As a new mom, you’ll want to be as close to your baby as possible every chance you get. You know these sacred moments won’t last forever, so you want to make the most out of every opportunity.
But you’ll also need your hands free sometimes so you can get stuff done! You still have all the same responsibilities as you did before your baby was born, now you just have a host of new obligations as well.
A baby carrier is a best-of-both-worlds kind of thing. With the right one, you’ll be able to keep your baby near but still have your hands available to multitask.
Our Top Baby Carrier Picks of 2018Read Full Reviews
Do I Really Need One?
Baby carriers are a great solution for moms who want to keep their hands free when they carry 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.
They distribute the weight of your baby more evenly on 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 is also some evidence that babies who are carried more don’t cry as much. And less crying is always a good thing.
What Are the Different Kinds?
These are the five main types of carriers you’ll come across:
- Wraps: Wraps come in a range of different fabrics and can be used in a variety of positions. They’re very versatile, but they can be intimidating to learn how to use at first. With a little practice, you’ll have it down in no time.
- Ring slings: Ring slings are quick and simple to use. They’re a long piece of fabric that is secured by rings made out of hard material like metal.
- Pouch slings: 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 Tais: Mei Tais have a fabric piece with four straps — two for the waist and two for the shoulders. The straps are wide to make sure they’re comfortable for mom.
- Buckled or structured carriers: These include ones that go on your chest and the baby backpacks you see some people wearing. These are easy to use and are ergonomically designed for babies.
What Features Should a Baby Carrier Have?
While they may look deceptively simple, baby carriers are well-thought out, right down to the ergonomics.
To avoid buying a product that does your baby more harm than good, you should look over this list of what to consider before making your purchase.
- Safety: You don’t want to end up hurting your baby’s hips or back with something inappropriate. For infants, avoid narrow-based carriers that allow your child’s legs to hang straight down without any support (source). You’re better off finding one that has a wide seat that offers leg support.
- Whether you want long-term use: 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 forward or rear facing, so as your child is ready for the next phase, you don’t have to purchase a new one. Some can accommodate all the way up to 40 pounds.
- Durability: Remember that old saying that you get what you pay for? It’s worth remembering when you go baby carrier shopping. Cheap options may not hold up well when it comes to the zippers, velcro, and stitching.
- Comfort: Both you and your baby need to be comfortable. You’ll want a breathable fabric that won’t have you both a sweaty mess, enough padding, and no random zippers or velcro strips rubbing you both raw.
- Ease of use: You may find the most comfortable and affordable baby carrier on the market, but if it’s too complicated to use, it’s worthless. You won’t use it if trying to put it on leaves you fighting tears of frustration — that may sound dramatic, but as a new mom, your hormones and sleep deprivation will have your emotions all over the place.
- Price: There’s a wide range of prices. While you need to keep an eye on saving as much as you can as a new parent, you also shouldn’t skimp on quality because that can cost you more in the long run.
The Best Baby Carriers of 2018
Baby carriers can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of them. Your little one is as close as can be, and you get to go on with your life, maybe feeling for a moment like a supermom who’s getting everything on her To Do list done! But not every product will be right for you, so think carefully before picking one out. Here are our favorite carriers on the market right now.
1. Innoo Tech Cotton Baby Sling
This wrap is made of 95 percent cotton and 5 percent spandex, which means it has both stretch and breathability. That makes it a great choice even on hot days.
It’s completely machine washable so it if gets stained or if your baby nails it with a lot of spit-ups, a trip through the washing machine will clean it right up. This sling can hold up to 35 pounds, and the product has a lifetime warranty.
To help take the guesswork out of how to operate the sling, it comes with an instructional DVD that shows you the different ways you can wrap your baby.
It’s long enough that you’ll be able to support your baby’s head and neck, and because one of the possible positions is belly to belly, you can configure the sling to allow for hands-free breastfeeding.
- There are no uncomfortable buckles or rings on this sling — it just ties together.
- It comes with a storage bag.
- It can be cleaned in the washing machine and go in the dryer, too.
