You already know that a baby carrier will be a life-changer, freeing your hands and helping you bond with your baby, but with thousands of carrier options available, making your first purchase can be overwhelming.
We have years of experience using baby carriers of all types, and we’ll explain the differences to you, helping you choose the style that will meet your individual needs.
We’ll also provide a list of all the best baby carriers for every situation, so you won’t waste your time and hard-earned money on products that don’t measure up.
- Fully machine washable
- Comes with a storage bag
- Ergonomic seat
- Hand woven slings
- Good-looking, stylish alternative
- Gender-netural design
- Small and compact
- Trustworthy brand
- Six positions & 360° carrying
- Adjustable layers
- Machine washable
- Worn at different heights
- Supports ergonomic carry position
- Can support up to 45 pounds
- Extremely versatile
- Comes with lumbar support
- Includes a hood
- Padded, adjustable neck pillow
- 100% cotton
- Allows for multiple carry positions
- Perfect for all outfits
- Ergonomically correct seat
- Great breathability
- Kind on sensitive skin
- Includes storage bag
- Easy-to-adjust straps
- Grows with your baby
- Lightweight, simple design
Do I Really Need A Baby Carrier?
Baby carriers are a great solution for moms who want to keep their hands free when carrying their babies. They can also take some strain off you. If you think your arms and shoulders will get sore from holding a baby the traditional way when you’re out and about, consider a carrier.
Baby carriers distribute your baby’s weight more evenly across your body so you won’t get fatigued as quickly as you would if you were carrying your baby in your arms.
Baby carriers are also a good choice for places you can’t take a stroller or where one would be hard to push. If you’re planning a day at the beach and you love the idea of taking a long walk along the shoreline, you could definitely benefit from one.
There are many benefits to babywearing; in fact, some evidence suggests that babies who are carried more don’t cry as much. And less crying benefits both your baby and yourself.
Types of Baby Carriers
These are the five main types of carriers you’ll come across:
A baby wrap, unlike other carriers, is made entirely of fabric. It usually consists of one long strip that essentially wraps your baby to your body. Wraps come in a wide range of fabrics and can be used in a variety of positions.
They’re very comfortable, but they can be intimidating and have a steep learning curve. With some practice, they are one of the most versatile baby carriers you can use.
Ring slings are quick and simple to use. They are made with a long piece of fabric that is secured by hard plastic or metal rings. They are a great option for shared babywearing as they easily adjust to fit different wearers. You can also use them from the newborn stage right up through toddlerhood.
Pouch slings are similar to ring slings, but they can’t be adjusted as easily as ring slings can. When using this type, you have to make sure they fit correctly to ensure your child’s safety. They’re inexpensive compared to other types of carriers and don’t take up much room in a diaper bag or purse.
Mei Tai carriers originated in China and have been used for centuries. They consist of a central fabric piece with four long straps — two that adjust around the waist and two for the shoulders. The wide straps distribute your baby’s weight, ensuring maximum comfort for the wearer.
Soft Structured Carriers
Soft structured carriers are easy to use and are ergonomically designed for babies. These carriers are usually made with padded fabric and include clips, buckles, and straps for security and adjustment. You wear them on your chest or back, and they tend to have a backpack look to them.
How to Choose the Best Baby Carrier
While they may look deceptively simple, the best baby carriers have a well-thought-out design and are safe and comfortable for both the wearer and the child.
To avoid buying a product that does your baby more harm than good, review our list of what to consider for safety and convenience.
It’s crucial that you ensure your baby is properly supported in the carrier. If your baby is not sitting properly, they can suffer injuries from falls, or worse, they can suffocate (1).
The UK Sling Consortium created the T.I.C.K.S. acronym to remember for babywearing safety (2):
- T: Tight: Babies should be worn in an upright position, snug against the wearer’s body to prevent slipping from the carrier or scrunching into an unsafe position. If you feel like you need to hang onto your baby in the carrier, the carrier is not tight enough.
- I: In view at all times: You should always be able to see your baby’s entire face at all times in the carrier, without having to move fabric or turn them away from your body. If you’re wearing your child in a cradle position, don’t turn their face or body toward yours; turn them so they’re facing upwards.
- C: Close enough to kiss: Your baby should be high enough in the carrier that their head is within easy kissing range.
