Everything About Baby Carriers
As a new parent, you want to be as close to your baby as possible. The right baby carrier will help you keep your baby close to promote bonding while allowing you to perform daily tasks.
With virtually endless options available, we've put together a list of safest and IMHO best baby carriers to help you pick the one that's best for you and your baby.
Check this video about baby carrier dangers:
Why use a baby carrier?
While you might be able to get away with just using a stroller for most of your day-to-day routine, a carrier is a huge convenience. It allows you to hold your baby while keeping your hands free for other tasks.
The closeness that a baby carrier provides promotes the bond between you and your baby. Especially during their first few months of life, this closeness is essential. Being held snugly against your chest can help soothe a fussy child and make them feel safe.
Safe babywearing and best practices
The acronym T.I.C.K.S. is used to outline some of the basic guidelines you should follow when babywearing.
Until your baby's neck is strong enough to support their head on their own, always use a front-carry position with the baby facing in towards you. In this position, their head will be supported by your chest.
Once your baby is a bit older - typically around four months - they can be carried in a facing-out position, if desired. Your baby should be able to comfortably support his or her head on their own before facing them out.
Some carriers also allow for back carry positions. Because this position doesn't allow you to see your baby, it is best to reserve back carry for children who are a bit older. It's recommended to front-carry until at least six months, although some experts recommend it exclusively for toddlers.
Keep your baby's airway clear
Babies in carriers are susceptible to suffocation, so it's essential to always monitor their position to ensure they have a clear airway. Allowing a newborn baby's chin to touch their chest can cause suffocation, especially while they are under four months of age. To ensure that they have a clear airway and are not at risk for suffocation, there are a few steps to follow:
- Make sure your baby's face is visible to you at all times
- Ensure their airway is never obstructed by fabric or your body
- Keep the baby's chin away from their chest by at least two finger widths
- When carrying the baby facing you, position their one side with one cheek pressed against the chest
It is imperative to make sure your baby is always secure in their carrier, as a fall can result in serious injury. To prevent a fall, always keep the following in mind:
- Proper fit is essential: Your carrier should fit your baby snugly. The fabric should support the baby's entire back. While your baby is very young (until about four months or so), the fabric should also support the back of his or her head.
- Bend at the knee: If you need to bend down to pick something up, do not lean forward from your torso. Doing so can cause the baby to fall out from the top of the carrier, even if you think it is fit correctly. Instead, bend at the knee, taking care to keep your baby upright.
- Keep a hand (or two) on the baby: When you first start carrying or are using a new carrier, it is good practice to keep at least one hand on your baby. Doing so will allow you to get a feel for how securely your baby is positioned within the carrier. As you get more used to your carrier, you will be able to take your hands off and carry them hands-free.
Protecting your baby's hips
Babies in their first few months of life are susceptible to hip dysplasia. Proper carrying technique is essential to protect your baby's hip and spine alignment, especially as they grow from infant to toddler.
What is hip dysplasia?
Hips are a ball and socket joint; that is, the femoral head forms a ball which fits into a socket located in the pelvis bone. Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball slips out of the socket, either partially or completely. There are several potential causes, including:
- Breech position in pregnancy
- Family history of hip dysplasia
- Large birth weight
- Improper carry position during the first several months of life
Preventing hip dysplasia
Because your baby's hip joint is comprised largely of soft cartilage when they are born, it is susceptible to becoming misaligned. Over time, the cartilage is replaced with hard bone, significantly increasing hip stability.
To prevent hip dysplasia, proper carrying position is absolutely essential during their first year or so of life. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute stresses the importance of keeping your baby's legs spread naturally to each side with the thighs supported and knees bent, sometimes called the "M" position.
Benefits of babywearing
One of the primary benefits of babywearing is the bonding it provides between the baby and his or her carrier. The physical closeness fosters an attachment that helps both baby and parent feel secure.
In a randomized controlled trial, babywearing was directly connected to reducing crying in infants. Even fussy babies tend to be soothed quickly and easily when worn.
