Finding the best baby carrier can be a lifesaver for dad, mom, and baby, especially if you’ve got a little snuggler who doesn’t like to be put down when you need to use your hands.
You know, for things like folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and working on your PhD dissertation. Or folding more laundry.
If you’re new to the parenting thing, however, you may be unsure what type of carrier is best. And what to look for when you’re shopping for one.
Not to worry, the wonder team here at Love and Lavender searched far and wide for the best baby carriers. After much baby lugging and deliberation, we’ve selected our top picks. We’ve also put together useful info to help you choose a baby carrier that’s comfy for baby and you.
Best Baby Carrier For Your Precious Cargo
Before we share our top picks, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of using a baby carrier. You know, so you can get excited about shopping for one!
Benefits of Using A Baby Carrier
- Happy Baby and Hands-Free Convenience – As we mentioned, if you’ve got a bambino that isn’t into being put down (it’s just a phase, we swear), a carrier allows you to cart her around hands-free.
- A Bird’s-Eye-View of the Action – When she’s higher up and can see what’s going on from your vantage point, not only is your baby entertained, she learns about the world around her.
- Nursing Convenience – The right carrier can make nursing much more comfortable, particularly a sling or wrap carrier. It also encourages skin-to-skin contact that promotes the release of hormones that boost your milk supply.
- Gas and Colic Relief – If you have a gassy, fussy baby on your hands, a carrier can contribute to relief! The natural upright position and rocking motion as you move helps expel air.
Types of Carriers
There are three main types of carriers: wrap carriers, sling carriers and structured carriers.
- Wrap carriers are made from cloth and designed to hold the baby close to the parent/caregivers’ body. A wrap carrier does precisely that – wraps around the adult’s torso in a crisscross fashion, so the baby can be held against the chest in a swaddle-like style. They are made from a large, rectangular piece of fabric and typically do not have any buckles or ring adjustments.
- Sling carrier – A sling carrier is similar in that it relies on the adult’s body to hold the wrap and allows for the baby to snuggle in close. It differs from a wrap in that it loops around two rings on the shoulder and is worn across the torso. In other words, it’s worn like a purse, but with extra special cargo onboard!
- Structured carriers are often similar in design to wrap carriers, but with built-in structure from padded straps and/or waistbands. They usually have adjustable straps and some provide a forward-facing option, so your babe can watch the big ol’ world go round and round. Typically, they are designed with older babies in mind, though some can be used from day one onwards.
Each of these types of carriers have their pros and cons, and which one suits you will really depend a lot on your personal preferences and lifestyle.
In the next section, we’ll share our top picks for each type of carrier, then we’ll move on to providing you with a buyer’s guide and safety tips. Let’s keep truckin’ shall we?
Note: when we had our first baby, there was a slight learning curve to getting this right (thanks Youtube videos). I admit, I never fully mastered it! As far as carrying positions go, maybe it was just my body type that didn’t really mesh with a wrap/sling. Nonetheless, I know a lot of moms who love them.
1. Stretchy Infant Sling/Wrap
This snuggly wrap is made of 95 percent cotton, so you know it’s breathable and comfy. The other 5% is stretchy spandex for just enough give, forming around you for the perfect one-size-fits-all for both of you. It’s also machine washable for easy mess management.
The wrap materials and design ensure that it’ll help relieve some back, neck, or shoulder pain. It provides posture-friendly support for the baby too.
*Safe for babies from birth to 35 pounds weight limit.
2. Infant and Child Sling/Wrap
There are no ties or excess fabric involved with this wrap; it just slips on like a t-shirt. Like many other slings, it’s designed to convert from a traditional sling wrap for newborns to an upright carrier for babies ready to sit up and do some people watching.
Made from 100 percent cotton, it’s light, breathable, and cleans up like a champ in the washer and dryer.
Unlike the Boba wrap, this one isn’t one-size-fits-all, but it is available in XXS to XL sizes. Consult the guide on the website or packaging to figure out which size is best for you.
*Recommended for babies in a weight range of 8-35 pounds.
3. Baby Carrier Sling/Wrap
Soft, breathable cotton is the main ingredient in KeaBabies baby wrap and sling. Fitting similarly to the Boba wrap, it wraps around your body and ties securely at the waist, holding your little bundle close for hands-free carrying.
Like the Boba, this wrap is a true multitasker. Use it to swaddle baby when you’re not wearing it, as a nursing cover, or even as a postpartum relief belt.
*Recommended for babies from newborn to 35 pounds.
4. ComfyFit Baby Carrier
This carrier is a hybrid of the wrap and structured carrier designs. It comes with built-in padded neck and head support for when they’re teeny tiny, so there’s no need to use a newborn insert.
It features a padded waist belt and wide shoulder straps for your comfort and a convenient zippered pocket for stuff you’ll need on the go. It’s made from a machine washable polyester/spandex blend for a sturdy yet flexible fit- whether you carry him facing against you or faced out to see the world.
*Recommended for babies from 8-35 pounds.
5. Six-Position 360° Ergonomic Baby and Child Carrier
This six-position structured carrier lets your baby see the world from all angles!
Carry him in front facing in or out or on your back facing in. The carrier features padded, two-way adjustable shoulder and hip straps, providing plenty of support for your back and shoulders. Any way you carry him, you’ll do it in comfort.