- This sling allows for discreet breastfeeding.
- It may not work for plus-sized women.
- The fabric can stretch out over time.
2. MiaMily 360 Backpack Carrier
Whether you like carrying your baby against your chest or your back, this 100 percent organic cotton 360 backpack will have you covered. You can carry your baby in every conceivable way with this pack — it offers nine different positions, including forward-facing, back, hip and front.
Your baby should be completely safe in this backpack because it uses top-of-the-line safety materials like self-locking zippers and Duaflex buckles. The system can adjust from either the front or back so you’ll always be able to reach what you need to when you want to tweak the fit.
This can hold your baby from the time they’re 3 months old until they reach a weight of 40 pounds. To make sure your baby has some cover from the weather or sun, it also comes with an organic cotton head cover.
- Fully machine washable.
- It comes with a useful storage bag.
- The ergonomic seat allows your baby to be in the preferred sitting position that’s best for their developing hips.
- This is pretty expensive.
- It’s heavy, which is bad news for parents who don’t want to add to the load.
3. Baby Bjorn Original Baby Carrier
This handy piece of kit will allow you to snuggle your baby against your chest when you wear it. You can face your baby toward your chest or face them forward while you wear it. You can even use it for an infant without needing a special insert.
Pediatricians helped come up with this design so it would be everything that a baby needs regarding offering support to the 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 around while they’re inside, they’ll be able to keep developing properly while enjoying extra mom or dad time.
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.
- This is a good unisex option — the black color and design is gender neutral.
- It’s small and compact compared to some of the other options.
- The upright position helps baby’s airways stay open, and lets you watch to make sure your child’s breathing is okay.
- It doesn’t have a waistband for parents to help take the load off.
- The straps could use some additional padding.
4. Infantino Cuddle Up Ergonomic Carrier
The Infantino model 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 up to 40 pounds, and it can be washed in your machine so you can keep it looking fresh between uses.
The wide waist belt will help take some of the strain off your back, which means you’ll be able to carry your baby longer without feeling discomfort.
- It’s affordable.
- The basic gray color shouldn’t clash with any of your outfits.
- The seat is comfortable for babies and is ergonomically correct.
- It won’t work for breastfeeding.
- It’s really difficult to adjust this to fit securely by yourself — you’ll need an extra set of hands.
5. Lifewit Front/Back Baby Carrier
This rugged option looks more like tactical gear than baby gear, which is something dads may like. There’s no danger of looking like you got stuck wearing your wife’s shawl with this unit.
It’s black and can be worn on the front or as a backpack. It comes with two detachable pieces for your baby’s comfort — a support for the baby’s head, neck and back and a hood that can help protect your baby from the wind and sun.
The carrier has a front pocket that can store small items that your baby may want quickly, like a pacifier.
You’ll feel like your baby’s security is in good hands with the double buckles the leg openings have.
Your baby should love this too, because they can face toward their dad for lots of snuggle time or they can face outward when they’re in the mood to explore their surroundings.
- It’s super affordable.
- The detachable hood protects your baby from the sun’s rays and blocks out light during naps.
- It uses anti-slip materials so your baby won’t be sliding around.
- It only supports babies up to 26 pounds.
- To help keep its shape, you shouldn’t machine wash.
6. Bebamour New Style 2-in-1 Carrier
This is a great option for moms looking for a forward-facing baby holder, but the nice thing is that it can be used other ways too. You can cuddle your baby while they’re facing you against your chest or you can use this as a baby backpack.
In hot weather, this is an excellent option because it uses ventilated mesh to keep your baby from getting overheated. The thick strap around your waist gives you great lumbar support, which you’ll want when your baby is facing forward.
It’s easy to figure out how to use this and thanks to the big padded straps; it’s comfortable to wear. The dark blue color makes it a great unisex option if dad will be using it, too.
- It’s extremely versatile.
- The lumbar support is great because of how wide that strap is.
- It comes with a hood you can use if you want to.
- You can’t breastfeed your baby while using this.
