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Keep Your Baby Close and Comfortable in the Best Baby Carrier

Baby wearing is a centuries-old tradition, and thanks to today’s carriers, it’s a common practice that for some is more comfortable and convenient than pushing strollers. If you’re ready to give baby wearing a try, but not quite sure which carrier to choose, the following lists can help you narrow your list. Whether you’re looking for a soft carrier, a wrap, or a sling, we’ve reviewed some of the best baby carriers in 2021 on the market to help you choose the best one for you and your baby.

Here are the best baby carriers of 2021

Baby K'tan Original Tie Dye Baby Wrap Carrier

The Baby K’tan is a leading contender on both our Best Baby Wrap and Best Baby Sling lists. It’s a great option for moms who don’t want to fuss with complicated wrapping, strapping, or buckling. Made of soft 100% cotton, the Baby K’tan functions as both a wrap and a sling and can be worn in six different positions according to size, making it a versatile choice for parents of babies from 8-35 lbs. The Baby K’tan is available in size XS through XL, which guarantees a good fit for moms of all sizes. Moms say this wrap is comfortable to wear for hours at a time and love the fact the Baby K’tan can be personalized with a name or monogram in a variety of colors and fonts.

Mebien Baby Wrap Ring Sling Baby Carrier

Setting the Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling apart on this list is its development by Dr. William Sears; pediatrician, author, and attachment parenting proponent. Moms like this sling because it’s designed to make getting baby in and out of this carrier easy. This baby sling is adjustable and will “grow” with your little one into their toddler years and thanks to the elasticized trim, baby can rest comfortably closely against you. As an added bonus, this sling is available in a variety of fun patterns and contains an exterior pocket for holding keys, pacifiers, or other small necessities.

Moby Wrap Baby Carrier

Made of 100 percent cotton, this soft, machine washable carrier is loved by moms who want to keep their little ones close. The long, wide fabric can be tied in a variety of ways, making the Moby wrap more versatile than traditional carriers. This wrap also allows baby to face inward, outward, or to be carried on your back.

Though designed for babies from 8-35 pounds, most moms say this carrier is ideal for newborns who like to be swaddled. Wrapping and tying this carrier can seem complicated at first, and you may need some assistance in the beginning, but moms say they love the comfort and closeness that the Moby Wrap provides once they get the hang of it.

Boba Baby Wrap

Similar to the Moby Wrap, the Boba Wrap is essentially a long section of fabric that can be tied in a variety of holds depending on preference and your little one’s size although it may take a few tries before mastering the different holds. That said, the Boba Wrap gets rave reviews from baby-wearing moms, many of whom say this wrap is stretchier and more comfortable than the Moby.

The soft, breathable fabric is made of a soft French terry with 5 percent spandex for stretch while being easy to launder; like the other wraps on this list, the Boba Wrap is machine washable. This wrap carrier also scores points with breastfeeding moms, who report it’s easier to nurse their infants while wearing this wrap. The Boba Wrap is designed for newborns and infants up to 18 months of age and is also one of the most affordable options on this list.

Buyer's Guide

Best Baby Carrier Buying Guide

One of the big benefits of using a baby carrier is that it is easy to carry your baby while still having two hands free. Modern baby carriers are designed with ergonomics, weight, and size in mind. This means you can safely keep your baby close by in a way that is comfortable and safe for both of you.

Baby carriers are best purchased after your baby is born so that you can get the right fit. In this guide, we’ll outline the different types of baby carriers available and benefits of each. This will help you determine the one that will be most suitable for you.

Types of Baby Carriers

The four most popular types of baby carriers are ring slings, wraps, soft structure, and solid structure carriers.

Ring Slings

Ring slings are made of soft fabric. They are worn diagonally across your body with the baby cradled in the front. Slightly older or bigger babies can also be carried on the hip.

Pros

  • Ring slings are easy to wear and remove.
  • The fabric used is usually soft and breathable. This is good for both your and your baby’s skin. Breathable material is also important from a safety perspective.
  • Ring slings are convenient for breastfeeding on the go.
  • They can easily be stored and rolled into a small bundle to fit into a diaper bag.

