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The Insider Pick:
A baby carrier lets you and your little one explore the world together. You’ll be glad to have your hands free and your child nestled close, while babies love feeling warm and secure.
The Ergobaby OMNI 360 All-in-One Carrier is our top choice because it’s adaptable, comfortable, and very easy to use.
The first few years of a child’s life are a unique and wonderful time for his or her parents, but it would be dishonest to say that the baby years don’t also make life more complicated. The simple act of leaving the house to run an errand, grab lunch with a friend, or even just to take a walk becomes a much more involved process, requiring everything from diaper bags to bottles to bibs to a spare set of clothes in preparation for inevitable messes. While the modern marketplace is cluttered with baby gear and accessories that you can skip, there are a few items the savvy parent should have on hand. A great baby carrier ranks near the top of this list.
With a baby carrier, you and your young child can venture out into the world — whether for a walk around the block or an all-day adventure through a foreign city — with ease and comfort. Baby carriers keep your hands free while keeping your child warm and secure, offering you convenience while strengthening the bond between you and the little one.
Baby carriers essentially let you go anywhere and do anything you’d like while bringing your child along, and without the concerns staircases, tight spaces, or other obstacles present to the stroller and without your arms aching after hours of carrying a baby. By using your hips, shoulders, and core to support the weight of your child, a baby carrier minimizes the strain put on your body. They are also, of course, designed with child’s ergonomic needs in mind, keeping a baby properly supported and comfortable at the same time.
When choosing the right baby carrier for you and your child, first consider the child. That is to say think about your baby’s age and size, and about how quickly he or she is growing. Some baby carriers are ideal for newborns, while others cannot even safely be used by a child until he or she is at least six months old. Try to find a baby carrier that you provide you years of use, but don’t ever choose one not suitable for your child’s current size. They can “grow into” hand me down clothes, but not a carrier that can’t offer proper neck support, e.g.
Then think about the types of activities in which you and your child will participate while the baby is strapped to you. A hiking baby carrier might be a ridiculous choice if all you tend to do is run errands and visit friends and family, but a cloth baby wrap is equally a poor choice for the one-year-old coming along for a trek.
Once you have considered your child’s needs and the activities during which you want to keep your child close and your hands free, take a look at the baby carriers on our list. Surely one or two of them will suit your needs, with design preference and budget informing your final decision.
Here are our top picks for the best baby carriers:
Best overall: Ergobaby OMNI 360 All-in-One Carrier
Best low-cost option: Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Convertible Baby Carrier
Best for hiking: Clevr Baby Backpack 202 Cross Country Carrier
Best for newborns: Moby Wrap Baby Carrier
Best for parent comfort: Stokke MyCarrier Front/Back 3-in-1 Baby Carrier
Updated on 06/06/2018 by Steven John: Added the Ergobaby OMNI 360 All-in-One Carrier as our top pick in lieu of our former top pick. Updated formatting and prices.
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks. The best baby carrier overall
Why you’ll love it: The Ergobaby OMNI 360 baby carrier can be used to tote little ones along in any logical position you can think of on your back, hip, or chest.
A lot of baby carriers pride themselves on being three-position carriers. Some highlight how they allow a baby to ride on your back or front with equal comfort. Others tout their face in or face out baby position options. The Ergobaby OMNI 360 All-in-One carrier cuts through all the noise and simply calls itself an “all position carrier.” I am an owner of this carrier and I can you this firsthand: Ergobaby is not lying. Face in or face out on your chest? No problem. Want the baby on your back? Easy. Either hip preferable? It works for both.
Now let’s talk carrying capacity. You could use this carrier to bring most babies home from the hospital, as it’s rated safe for kids weighing seven pounds and up. And I could just about still use it with my four-and-a-half-year-old because it can handle kids weighing as much as 45 pounds. Though technically the brand doesn’t advise use about four years, for the record.
A built-in tuck away hood can keep your little one out of the sun and wind and will even resist light rain, and it can also be used as a nursing cover so moms can feed their babies without ever taking the kid out of the hardware.
OK, so your baby/toddler has all these positioning options and can be covered and fed and snuggled and that’s all great. But what about you? Well, you’ll appreciate the broad waist belt that distributes weight, the lumbar pad that helps prevent sore backs, and the soft yet sturdy shoulder straps.
All straps and belts and such can be adjusted easily to accommodate an adult’s waist that measures anywhere from 26 inches to 52 inches, while the shoulder straps can adjust from 28 to 46 inches. And going back to the waist belt, you can wear it high or low, which is great for personal comfort preference and superb for women recovering from C-sections.