- The material is a little scratchy and might irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
7. Lanova Lumbar Support Baby Carrier
The wide waist belt on this Lanova model really takes the pressure off the lower back, even when you’re carrying your baby for quite a while. The cross-back design gives you great lumbar support as well.
With this you’ll have a way to carry your baby in four different positions — front facing, backpack, face-to-face and hip seat.
It can work for ages from 3 months up to 3 years, and it has a small pocket on the front which can hold small items such as your cell phone or a pacifier.
The carrier comes with a detachable visor to keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes. You’ll get your choice of several colors. It fits people who have waists up to 45 inches so even if you’re carrying a few extra pounds, this is still an option for you.
- It has a firm seat base which may be more comfortable for your baby to sit in.
- It can support up to 45 pounds.
- It should be comfortable no matter the season because the fabric isn’t too light or too heavy.
- It takes several minutes of adjustments to find the right fit.
- This may feel bulkier than some others because of the hard seat.
8. Sleepy Wrap Newborn Baby Carrier
This baby wrap allows you to wrap your baby so you’re facing chest to chest. 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.
You’ll even be able to breastfeed your baby hands-free if you opt for this wrap. Plus, it will offer you some protection from prying eyes, if you like a little modesty when you breastfeed.
This can support weight up to 35 pounds, so you’ll be able to use it well after the newborn phase is over. When it gets dirty, simply toss it in the washing machine to clean it.
- It can fit plus-size moms.
- The fabric is super soft and comfortable.
- It won’t take up much space in a diaper bag.
- You only get three color choices — brown, pink, and gray.
- This might be too hot for summer usage.
9. Boba Air Baby Carrier
The Boba Air Baby design is perfect when it comes to travel. In just seconds, you can fold it up into the hood pouch it comes with. Once it’s packed away, it only takes up a small amount of room in your diaper bag or carry-on.
It weighs less than a pound so you won’t feel like you’ve added a huge amount of weight to your suitcase 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 because it’s entirely black, it won’t show stains on it, which is perfect when you’re on the road with no way to do any heavy duty cleaning.
It holds a decent weight range, accommodating babies from 15 pounds to 45 pounds.
- It’s lightweight and compact.
- It offers both front and back carrying.
- Comes with a very useful hood.
- It won’t work for newborns.
- It’s not sturdy enough for heavy-duty use.
10. TwinGo Original Baby Carrier
This product can be used as a twin baby carrier, but it can also separate into two individual ones. That’s nice if you and your partner are taking each baby in different directions for the day — you can each have one with you.
The whole thing can be folded into a pocket, which makes it great for travel.
These can work for a wide range of heights, anywhere from 4’11 to 6’5. Children weighing from 10 to 45 pounds can sit in each so when used together, they can hold a whopping 70 pounds.
They each have cotton hoods, which will give your babies some shade and cover when they’re trying to nap, but these can easily be detached.
The waist belt helps redistribute some of the weight from your shoulders so you have a more comfortable experience.
- These have pockets so you can carry essentials with you without needing a bag.
- The black color hides any stains they’ll eventually get.
- The adjustable shoulder straps have a safety loop to stop slipping.
- The instructions are a little hard to follow.
- The baby in the front doesn’t have the option of facing forward.
11. Mother Nest Toddler Baby Carrier
Your toddler will appreciate the variety of this carrier. You’ll be able to carry them around while they’re front facing or chest to chest with you, or else have them on your back.
You can cart your toddler around with this until they reach 33 pounds, and you’ll be able to use it no matter what season because of the breathable fabric.
It has a waist belt and thicker shoulder straps to help shift the weight away from your shoulders and lower back. Your child will have protection from the sun or wind, but that section can be folded down if they don’t need it.
You’ll also be able to figure out how to use this easily — no need to analyze any complicated instructions.
- It offers back support for your child.
- It’s easy to use.
- The straps have anti-slip grips.
- You can’t use it for babies under the age of 4 months.
- It slides and shifts a bit when in use.
