Want to babywear, but have no idea where to start? Learn about the best baby carriers for newborns and toddlers. Plus, get important safety information.
- Written by Genevieve Howland
- Updated on May 14, 2019
How many times have you wished for an extra set of hands?? Babywearing is just about the closest you can get, since it frees up the two hands you do have. It allows you to keep baby close and safe, but also get things done around the house. And bonus: Babywearing also fortifies the bond between mama and baby, reduces bouts of crying, and makes it easy to breastfeed. But before you can bask in these benefits, you’ll need to choose the best baby carrier for you.
Types of Baby Carriers
Though the function is largely the same, there are multiple types of baby carriers. The three most popular include:
1. Ring slings
Ring slings are essentially a long piece of fabric with a sturdy circular ring attached to one end. The ring functions as a way to create a sling that holds your baby or toddler on your hip.
Pros: Easy for toddlers to nurse in a ring sling; easy to tie and insert your child
Cons: Can be uncomfortable for long periods, due to the uneven weight distribution
A wrap is very similar to a ring sling—it just doesn’t have the ring. Instead, you simply tie the fabric to create a secure sling for baby. These types of wraps generally fall into two categories:
- Infant wraps are soft and stretchy, and are easy for beginners to tie. They are suitable from birth to about 35 pounds. That being said, the material tends to sag, so many mamas stop using the infant wrap well before the 35-pound mark.
- A woven wrap does not stretch or sag, which many mamas find more comfortable. But because they don’t stretch, they can be trickier to tie.
Pros: Very versatile; suitable from birth; multiple ways to carry your baby; can wrap twins; good for mamas of all sizes.
Cons: Have a longer learning curve; more difficult to do a back carry (older babies and toddlers only).
3. Soft-structured carriers
Soft-structured carriers are, as the name implies, more rigid. You do not have to fold, wrap, or tie these baby carries—you simply place baby inside the soft frame and secure a few snaps.
Pros: Ergonomically correct; easy for beginners; suitable from birth (sometimes with a pillow insert) to toddlerhood; front, back and side carry.
Cons: Unless you opt for a high-quality brand, the straps can dig into your shoulders; not as size-inclusive as other choices.
The Best Baby Carriers for Newborns
If there’s ever a time to start wrapping a baby, it’s during infancy. Your baby craves constant, loving touch, and wearing your baby makes that happen. On a practical level, carrying your newborn frees your hands up to get chores done, make a snack, take a walk outside, or get older children ready for bed.
Here are some of the best baby carriers for newborns:Boba Baby WrapThis is a good choice for cuddling those squishy newborns. While it does take a little more effort than a ring sling, the stretchy wrap is more forgiving to a beginner wrapper.— Check it Out —Boba Baby WrapMoby Slinghis sling offers a convenient way to carry baby when you’re on-the-go. It’s easy to stuff in a diaper bag, plus putting it on and getting baby in a comfortable position is a breeze once you get the hang of it.— Check it Out —Moby SlingDidymos Woven WrapNot only is this the most beautiful pattern, but it is also made out of 100 percent organic cotton. You can start using this wrap from day one, and it will last until the toddler years—and beyond.— Check it Out —Didymos Woven Wrap
Best Baby Carriers for Older Babies
You’ll have a greater variety of options once baby can sit up unassisted. Some of the best baby carriers for this phase include:
Ergo 360The new Ergo carrier allows your baby to face outward without placing undue strain on her hips. This lets baby observe the world around them. Alternatively, you can choose to face baby inwards for naps or nursing sessions.— Check it Out —Ergo 360LILLEbabyThe LiLLEbaby is well-built and meant to last for years. Plus, it boasts a 6-in-1 feature gives parents lots of options, including the front, back, and even a hip carry. You also don’t need a pillow insert for newborn.— Check it Out —LILLEbabyDidymos Woven WrapThis 100 percent organic wrap can be tied in dozens of ways, giving you tons of options. Plus, it’s sturdy enough to securely hold toddlers.— Check it Out —Didymos Woven Wrap
Are Baby Carriers Safe?
Before you invest in one of the best baby carriers, you may have a few questions about safety. The good news? With proper usage, a baby carrier is very safe. Follow the specific instructions that come with your baby carrier, but in general, safety rules include:
- Practice with a teddy bear until you are comfortable placing your baby in the carrier
- Make sure baby’s airways are clear
- Never place an infant in a back carry (Note: some manufacturers recommend 12 months, while others say baby must be able to sit up on their own. Check the literature that comes with your carrier for specifics.)
- Follow best practices for hip safety (more on that below!)
Baby Carriers and Hip Safety
Perhaps you’ve heard that babywearing can harm babies’ hips? While properly carrying your baby won’t harm the hips, improperly carrying your baby can affect hip development.
To ensure proper hip development, your baby’s hips should make an “M” shape while they are in a baby carrier. The hips should be open, with the knees bent slightly.
This “M” position is most compromised with the front carry. When your baby faces out, there’s too much pressure on the hips if baby’s legs dangle straight down. The best baby carries, like the Ergo 360 and the LILLEbaby carriers, hold baby’s hips in that “M” formation to make front carrying safe.
For more safety information, check out this post.
How About You?
Do you babywear? What do you think are the best baby carriers?