The 6 Best Baby Carriers (2017 Guide & Reviews)
Life doesn’t stop just because you had a baby, but it does mean that the way you go about things does change a bit. Suddenly, the things you used to do by yourself are now accompanied by your little one.
Because of this part of new parenting life, picking up a baby carrier is a pretty important thing to do. It's one of the single best pieces of baby gear that I bought. It freed up my hands but still allowed me to be super close to my little ones.
So what are the best baby carriers on the market?
Quick Picks: Best Baby Carriers
Baby Carrier Reviews
The Tula Ergonomic Carrier (click here to check the price on Amazon) is built with a keen emphasis toward ergonomics, but it’s also constructed to provide you and your baby with versatility.
Its support and seating makes it possible to use it as a front and a back carrier, while extra features like a removable hood can provide you and your baby with extra privacy and protection from the elements.
What we like
- Wide range of easy adjustability. Parents give the Tula Ergonomic Carrier high marks for its broad capacity to adjust. This could be extremely important if you and your spouse have noticeable discrepancies in height and/or weight.
- Little accessories add up to a lot. The extras really make the Tula stand out to some parents. Elements like the adjustable hood, infant insert, and a compartment to store extra pacifiers and lovey blankets add a noticeable layer of convenience to its usage.
- An extremely comfortable carrier to use. Moms note that its adjustability does a good job of distributing weight in a comfortable manner. What’s more, the device has sufficient padding, meaning that it won’t sharply dig into your hips or shoulders over time.
Things to be aware of
- It gets dirty quickly. The Tula has a tendency to accumulate lint and debris very fast, so if you’re not diligent with a brush, this could be a bit of an issue.
- Not as intuitive to use as other carriers. Some moms point out that the carrier has a longer learning curve to use properly, which may catch people looking for something basic somewhat off-guard.
- The fabric may not hold up over time. Some parents note that the Tula's fabric may be a bit more susceptible to wear and tear if used for an extended period. This may be something to consider if you’re planning on using it for multiple children over the course of your parenthood.
Ergonomics has been a buzzword in every day adult life, so it makes sense that the same principles that govern the concept trickle down to realm of baby carriers.
The Ergobaby 360's (click here to check the price on Amazon) strength lies in its design, which promotes proper baby posturing in a comfortable manner while simultaneously providing parents of all sizes a maximum level of comfort.
What we like
- Multiple ways to carry your baby. The Ergobaby 360 eliminates the problem of having to choose one particular carrier style by its ability to adjust to four different styles. These different positions make the carrier very versatile, particularly if you plan on being active with your baby.
- Comfy for your baby, comfy for you. The ergonomic design of the 360 allows your baby to fit in quite snugly for long periods of time. The design also saves you significant wear and tear on your body, particular if you’re planning on utilizing its services for a lengthy stretch.
- It comes with an infant insert. An infant insert is a huge plus; it will allow you to use the carrier as soon as you bring your baby home. This also gives the carrier extended usage as your baby grows.
Things to be aware of
- The Velcro can be a nuisance. Some moms complain about the Velco’s presence on the carrier, even as they acknowledge its importance. Specifically, they complain about its noise and its tendency to accidentally stick to things.
- No pockets or storage spaces. Unlike some other carriers of this design, the Ergobaby 360 doesn’t have any built-in compartments to stuff toys or other important items to summon on an as-needed basis. This could especially be a hindrance if you and your baby will be out for a lengthy time.
- Discreet nursing can be difficult. The nursing hood that comes with the 360 is a bit on the smaller side compared to other models. Some moms have said that this has made it a challenge to nurse in a modest fashion.
Babybjorn is such a popular brand of carrier, its many fans have practically turned it into shorthand for all carriers in general. And this classically designed model (click here to check the price on Amazon) shows why such a fandom exists.
Easy to use and built for safety, this Babybjorn provides your baby with an amply supported carrier experience with well-thought out physiological accuracy.
What we like
- A streamlined design that makes sense. The build of the Babybjorn Carrier makes using it about as intuitive as carriers get. The clasps that secure the device are easy for you to access, and this makes it very easy to put the device on and off.
- Extremely safe for your baby. It’s very clear that baby safety is the main priority with this carrier. Every aspect of its build has a baby’s physiology in mind, from proper leg positioning to terrific back and head support.
- It’s easy to adjust. You can start using this carrier with your newborn and continue using it up until he or she is 25 pounds. As such, it could be the only carrier of this kind that you’ll ever need.
Things to be aware of
- Distributes weight and pressure poorly. Several moms expressed concern about how the Babybjorn's design funnels weight onto your shoulders. The issue with this is this distribution can create stress and pain on your neck and back over time, especially when your baby grows to over 10 pounds.
- It’s not designed for basic comfort. The carrier’s shoulder straps are pretty thin and lack padding. Because of this, the device may have a tendency to dig into your shoulders and cause irritation or discomfort.
- Uncomfortable in warm weather. Some moms have noted that the carrier absorbs heat very rapidly. Because of this, it can be unpleasant to wear when the temperature rises.
Adaptability is the name of the game when it comes to the Boba 4G Carrier (click here to check the price on Amazon).