12. Kelty Transit 3.0 Child Carrier
This baby backpack offers a lot of storage space, along with thick, padded shoulder straps and a waist belt to take some of the pressure off your lower back.
It has six outside pockets and two interior ones, so you won’t have to take an extra bag with you. As far as storage goes, this backpack can fit a lot. When your baby isn’t riding in it, it can double as a carry-on bag on airplanes.
While some carriers are a pain to make adjustments to while they’re already on your body, you’ll be able to reach the adjustment system on this without having to ask anyone for help. Plus, it’s a good unisex option that would work for either mom or dad.
It can hold a total weight limit of 40 pounds so you’ll be able to carry around your child for a long time.
- It includes a sunshade feature.
- This has loads of room for storage.
- It’s easy to make adjustments to while wearing.
- It’s expensive.
- Your baby must be able to hold their heads up to use this.
13. Mini Objex Breastfeeding Baby Carrier
You can use this one from Mini Objex from the first day your baby is born, if you want. It’s made of soft cotton and spandex, so it’ll feel warm and comforting on baby’s skin.
Since you control how you wrap your baby up with this, you can configure it so you can breastfeed while carrying your baby.
This carrier comes with an instruction manual that spells out all the steps you’ll need to take to wrap your little one securely. It’ll offer sturdy and reliable support until they reach about 35 pounds, and it distributes the weight evenly so no one body part will feel any strain.
If it gets dirty, you can clean it in the washing machine.
- You shouldn’t get overheated because of how airy the fabric is.
- It’s very affordable.
- The fabric will feel comfortable for both you and your baby.
- It can only be used to hold your baby against your front, not against your back.
- Some moms have had issues with the fabric sagging over time.
14. Hip Baby Wrap Ring Sling
If you’re tired of all the black baby carriers you see for sale; you may like the Hip Baby Wrap ring sling. It uses bright colors and nice patterns to stand out from the crowd.
You can use this sling to hip carry your baby, and it works for children who weigh 8 to 35 pounds.
Made out of 100 percent cotton, it’s breathable and soft so both you and your baby will feel comfortable. The aluminum ring is strong and dependable.
The simple design takes the strain off the shoulders and the neck, so you can comfortably use it when you’re nursing your baby or as a cover when nursing in public.
You’ll be able to machine wash and dry this low maintenance sling, which is something every mom loves to hear.
- Non-toxic dyes are used, making it safe for your little one.
- The handwoven slings, which are made in India, are all fair trade compliant.
- This is a good-looking, stylish alternative.
- It’s not unisex.
- There isn’t any padding in the shoulder area.
15. Cozitot Baby Sling Carrier
If you’re a plus-sized mama, it can be hard to find something that will fit and feel comfortable. Your search might be over with the Cozitot, a truly one-size-fits-all product.
It is 200-inches long, which means you’ll have all the length you’ll possibly need to make this work for you. It’s also 22-inches wide. You can tie it in the front or the back, depending on your needs.
This baby sling is made out of cotton and spandex, which gives it a good mix of stretchiness and softness, and it can be used to carry around newborns all the way up to toddlers weighing 35 pounds.
It comes with a carrying bag to keep it clean between usages. Included are instructions for how to wrap a baby who can’t support their head, plus separate instructions for wrapping up kids who can.
- It can be easily cleaned in the washing machine.
- It’s affordable.
- Despite its length, it doesn’t take up much room in a diaper bag.
- One side of the wrap is softer than the other so you need to pay attention to which side faces your baby.
- The smaller your baby, the better this works — it will droop a little with heavier babies.
How Many Baby Do I Need?
If you’re the only one using the carrier, you only need to have one. But if you have a partner who also wants to use one, you may want to have two — one for them, one for you.
If you share, you’ll have to constantly adjust it to find a great fit for each of you. Plus, you may not like the style your partner chooses, and they may not like the one you pick.
If you are going to share a carrier, you’ll want to find a good unisex option so it won’t be too girly or too masculine. Also, look for something that can be quickly and easily adjusted as necessary.
