The best baby carrier
A great number of parents are turning to baby carriers for day-to-day use rather than the traditional stroller. Using a baby carrier promotes bonding with your little one, and it keeps your hands free -- you can eat meals with both hands and look after any older children you might have. Our top baby carrier comes from Ergobaby, a trusted name in the world of baby carriers. We chose it for its comfort for both parties and its ease of use.
Considerations when choosing baby carriers
Structured carriers vs. wraps
The two most common types of baby carriers are soft structured carriers and wraps. Soft structured carriers are extremely easy to put on and adjust. They can usually be worn on the front or back, and you can choose to face your baby outward or inward. The downside is that they can sometimes be uncomfortable for shorter parents, and the best models are often expensive.
Wraps are hugely versatile with many different configurations and ways of tying them. This is ideal for parents of all shapes and sizes. What's more, wraps are inexpensive. The main trouble is that they're more of a hassle to put on than soft structured carriers and require a bit of practice to get right.
You can also find sling carriers (such as ring slings) and backpack carriers for long walks or hikes with older babies and toddlers, but these are less common.
Front vs. back carrying
Decide whether you want to carry your baby on your front or your back. Some allow you to do both, but others are front-only or back-only. In general, back carrying is only recommended for older babies and toddlers. Some carriers are suitable for back carrying once your baby can sit up independently, whereas others don't recommend back carrying before 12 months of age.
Inward-facing vs. outward-facing
When carrying your baby on your front, you can choose to face her inward (toward you) or outward. Don't attempt outward-facing carrying until your baby is at least six months old.
Choose a baby carrier that can be adjusted to suit your height. Ideally, it should be fairly simple to adjust.
Babies and toddlers might be cute, but they're certainly messy. We highly recommend buying a baby carrier that's machine washable.
Inexpensive baby carriers start at $15 to $30, including some very basic soft structured carriers. Wrap carriers in this price range are often just as good as pricier options, but structured carriers won't be as comfortable or durable.
Expect to pay $40 to $80 for high-end wraps and slings and mid-range structured options. High-end soft structured carriers and baby backpacks can cost between $100 and $300.
Q. Are there any safety concerns related to baby carriers?
A. If incorrectly used, there's a chance of babies developing hip dysplasia from carriers. Make sure you choose a model that lets your baby's legs sit in the M-position to help avoid hip problems. What's more, your baby's face should always be tilted upward. If a baby is in a chin-to-chest position, it could restrict her airway.
Q. Can I nurse my baby while she's in her carrier?
A. It's certainly possible to nurse a baby in a carrier, but there is a bit of a knack to it, and it's easier in some carriers than others. We recommend practicing at home before you try it out and about. Also check that your baby can breathe easily while nursing in a carrier, and return her to her regular position as soon as she's finished her feed.
Baby carriers we recommend
Best of the best: Ergobaby Carrier
Our take: A soft structured carrier that's extremely easy to use -- just strap it on and you're ready to go.
What we like: Well-padded for the comfort of both wearer and child but breathable enough for warm-weather use. Allows four different carrying positions.
What we dislike: Need to buy infant insert separately for babies under four months.
Best bang for your buck: Boba Baby Wrap
Our take: An affordable wrap carrier made from soft, comfortable material. Extremely versatile, though it does take some getting used to.
What we like: Suitable from birth up to 35 pounds. Made from breathable cotton. Machine washable. Can be worn in a variety of ways.
What we dislike: Can be tricky to tie correctly until you get the hang of it.
Choice 3: Beco Gemini
Our take: This nicely padded and smart-looking carrier is easy to put on and highly adjustable. Suitable from babies and toddlers of between seven and 35 pounds.
What we like: Crossover straps are comfortable and distribute weight evenly. Easy to adjust for parents of differing heights. Small pocket on waistband is a handy extra.
What we dislike: Belt clip can be a bit stiff.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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