The fact is that babies love when the mom or dad holds them close, which makes them not only warm, but comfortable. However, unless you happen to be built like an Olympian, your shoulders and arms are bound to get tired from holding the baby. This is the point where a soft-designed carrier comes into play. According to market research, it shows that every year, different brands enter the baby carrier market. This makes it very difficult for someone to make an informed decision about the best brands to go for.
|Device Name||Weight Limits||Available Positions|
|The LILLEBaby (Editor's Choice)||7-45 Pounds||Front Inward |
Hip, & Backpack
|The Ergobaby||12-33 Pounds||Front Inward|
Hip, & Backpack
|The TULA||15-45 Pounds||Front & Backpack|
|The BOBA||7-45 Pounds||Front & Backpack|
|The BabyBjorn||Up to 24 Pounds||Front Inward & Front Outward|
As a matter of fact, it has been proven that many parents simply buy the first one that they see. With time, they begin noticing some issues with it, thus requiring them to purchase a new one. This is the main reason we took time, effort, and some resources to come up with top brands for you to choose from!
It is important to note that some of these brands have been in the market for more than a decade (good examples are ERGO and BabyBjorn); while some are relatively new to the market (good examples are Tula and Nest). The products we put to the test mostly range in price from $35 to $150. Not too surprisingly, we found out that the prices went hand in hand with quality. Also, as we were testing these products, we did not accept any freebies so that we can show that we offer honest and unbiased reviews of these products.
The features we tested on all baby carriers include:
- Ease Of Use
- Long-Term Reliability
There is no doubt that this is an excellent carrier, and it is our first year to test this product as well as including it on any of our lists. In our list, this is the leading and best product this year, and we ranked it into the first place position for a good reason. The LILLEBaby Series is not only a relatively new brand on the market, but it also includes attractive and highly functional style. This brand has come up with three classes of carrying devices:
• The ESSENTIALS Series
• The CARRY-ON Series
• The COMPLETE Series
Just as the name suggests, the COMPLETE series is the most flexible compared to the other two series listed. Its top features include:
- 6 Different carrying positions
- Wide height range (which ranges from 7-pound infants to 45-pound babies)
It is important to note that within the series itself, they have the All Seasons version, The Embossed, The Original, and the Airflow. If you live in Florida or Southern CA, it is wise to consider buying the All Seasons version rather than sticking with the Airflow version. The all-season version is the optimal choice because it has many features that are designed for all seasons, unlike the other version. Some of its features include:
- A highly breathable 3D mesh lining
- A cotton fabric
- A well designed zip-down front
- Weather protection padding
- It has an adorable sleeping hood
All these are great features because many moms have reported that it is challenging to find a single carrier that is flexible enough to adapt to different weather conditions. A majority of them have reported that they usually begin their walk in the morning when the weather is a bit cool, but they do not return home until lunchtime when the weather is warm. Well, this product gives moms the power to effectively reduce the insulation, which allows more air to flow to the baby’s backside.
Unlike the ERGO, which one must have an insert to support an infant; the LILLEBaby is already shaped to support infants, without an insert. It does also come with a 6 different carry positions, which is a much-welcomed feature for all parents. As we were testing this, we found out that all positions were highly supportive, comfortable, and well-constructed. As mentioned above, this brand has an adorable sleeping hood, which helps by protecting the child from the sun and other elements.
It is also comfortable for the mom or dad and features a comfortable shoulder strap, lower back support pad, a nice wide waist belt and it is lightweight. Furthermore, it has other small added features like colors, style, patterns, and a convenient zipped pocket for storing small things like keys, phone, and others. It is straightforward to use, and anyone can use it without reading the manual or practicing. Indeed, it is well-built and very reliable.
The LILLEBaby brand has made some modifications recently regarding strap issues. Another thing that makes LILLEBaby brands the best is that they offer little limitations. For example, the storage pocket is located on the outer part of the zipper-down flap. This means that it will become difficult to access it when the flap is unzipped. However, overall, the brand is the best on the market and deserves the number one spot on our list. The cost is in the mid-range to own this product, and it is available in different patterns and colors.