What Position Should My Baby Be In?
It depends on the carrier. In some, your baby can be lying down, looking up at you. But in others, your baby will be facing you.
Also, companies make designs where the baby faces away from you, i.e., in the same direction you face. But these are best for slightly older babies who are around 6 months old. Because infants sleep so much, they’ll be much more comfortable using a carrier in which they face you. That way they can rest on you and go to sleep.
When Should I Begin Using One?
Carrier slings are made for newborns to use, but other styles are best for babies who are at least 4 months old. The reason is that some designs don’t have enough head support for little babies. They’ll have to be capable of holding up their heads before they can be put in some carriers.
I didn’t feel safe using a baby carrier when my child was a newborn because I worried that the slings many of my friends used would suffocate my baby. Sometimes the fabric would completely seem to cover their faces, and I wondered how they were getting any air in there at all.
As my baby grew stronger and bigger, I still didn’t buy one because I felt guilty about spending money on something that I could technically accomplish with my own two hands.
But after the birth of my second baby, I received a hand-me-down from a friend who no longer needed it. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It felt like it opened up a whole new world. Suddenly, I could wear my baby and do things with my hands at the same time.
My arms and shoulders no longer had that dull, achy feeling from carting my baby around. I felt more comfortable, was accomplishing more and still got to have my baby right next to me. It was a total win.
Frequently Asked Questions
When worn correctly, no.
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 up as possible and as close to you as possible so that you’re not throwing your center of gravity off and hurting your back.
- Choose one with a 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, carry them on your back rather than in the front or side.
- If pain persists despite your efforts, stop wearing it and consult a doctor, in case there’s a more serious underlying condition.
Before birth, your baby spent months tucked in your womb, knees bent and held high against their bodies. The hip joints take time to stretch out once baby is born and eventually, they strengthen enough to allow for walking. But a very young baby has flexible hips that, if they’re stretched out before they’re ready, can become displaced or even dislocated. By six months of age, the ligaments are stronger, making dysplasia less likely.
The best position for your baby is a natural “froggy position,” where the hips are somewhat spread, and the knees bent and supported. Having legs straightened out long, 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 (source).
So, whether a baby carrier causes hip dysplasia depends on its design and the age of the baby:
- For harnesses: 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 long. Instead, have them straddle you with a leg on either side of your torso.
- For backpacks: Look for a piece that fits between the legs and keeps them apart, as well as a wide seat.
Newborns are smaller and lighter, and they lack the neck muscle strength to hold up their own heads. Because of this, slings and wraps are ideal, but you should still carefully check that your baby is sitting correctly and supported well.
Look for soft, stretchy material that gives a snug hold, and ensure that nothing is interfering with baby’s breathing. Check that what you buy is suitable for the age and weight of your baby, and learn to wrap it to give as much neck support as possible. Avoid any style that requires the baby to sit upright or have neck control, such as backpack carriers.
Baby carriers are about a million times more convenient when traveling than strollers, and yes, you can wear them to the airport and even walk through the body scanners while wearing one. However, you’re required to remove your baby from a carrier during take off and landing.
It’s always a good idea to check with the airport before flying and confirm their policies for children, as these will vary with the child’s age, the airline, or the destination country.
Yes! You may find your baby falls asleep much easier when they’re close to you. Just make sure that their faces aren’t covered, their chins lifted slightly and their head and neck supported. There’s no better way to monitor your little bundle than when they’re right there in your arms.
The MiaMily 360 is one of the best quality baby carriers you can buy. I love that the fabric is organic cotton because I feel better knowing my baby is cuddling up against a safe material.
With a mind-blowing nine different positions for your baby, you’ll never get bored and neither will your baby. The top-notch safety materials this backpack uses makes me feel better about how it will hold up month after month. The fact you can easily adjust this without help is also a nice touch.
Baby carrying can take some getting used to at first, but it’s a great way to have close contact while still getting things done. If you’re new to baby-wearing, I’d love to hear your opinion about any carriers you’ve tried.