There are a lot of things we love: ice cream, clean sheets, well-designed parking garages….But nothing quite compares to holding your baby close. And the feeling is mutual. Your baby craves affection and it's natural for them to want to be held.
As much as you might want to snuggle and hold your baby 24/7, you also have a life to live (not to mention a laundry list of to-dos). A baby carrier can help you accomplish both.
If you're anything like us, multi-tasking is your middle name. Which is why we've made this list of the 5 best baby carriers, including our favorite from Tushbaby.
Wondering why you even need a baby carrier in the first place? Let’s start there before we share our top 5 favorite baby carriers of 2020.
Why You'll Want a Baby Carrier
The amount of baby gear on the market today is...insane. Sometimes it’s hard to know what you’ll actually need versus what’s just fun to put on your registry. But baby carriers are one of those items you’ll use endlessly as your baby grows.
Here are a few benefits of using a baby carrier with your little one:
- Deepens the human connection. Babies long for close contact and need it for optimal emotional development. (Let’s be real, parents need this, too.)
- Promotes visual and auditory learning since they'll have more access to the world and conversations around them.
- Helps free up your hands to do all the other things a parent needs to get done — work, errands, chores, and exercise can all be done while carrying your baby.
- Less crying and colic. Your baby feels less stress when they’re carried. According to a study published in Pediatrics Journal, "increased carrying reduces infant crying."
- Promotes healthy physical development including the prevention of flat-head syndrome and proper hip growth.
- Allows you to breastfeed on the go.
- Helps save YOUR energy. We know you're SuperMom, SuperDad, or SuperGrandma, but carrying your baby in your arms is tiring and not sustainable.
Whether you have a carrier or not, your baby is gonna want to be held. And if you want to hold your baby for any extended period of time, you're gonna need a baby carrier.
So what exactly do you want in a baby carrier?
Features to Look For in a Baby Carrier
There’s a wide range of baby carriers and the features can be quite different between them. You’ll want to make sure you choose one that best fits with your lifestyle as well as your baby’s needs.
The first major characteristic is how the carrier will position your baby while you “wear” them.
Baby Wearing Position
There are different advantages to each of the ways to carry your baby. And certain ways of carrying will be better for the particular activity that you're doing (don't choose a back carrier if you want to breastfeed your baby while baby wearing!)
Here are the main ways to carry your baby:
- Hip Carry
- Front Carry Face In Upright
- Front Carry Face In Lying Down
- Front Carry Face Out
- Back Carry
Also consider that babies' needs change over time and that includes how you carry them. You may find that the best carrier for a young infant isn't as suitable for when they're older. A newborn infant without head control will need special support, while a toddler will probably protest if you don't have an easy way to put them down easily. Many families utilize more than one carrier through the years. But remember that these can always be used again for future siblings.
Beyond considering how you'll want to carry your baby, these are other features to look for:
Ease of Use
We think this is the number one feature you'll want to look for in a baby carrier. Some carriers may look darling in a photo, but then you realize they're a giant pain to put on correctly. A baby carrier should not make your life more difficult. If you choose one that's impossible to figure out, you're not going to use it. This can also compromise safety. Be sure to choose a carrier that's simple to use.
Since you'll likely want to carry your baby in more than one way, you'll want to look for a carrier that can accommodate different positions. The more versatile the carrier, the more likely you’ll be able to use it during different stages of your baby's life.
Does the carrier feel good when you wear it? Does your baby look cozy and comfortable in it? The answers to these questions should be a resounding "YES." No part of your body should hurt when you're carrying your baby. And clearly if your baby is uncomfortable in any way, it negates all the benefits. We recommend you read reviews to see what other parents are saying about how comfortable the carrier is.
Here's our list of our 5 favorite baby carriers of 2020. Read on to find the one that’ll work best for your family.
Easiest Baby Carrier to Use
Most carriers are designed to strap babies in. But once your baby is strapped in, you're not going to want to take her out anytime soon.
The easiest baby carrier to use is one that makes it simple for you to pick your baby up, and then put your baby down (think, without a bunch of straps or buckles).
The Tushbaby hip carrier is the easiest one to use, hands down. That’s why it's our favorite!
You may have seen Tushbaby featured on Shark Tank in January 2019. Lucky for you, the sharks bit on the only safety-certified hip seat baby carrier on the market. This ingenious fanny-pack style carrier is all about freedom and easy portability for your little one.
What makes it the easiest carrier to use?
The simplicity of the Tushbaby carrier is its allure. More often than not, you just want to pick up your baby and hold them in your arms. The problem here is that it can get uncomfortable quickly. Tushbaby allows your baby to go from up to down and back again with minimal effort.