This is yet another excellent all-round product, and it has been on the number 2 spot on most people’s lists for a few years now. The company introduced a new addition this year, The Ergobaby 4-position “360” product. A few years back, their Ergo Original 3-position carrier ranked number one on many lists, and therefore they have a great history of making quality products. The truth is that the Ergobaby 4-position product is the most comfortable on our list. In a matter of fact, it is even more comfortable than the LILLEBaby. After our tests, we found out that it is super light, comfortable, soft, and easy to use. We enjoyed it so much that we wore it for several hours around town and along some trails and everything felt fine.
It makes even breastfeeding easy. We found out that it is easy to wear, take off, as well as adjusting while carrying a baby. One of its limitations is that the shoulder strap adjustments must be done by someone else while carrying a little one. Furthermore, it has a small hood to protect the child from external elements such as the sun. It also gives little shading for napping. Also, it is not as flexible as the LILLEBaby, and the load range does not even get close to 33 pounds. For this carrier to be used to carry an infant, an insert must be used, and it is bought separately.
Therefore, what does this mean? Well, it simply means that you will end up with a 4 position carrier that requires someone to purchase an insert to accommodate an infant. It was our opinion that it could use a small storage pouch to carry small items like keys. The velcro around the waist was great, but also quite loud to use, of course. Nevertheless, it is truly a good baby carrier that is comfortable for the parent and the baby as well, with just a few shortcomings. The cost is in the higher range to own this product, and it is available in different color and patterns.
The TULA series is the most affordable option, and the most trending brand today on the market. Just like the other products on the list, this brand is lightweight, comfortable, and has a simple design. It has a good front Velcro pocket; however, it is a bit challenging for someone with short hands or a big baby to access. It can be used for 15 to 45-pound babies, but has a very restrictive lower range. What does this mean? Well, it simply means that you are not going to use this carrier until your baby is a few months old. Nevertheless, the moment you get to use it, you will love it. The good news is that it comes with highly padded shoulder straps to maximize comfort.
Moreover, the baby carrier is also featured with a baby leg support that is padded softly, which is removable. It is quite easy to get them off or on. Even though the baby thigh padding is a good gesture, it does not have an adjustable strap to it. The truth is that it will be a sweet spot when the infant fits perfectly, but it will be too wide making it a bit uncomfortable for the baby otherwise.
During testing, after an hour, our moms who help with the test began complaining of some back pains and wanted to use the LILLEBaby with its cross-straps and excellent back support. In addition to this, they also noticed that it does not offer excellent circulation, and they gave their opinion that it can benefit from a mesh for better ventilation.
Overall, the carrier is good but offers basic limitations. Price wise, we thought it would take the day, but we were very disappointed because it has the same price range and even higher than some above. The cost is in the higher range to own this product, and it is available in different color and patterns.
In the past, the BOBA products used to occupy the top position of most lists, and there is a good reason for this. This is because they are:
- Offers great weight support (due to its thick waistband)
The waistband has 2 adjustment points, which is quite helpful in evening out waist cinching. It also includes shoulder strap adjustment under the armpits, which helps you to fit it perfectly. Some of its advantages over the ERGO include:
- It comes with a small zipper pocket along the waist
- It supports 7-pound infants all the way to 45-pound babies
- It comes with an infant insert
Well, the fact is that working with an infant insert is a bit tricky compared to having it built in the system. The product is also featured with a little foot strap, which helps to support the child’s tired hanging legs. Also, we found the range of strap adjustment is extensive, fitting a broader range of body shapes and sizes. With all the features, it is safe to say that this product has quite a few benefits over the ERGO.
Therefore, one may ask, why is it ranked below ERGO? Well, according to our tests, a majority of parents concurred that ERGO was simply more comfortable. However, this is not to say that this product is not comfortable. The cost is in the mid-range to own this product, and it is available in different colors as well as patterns.
