Best Baby Carrier Reviews in 2018
You’re having a baby. Congratulations! There is so much to plan for and think about. But have you thought about how you’re going to carry around your new baby every day? Not many new moms do, which is why choosing a baby carrier is one of the most important yet often overlooked pieces of baby equipment.
Why Do You Need a Baby Carrier?
Throughout history, moms all over the world have carried their babies on their backs at some point to keep their hands free. But what’s most important about “wearing your baby” is how it comforts your child and enables the two of you to develop a strong bond. Your children always love to snuggle with you, whether on your chest or back. A baby carrier provides that opportunity while allowing you to stay on the move.
What Kinds of Baby Carriers Are There?
In the past, baby carriers consisted of anything from soft cloth to a wooden board that babies were strapped to by strips of bark. Thankfully, today’s carriers are made from cotton and spandex and have a lot more padding and adjustability so both you and your baby can be optimally comfortable. Plus, they come in a variety of modern and trendy colors and patterns that even your husband won’t mind wearing. Baby carriers offer more choices and convenience now than ever before.
There are five types of carriers available: wraps, slings, mei-tais, traditional soft-structures, and framed baby backpacks. Here’s how they’re different:
• Wrap- a single piece of fabric that your wrap around you and your baby
• Sling- a single piece of fabric that wraps over your shoulder and across the opposite hip forming a pouch for your baby. Though slings are highly customizable, they should never be used for newborns since it increases their risk of suffocation and hip dysplasia.
• Mei-Tai- has four straps that attach to the soft body of the carrier that can be tied in a variety of ways that best suit you and your baby.
• Traditional Soft-Structure- looks a lot like a backpack with padded shoulders, clips, and straps that attach to the body of the carrier.
• Framed Baby Backpack- the carrier is attached to a metal frame that you wear on your back. This kind of carrier is suitable only for toddlers and older babies and is best used for long hikes or day-long events.
In this review, we only looked at the traditional soft-structured carriers since they are the most popular. They have a bucket-like structure that your baby sits in with holes for the arms and legs, they attach to your body with straps across your back and waist, and they usually accommodate different seating positions for your baby.
Considerations When Buying the Best Baby Carrier
When shopping for a baby carrier, there are two main things to look for:
(1) proper support for your baby’s head and back, and (2) straps that allow you to bring your baby close to you as well as raise him high enough so that you can kiss the top of his head. Studies have shown that this kind of positioning is best for your baby’s safety and comfort. Also, consider choosing a carrier that you can use from newborn to the toddler years so you can get the most use out of it.
Here are some other things to think about when buying a baby carrier:
Not all carriers allow you to position your baby to sit however you like, so think about what you need. All carriers allow your baby to face toward you, but not all are designed so your baby can also face forward. Some convert to a backpack that allows your older baby to see more of the surroundings, and still others can slide so you can position your baby naturally on your hip. Take the time to consider your natural style and practical needs.
Most of your baby’s weight will be felt in your shoulders, which can cause a lot of strain. Since you might be wearing your baby for long periods of time, choose a baby carrier that has loads of padding in the shoulders and waistband with high-quality stitching. Having a good waistband is essential to help you support your baby’s weight and take some of the stress off your shoulders and upper back.
Depending on the length of the straps, some carriers are better suited for plus size moms while others are better for petite shapes. Check that the straps have enough length to accommodate the size and shape of your body for an optimal fit.
The straps and clips should be easy to reach and adjust. Some carriers also have a hook-and-loop system in the waist. Check if you can tighten it easily. Good baby carriers will let you make the necessary adjustments in the shoulders, waist, and across the back so you can comfortably wear the carrier as long as necessary.
Ease of Use
Your carrier needs to be easy to get on and off, especially single-handedly, or else you won’t use it and you’ll have to carry your baby in your arms. That gets exhausting quickly. Also, check how simple it is to secure your baby inside so you can get moving right away.
Other Features You Should Consider
Different baby carriers are made of different material, which doesn’t always work well for the weather where you live. If you live in a warm climate, choose a carrier that has lots of breathability. Look for mesh material and single layer cotton to help keep your baby from getting too hot. If you live where it’s cooler, you might look for a carrier that has more canvas. But keep in mind that babies tend to stay toasty and warm regardless of the climate, so it may be better to choose a carrier with light material and then use a blanket or attachment cover when the temperature drops.
Slide-in clips can also sometimes be difficult to manage if they are in hard to reach places. Check where these attachment pieces are and if you can adjust them on your own.