Promotes physical development
When done correctly, babywearing actually aids in a baby's physical development. The right carrying device puts the baby's body in a comfortable, correct position and allows for correct development. Correct carrying decreases the chances of hip dysplasia or scoliosis.
When you wear your baby facing in towards you, you promote healthy digestion. Their tummy is constantly stimulated and massaged, helping them to produce more regular bowel movements. The comfort associated with carrying can also ease tummy-aches.
Taking care of your baby is a constant task. Babywearing allows you to keep your baby close while leaving your hands free to prepare food, clean up, run errands and finish chores.
Can make breastfeeding easier
If breastfeeding in public is a point of anxiety for the mother, babywearing can make this easier. Because the baby is already close, it is easy to adjust the position to allow them to nurse. It is also easier for the mother to notice when they start to show cues of hunger, so the baby doesn't need to resort to crying to let their mother know they're hungry.
Decrease chances for postpartum depression
Babywearing can have positive effects on mothers suffering from postpartum depression. Studies have shown that physical, face-to-face contact between mothers and their babies can reduce instances of depression.
Types of baby carriers
There are several different types of carriers. We'll take a look at a few of the main types and their best uses.
A structured carrier consists of a baby seat attached to 2 shoulder straps. The carrier is worn close to the chest. During your baby's first 5 months of life, they should be carried facing inward. Once they're a bit older and can support their neck, they can be turned to face outward.
Some structured carriers allow for up to 6 different positions, while others only support the 2 basic positions of inward- and outward-facing.
Wraps are made of a single very long piece of fabric which wraps around you and your baby. Their versatility makes them very popular, since they can be tightened or loosened for a custom fit of your baby. They are ideal for discreet breastfeeding.
Because the fabric piece is so long, they can be somewhat cumbersome especially for petite women.
A sling is similar to a wrap, but only wraps over one shoulder to form a pouch for your baby. There are some concerns about slings and their correlation with hip dysplasia in infants, and they are not recommended by many experts.
How to choose a baby carrier?
Things to look for
Size & weight capacity
Look for a baby carrier that can support your child as they continue to grow. Ideally, you will only have to buy one carrier from the time of their birth to the time they are a toddler.
The best baby carrier will allow you to seamlessly transition from newborn to toddler. Many carriers on the market today are highly adjustable and suited for just that.
The most basic carriers usually support at least 2 carrying positions: inward- and outward-facing. For the first 5 months after your baby is born, they should be carried facing your chest to support their neck. After that, they can be turned outward or carried on the back.
Some baby carriers have up to 6 positions, providing ultimate versatility.
Look for material that is both durable and comfortable for you and your baby. Material should be soft enough for your baby's sensitive skin. Ideally, it will also be breathable enough to prevent your baby from overheating.
It's also important that it's easy to clean. You will face inevitable spit-ups and drool, so the ability to throw it in the wash and go is a huge convenience.
Both you and your baby should be comfortable with the carrier. Proper alignment of your baby's neck, spine and hips is essential, especially during their early developmental stages. Look for something with added neck support and a wide ergonomic seat.
Your comfort is also important. If you choose a structured carrier, look for padded shoulder straps and a wide waist belt to distribute weight evenly and prevent strain on your back and shoulders.
Our top picks
LILLEbaby Complete Seasons 6-Position Ergonomic Baby Carrier
LILLEbaby's Complete Seasons baby carrier pulls out all the stops for a carrier that is nothing short of luxurious. Complete with lumbar and neck support, padded shoulder straps and temperature control material, it's the ultimate in comfort for both baby and parents.
The 6-in-1 design is made to accommodate your baby through birth all the way to up to 45 pounds. It's the perfect all-in-one solution for years of comfortable, safe carrying.
Your baby's head is supported with a padded adjustable head and neck support. The mesh panel keeps your baby cool when it's hot outside, or it can be zipped up for extra warmth in cooler weather.
For your comfort, the sturdy waist belt is outfitted with extra lumbar support to prevent back strain. Adjust the padded straps for either crossed X-style or backpack H-style wear.
The soft fabrics are comfortable and safe for your baby's sensitive skin. Best of all, it's machine washable for easy cleanup.