This is a classic brand known to be in the market for many years now. They were the company that began the revolution of stylish soft carriers. Suddenly, it was deemed to be fashionable to wear one, not in small part because of them. Back in the 80s, these products were bulky, longer, and not quite practical. However, when this company decided to have stylish lightweight and more practical designs, it was an instant hit. Up to today, they are still the main producers in the market. The cost of a traditional version from this brand has dropped in price since the first time it was introduced. The original is very basic, having a basic shoulder strap only, and does not offer many adjustments and more.
This is a good product, but causes sore shoulders and neck after using it for hours. Well, because of this and because other brands began to produce padded carriers, BabyBjorn decided to come up with their own padded version that is flexible also, which is very comfortable. The model was introduced into the market late last year which makes it one of the newer ones on the market. It offers many basic features and capabilities, and it is the reason it is not topped higher on our list. Nevertheless, it is a good product to own.
Well, even though this is the case, this brand cannot be used on a newborn, does not have storage pockets, it does not have a sleeping or sun protection hood, and it is hard to store because it is bulky compared to the Boba and Ergo. At the same time, the BabyBjorn One does not take off the weight from the shoulders like the Boba or Ergo. For this reason, if you are looking for a relatively simple and stylish product that is on the lower end of pricing, then this is for you.
Great Budget Baby Carriers for the Budget Conscious
If $100-$150 baby carriers do not fit your budget, then this piece is meant for you. We’ve been testing different carriers for babies for years now and have seen some really good options that go for no more than $50. Though some of them aren’t good enough to feature on our annual top-5 list, there are some that are worth considering if you are looking to save some money starting with the Baby Bjorn, which is listed above and generally goes for about 50 bucks. However, if you are looking for something that’s a bit more versatile and is a bit like the more all-inclusive products, then check out the following options:
The Mother Nest Ergonomic earns itself a spot amongst our all-time favorites under the $50 mark, as it’s quite versatile and its features are quite good considering the price range. This can support babies weighing between 12 and 33 pounds. However, it doesn’t have infant inserts, and is only suitable for use with an infant once it is a couple of months old. It can be used on the back, and rear-facing on the chest, but does not support front-facing carrying, which is quite unfortunate. However, this is its only limitation.
Its shoulder straps are nicely padded and quite comfortable. It does have a tiny strap that connects the two straps, helping keep things nice and comfy for mom and dad. Its hood is removable, and has features like a few extra pockets more than most on our list. It has four zipped pockets, with some placed around the waistband and on the product itself. Speaking of the waistband, it’s quite thick and wide, considering the price range, and uses a clip and velcro to secure. During our testing, we concluded that the fabric is impressively durable and soft for a baby carrier within this price range. This product also features removable drool pads, making it easy to clean them separately. All in all, this is a great option considering the pricing. However, like most similar products, it is not suitable for babies that weigh under 12 pounds, and isn’t that versatile when it comes to carrying positions. It generally costs $50 or less.
The Bebamour is one of two hip seat carriers that we think are worth checking out. This option is quite versatile and features six different carrying options. The carrier is suitable for children aged between 3 and 36 months and can be used on your chest, for forward or inward facing, or on your back (backpack position) facing forward. It can also serve as a good front or hip seat. However, without the hip seat, it is pretty much a typical carrier and can be used as early as three months. This can support babies that weigh up to 44 lbs. The great thing about it is that it features tons of little pockets that can be used to hold your keys, phone, and pacifiers plus a range of adjustments, making it the perfect fit for virtually any mom of any size and shape.
An interesting thing we loved about this is the range and number of adjustment straps it has. Another exciting feature of this is its hood. The hood is breathable and can be attached using little loops. As a result, there no loud clip or snap which may disturb your child as he or she sleeps. The manufacturer also did an excellent job with the soft fabrics, hip belt, padded and wide shoulder straps, and it has a decent overall finish and fit.
The Bebamour is big, and we think it would be perfect for babies over four months, unless your baby is on the heavier side. Other than that, it is quite roomy. The aspect of the hip seat is excellent. When used as a normal carrying device, it places of your child’s weight on your waist rather than on your shoulders and back. The great thing about this product is that it can also be used separate from the rest of the device, making it a great option for infants and for resting their side or bum on the hip seat when rocking them to sleep or when nursing them. It is also a good option for when they grow a bit bigger and can sit on the hip seat and hold on using their arms (great for toddlers).