- K: Keep chin off the chest: Your baby’s chin should never be tucked downward to their chest as this can prevent proper breathing. There should always be room for at least two fingers to fit between their chin and their chest.
- S: Supported back: A baby’s back should always be straight when they’re in the carrier. If you press your hand lightly against their back, their position shouldn’t change. If they’re hunched, their airway can be restricted. When upright in the carrier, ensure that they are snug against your body but with enough room that you can still fit a hand in the carrier. If your baby is in the cradle position, ensure that their bum is settled in the deepest part of the carrier so their back remains straight.
Babies can also suffer from hip dysplasia if worn in a carrier that doesn’t correctly support their posture (3). Look for carriers that will keep your baby’s legs spread wide (not dangling) and that support your baby’s weight from hip to knee. Your child’s knees should sit slightly higher than their bum.
Ensure that your carrier is made of quality materials — the fabric and any hardware such as sling rings, straps, clips, and zippers.
When first learning how to use a carrier, have your partner or another support person assist you with putting your child in the carrier. If you don’t have help, stand beside a bed or another soft space to ensure a soft landing in the unlikely event you lose your grip on the child when inserting or removing them from the carrier.
You don’t have to settle for something that will only see your child through one phase of their lives. Many carriers offer multiple positions like rear-facing, forward-facing, or hip carries so you don’t have to purchase a new one every time your child is ready for the next phase. Some carriers can accommodate up to 45 pounds.
When it comes to baby carriers, you often get what you pay for. Cheaper carrier options may not hold up well when it comes to zippers, velcro, clips, fabric, and stitching. Look for designs made with sturdy fabrics or multiple layers. Ensure that ring slings are made with quality rings that are certified and have endured a rigorous testing regime. Check that they are pull tested to 250 pounds.
Always clean your carriers according to the manufacturer’s instructions as this will keep them in the best shape for continual use. Ensure your child fits within the recommended weight range, so fabrics won’t have to endure additional stress.
Both you and your baby need to be comfortable when they’re in a carrier. You’ll want a carrier with breathable fabric, enough padding, and no random zippers, straps, or velcro strips that rub against sensitive areas such as your shoulders, or under your arms, or on your baby’s legs.
Stretchy wraps and carriers are great for carrying smaller babies, but without any shoulder padding or back support, they may not be comfortable for carrying heavier babies or toddlers. As your baby ages, you may wish to switch to a different carrier style that better supports them.
It’s worth considering what your climate is like before purchasing a carrier. Many carriers are made with multiple layers of fabric or one layer that makes multiple passes over your body. These are great for cooler climates, but if you’re going to be frequently wearing your baby in the heat, you might prefer a carrier with fewer layers across your body and your baby, such as a ring sling.
Ease of Use
Baby carriers come with a wide learning curve range. Some carriers, such as soft structured carriers or pouches, are fairly easy to adjust and take little time to figure out.
However, woven wraps, ring slings, and other carriers that use multiple holds or require a lot of adjusting may take some time to get used to. Thankfully, there are tutorials for every type of carrier online. With time, practice, and perseverance, you’ll figure it out.
Before using a new carrier, try it out with a doll or stuffed animal to get the hang of adjusting it and using different holds. Before trying your baby in the carrier for the first time, ensure they are well rested and content.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the hang of the baby carrier right away. It can often take many tries before it feels natural and comfortable for both of you. Once your baby is in the carrier, start bouncing gently or walking right away. The gentle movements of your body should make your baby feel comfortable and lull them into a peaceful rest. But if they’re upset and don’t calm down right away, remove them and try again later.
Baby carriers come in a wide range of prices. A basic carrier may cost as little as $20, while some more complex carriers can cost $200 or more. Find a carrier that fits within your budget but isn’t lacking in quality.
When it comes to baby carriers, brand names matter. We always look for trusted brands known for the safety and durability of their products. You don’t want to be taking risks when it comes to your child’s safety.
Best Baby Carrier Reviews of 2021
Here are our favorite baby carriers currently on the market.
1. MiaMily Hipster Plus Baby Carrier
Whether you like carrying your baby against your chest or your back, this carrier by MiaMily has you covered. You can carry your baby in every conceivable way with this pack that includes a detachable hip seat.
