Ask Shelly: Best baby carrier for Hawaii vacation with 14-month-old?

Hiking Kilauea Iki Crater on the Big Island with toddler

Reaching the bottom of Kilauea Iki Crater on the Big Island in Hawaii. For this day hike with a toddler, a framed backpack carrier with sun canopy and water bottle holders for all was a great way to go.

Short of hiring a Sherpa to carry your child for you on walking adventures (there are places you can actually do this),  a child carrier or backpack can be a saving grace during travel with babies and toddlers. But which one is best? For which ages and stages? And in what climate?  This question comes from Katie:

I see you recommend Ergo Baby for carriers. I have a 14-month-old I am taking to Hawaii in January and he is 24lbs and taller for his age. I want something lightweight for traveling and packing and heat but still good support for myself and him. Do you still recommend Ergo and if so the Original, Organic or Sport or how does the Boba, Beca, Onya hold out in comparison? There are so many out there.

Katie, I don’t know what the nature of your child-carrying adventures in Hawaii will be,  eg. if this will be used for shorter stints of general sightseeing and strolling down short beach trails, or if you have longer hikes in mind. But for anyone planning to do much hiking in the islands with a baby over 20 lbs., I’d encourage you to consider renting a framed baby backpack carrier from a baby gear rental agency on your island (see Hawaii baby gear rentals listed here).

A hike through Hanging Bridges park in Costa Rica, near Arenal

In Costa Rica, the cotton canvas of the Ergo breathed well for both my toddler son and I.

If you won’t be doing longer hikes and want to pack along a child carrier of your own, any of the Ergo-esque carriers that give a soft backpack option may be worthy options for you. I hiked with the Ergo in Costa Rica, and the fabric breathed fine for both my son and I. You are right that “there are so many out there” now, so I hesitate to say which subtle differences may suit you best. One similar softpack carrier you did not mention but might also consider is the Action Baby Carrier, which has a good price point and is made ONLY in the USA. They have a newer model designed for toddlers up to 45 lbs., too.

In Thailand, wearing the Moby wrap

In Thailand, the cotton jersey of the Moby Wrap breathed well and gave a variety of options for positioning my daughter – with extra fabric to help shield her from the sun.

In Thailand, I was very glad to have the versatility of the Moby Wrap, which enabled me to carry my daughter facing forward (her preference for sightseeing) or facing me, and though I did not carry her on my back that trip, I was able to do so with her in the Moby as well. I also liked being able to tuck her completely in, shielded from the sun, when she snoozed, though at 14 months with a tall baby, you my not be able to tuck him in 100%. 😉

Just remember, if you go with any of these models, a lighter color fabric option will help keep your baby (and you) cooler in the tropical sun. Other suggestions, parents? Please share your thoughts with a comment below!

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli

Author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby

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4 Comments

  1. Jessica

    I highly recommend the Kinderpack by http://www.kindercarry.com. Its all handmade (in the USA too). What sets it apart for me is the toddler version has the highest back and widest seat I found in a soft structured carrier. The standard model is also much taller/wider. That makes it MUCH more comfortable as your baby gets bigger. Its also great for travel because its got elastics built in to hold the carrier wrapped up and hold the extra length of the straps. And, I got the optional breathable Koolnit panel on mine which is great for sweaty, hot climates. Its totally saved me carrying around my three year old when we travel alone (which is a lot).

    1. Shelly Rivoli (Post author)

      Thanks for the recommendation, Jessica – good to know!

  2. Ian and Wendy

    This past summer we were exploring Munich when one of our strollers literally snapped in two. My very tall 3-year-old managed fine for the first hour, but I shudder to think of what the next hour would have been like if I hadn’t insisted on bringing our Ergo with us! Even though she weighs right around 40lbs, I was still able to carry her comfortably for more than an hour while we tracked down a new stroller. Of all the baby/kid equipment we’ve bought – my Ergo ranks right at the top. My only suggestion is to make sure you get a model with a pocket. SUPER useful for wipes, keys, phone, etc. (We also own a frame carrier. I prefer the Ergo. Even in the heat).

    1. Shelly Rivoli (Post author)

      EEK! What stroller was this? Hopefully not one on my recommendations page! (Let me know…) http://www.travelswithbaby.com/gear/strollers_single.htm

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