As a new parent, you no doubt spend many hours each day holding your child. And while there are few things sweeter, life doesn’t stop just because your little one needs some TLC. There are still dishes to do, calls to make and places to go. And that’s where baby carriers come in. A great option from infancy all the way to toddlerhood, the best baby carriers offer a smart and supportive way to hold and be close to your kid while still having hands free to do everything else.
Convenience isn’t the only factor at play when it comes to baby wearing. Isobel Benesch, maternal health advocate and founder of Atlas of Motherhood, says, “There are numerous benefits of babywearing for both caregiver and baby. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying significantly—43 percent overall and 51 percent at night.” Benesch explains that babywearing is a “simple and low-risk intervention that can reduce the instance and severity of postpartum depression by improving maternal sense of bonding, breastfeeding success, reducing infant colic, and increased level of maternal oxytocin.”
But not all baby carriers are created equal. While some focus on offering lower back support for the parent or privacy to comfortably nurse in public, others are more geared toward specific body types or use cases (like hiking, for example). So before opting to include a baby carrier in your parenting journey, consider your needs as a family. For Benesch—a mom of four who nursed for 10 consecutive years—that meant finding a carrier that would suit her unique set of needs. “Babywearing allowed me to bond and feed my baby while connecting and adventuring with my older children, not to mention being hands-free to get other things done when needed.”
So, whether you’re looking for a carrier to alternate between parents, searching for one to help you multitask or just interested in getting some lower back relief, we’ve rounded up seven of the very best baby carriers available today. One of these may be just what you and your youngling need.
Best Baby Carrier for Hiking
This Backpack Carrier Makes Hiking A Cinch
Parents looking for adventure alongside their baby should reach for the Osprey Poco Child Carrier. Suitable for children up to 40 pounds and ages six months to 3.5 years, this structured carrier allows parents to hike and bond with their child with minimal fuss. The aluminum frame and ventilated mesh panel keep both parent and baby comfortable and cool and the built-in sunshade provides sun protection on even the hottest of days. The Osprey carrier also includes a plethora of zipped storage areas, intuitive water bottle holders and a handy kickstand so your child will remain upright even if you need to place your pack down. The downside is you can’t see your child since it’s a backpack style, which makes it not suitable for newborns and younger infants. It’s also very bulky (seriously, it looks like you’re carrying a stroller on your back), but it’s lightweight and can be folded up to fit in a trunk or on an airplane.
Lightweight, but suitable for children up to 40 pounds
Includes UV sun protection and mesh panels to keep baby ventilated
Handy kickstand and pockets make for an easy to use option
Not appropriate for passengers under 6 months of age
Best Baby Carrier for Toddlers
A Supportive Option For You And Your Toddler
One of the rare options that can accommodate children up to 66 pounds, this no-fuss infant carrier is the optimal choice for carrying a toddler. It provides back and hip support for both parent and child and is extremely versatile so it can be sued as a hip seat or traditional carrier with the snap of a few buttons. It also folds up to be quite compact and has more than enough storage space to forgo a diaper bag on shorter outings. Reviewers noted, however, that it can be confusing to put back together after detaching the carrier portion and said that the lack of cross shoulder straps means a majority of the weight is carried in your lower back and hips. The hip seat, however does remedy this for the most part.
Low price with high functionality and versatility
Tons of storage
Can be used from birth to toddlerhood
The shoulder straps don’t cross, which means most of the weight falls onto your lower back or hips
Once detached, it can be confusing to put back together
Best Baby Carrier for Back Pain
Keeps Your Lower-Back Supported And Baby Happy
This carrier is equipped to take you from your first day home with your child to their first day of preschool. It’s suitable for children 7 to 45 pounds and offers ergonomic support for the caregiver’s back. Benesch explains that the Ergobaby Omni is “a soft structured carrier that is incredibly comfortable and supportive on the lower back.” She went on to recall: “It was my go-to carrier for day-to-day activities as my baby got heavier. It allowed me to breastfeed on the go and be hands-free with older siblings.” In addition to being supportive and made from 100% cotton, the Ergobaby carrier is a hit because it can be worn on the front, back or side of the body. It also includes a large protective hood to shield baby from the sun or rain, which can also be used to create a more comfortable nursing environment. Fans of the carrier noted that its suitable for most body types (if you’re petite, there are more comfortable options—see the next product in this story) and that it’s an optimal long-term option.
