When it comes to baby gear, we're all about the less is more philosophy—but we absolutely cannot imagine #momlife without our baby carrier.
Baby carriers are incredibly useful in the newborn days and well beyond. Have a colicky baby who just won't settle? Pop her in the carrier and hold her super close. Overtired little one needs a nap but refuses to sleep, and all you can do is think about the 22 things that need doing around the house? Strap him to you and get it done, mama. Don't feel like pushing a bulky stroller but still want to take baby along on your latest family adventure? Babywearing FTW yet again 🙌
From wraps + slings to more structured carriers, there are a lot of baby carriers options on the market, and we know it can feel a little overwhelming to figure out which one is right for you. Here are some baby carrier basics to get you in the know.
Types of carriers:
- Wraps: The simplest and most traditional type of carrier, a fabric wrap can come in just about any material and can be used to carry a little one from the newborn days well through toddlerhood and beyond in a variety of different carry positions. They're extremely versatile, but truth be told they can be a bit tricky to figure out.
- Ring slings: A ring sling is exactly what it sounds like—a metal ring with a piece of fabric looped through it to form a pouch. They're worn over one shoulder and are a great way to keep little ones super close.
- Soft, structured carriers: Probably the most popular babywearing option, the SSC offers a great mix of comfort + convenience. SSCs can be used in lots of different carry positions, have adjustable, padded straps, and can often be used from infancy well into toddlerhood.
- Mei-Tai: This is a hybrid between a wrap and a soft-structured carrier. It's pretty minimalist, and has four straps that attach to the main body and that tie off rather than buckle. These wraps offer a personalized fit, but tend to be less padded than the soft, structured carriers.
Once you choose your carrier, remember: tutorials are your friend! Wraps can have a steep learning curve, especially when you're staring down at a floppy, very tiny, very fussy newborn. But keep at it, as we promise the payoff is well worth it!
Lots of brands have how-to videos that show you exactly how to properly fit the carrier, how to take baby in and out, and more; they're a lifesaver and we can't stress enough just how helpful they can be. And speaking of fit, be sure you're practicing healthy hip positioning whenever you're wearing your baby; the International Hip Dysplasia Institute can show you how.
Now that you know the basics, it's time to figure out which carrier is right for you. We've picked the best so you can spend less time shopping and more time snuggling!
Here are our eight favorites:
1. Wildbird Ring Sling
The Wildbird sling is as beautiful as it is useful. Available in soft, breathable linen and bamboo fabric and a huge array of gorgeous neutrals + patterns, this sling will seamlessly take you from itty, bitty newborn to older toddler with a variety of front and side carry positions.
The fabric is short and manageable, and since the metal ring is sewn right into the fabric, there's no wrapping involved like in some slings, making it much easier to use. Once you've practiced a little (Wildbird has a fantastic series of video tutorials that are a must-see), you'll be able to get the sling on in a matter of seconds and be on your way.
Unlike larger, bulkier carriers, we love that the Wildbird can be folded up and easily and put in your diaper bag or purse. (We also love that it's stylish enough to wear as a scarf or use as a nursing cover!) We think it's the perfect choice for those early newborn snuggles all the way through the first year of baby's life.
2. Solly Baby Wrap
Looking for a beautifully designed wrap that's also easy to use? Look no further than Solly Baby. Made from Australian beechwood trees, this wrap's fabric is impossibly soft while also being breathable + stretchy. (Did we also mention allll the swoon-worthy colors and patterns? 😍) There are no straps, buckles, or rings here—just one long piece of fabric that makes for one gorgeous baby wrap.
The Solly is designed to work right from birth up to 25 lbs, but we think the wrap really shines for the first 9 months or so of your little one's life, and especially during those fourth trimester days when baby craves skin-to-skin.
Like other carriers, there's a great tutorials page that will take you through all the how-tos for using your wrap. And keep in mind that the Solly wrap is a front carry, forward-facing wrap only, so if you're looking for something with lots of long-term carry options, you may want to invest in another more structured wrap to use as baby gets older.