Overall, we do like this product. However, it has one major drawback: its size! Its larger carrier size doesn’t comfortably accommodate smaller babies. Another significant drawback lies in the fact that it is a Chinese based product, which makes instructions and descriptions a bit complicated to understand. Nevertheless, it is great for your little one, especially considering its price which is typically $40 or less.
The NimNik Sling is one of the more unique carriers on our list, and we believe that it is a great option for bigger kids and older toddlers. It can carry up to 45 lbs. The really interesting thing about this is that it can be used as a super-cool hip seat for older babies, rear-facing, and forward-facing.
What’s a hip seat? Well, it isn’t a carrier exactly, but rather a small seat that you place around your waist to support your baby’s weight. It is a great concept that can help reduce the chances of your arms growing sore as you carry your child around in the normal, natural position.
This one is quite good too. It is made using highly breathable fabric and features a lightweight design. It is, in essence, a hip-seat with extra support, which makes it more simplistic. The NimNik Sling does have some really cool features, especially considering the price range. It features three small non-closing mesh pockets that can fit a pacifier, keys, phone, etc. It, at the same time, also has a good yet wide waistband that helps improve stability and comfort, especially when you are using the hip seat. It uses a buckle and velcro to hold on to your waist, something that makes it feel secure.
However, it does not have an infant insert and can only handle babies who weigh well over 12 lbs. And while it is nowhere near as soft, luxurious, or padded, as our top options above, has no closing pockets and is not that comfortable to wear, this is what to go for if you are looking for an affordable hip seat that also serves as a basic carrying device. Usually the cost for this product is $50 or less online.
Infantino manufactures a range of different baby products, including several types of carrying devices. They have several options that they offer parents, some of which are quite hard to tell apart, and others that aren’t worth considering. However, we’ll say that we were impressed by the features and pricing of some of their products, as they offer a secure and reliable set of carrying devices that are well priced.
As with most similar devices on our under $50 list, the Infantino Cuddle Up Hoodie has limited versatility, comfort, and weight range. However, it is included here for several reasons. First of all, it’s adorable; it features a cute bear hoodie cover with cute little bear ears that can be worn as a soft hoodie cap. When off, its fuzzy inside has a cute-colored chevron pattern. This is the only product on our list with a hood that you can use to keep your young one’s head warm during the colder months. At the same time, it includes a front pocket like the one on your favorite hoodie. However, be cautious as things can fall out of the pocket sometimes, especially when taking this off or taking the baby in or out.
We also found that the pads are reasonably supportive and its adjustments are sufficient enough. Not too much shoulder or back pain. Just like the Mo+M and Mother Nest, the Cuddle Up Hoodie can only support two carry positions: front and back carry. At the same time, it can only support weights ranging from 12 to about 40 lbs. A value at par with most of the other products on this budget-friendly list. It generally costs $40 or less online.
The Mo+M is a great soft-structured, back-to-basics carrier that offers great versatility considering its pricing. It provides three carry positions: hip sling carry, front-facing back, and rear-facing front. There’s no infant position or forward-facing front position. Not only does it not feature the fetal tuck or no infant position, but it is also not advisable that you use this carrier for babies under 12 pounds. However, it can handle up to 36 lbs. quite well.
One of this carrier’s features worth mentioning is its zip-down flap, like that of the LilleBaby, which exposes some mesh for better breathability. It also features a hood and storage pockets.
Pitfalls? Well, the Mo+M isn’t anywhere near as padded or comfortable as most premium options, and the cloth used isn’t that soft or luxurious. At the same time, it can’t support infants as it doesn’t have any infant insert. Nevertheless, it is a reasonable option if you are on a budget and do not mind the limitations. This mostly retails at or under $35 online.
Some of the things we consider when looking at which products to add to the list of the best baby carriers to go for this year:
Carriers with a soft structure are the most versatile and popular options out there, and are available in many different sizes, quality levels, prices, and shapes. Most are strapped on your back or front to carry your baby backward or forward facing, and are recommended for durability and safety. Rather than baby wraps (like the Moby or Boba), the soft-structured carrying devices tend to feature intrinsic padded structures that offer the baby support while minimizing their risk of wiggling to weird positions, as is the case with sling or wraps.