It's available in a whopping 41 colors combinations, so there's one for every sense of style.
- Suitable for babies and children from 7-45 pounds
- 6 ergonomic positions
- Temperature regulating materials
- Comfortable padded straps and lumbar support
- Machine washable
- Zippered pocket for storing small items
Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions Baby Carrier
Ergobaby's 360 baby carrier is incredibly versatile and comfortable for both baby and carrier. The structured bucket seat keeps your baby in a naturally ergonomic "M" position, which allows for proper hip and spine alignment. Transition your baby from infant to toddler with four different carry positions: front carry facing in or out, back carry, or side carry.
The wide padded wraparound waist band provides excellent lumbar support and superior back comfort. Extra padding on the shoulder straps minimizes pressure for a comfortable carry even over long periods.
An included tuckaway hood with UPF 50 protects your baby from sun and wind, and also allows for more private breastfeeding. The carrier is machine washable for easy maintenance.
- Extra-wide, comfortable waistband
- Four carry positions
- Seats baby in an ergonomic "M" position for hip and spine alignment
- Extra padded shoulder straps
- UPF 50 baby hood
- No pockets
- Only suitable for babies up to 33 pounds
Onya Baby Carrier - Outback
At first glance, Onya's carrier looks like most standard soft structure carriers. But it comes with one unique feature: an integrated seat harness that can be used to transform virtually any chair into a baby-safe booster seat.
As a carrier, it can be used for babies from seven to 45 pounds. Three carry positions allow you to carry your baby comfortably in front, back, or on your hip. Whichever position you choose, the wide waistband provides significant lumbar support for a comfortable carry. Low profile X straps allow you to cross the straps across your back for superior weight distribution while you front carry.
The shoulder straps are padded for your comfort, and feature convenient toy loops to clip pacifiers and other toys. An extra-large zipper pocket in front provides a convenient way to carry keys, phone, and even an extra diaper.
- Exclusive chair harness feature
- Suitable for children up to 45 pounds
- Three carry positions
- Extra-large pocket and toy loops
- Wide waistband for lumbar support
- Mesh material is somewhat scratchy against bare skin
- Somewhat expensive
Baby Tula Ergonomic Carrier
Baby Tula's soft structure carrier is suitable for babies from 15 to 45 pounds, allowing you to carry your child from infantry into their toddler years. An infant insert can be purchased separately to allow you to carry your baby as a newborn.
The wraparound waistband is wide, providing excellent lumbar support and comfort. A convenient velcro pocket is located on the front of the waistband to store keys, pacifiers and other small items.
Padded shoulder straps evenly distribute your baby's weight and alleviate pressure and strain. Some users thought that the shoulders didn't have quite enough padding, making it less comfortable to carry for long periods of time than some other carriers.
- Suitable for front and back carry
- Wide weight range from 15 to 45 pounds
- Excellent lumbar support
- Convenient front pocket
- Machine washable
- Shoulder straps could be more padded
- Chest/back clip is somewhat difficult to unbuckle
- Somewhat expensive
Innoo Tech Baby Sling Carrier
Many moms swear by traditional slings for carrying their babies. Wrapping your baby up snugly creates a comforting environment that will relax their muscles naturally. Slings are also ideal for discreet breastfeeding.
This sling carrier from Innoo is suitable for newborns through toddlers up to 35 pounds. It properly supports your baby's head, neck and spine for comfortable and safe carrying.
The soft material is ideal for a baby's sensitive skin. It measures 4.5 meters long and is worn by simply wrapping and tying. Written instructions and an instructive DVD are included to help you wrap safely and effectively.
Babies can be carried inward- or outward-facing with this sling. No matter what position you choose to carry them in, the wrap comfortably supports your spine to eliminate unnecessary strain.
For easy cleaning, it is 100% machine washable. Users were impressed with the material's durability even with regular washes.