Provides support to baby and caretaker with ergonomic construction
Fits male and female bodies of most sizes
Versatile wearing style, privacy cover and works well for nursing parents
Petite people report that it’s not the best option for their build
You might find that the material is too stiff for newborn comfort
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Best Baby Carrier for Petite Moms
Offers Comfort And Support For Mom And Baby
While baby carrying is a wonderful option for most families, those with smaller frames can often have a difficult time finding one that’s comfortable for their body style. Thankfully, the Lillebaby carrier is so versatile it can suit any shape or size. Not only is it hip healthy for baby and certified by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, but it can also be worn six ways. It provides ample lumbar support and utilizes a breathable mesh fabric for baby and thick, padded straps for parent. It also had a detachable sun hood for summer days and can be used with children 7 pounds to 45 pounds. Plus, it’s machine washable so you don’t have to worry about spit up.
Can be worn six different ways
Certified by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute
Grows with your child
It can take some time to figure out the most comfortable, supportive way to wear it for your body
Best Baby Carrier for Dads
A Great Option for Dads And Budget Conscious Parents
At $25, you can’t beat the price of this Evenflo carrier, but that’s not the only reason people love it. It can be worn three different ways (all inward-facing) and is highly adjustable. It’s also low-fuss and works from 7 pounds up to 45, meaning it’s also a great option to guide you from newborn days to toddlerhood. Because of its adjustable and ergonomic construction, as well as it’s lack of confusing additions, this option is a great one for dads especially. The only downside? Reviewers say the quality could be better (but it is only $25) and that the color options are lackluster. It’s also not a carrier that allows for outward-facing carrying, which is what some older infants prefer.
Works for kids up to 45 pounds and is ergonomic and comfortable
Can be worn three different ways
Limited color options
Quality could be better
Is only suited for inward-facing carrying
Best Baby Carrier for Plus Size Moms
A Soft, Comfortable Options For Parents of Every Size
To be sure, there’s no shortage of versatile and adjustable carriers. But the Cyber Maira stands out because it’s truly suited to all body types. With an adjustable waist belt that extends to 64 inches, this soft carrier is optimal for all frames. Unlike other carriers, the Maira’s shoulder straps are the material of a soft newborn carrier (like the Solly baby) and can be crossed or worn straight. The remainder of the straps can then be tied at the waist for an even more supported feel. Aside from fit, the carrier can be worn three ways, includes an infant insert for babies under 11 pounds and boasts adjustable head and neck support. It’s also certified hip safe and provides ergonomic support for mom and baby. The Maira even has an enclosed storage space for important belongings and a clip for pacifiers or toys. Plus the fabric feels luxe but durable.
Waist belt extends up to 64 inches and provides lower-back support
Can be worn from 7.7 pounds to 33.1 and includes infant insert and carrying case
High quality and versatile
A tie baby carrier isn’t ideal for everyone
It takes time to master the multiple wearing styles
Best Baby Carrier for Breastfeeding
Allows Discreet Nursing At Any Time
When it comes to nursing in a carrier, Benesch says a ring sling is the best option. She’s partial to the WildBird because they “are lightweight with gorgeous patterns and colors, yet can hold children up to 35 pounds.” She noted that, “as my babies got a little older, the ring sling was our favorite carrier for quick and easy babywearing and allowed for discreet feeding while out and about by using the tail as a cover.” It’s also worth noting that the lightweight fabric and lack of structure makes this an easy carrier to pop in your bag for travel or a day out of the house. It also puts baby in the same position that you would carry them in your arms, which is preferable to some.
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