Your baby should be completely safe in this backpack with its top-of-the-line safety features like a full-waist belt that provides lumbar support and cushioned shoulder straps. The system can fully adjust from either the front or back so you’ll always be able to reach what you need when you want to tweak the fit.
The Hipster Plus carrier can hold your newborn baby with a minimum weight of eight pounds until they are 44 pounds or four years old. It also comes with a hood to ensure full protection from the sun.
- Fully machine washable.
- It comes with a useful storage bag.
- Ergonomic 6-position seat.
- In the higher cost range.
2. Hip Baby Wrap Ring Sling
If you’re looking for a fun sling-style baby carrier with some color and pizzaz, check out the Hip Baby Wrap ring sling. Its bright colors and patterns will stand out from the crowd.
You can use this sling to carry your baby on either hip, in a cradle carry, tummy-to-tummy, or even on your back. It fits children who weigh 8 to 35 pounds.
Made of 100 percent cotton, it’s breathable and soft so both you and your baby will feel comfortable. The aluminum rings are durable and strong.
The simple design takes the strain off the shoulders and neck, so you can comfortably nurse your baby in the carrier or use it as a cover for nursing in public.
This low-maintenance sling is machine washable — a great feature for busy moms.
- Made with safe, non-toxic dyes.
- Fair trade fabric handwoven in India and colored with plant-based dyes.
- A stylish alternative to solid-colored slings.
- No padding in the shoulder area.
3. BabyBjorn Original Baby Carrier
This soft structured carrier by Baby Bjorn will allow you to snuggle your baby as you go. You can face your baby toward your chest or outward, and it doesn’t require a special infant insert for newborn use.
Pediatricians helped design this carrier to be everything a baby needs, supporting their spine, hips, head, and neck. The head support is firm and adjustable, so as your baby’s neck muscles get stronger, you can adjust the support.
Because your baby’s legs and arms can move freely in this carrier, their development won’t be hindered while they enjoy extra time in their caregiver’s arms.
You won’t have to spend a lot of your time figuring out how to use this, either. You can strap it on and have it adjusted in no time.
- Trustworthy brand has been making baby products since 1961.
- Small and compact compared to some other options.
- The upright carry helps keep baby’s airways open.
- No waistband for weight distribution.
- Minimal padding in the straps.
4. LILLEbaby Baby & Child Carrier
This LILLEbaby six-position carrier is versatile and supportive for both mom and baby, allowing for 360-degree carrying. From long outings in the great outdoors to at-home babywearing, you can find a position that will help you both feel comfortable.
The carrier has an exclusive temperature-regulation panel, so you can venture out in all sorts of weather. When it’s cold, zip it up to keep your little one toasty, especially in the front-facing position. For hot weather, zip it down to reveal a cool, breathable mesh that allows air to circulate around your baby.
Other features include a padded waist belt for extra lumbar support, customized straps to fit all body types, and machine washable materials.
If your family loves the outdoors, this baby carrier will help your baby join you as you adventure together.
- Six position, 360-degree carrying.
- Adjustable layers help keep baby’s temperature regulated no matter the weather.
- Machine washable.
- Inner fabric is not very soft for babies.
5. Ergobaby Omni 360 Ergonomic Baby Carrier
Ergobaby’s all-in-one carrier provides exceptional comfort for both you and your baby. You can use it in a number of different ways to suit your needs, and the adjustable bucket seat supports your baby in an ergonomic natural “M” position.
If you’ve had a Cesarean section, you’ll especially appreciate the waist belt. It can be worn low or high to maximize comfort and ensure the pressure isn’t placed on the sensitive area of your belly.
Though every mom is different, we suggest you wear the waist belt higher when you’ve had a C-section. The weight of your little one will naturally cause the carrier to sink and may drop as your baby wriggles around. Starting higher will prevent unnecessary pain as you test it out for the first time.
The Ergo 360 is made of machine-washable fabrics and includes a UPF 50+ tuck-away baby hood for sun and wind protection.
- An adjustable waistbelt prevents pressure on C-section sutures.
- Supportive ergonomic position is safe for baby’s hip development.
- Includes a baby hood for added sun protection.
- Inner mesh fabric isn’t very comfortable for babies, especially in hot weather.