We especially like the added features of a detachable hood for napping and a center panel that zips up when the weather’s cold. It also has storage pockets for travel extras.
*Recommended for babies 7-45 pounds.
6. Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Carrier
This ergonomically-designed baby carrier features an adjustable seat to accommodate babies of all sizes. It is optimally structured to hold the hips and posture aligned. The waist belt and wide, adjustable padded shoulder straps take the stress off of your neck and back for all-day use.
The two-size adjustment allows you to carry your baby facing in or out against your belly from infant to older baby, or facing in on your back.
*Recommended for babies 8-32 pounds.
7. Baby Carrier Mini
This carrier’s cushiony comfort makes it an excellent choice for babies from newborn to 12 months old. It has front fasteners so you can clip your little one securely in, then easily get her out when it’s naptime.
Flexible, soft fabrics provide comfortable but secure support, and the carrier includes adjustable head support. As she grows, you can carry her in front facing in or out.
*Recommended for babies 7-24 pounds.
8. Omni 360 All Carry Positions Baby Carrier
This carrier grows with your baby from newborn to the toddler stage without the need for an infant insert for head support. As she grows, you can carry her facing you or turned out on your chest, hip, or back.
It includes a handy storage pouch for your convenience, and wide, padded shoulder and hip straps keep you comfortable and supported, too.
*Recommended for babies 7- 45 pounds.
9. You + Me 4-in-1 Ergonomic Baby Carrier
We like the You + Me carrier’s harness design because it allows you to strap baby in and easily put on and take off the pack. The waist and shoulder straps are nice and padded and adjustable to fit any shape or size.
It accommodates babies from newborn to toddler with your choice of four ways to carry him, and the breathable mesh lining will keep everyone cool and collected. Machine washable and dryable, it’s easy to keep clean, too.
*Recommended for babies 8-32 pounds.
Baby Carrier Buying Guide And Safety Tips
Carriers for Toddlers vs. Carriers for Newborns – What’s the Difference?
Carriers for Newborns
Newborn carriers will fit your baby right out of the oven through at least the first year, if not a little longer (some even carry up to 18 months). These guidelines are based on the baby’s average height and weight, but things like body strength and proportion factor into it too.
Carriers for Toddlers
Most toddler carriers are also designed to accommodate newborns but require an infant insert. This protects your little guy’s neck before he can hold his head up big and strong.
Once they’re past the newborn stage, most toddler carriers can offer more versatility of positions. They’re usually designed to carry babies up to 35 pounds, but some can accommodate 45.
What to Consider When Shopping For A Carrier
None of these are hard and fast rules, of course. Some of us are diehard wrap carrier fans, and some preferred our structured, baby-about-town carriers. As long as the baby is safe and you’re both comfy, whatever works best for you is always what you should go with.
What will you be using it for primarily?
If you’re on your feet for extended periods, you’ll want something more structured with plenty of support. If you’re using your carrier for quick errands, playdates, or just hanging around the house, consider a wrap or sling. They can be used for multiple things like a swaddling blanket or a nursing cover.
Do you have back, neck, or shoulder issues?
Carrying around extra baby weight (on the inside or out) can be rough on your body. Consider carriers with features like wide, padded, adjustable shoulder straps.
Do you need something easy to put on and take off by yourself?
Every parent knows that waking a sleeping baby is a crime, so choosing a carrier that allows you to transition them from carrier to crib easily is essential.
Some carriers can also be hard to put on and take off without assistance or can be complicated to learn how to use correctly at first. Be sure to educate yourself on the workings of the carrier you’re considering.
What’s the weather like?
Keep in mind that breathable fabric like cotton or mesh can keep the baby much more comfortable in hot, humid areas. If you live in a chilly environment, there are carriers available with cozy zip-up liners for extra warmth, too.
Safety Rules For Hands-Free Baby Carriers
The T.I.C.K.S rules for baby carriers were developed by the British Association of Baby-Wearing Instructors as a simple guide to safety that’s suitable for any age and any kind of carrier:
- Tight – All carriers should be tight enough to keep the baby close to the body and remain comfortable and supported.
- In View At All Times – Your baby’s face should never be covered or obstructed by a carrier. Make sure you can see it at all times with a quick glance.
- Close Enough To Kiss – Keep your baby’s head close enough to your chin so you can kiss their head or forehead when you tip your head down.
- Keep Chin Off The Chest– Ensure your baby’s chin is always tilted up and away from their chest to prevent breathing obstruction.
- Supported Back– Baby’s belly and chest should be against you to ensure proper back support. If your baby’s posture is too slumped, it could cause airway obstruction.
Note: a newborn’s back is naturally curved, and that’s the best way for them to ride until they are strong enough to support the head and spine. In the meantime, just make sure their little chin is off their chest.
Hooray For Free Hands!
Get your little guy (or gal) accustomed to using a hands-free carrier, and chances are, it’ll become their favorite place to be!
It’s fantastic for bonding, it makes your life easier, it makes them feel safe, and it can be a lot of fun hanging out, lookin’ out at the world together. That’s a lot of wins.
Good luck, and may you find the best baby carrier EVER to see you comfortably through from newborn to toddlerhood!