Your baby has to sit somewhere while you carry him around, so some companies have created carriers with adjustable seats instead of just holes for your baby’s legs to hang through. If you have an infant, a narrow seat will be more comfortable and allows for an “M-shape” position that is considered best for little hips. As your baby grows into a toddler, the seat can be widened to accommodate more weight and size and prevent your child’s legs from spreading apart too far. Not all carriers have a seat that adjusts like this, however.
There are several extras you can consider when buying a baby carrier. Some come standard while others have to be purchased separately. Be sure to check if the one you want costs extra. Here are the most common.
• Bib: Many carriers have a kind of bib where one side folds down (it also helps your baby to look around more easily), but there are some carriers where a real bib can be attached independently whether your baby is facing in or out to help protect the quality of the carrier and to keep your baby clean.
• Hood: A hood will protect your baby’s head and/or body from the weather and provide privacy for napping or nursing. Most are water resistant and lightweight, but there are hoods that are insulated for particularly cold days.
• Infant Insert: Not all carriers are designed for infants. The ones that do usually have an insert that attaches to the inside of the carrier so your baby is snug and comfortable while your baby’s head is supported. Inserts for some models have to be purchased separately.
• Pockets: Having a few zippered pockets to hold your cash or keys can be very handy. Be sure they are in places that you can reach.
• Loops: Plastic loops or rings where you can attach your purse or a toy for your baby are also very convenient.
Our Top Five Baby Carriers You’re Sure to Love
Since there isn’t one baby carrier that works for every mom and baby, choosing the right one is a personal decision. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you so you can make an informed choice. We reviewed lots of models and chose five traditional soft-structured styles that we think are the best with one being our top pick. Here they are.
BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Original
BabyBjorn has been a trusted brand in baby carriers since 1973. Their Original carrier is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 eco-certified, which means that its fabrics are harmless to taste or chew. It has excellent back and head support, allows for proper hip positioning, and adjusts easily. The neck support folds down for when your baby is facing out. Extra padding in the shoulder straps criss-cross in the back. Accommodates babies 8- 25 lbs. Bibs and hoods can be purchased separately.
SIX-Position 360 Ergonomic Baby and Child Carrier by Lillebaby
This Lillebaby carrier is the only one that offers six positions for your baby: front facing in or out, hip, back, and fetal position. Lightweight, breathable, 3D mesh construction and a strong neck support keep your baby cool and comfortable. Large lumbar support and amply padded 2-way straps (criss-cross or horizontal) makes carrying your baby effortless. Infant insert and sleeping/nursing hood included plus two large pockets to store your necessities. Good for newborns to toddlers, 7-45 lbs.
Boba 4G Baby Carrier
The Boba 4G is another carrier designed to grow with your baby, from newborn to toddlerhood. It has front and back carry options, an integrated infant insert, extra high neck support, and removable foot straps. The chest strap slides easily for a customizable fit and has adjustment straps on the waist to pull your baby close to you, though some women have commented that it’s awkward to tighten them. There are several pockets to store your phone or credit cards, a strap holder to attach your purse, and a removable hood. Accommodates babies 7-45 lbs.
Tula Ergonomic Carrier
Tula’s Ergonomic Carrier has many of the features you may be looking for. It’s handmade with Oeko-Tex Standard 100 eco-certified cotton that’s lightweight and highly breathable. The design provides ample leg room with a padded rim, extra thick shoulder and waist straps, and adjustable straps on both sides. Has a higher than average back for extra neck and head support. A removable privacy hood is included, but the infant insert and “Free to Grow” extenders that allow you to convert it into a toddler carrier cost extra. Best accommodates babies 15-45 lbs.
Ergobaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier
This Ergobaby model has four seating options: facing inward and outward, hip, and on the back. A structured bucket seat design is meant to ensure that your baby’s hips and legs are always in an “M-shape” position and your baby’s comfort. The seat’s width is adjustable as are the Velcro waistband, shoulder straps, back panel, and even the hood (included), which has UPF 50+ sun protection. Made of 100% cotton with lots of side ventilation. Infant inserts are sold separately. Accommodates babies 7-33 lbs.
Our Top Pick
Each of the baby carriers has great features that moms look for, but we found the Lillebaby SIX-Position 360 Ergonomic Baby and Child Carrier to be the best. It has just about everything a mom needs to keep you and your baby comfortable while you’re on the go. In addition to an incredible choice of six different seating options, it’s highly breathable, has a unique lumbar support that none of the others has, thick shoulder straps with two-directional positioning, and great pocket space. Plus, the infant insert is included. This is the only baby carrier you’ll ever need even into the toddler years, which makes it well worth every money.
Not every baby carrier works for every mom. Choose one that best suits your lifestyle and needs so that you and your baby can better enjoy these beginning years together.