This carrier almost feels like a hybrid between a mei tai and a wrap, and this makes it easy for you and your baby to use, regardless of the activity you’re doing.
What we like
- Provides great comfort for parents. The Boba 4G gets rave reviews for how its design evenly distributes the weight. Moms specifically point to the carrier’s adjustment points, and how they help to lessen the discomfort that may otherwise be present around the shoulders and hips.
- Ease in adjustability is great for parents of all shapes and sizes. Plus-size parents in particular point to the carrier’s broad capacity for adjustment as a strong feature. You won’t have to worry about dealing with extension belts or any other extra equipment if you’re not petite.
- Strong and sturdy. The Boba 4G has a pretty impressive weight range, as it can hold toddlers up to 45 pounds. You may find this extra capacity pretty important if you’re an active parent with a toddler who may be a bit too tired of walking while you’re out and about.
Things to be aware of
- Can be difficult to learn how to use. Because there are so many different ways to adjust the carrier, the Boba 4G has a steeper learning curve than other carriers. This may be cause a bit of frustration for parents, especially if you don’t have much experience in using carriers.
- Limited baby positioning. Although the adjustment capacity makes it easy for you to do a wide range of activities with your baby, the way your baby can sit in the carrier is limited. Some people do lament that their baby cannot be carried facing outward.
- Can get dirty rather quickly. Some moms point out that the carrier’s fabric makes it a magnet for lint and other debris, which may be an issue if you want to provide your baby with the cleanest experience possible.
This machine-washable Boba Baby Wrap (click here to check the price on Amazon) acts like a traditional wrap, free of snaps, straps, and buckles.
This is designed to keep your baby snug and close to you – and your voice and heartbeat – as you both go about your daily business. The stretchy, easy-to-tie fabric also simplifies discreet breastfeeding.
What we like
- Easy to use. If you’re a bit nervous about using something that relies on tying instead of buckles or snaps, the Boba Baby Wrap will put you at ease. Parents rave about how easy it is to quickly tie carrier and wrap it around your baby securely and worry free.
- A snug, sleep-inducing environment. Moms give the wrap high marks for how comfortable it is for babies, particularly younger ones. Its combination of snugness and comfort may make it pretty easy for your baby to fall asleep.
- Easy to keep clean. The machine-washable fabric is easy to clean should your baby accidentally make a mess. This can help you keep the wrap retain a high level of softness and coziness.
Things to be aware of
- Could be difficult for full-figured moms to use. Mothers with larger bust lines have noted that the wrap’s design has a tendency to make a baby too snug against their chest. They also note that trying to adjust this snugness may result in the baby slinging too low on the body.
- The stretchy material may be problematic. Some moms point out that the wrap’s material has a little too much give to it, which may cause issues if you’re trying to wrap a larger, active baby.
- Can get uncomfortable in heat. Some moms note that the fabric isn’t too breathable, which means it doesn’t expunge heat too well. This could be problematic during the summer or if you live in an area marked by consistently hot or humid weather.
The Baby K'tan's (click here to check the price on Amazon) main appeal is that it acts like a wrap without excessive wrapping. This gives the carrier some style points, but it more importantly provides the baby efficient support for the head, shoulders, and back.
Its “double loop” design also provides ergonomically-driven weight distribution.
What we like
- Offers a wide range of versatility. The design of the Baby K'tan wrap provides an extra measure of malleability that you may not get with some wrap carriers. You can use it to carry your baby on your hip or your back, and your baby can also face forward.
- Easy to wear and adjust. Moms who like the Baby K’Tan point to how quick it is to put on, regardless of how they plan on using it. These raves tend to point out that the process is more efficient in comparison to other wraps.
- Soft and comfortable for baby. The efficient wrapping design means no stitch of fabric is wasted when it comes to creating a comfy environment for your baby. This translates to having a carrier that’s conducive to naps, which could be a huge bonus for those with newborns.
Things to be aware of
- Not easy to wash. Parents point out that washing the Baby K’tan is tough, because the fabric tends to shrink when it gets machine-washed. Even though it can be laid out to dry, mistakes do happen. In this case, a mistake may end up making your baby uncomfortable as the fabric slowly stretches back to normal.
- Breathability issues. Some moms say the fabric absorbs heat rapidly, which can make it uncomfortable for them in a warm environment. This may be something to consider if you live in a warm-weather part of the country.
- Not as comfortable as other wraps. While the Baby K'tan is designed for weight distribution, some people point out that it’s not as efficient in this department compared to other models. Some specifically point to the development of back pain when the carrier is used for a long stretch of time.
Why you really need a baby carrier.
The first thing that may motivate you into looking into a baby carrier is relief. After all, you may get a bit tired of carrying your little bundle of joy for extended periods of time. This is especially the case if you’re out and about.
Giving your arms a break and the freedom to do other things is a pretty important thing to consider. However, the most important reasons why a baby carrier is such an essential part of parenthood has to do with the needs of the baby.
First and foremost, babies – especially newborns – need to be held. Your little one will thrive on close physical contact you, and it’s been proven that doing so provides psychological and physical benefits, from promoting breastfeeding to reducing a baby’s pain.