I’m not the only fan out there, either. With hundreds of reviews on Amazon, the OMNI 360 has a solid 4.3-star average. One mom speaks for many when she relates having tried a plethora of other options only to find this one “perfect and worth every penny” based on her comfort, her son’s comfort, and the extra features like the hood and a pocket for stashing a phone and keys and such.
A writer from BreastFeedingNeeds said this Ergobaby carrier “can do it all,” comfortably carrying babies and toddlers in any position you’d want.
We previously recommended the ERGObaby Three Position ADAPT Baby Carrier as our top pick, but the new 360-model is even better because it’s more versatile.
Pros: Multiple position options, large padding and adjustable straps, cool mesh keeps parent and child comfortable
Cons: Expensive but worth it
The best low cost baby carrier
Why you’ll love it: The Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Convertible Baby Carrier offers the same baby support, parent comfort, and versatility of use as baby carriers that cost four times as much money.
Let’s start with the drawbacks on this one, because they are relatively few in the scheme of things. The Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Convertible Baby Carrier is only rated for use with babies weighing between eight and 32 pounds, so for smaller newborns or premature babies, it’s not going to work in those first few weeks. And that 32-pound maximum capacity is a good deal smaller than what’s offered by many other carriers. Also, the leg straps can be a bit confusing to configure.
But here’s the thing: This baby carrier costs thirty dollars. Yes, you could pay significantly more than that and get a carrier with a 40-pound weight capacity and with simpler adjustment points, but think long and hard about the value there. Will you even still be using a baby carrier when your child is that large? And are those few minutes of time spent readjusting the unit now and then to accommodate the growing child worth the savings? The answers are likely no and yes, respectively, so go ahead and save some cash if your family is on a budget.
The Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Convertible Baby Carrier can carry a baby face in or out on your chest or face in on your back. They call it a “four position” carrier because in the chest face-in configuration you can use a neck and head support flap or fold it out of the way, so really it’s more of a three position carrier, but that’s not really a strike against it, just a matter of semantics.
Parents love this carrier, giving it an average rating of 4.5 stars with hundreds of reviews logged. One mommy loves how easy it is to adapt the shoulder and waist straps to her frame and “to daddy’s size as well.” Another mom reports that she puts her son “in it while doing dishes, vacuuming, walking, really anything.”
A writer with Baby Carrier HQ praises the Infantino seat’s “natural positioning that helps to keep your baby happy,” while a video reviewer with Positively Mommy demonstrates how easily she can remove her child from the carrier and place him back into the unit single-handedly.
Pros: Great low price tag, easy to adjust to fit different adults, inward and outward facing positions
Cons: Only suitable up to 32 pounds, leg adjustment points can be a hassle to use
The best hiking baby carrier
Why you’ll love it: With the Clevr Baby Backpack 202 Cross Country Carrier on your back, you and your child will be ready to trek into the backcountry.
Hiking child carriers differ from regular baby carriers in several notable ways, and the Clevr Baby Backpack 202 Cross Country Carrier exemplifies all of these major design elements. First and foremost, as with a good hiking pack, this carrier features an extra wide waist belt and lower back support system that allows you to carry most of the pack and baby weight on your hips. The shoulder straps are also thicker and more substantial than those of most standard baby carriers.
Quite unlike most baby carriers, this and other similar hiking baby backpacks do not carry the child directly against the parent, but instead, house the child in his own compartment. This snug and secure compartment is outfitted with internal straps that hold the baby in place, and the child can be protected against sunshine using a built-in hood and even against rain with moveable plastic panels.
Also unlike standard baby carriers, the Clevr Baby Backpack 202 Cross Country Carrier has a large storage pocket that can accommodate diapers, snacks, spare clothes, a camera, and other such sundries. There are also two side pockets perfect for an adult’s water bottle or a baby bottle. When you need to take a break from the trail, you can set the backpack down without removing your child thanks to its folding stand.
With hundreds of reviews logged on Amazon, the Clevr Cross Country Carrier has a solid 4.4-star average rating. One owner calls it a “quality product at a middle ground price” and appreciates the carrier’s storage capacity. Another user says the pack feels like “it will last forever.”
A product reviewer with Switchback Travel called the Clevr Cross Country Carrier a “favorite sub-$150 baby carrier pack” and noted its “good array of pockets.” A blogger from KatherineRosman.com loved the “retractable canopy” that protects the child and the “padded straps and seat” that provide comfort for child and adult alike.
Pros: Good price for category, excellent hip and shoulder strap system, good storage pockets
Cons: Not suitable for smaller infants, not comfortable for shorter adults
SEE ALSO: The best strollers you can buy
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