Type of Carrier: Tushbaby hip carrier can be used in 4 different positions with the anti-slip seat: baby can lay down for feeding, face in, face out, or be side carried
Age for use: 0 - 36 months, from 8lbs-45lbs
Safety and comfort: This hip seat carrier is doctor-approved for both caretaker (reduces muscular strain on the spine) and baby. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends healthy hip positioning for all babies to promote proper growth, and Tushbaby was designed to support baby in the recommended “M” position. The wide adjustable band also allows for a perfect fit.
Additional features to love: We love that the Tushbaby can stash all of your — and your baby's — essentials. Multiple pockets and loops means you have everything you need within reach (and can leave the heavy diaper bag at home).
The beauty of small children is their zest for life. With Tushbaby, they can take it all in while also getting much needed closeness with the ones they love the most. Your little one gets exactly what they need (both closeness and freedom), and you get to save your back and carry your sweet babe comfortably. Win-win.
Best Baby Carrier for Full Support
If you need your baby strapped in tight for a longer excursion, you'll want a highly supportive carrier that will keep both you and your baby comfortable for the long haul. Though these carriers are some of the most popular, keep in mind that they are a little more involved than the others when you need to get your baby in and out.
The Ergobaby 360 is one of the most popular brands of soft structured carriers. Older infants (starting around 4 months) and babies who are happy to stay put next to you for an extended period of time will love snuggling up to you face-in, or taking in the world around them face-out.
Type of Carrier: Front face in, Front face out, hip carry, and back carry
Age for use: 12 - 45 pounds
Safety and comfort: The Ergobaby offers lumbar support for extra back comfort even as your child gets bigger. It also puts baby in the safe "M” position making it a great choice for baby carrying.
Additional features to love: The removable UPF 50+ privacy hoodie offers great protection for your little one against harsh weather and sun. There are also plenty of styles and colors to choose from.
Best Sling Baby Carrier
Slings are a great investment for the newborn stage. Though you can use them far longer, there are other choices that are more comfortable for older babies and toddlers. But for the tiniest babes, slings are great because they allow baby to go from sleep to awake to breastfeeding easily.
These slings from Sakura are as beautiful as they are functional. Hand-dyed lines, cozy bamboo, and super soft cashmere means your baby will always have a cozy spot as they curl up next to you. With just one ring to utilize for tightening, this ring sling is very easy to get baby in and out of.
Type of Carrier: Slings are best for face-in carrying of young babies, but more options are available once a baby has proper head control.
Age for use: Appropriate for use from 7 - 45 pounds depending on which fabric and style you choose.
Safety and comfort: When tightened properly, a ring sling is generally very comfortable. But they can be tricky to get right. This can lead to neck and shoulder pain for the caregiver since baby's weight isn't as evenly distributed as with some other carriers.
Additional features to love: These slings have a long "tail" which can give extra privacy if desired for nursing. And the femininity of the sling makes it a great complement to the perfect outfit.
Best Wrap Baby Carrier
Wrap carriers are a great choice for newborns and young infants. If you're a breastfeeding mama, wrap carriers allow the support needed for your baby to easily do so. Wrap carriers, however, can be confusing to get on properly. The one we chose is frustration-free, going over your head just like a t-shirt. It certainly has a lower learning curve than many of the others.
The Baby K'tan is essentially a wrap carrier without any actual wrapping. The style and wear are similar, but because it's so much easier to put on, you'll be a lot more likely to use it.
Type of Carrier: This wrap carrier allows for 5 wearing positions
Age for use: Birth to 35 pounds
Safety and comfort: The Baby K'Tan comes in multiple sizes, so be sure to use the size chart to get a proper and comfortable fit. Unlike adjustable carriers, this one won't be able to be shared between mom and dad. Both caregiver and baby will appreciate the soft 100% cotton fabric and the double loop design that securely holds baby in place.
Additional features to love: These wraps come in a variety of colors and prints and we love them for the littlest babies. They also fold up and stash easily when not in use.
Best Budget Baby Carrier
If the thought of buying more baby gear has you seeing dollar signs, you're not alone. The cost of essentials for your little one can add up quickly. Luckily, parents on a budget don't have to miss out on having a good baby carrier.
We've chosen the Infantino Cuddle Up Ergonomic Hoodie Baby Carrier as our top choice in the budget category. Similar in style to more pricey ergonomic front/back carriers, we love the structure of this one and its darling design.
Type of Carrier: Upright front and back carry
Age for use: Babies and young children between 12 - 40 pounds
Safety and comfort: Wide padded straps and easy adjustability help parents get a perfect fit. The bucket seat makes for a natural and safe position for baby to sit.
Additional features to love: The super cute removable canopy hood keeps cool air and sun off your baby's head. Parents will also appreciate the kangaroo pocket in front to keep their hands warm.