A carrier also provides babies an excellent way to feast on their surroundings. When babies become aware of the world, they’ll want to take in as many sights and sounds as they possibly can. Wearing your baby via a carrier will make this important task much easier.
A carrier can also be a great mood-changer. If you have a grumpy or sick baby, being snug and close to you will change his or her disposition in short order. It’s also a great way to help soothe a baby dealing with colic.
Getting used to a baby carrier.
Even though a carrier provides immense benefits, your baby may not be all that enthused about things at first glance. Much like a lot of things in the baby world, it will take your little tyke an adjustment period to get used to whatever contraption you use.
There are ways that you can make this experience as pleasant as possible for the both of you. For instance, you’ll want to make sure your baby is in a happy and alert mood. Babies that are sad or exhausted aren’t going to be interested in checking out something new, no matter how cool or fun it may be for them.
It may take your baby a little time to get used to the carrier regardless of mood. This can be somewhat expedited by moving around a bit. A nice walk or even a gentle bouncing session may do the trick here.
And even when your baby gets comfortable with being inside a carrier, don’t be alarmed or upset if he or she suddenly decides to refuse to be put in one. This tends to happen as babies start learning how to walk, as they’ll prefer to explore the world on their own terms. However, most babies will eventually want to rekindle their relationship with the carrier once they mastered mobility.
The different types of baby carriers.
There is no such thing as a universal baby carrier. Rather, there are several options for you to choose from. So much so, in fact, the choices can be a bit overwhelming.
But don’t fret. Even though there are different types of carriers out there, it’s important to remember that they all carry the same purpose of making sure your baby is comfortable and happy while he or she is near you. Each style just goes about this in a different way.
There are five basic types of carriers that are on the market:
- Ring slings. As the name may suggest, this carrier is a rectangular piece of fabric that’s threaded through two rings to create a sling. This size of the sling is easily adjustable to perfectly fit the size of your baby, and its positioning makes it an easy carrier to use for breastfeeding. Because it’s one-shouldered, it can be tough to wear for lengthy periods. We have a whole separate guide on ring slings here.
- Pouch slings. This is a piece of tubular fabric that creates a seat for the baby to sit down in. These slings tend to be no-fuss options that are ideal if you plan on carrying your baby for short bursts of time, such as a quick cuddle or a fast jaunt down to the grocery store.
- Wraps. This is another carrier whose name describes how it works, as it’s a length of fabric that ties around you and your baby. It’s generally accepted that it provides the highest level of versatility. At the same time, it’s also the most difficult piece to utilize properly.
- Mei tai carriers. This rectangular carrier comes with four straps, one on each corner, that you use to tie your little tyke to your body. You can wear the carrier on the front, or on your back like a backpack; with the latter option providing you the ability to have your baby feel like he or she is going “piggyback.”
- Buckle carriers. This carrier is very similar to a mei tai carrier. The only difference being the fabric is secured through buckles or clips rather than tied strings. These tend to be a good choice for those that want to engage in activities with their babies, such as hiking on day trips.
Even though having a baby carrier can be a terrific way for you to be close to your little one, it’s not a fail-safe contraption. As is the case with pretty much any device geared toward a baby, proper carrier usage is solidly linked to a number of safety procedures that should always be at the forefront of your mind.
The biggest rule to adhere to is to always make sure your baby has a clear airway. This is particularly the case when your baby is under 4 months and hasn’t figured out how to hold his or her head up. As such, your baby runs the risk of having his or her airway pinched and restricted.
To prevent a catastrophe, you’ll always want to make sure your baby is in an upright tummy or a tummy position while in the carrier of your choice. Your baby’s head should also be facing up and out and turned away from your body. The only time it’s acceptable for the head to be turned toward you is during nursing.
You should also make sure that the carrier is holding your baby in the same manner as you would. Just because you’re “hands-off” in a carrier situation, it doesn’t mean that the way you would instinctively hold and infant goes away. The carrier should always give your baby ample support to his or her head, back, and backside.
Before you put your baby in the carrier, it’s always a good idea to give it a once-over to make sure no unexpected wear and tear has cropped up. It’s better to discover something has gone afoul before your baby unwittingly lets you know something’s not right.
It’s also a good idea to practice carrying your baby in a safe, sound environment. It may be a good idea for you to recruit a friend to be a “spotter” if you’re especially nervous about your baby’s safety during this time.
Finally, always bear in mind that common sense is your best ally when it comes to putting your baby in a baby carrier. The general rule of thumb here is don’t put the carrier – and your baby – in a situation where it would be unsafe to carry your baby in your arms. In other words, just don’t do anything stupid, and you’ll be fine.
We like the Tula Ergonomic Carrier because it offers the most complete carrier experience for you and your baby. Its versatility allows you and your little tyke to have a broader range of carrier-based experiences in a way that doesn’t cut into either one of your comfort level. It also scores points for having easy-to-get-to accessories.
The Tula's whistles and bells ultimately add up to an efficient carrier experience that provides comfort for your baby as it provides you with relief. This latter metric shouldn’t be ignored. After all, parenting is hard enough – you deserve a little bit of a break!