6. Bebamour New Style 2-in-1 Carrier
The Bebamour New Style is a great option for moms looking for a forward-facing baby holder. The best part about this baby carrier is that you can use it in other ways too. You can cuddle your baby while they’re facing inward, or you can use the carrier as a baby backpack.
The ventilated mesh makes this an excellent option to keep your baby from getting overheated in hot weather. The thick waistband provides lumbar support, which you especially need when your baby is facing forward.
This carrier has an easy learning curve, and with its padded straps, it’s comfortable to wear. The dark blue color makes for a gender-neutral carrier.
- 2-in-1 style is extremely versatile.
- Wide waistband offers extra lumbar support.
- You can’t breastfeed your baby while using this.
- The material is a little scratchy and might irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
7. Baby Tula Sleepy Mesh Carrier
We love the comfort level provided by the Baby Tula carrier. It can be used at any time, but there are a few features that make it especially good for when your little one is sleepy.
It’s made of 100 percent cotton and is super soft and breathable. Your baby will love feeling it on their skin. Moms will love it too because they can throw it in the washing machine for easy laundering.
It also has extra padding for both mom and baby. The padded shoulder straps and waistband help distribute your child’s weight so you can carry them for longer periods while also allowing for quick adjustments without disturbing your sleeping baby.
One of our favorite features, however, is the padded, adjustable neck support pillow. Use it in multiple positions to provide head and neck support for your baby as they sleep.
- Padded, adjustable neck pillow provides ultimate baby comfort.
- Made of soft 100 percent cotton that is machine washable.
- Allows for multiple carry positions to suit your baby’s needs.
- Wide straps hide smaller babies’ faces.
- Steeper learning curve.
8. Infantino Cuddle Up Ergonomic Carrier
The Infantino Cuddle Up is designed to position your child’s legs in the desirable frog-like position that will help their hips continue developing correctly. You can wear it as a backpack or on your front.
It has a cute canopy hood that looks like a teddy bear, so whether it’s cold or your baby needs some shade from the sun, they’ll be protected while looking adorable. If you think you won’t need the hood when you’re out and about one day, you can remove it so it doesn’t flop around when you’re walking.
This can hold kids that weigh from 12 to 40 pounds, and it can be machine washed so you can keep it looking fresh between uses.
The wide waist belt helps take some of the strain off your back, which means you’ll be able to carry your baby longer without feeling discomfort.
- One of the cheapest soft structured carriers.
- The basic gray color shouldn’t clash with any of your outfits.
- The ergonomic seat is comfortable for babies.
- It won’t work for breastfeeding.
- May require an extra set of hands to adjust the fit securely.
9. Acrabros Baby Wrap Carrier
No matter the season, the Acrabros baby wrap carrier is a top choice. In the summer months, enjoy the cool, breathable properties of the wrap. During the winter, you’ll notice that your baby remains warm and cozy wrapped up in this sling.
This is a comfortable and practical way to keep your baby close and safe as you do chores and errands. Keep them facing you as you’re grocery shopping, working at the computer, or sorting the laundry.
This carrier is suited for babies from 8 to 35 pounds, so you can use it from when they’re very young until they’re well into toddlerhood if they still fit.
The carrier comes in four gender-neutral designs to suit any wearer and has double-sided stitching for ultimate durability and strength, even for heavier babies.
- Breathable fabric.
- Fits 8 to 35-pound babies.
- Gentle on sensitive skin.
- Included storage bag.
- Material is very stretchy, so it’s quite hard to work with.
- Lots of extra material, especially for shorter women.
10. Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier
Families on a budget will love this affordable carrier! It grows with your baby and can be used by anyone.
With a lightweight design and four carrying positions, the Infantino Flip carrier is perfect for everyday use by mom or dad. There are two front-facing positions available, one with a narrow seat and one with a wide seat. As your baby grows, they can face outward or be carried on your back.
Because the seat is adjustable to fit perfectly, you don’t have to worry about purchasing an extra infant insert or another carrier as your baby gets older. With this carrier, you can wear your child until they’re approximately 32 pounds.
We love this baby carrier for its easy-to-adjust straps that fit people of all sizes. You can pull them to the perfect position so they fit comfortably. Better yet, all the straps are padded, and there’s even a waist belt for extra back support.