Cons

  • Since they lack some support features they are best to use for newborns and small babies only.
  • Due to slings being somewhat unstructured special care needs to be taken at all times for the baby’s positioning. Always make sure that the cloth does not cover the baby’s face or obstruct their breathing. Ensure they are not curled in a C shape which can affect breathing.
  • Carriers can experience neck or back pain from the one-sided strapping if used for long periods of time.

What to Look for When Buying a Ring Sling Baby CarrierMake sure there is a generous slack to securely fasten the device as short-tail slings can pose safety issues. Check whether the sling is washer and dryer friendly. If you have a summer baby you may want to go with a lighter fabric. Warmer, more protective fabrics would be suitable for winter.

Baby Wraps

Wraps are a soft fabric carrier designed as a single piece of fabric that folds around the mother and baby. They offer closeness and are a good transitional postpartum tool.

Pros

  • Wraps can be worn in a variety of positions which makes them more versatile than slings. This is especially helpful if the sling will be worn by different people.
  • Wraps fold well for easy diaper bag storage.
  • Wrapping variations offer additional support for the baby which means repositioning frequently is not a problem.

Cons

  • Wrap configurations are complicated and will require some practice before mastering the layers.
  • The layers of wrapped fabric can become hot, especially during summer.

What to Look for When Buying a Baby Carrier WrapLook for breathable, soft fabrics that have a bit of stretch. Stretchy fabrics allow a snug fit and safe wearing experience.

Soft Structured Carriers

Soft structured baby carriers come with secured adjustable shoulder straps, a waist strap, clip enclosures, and a defined baby seat. Small babies within the weight restrictions can be worn with their legs tucked inside. As the child grows, their legs can hang through the leg holes.

Pros

  • Structured baby carriers offer more ergonomic support than wraps and slings.
  • These carriers distribute the baby's weight more evenly and provide higher weight limits.
  • They are ideal for lengthy periods of carrying such as shopping and leisurely walks.
  • Buckles ensure secure positioning.
  • These carriers are a good longer-term option since they can be used as the baby grows.

Cons

  • Soft structures are not recommended for newborns or tiny babies.
  • These carriers do not fit into small or medium-sized diaper bags.
  • Due to specified shoulder and waist straps, the sizing options for parents are limited.

What to Look for When Buying a Soft Structured CarrierLook for versatility in the carrier and whether it gives you front carry, back carry, cradle- or hip carry options. Check for extra features such as sleeping hoods, storage pouches, and infant inserts.

Solid Structured Carriers

Hard structure or framed carriers feature aluminum framing for sturdy support. Framing can be lightweight or heavy. Lighter carriers have slimmer or fewer framing elements. They are ideal for sightseeing, shopping, and day hikes.

Heavier framed carriers have additional reinforcements and may include pouches and clips. These are ideal for hiking as well as camping activities. Parents who spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors will appreciate the options on these durable carriers.

Pros

  • Solid carriers are extremely durable and sturdy.
  • They provide excellent support for the baby and the parent.
  • Framed carriers are able to accommodate more weight than soft structured carriers.

Cons

  • Solid structure carriers can be weighty for wearing and transporting.
  • These carriers can be pricey.
  • Due to their bulky structure, they can be challenging to put on and take off.

What to Look for When Buying a Solid Structure Carrier?
If you are an outdoor-loving family look for carriers that have weather protection and extra storage pouches. Weight minimum and maximum recommendations will be diverse in this style, so consider the size of your child and how long you intend to use the carrier.

Baby Carrier FAQ

Q: How long should a baby be carried in a carrier?

A: This may depend on a lot of factors such as the type of carrier you are using, the baby’s age, strength, and position. In general, it is best for the baby not to spend more than two hours at a time in the carrier.

Q: Will a baby carrier hurt a baby’s hips and legs?

A: The best position for healthy hip development is when hips are in a bent position and thighs are flexed. Carriers that let a baby's legs hang downward with thighs together can increase stress on the hips.

Q: Can a baby sleep in a baby carrier?

A: If you are using your sling, wrap, or carrier safely and in the correct position it is safe for your baby to nap while being carried.

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