- Wrap design provides a custom fit
- Promotes relaxation and comfort for your baby
- Suitable for newborns through toddlers up to 35 pounds
- Provides added support for carrier
- Premium French Terry cotton
- Machine washable
- Some users found it to be too long, making it cumbersome to put on
- Material isn't very breathable and can cause overheating
Budget friendly baby carriers
Brighter Elements Ergonomic Baby Carrier
Designed with the ultimate comfort in mind, this baby carrier from Brighter Elements is perfect for babies from 6 months to toddlers (13 to 33 pounds). It's both durable and lightweight so you can carry your baby comfortably for years to come.
The carrier can be adjusted to 5 different carrying positions to support inward- or outward-facing carrying. A unique detachable hip carrier can be used for short trips or for carrying your baby around the house easily.
Its unique ergonomic design takes your baby's weight and distributes it evenly to your hips, relieving strain on your back and shoulders so you can stay comfortable even on long trips.
During hot summer months, the cool mesh vent will keep your baby comfortable and prevent overheating. Two detachable drool towels are included on the straps for quick, easy cleanup of spit-up or drool. The entire carrier is machine washable.
- 5 carrying positions
- Durable, comfortable material
- Cool mesh vent
- Comfortable for parents and babies
- Detachable drool towels
- Machine washable
- Not suitable for infants
BabyBjorn Original Baby Carrier
From one of the most well-known names in baby carriers, the BabyBjorn original carrier is a classic choice for parents everywhere. It was developed with pediatricians to ensure that it provides adequate support for your baby's hips, spine and neck.
Most experts recommend carrying your baby facing you for their first five months. After this, their hips and joints will be developed enough to support them facing out. This carrier allows you to easily convert between inward- and outward-facing positions for an easy transition.
As your baby grows, the carrier can be adjusted to fit your baby comfortably. It's made to carry babies between 8 pounds and 25 pounds. The size adjustment buckle allows you to easily fit the carrier to your growing baby. Color-coded buckles and a safety click make adjusting the carrier a breeze.
During their first five months, babies are not strong enough to support their heads on their own. This carrier has built-in adjustable neck support to safely support their head and neck.
For your comfort, the shoulder straps are designed to distribute weight evenly. A few users noted that the shoulder straps were uncomfortable after long periods of wear as they are not padded.
- Developed with pediatricians
- Suitable for babies between 8-25 pounds
- Fits infants with no need for infant insert
- Adjustable neck support
- Machine washable
- Shoulder straps are unpadded and can be uncomfortable for long periods of wear
- Only supports 2 positions
Infantino Cuddle Up Ergonomic Baby Carrier
Infantino combines comfort and style with their adorable hooded baby carrier. Suitable for babies and toddlers from 12 to 45 pounds, it's perfect for babies from 6 months to toddlers.
The wide ergonomic seat is plush and comfortable for your baby, supporting their hips and spine to support healthy growth. The carrier can be adjusted to 2 positions: inward-facing or backpack.
A detachable canopy hood - adorably styled like a teddy bear - allows you to shade your baby from the sun without blocking your view.
For your comfort, this carrier is outfitted with a wide lumbar-support waist belt. The added support prevents strain on your back and shoulders by evenly distributing your baby's weight through your shoulders, hips and waist. Extra-plush adjustable shoulder pads prevent pressure on your shoulders.
Convenient hoodie-style pockets at the front of the carrier are suitable for storing your keys and cell phone, or resting your hands in the pockets.
- Wide ergonomic seat is comfortable for your baby
- Detachable canopy hood
- Wide waist belt with lumbar support
- Comfortable, extra-plush shoulder pads
- Hoodie-style pockets
- Machine washable
- Not suitable for infants
- Material is not very breathable and can lead to overheating in hot weather
- Hood is somewhat small
LILLEbaby's ergonomic baby carrier checks all the boxes when it comes to finding a great baby carrier. It's highly adjustable and can take your baby from newborn to toddler stages comfortably and safely. The 6-in-1 design ensures that you can carry your baby in virtually any position. A wide waist belt with added lumbar support allows you to carry your baby for hours without discomfort or strain.
Although it is the most expensive on our list, its impeccable quality and adjustability ensure that it's the only carrier you'll ever need, from birth to toddler.