There are few things sweeter than newborn snuggles, but life doesn’t stop just because your little one needs some TLC. You can place them in the crib for a break or a baby swing—or you can bring them along and keep them close with a baby carrier. The best baby carriers offer a safe way to hold your infant hands-free while continuing your daily life, whether that’s a run to the grocery store or just watching your toddler at the playground.
“There are numerous benefits of babywearing for both caregiver and baby,” says Isobel Benesch, maternal health advocate and founder of Atlas of Motherhood. “A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying significantly—43 percent overall and 51 percent at night.” Benesch explains that babywearing is a “simple and low-risk intervention that can reduce the instance and severity of postpartum depression by improving maternal sense of bonding, breastfeeding success, reducing infant colic and increased level of maternal oxytocin.”
The best baby carriers will take you all the way from infancy to toddlerhood. They’ll be comfortable, easy to use and include features to encourage safe carrying and positioning of the baby. Here are nine of the best baby carriers, including our favorite multitaskers to specialized carriers for hiking or hanging by the pool.
Best Baby Carrier Overall
A Comfortable, Non-Complicated Carrier That Fits Most
Best Baby Carrier For Newborns
A Versatile, Long-Term Option That’s Useable From Day One
Best Baby Carrier For Toddlers
A Supportive Option For You And Your Toddler
Best Sling Or Wrap Carrier
A Breathable And Lightweight Option For Babies
Best Baby Carrier For Petite Moms
Offers Comfort And Support For Mom And Baby
Best Baby Carrier For Plus Size Moms
A Soft, Comfortable Options For Parents of Every Size
Best Baby Carrier For Dads
A Great Option For Dads And Budget-Conscious Parents
Best Baby Carrier For Hiking
This Backpack Carrier Makes Hiking A Cinch
Best Baby Carrier For Water And Travel
The Optimal Carrier For Days Spent Near the Water
Frequently Asked Questions On Baby Carriers
Do I Need A Baby Carrier?
While a baby carrier isn’t a necessity, it is a wonderful way to carry your baby while keeping your posture supported. In addition to giving you a hands-free experience with your child, it’s also beneficial for parent and child bonding, is known to reduce crying and fussiness and often eases parental stress. A baby carrier isn’t the right option for every family, but they certainly make walking, doing chores and simply holding your child easier on your body and mental load. It’s also a more compact option when traveling or getting out of the house when compared to a stroller.
Are Baby Carriers Safe?
Parents will often wonder if babies can develop hip dysplasia or overheat when in a baby carrier, however baby carriers are a safe and tested option to keep your child close and supported. It is, however, important to read instructions and take all necessary precautions when baby carrying. For instance, when using a baby carrier with a newborn, it’s of the utmost importance that their head and neck are supported. You should also be mindful of your baby’s temperature and ensure their mouth and nose aren’t covered by anything when using a baby carrier.
When Can A Baby Face Forward In A Baby Carrier?
It’s not advised that babies face forward in the carrier until they can adequately hold up their head without support. Typically parents feel comfortable enough to do this between months four and six. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to check with your pediatrician to make sure this is best for your baby.
How Long Can You Use A Baby Carrier?
That depends on both the child and person doing the carrying. Many families utilize baby wearing from birth to 2 years of age but some children might not enjoy being contained once they’re mobile. Other children might be content to hang out in a structured carrier until they’re 3. It really depends on the size and temperament of the child and the strength and comfort level of the adult. Generally speaking however, most carriers can be used until your child reaches 45 pounds.
What Should You Look For In A Baby Carrier?
When looking for a baby carrier, it’s important to think of who will be using it, the age and size of your child and if there are any specific features that you want. I highly recommend trying a few on before selecting a carrier for your registry. While some families may require a structured carrier that’s all-weather and can be worn by both parents, others might want something simple that can be kept in a diaper bag and used on the go. Generally speaking, you should look at construction (a broad waist belt and padded shoulder straps will help support the baby’s weight and anatomy), carrying options (can they face in or out and be worn on your front or back?), and if the carrier provides any additional features or storage. It’s worth considering if the carrier fits well, is machine washable and how it travels.
What’s The Best Type Of Baby Carrier?
Much like cars and strollers, the best option depends on the needs of the family. For newborns and young infants who are breastfeeding, a wrap or soft carrier are likely the best option. However, those are short-term solutions. For families looking for a long-term option with many capabilities, a soft structured carrier like the Beco, Nuna or ErgoBaby is worth a look because of these carriers’ versatility and quality.