3. Boppy ComfyFit Baby Carrier
If you're intimidated by a sling or wrap, but don't quite want the firmness of a more structured carrier, then Boppy's new ComfyFit carrier may be the choice for you. This wrap + carrier hybrid offers the best of two worlds—it's a bit easier to put on thanks to a buckled waist strap and pre-fitted arm straps, but it's made with a stretchy, soft fabric that mimics that of a more traditional wrap. It's quick to put on—just click the waist belt, position the arm straps, and tie the excess fabric—and is also really easy to adjust.
The ComfyFit works for babies between 8-35 lbs and offers both front-facing inward and front-facing outward carry positions. We were even able to discretely nurse in it, a huge plus in our book.
4. Baby Bjorn Mini
Designed specifically for the newborn days, this brand new Mini carrier from one of our favorite baby brands does not disappoint. It's perfect for those early months when baby needs lots of extra closeness and you need a break.
Although it's technically more of a structured carrier, its smaller frame, amazingly soft fabric, and easy-to-use design set it apart as an ideal solution for newborns. The entire front section of the carrier unfastens, making it simple to lift a sleeping baby in and out. The material holds baby in securely, but is soft enough that it easily conforms to baby's shape. And it's also really easy to use—there are only a few adjustable buckles to master, so you won't waste a lot of time fumbling around with too many straps.
The Mini works with babies up to 24 lbs, and can also be used forward facing once your little one has mastered head control.
5. Tula Free-to-Grow Carrier
One of the most comfortable structured carriers we've ever used, the Tula is a versatile, fully adjustable, and easy-to-use carrier that comes in more beautiful designs than we know what to do with. This carrier truly shines when it comes to creating a custom fit—there's an adaptable panel that adjusts in both width and height to fit your baby at any stage, as well as fully adjustable shoulder straps and waistband to create just the right fit for whoever's doing the carrying.
We love the simplicity of the Tula. It's easy to get the hang of and easy to nail a comfortable fit, which our shoulders and backs very much appreciate 😊 And although the carrier only features a front-facing inward and a back carry, our little ones didn't seem to mind.
The carrier works for babies from 7 to 45 lbs and doesn't require an infant insert. It even comes with a coordinating base and hood to use for sleep, sun protection, or nursing.
6. LÍLLÉbaby Complete All Seasons Carrier
They don't call this carrier the Complete for nothing! Featuring unmatched lumbar support, six carry positions, and pretty much any other feature you could ever want, we can't say enough amazing things about this carrier. Whether you're looking to inward face your newborn, outward face your older baby, or back carry your toddler (or do all three on the same day, like one of our mamas recently did!) the Complete delivers on all fronts and keeps you comfortable along the way.
We love the unique bucket seat on this carrier, as well as the adjustable side panels that make finding a healthy hip position for your little one easy. We also love the extendable back panel—it easily folds down and buckles upwards to provide extra head + neck support, so you'll never feel like your babe is unsupported or hanging out of the carrier. The shoulder straps even adjust two ways (either in an "X" shape across your back, or backpack-style) and have extra padding; it's almost impossible not to be comfy in this carrier!
7. Ergo Omni 360 Mesh
If you're heating up at the mere thought of having your baby pressed up against your chest all day, we have the carrier for you! This lightweight carrier is made from breathable mesh that easily lets air flow in and out, keeping you—and your little one—cool all year round.
Like many of the other soft, structured carriers we love, this one offers four carry positions and is really easy to get the hang of once you've practiced a few times. It's also easily adjustable and does a great job distributing baby's weight so you'll never have to worry about back or shoulder pain. It's suitable for babies from 7 to 45 lbs.
8. MiaMily Hipster Plus 3D Carrier
This carrier from MiaMily, a Swiss company founded by two moms, features up to nine different carry positions—meaning you'll get plenty of life out of it from birth well into older toddlerhood. Like all things Swiss, the 3D seat is ergonomically designed to both properly position your little one's hips and distribute her weight evenly for a comfortable carry.
The Hipster also features a zippered seat pouch, which we found to be just the right size to fit everything you need for a diaper change on the go. We also love that the carrier comes with two teething pads (for those extra drooly days!) and a foldable tote.
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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.