By: Hanna Nakano
Netherland-based baby brand Nuna has a new addition to its uber popular baby gear lineup: its very first baby carrier. Retailing for $219, the Cudl is one of the most expensive carriers on the market. Is it worth the investment?
I’ve been using it with my six-month-old for over a month now and the short answer is yes, but with a couple of caveats.
Nuna Cudl Baby Carrier Review
As a longtime Baby Tula user, the first time I put my baby in the Cudl, it felt like true luxury. The Cudl, made with certified Oeko-Tex® fabric, was designed ergonomically to grow with baby. Most of the carrier’s fabric is mesh, which really did feel more breathable and cool than other carriers I’ve tried, and there is an attached hood to cover your baby’s head. The carrier also comes with two Certified GOTS organic bibs for when your kid drools everywhere, you won’t have to worry.
Designed for babies and toddlers weighing 8 to 35 pounds, this carrier offers three-position options: facing in, facing out (yay!), and back carry. This is most similar to the specs of the Ergobaby 360, though for about $60 more. The Nuna Cudl has adjustable straps and waist belt, and it also has leg openings that you can adapt to support even the tiniest of babes.
One of the best things about this carrier is that you buckle the shoulder straps together before you put your baby in, then pull it on over your head like a shirt. That means no more struggling to heft your baby up while also reaching your hands behind your head to buckle something you can’t even see. On the Cudl, you can even secure the waistband and shoulder straps before you pick your baby up. So easy.
The Cudl features magnetic clasps that snap into place with minimal effort as you are putting baby in, something that newer carriers (like the Colugo) have. Just pop the buckle on top of the knob, and voilà — it clicks into place, tightening two clips inside the magnetic buckle around the knob! It’s a little hard to explain, bottom line is that it’s super secure and way easier than having to attach a standard release buckle.
Another really genius, innovative feature of the Cudl is the integrated infant booster, which effectively replaces what we know best as “infant inserts.” Thanks to this thoughtful addition (which comes with the carrier — no extra purchase needed), you won’t have to lug around a separate infant seat for the newborn days.
Attached with a zipper, the booster (shown above) is a piece of strong mesh fabric that goes across the carrier on the inside, like a hammock. It raises the seat a few inches to bring your tiny baby up a little closer (remember, when babywearing, you want your little one’s head to be close enough to kiss). Once your baby is bigger, simply unzip and tuck the fabric in.
The waistband on the Cudl is velcro. I know babywearing mamas don’t all agree on whether velcro is better than buckles, but after having used both, I was pleasantly surprised. This velcro waistband is both secure and extremely comfortable (no plastic chunk digging into your back when you sit down, can we get a “hell yeah!”?), even for extended wearing of a 24-pound six-month-old. Do keep in mind that velcro is loud, so if you need to transition your sleeping baby out of the carrier without waking her up, you’ll want to take her out of the carrier first… then walk to another room before removing the velcro. Problem solved.
Nuna promises its adjustable padded shoulder straps and waist belts will distribute your baby’s weight evenly, and I think they’ve succeeded here. The wide waistbelt seems to act as an extra support for your back and the padded shoulder straps are very comfy without adding too much heat.
The zippered waist pocket is a nice touch, though it’s not as roomy as I was hoping. Sure, I can store my credit card and keys in there, but my phone (an iPhone 8 Plus) doesn’t fit all the way in, so forget about diapers, wipes and other essentials for a quick outing. For a carrier that was just released in spring 2019, you would think it would easily fit something as ubiquitous as an iPhone Plus, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Note that it will, however, fit a regular sized iPhone (phew!).
As easy as it is to buckle baby in with the magnetic clasps, getting your baby out is… a different story. Mainly because of the release system of the magnetic buckles — they are very difficult to manage.
You have to push down on top of the buckle to open the internal clips, which allow you to pull the magnets apart. But to actually release the magnets, you need to pull up while pushing down… while holding up your monster baby. Maybe I’ll eventually develop the muscle memory to perform this action with ease, but even after a month of using the Cudl, it still doesn’t feel natural — at least not to me. I usually end up propping my foot up on something so I can hold the weight of my baby up making her straddle my leg so I can undo the clips.
That being said, the ease of tightening the carrier while wearing it offsets a smidge of the buckle frustration. Instead of the traditional “feed the strap through the buckle” to tighten, you just pull the straps and by some sort of voodoo, it works with minimal effort. Really, it was so easy for my husband (5’10”) and I (5’2”) to switch back and forth and adjust the carrier for our size difference.
Bottom Line: There are four distinct features we love about the Nuna Cudl that set it apart from others: the comfy Velcro waistband, the super easy magnetic clips, the over-the-head back clasp and the integrated infant insert. Yes, it’s $60 more than the competition, but those who love Nuna understand why it’s worth the extra dollars. Maybe I’ll get better at clipping the magnetic buckles *fingers crossed*, or maybe they’re just that difficult. Either way, I would still recommend the Nuna Cudl to any parent. I’ve carried both my little baby and my 2.5 year old in it comfortably. Though the price point is on the higher side, it’s a chic, well-made, and super durable carrier that I really do think is worth the extra money.
Hanna Nakano is a journalist and photographer based in Washington, D.C. She’s mama to two baby girls, Mila and Gentry. Hanna does not enjoy going to the gym, sticking to a diet or really moving more than necessary. She has a fondness for chocolate, noodles, scouring Craigslist, back yard gardening, reading one book a year, beaujolais, and painting and repainting every room in her house.
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