- Easy-to-adjust straps can fit any body shape and size.
- Easily adjustable as baby grows.
- Lightweight, simple design.
- There isn’t a lot of extra padding to keep your baby comfortable.
11. Sleepy Wrap Newborn Baby Carrier
This baby wrap allows you to wrap your baby in an inward-facing position. You’ll get plenty of eye contact and snuggles when wearing this. Because you control which way you cradle your baby, you’ll be able to give them all the head and neck support they need.
The material is stretchy enough that your baby won’t be too restricted in their movements, but you can pull it tight enough that they’ll stay put.
One of the best features of this baby carrier is that you can breastfeed your baby hands-free. Its generous fabric width keeps you covered if you like a little modesty when you breastfeed.
This wrap can support babies weighing up to 35 pounds; however, the stretchy fabric makes for a less comfortable carry after your child weighs 20 pounds or so. When it gets dirty, simply toss it in the washing machine to clean it.
- It fits moms of all sizes.
- The fabric is super soft and comfortable.
- It folds small to fit easily in a diaper bag.
- Not as comfortable with heavier babies or toddlers.
- This might be too hot for summer usage.
12. Tula Baby Free-To-Grow Baby Carrier
If your toddler still likes to be carried, you need to try the Tula Baby Free-To-Grow. It’s designed for babies that weigh 7 to 45 pounds. That means you can comfortably carry an average-sized three year old!
This Tula Baby soft structured carrier comes in a range of designs to suit any parent.
Until your child has good head control, Baby Tula recommends you keep them facing inward. Once their head control has improved, they’ll love traveling on your back. This allows them to see a bit more of the world.
Just note, there is no option for your child to face outward on the front of your body when using this baby carrier.
This comfortable carrier is made of soft, breathable cotton so your baby can stay relaxed and cool. Also, it has padded leg openings so pudgy thighs won’t get irritated, even if your baby is wearing shorts.
- Great for babies between 7 and 45 pounds.
- Two position options.
- Easy to adjust to most body types.
- Made with breathable, soft cotton.
- No front-facing-out option.
- The shoulder padding could be better.
13. Mebien Ring Sling Baby Wrap Carrier
If you’re a plus-sized mama, it can be hard to find a baby carrier that fits and feels comfortable. Your search might be over with the Mebien, a truly one-size-fits-all product.
The tail of this ring sling is over 87 inches long, which means you’ll have all the length you need and more. The fabric at the shoulder can be spread out to evenly distribute the weight of your child.
This baby sling is made of 100 percent all-natural Turkish cotton and can be used to carry newborns all the way up to 35-pound toddlers.
It comes with a carrying bag to keep it clean between usages.
- All-natural fabric.
- It’s affordable.
- Despite its length, it doesn’t take up much room in a diaper bag.
- Comes with a single ring.
14. Boba Wrap Air Baby Carrier
The Boba Wrap Air Baby design is perfect when it comes to travel. In just seconds, you can fold it up into its hood storage pouch. Once it’s packed away, it only takes up a small amount of room in your purse, diaper bag, or carry-on.
It weighs less than a pound, so you won’t feel like you’ve added a brick to your bag when you toss this in.
Because it’s made out of 100 percent nylon, it’s easy to wipe clean if it gets dirty. And the black fabric hides stains, which is perfect when you’re on the road with no way to do any heavy-duty cleaning.
It accommodates babies from 15 to 45 pounds.
- Lightweight and compact design.
- Offers both front and back carrying positions.
- Comes with a useful hood.
- Not for newborns or smaller babies.
- Not sturdy enough for heavy-duty use.
15. TwinGo Original Baby Carrier
The TwinGo Original can be used as a twin baby carrier, but it can also separate into two individual carriers. This is a great option if your babies don’t spend every waking minute together or if one prefers being carried more than the other.
The whole thing can be folded into a pocket, which makes it great for travel.
This carrier can be worn by parents of most heights — from 4 feet 11 inches to 6 foot 5. Children weighing 10 to 45 pounds can sit in each carrier, so this design can hold a whopping 70 pounds when used with two children.
With two removable cotton hoods, your babies can relax in the shade and avoid too much sun exposure.