Though not as comfortable as wrap based carrying devices, and not as convenient to pack for travel, they are still a great, user-friendly option. The good thing is that they take away the hassle of having to learn how to use a wrap, which involves tying and wrapping. Nevertheless, there are a couple of vital things to consider when choosing a product like this. They include Safety, Ease of Use, Reliability, Versatility, Cost, Comfort, and Breathability. Listed below you’ll find details on how we evaluate and rate all of these factors.
Safety and Reliability
When looking for a baby carrier, there’s no factor more important to think of than safety. There are lots of elements to consider when looking into safety and reliability. How’s the stitching along important seams? Where are the zippers and buckles attached? What’s the quality of the zippers? What’s the quality of the fasteners, clips, velcro, and adjustment slides and loops? How do all of these components stand use over time?
Many of these types of products are made using low-quality fabrics, stitching, and connectors, and do not do very well with repeated use. The last thing you want is a weight-bearing component malfunctioning. When considering safety, also think about the baby’s position, the appropriate neck and head support, and the breathability of the fabric. During our testing, we also considered hands-on, short-term use plus reviews from people who’ve used specific types of these products for a long time. This way, we were able to pull together a range of data in regards to our safety considerations.
To guarantee proper back and hip development, the ergonomics are very important. There are a couple of things to consider here. First, you want to ensure that your newly born infant (during the first few months) adopts the C-spinal alignment. Your baby’s back should take up a nice curvature, with his or her legs tucked up. This position is known as the “fetal tuck,” and reduces pressure on the baby’s hips and spine, promoting easier digestion and calmness. Second, ensure that your infant’s (3 months and older) hamstring and buttocks are supported by placing your baby in the “frog leg” position. You do not want his or her legs dangling down below your carrier from the calves down. This is important for at least the first few years of your baby’s life. When testing carrying devices we considered the fetal tuck they offered for newborns and looked for one that offered bigger kids, toddlers, and most importantly, infants, the frog leg position.
Today’s carrying devices aren’t like those of days gone when baby carriers offered a single carry position. Today, there is no need to separate toddler, big kid, infant, and back or hiking carriers. Most modern designs are quite versatile and allow for various carrying positions. At the lowest end, some offer two positions: usually backward-facing and forward-facing. At the highest end, some offer up to six carrying positions, including backward-facing (legs out) infant, backward-facing (fetal tuck) newborn, backward-facing toddler (without much head support for infant position), forward-facing toddler, back (hiking) carrying, and the hip sling.
The best are often more versatile and will last from when the child is still in his or her infancy (weighing about 7 lbs.) until he or she is about 4-years old (weighing about 40 lbs.). However, such products tend to be a bit more expensive than average.
Ease of Use
While some feel great, look great, and are reliable and super comfortable, they are a pain to put on, adjust, or take off. Baby carriers have certainly come a very long way in relation to ease of use and convenience; nevertheless, some are quite bad in this area. Our list considers how easy it is to don, adjust, and doff any one of these given products.
Comfort and Breathability
After you’ve considered ergonomics and are sure that your baby is in the proper and safest carrying position, comfort is the next thing to consider to ensure that your baby is comfortable and happy for extended journeys. Check if the carrier has padding in all the right places: on the bum, anywhere a body part comes in contact with an adjustment or fastening component, and along back contours where legs and arms hang out. Make sure that it has a little padding around the face and head to ensure high airflow and breathability where it matters most, too, of course.
The costs of these products vary widely and range from as low as $25 to as high as $200+ for the better, higher quality, and more versatile carriers with extra features. Since our list values reliability, safety, comfort, and versatility, etc., it tends to include some of the expensive options with lower price ranges of about $100 to $150. We provide very limited reviews of limited feature and lower cost (no more the $50) options towards the end of the article itself. In this lower cost section, we included the Mo+M Classic, NimNik, Mother Nest, Infantino Cuddle Up, and Bebamour models for you to consider.