s something you should consider if it’s an important feature for you.
Lumbar support: The Tula Explore does not have built in lumbar support. The benefit of this is that it’s possible to get a really tight fit if you have a narrow waist or are a very petite parent. The downside is that there is less support for your lower back if you’re having a long baby wearing session with a heavy older baby. The great news is Tula sells lumbar support as a separate add-on and you can purchase it if you feel it would benefit you.
Sewn-in Instructions: Some of my other favorite carriers like the Ergobaby Omni Breeze and the BabyBjorn Harmony have little instructions tags sewn right into the carrier for you to reference on the fly. When you have a complex baby carrier like this, there are a lot of adjustments you can make to it depending on the size of your baby and which carry position you want to use (baby face-in or baby face-out).
You can always reference the instruction manual your carrier comes with, and it’s also available on the Tula website. Tula also has some great instructional YouTube videos and you can even schedule a ‘fit check’ with a Tula expert for free. But I do think it would be an improvement if there was a cheat sheet sewn into the carrier to reference when you’re on the go. It’s a feature I’ve used and enjoyed with other brands.
Recap & Final Thoughts
I like the way the Tula Explore looks, feels and functions. Although there are a few spots for improvement, I think this is a fantastic option most parents would be happy with. I’m also impressed with how adjustable this carrier is while still looking fairly sleek. If you like the idea of babywearing in hot weather I highly recommend getting a Tula Explore ‘Coast’ that has a mesh panel in it like mine does.
- Some of my favorite Tula Explore features are:
- Well padded infant head support system
- Padded leg openings
- Well padded shoulder straps for adult shoulder comfort
- Versatile waistband webbing size that fits XS – XL parents
- Can wear baby face-in or face-out
- Soft fabric and mesh
This carrier is great for everyday use and will take you from your newborn days all the way through toddlerhood. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I have!
For more baby carrier reviews, check these out from Mama’s Buzz!