The waist belt helps redistribute some of the weight from your shoulders for a more comfortable experience.
- Includes handy pockets for carrying personal items.
- Can be used to carry one or two babies at a time.
- Adjustable shoulder straps have a safety loop to prevent slipping.
- The instructions can be hard to follow.
- The baby in the front doesn’t have the option of facing forward.
What Position Should My Baby Be In?
Depending on which carrier you use, there are many positions your baby can be worn in. Younger babies should be held in the cradle or tummy-to-tummy position. As your baby ages and wishes to explore their environment more, and as they gain better head control, you can switch to using a hip carry, outward-facing front carry, or back carry.
When Can I Carry My Baby in a Carrier?
Many baby carriers are made for use with newborns, but some styles, such as hip carriers and backpacks, are only recommended for older babies. The reason is that some designs don’t provide enough head support for newborns.
Baby Carrier FAQs
Can Baby Carriers Cause Back Pain?
When worn correctly, baby carriers should feel comfortable on the back, neck, and shoulders. You shouldn’t feel any muscle pain after using a baby carrier.
But it’s possible that a combination of bad posture, incorrect baby-wearing, or even lingering pain from pregnancy can leave you with a sore back that gets worse when you wear a baby carrier. If you’re experiencing pain, try the following:
- Double-check that you’re wearing it correctly.
- Wear your baby as high on your body and as close to you as possible so you’re not throwing your center of gravity off and hurting your back.
- Choose a baby carrier with a sturdy waistband, and make certain that most of the strain is falling on your hips, not your back or shoulders.
- If your baby is on the heavier side, wear them on your back where their weight will be most evenly distributed.
- If pain persists despite your efforts, stop wearing your carrier and consult a doctor in case there’s a more serious underlying condition.
Can Baby Carriers Cause Hip Dysplasia?
Before birth, your baby spent months tucked in your womb, knees bent and held high against their body. The hip joints take time to stretch out once a baby is born, but eventually, they grow strong enough to allow for walking. While a baby is still very young, they have flexible hips that can become displaced or even dislocated if stretched before they’re ready. By six months of age, the ligaments are stronger, making hip dysplasia less likely.
The best position for your baby is a natural “froggy position,” where the hips are somewhat spread, and the knees are bent, sitting higher than their rear, and are well supported. Having legs straightened, with the hips and knees parallel, is less healthy for babies and may lead to dysplasia and even a heightened risk of arthritis in adulthood (4).
So, whether a baby carrier causes hip dysplasia depends on its design and the age of the baby:
- For soft structured carriers: Look for a wide base that positions legs in a straddling “M” position. Keep in mind how your baby curled up in the womb, and try to mimic that. Avoid narrow seats that let legs hang down straight.
- For slings: Avoid having your baby scooped up or cradled sideways in such a way that their legs are pressed together and extended. Instead, have them straddle you with a leg on either side of your torso.
- For backpacks: Look for a wide seat that keeps your baby’s legs spread apart.
Can Baby Carriers Be Used from Birth?
Newborns are smaller and lighter than older babies, and they lack the neck muscle strength to support their own heads. Because of this, slings and wraps are ideal, but you should still carefully check that your baby is sitting correctly and is well supported.
Look for soft, stretchy materials that provide a snug hold, and ensure that nothing interferes with your baby’s breathing. Check that your baby carrier is suitable for the age and weight of your baby, and learn to wear it in such a way as to provide as much neck support as possible. Avoid any style that requires the baby to sit upright or support their own head, such as backpack carriers, until they are older and stronger.
Can You Wear a Baby Carrier at the Airport?
Baby carriers are about a million times more convenient when traveling than strollers, and yes, you can wear them at the airport. However, your baby carrier must be x-rayed at security, so you may be asked to remove it. You must also remove your baby from your carrier during your flight (5).
It’s always a good idea to check with the airport before flying and confirm their policies for children, as these will vary based on the child’s age, the airline, and the destination country.
Can My Baby Sleep in the Carrier?
Yes! You may find your baby falls asleep much easier when they’re close to you. Just make sure that your baby’s face isn’t covered, their chin is lifted slightly, and their head and neck are supported. There’s no better way to monitor your little bundle than when they’re right there in your arms.