Holding your new baby is the most natural thing in the world. The close contact offer so many benefits to you and baby. A baby carrier is the perfect way to carry your newborn around whilst leaving your hands free. You can wear it in the house or when out and about as a stroller alternative. So what is the best newborn carrier?
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The choice of baby carrier is huge, so it can be very overwhelming for a beginner. Stork Mama have created this buying guide to help you decide which one is right for your family. We’ll discuss the different types, features to lookout for, pros and cons of baby carriers and carrier safety. Let’s start with our reviews of the bestselling newborn carriers and find out which ones came out on top.
5 Best Newborn Carrier Reviews
Best Wrap Carrier – Boba Baby Wrap
- Fabric: 95% cotton 5% spandex
- Age Range: Birth- 18 months
- Carry Style: Front, Hip and Back
Pros: Very comfortable, portable, suitable for premmies, custom fit
Cons: Fiddly to put on, overheating
The Boba Baby Wrap is the bestselling wrap style carrier for your baby. The soft, thick, stretchy fabric will fit you like a glove whether you are petite or plus size. The fabric is wide enough to be comfortably worn by men too. It’s suitable to use from birth to 18 months, the perfect solution for hands free skin to skin with your baby.
Your baby will love the womb like hold of this wrap. It’s perfect if they are cranky, colicky or just love to be held. If you are a mama who need to get things done, you can keep baby close and your hands free. The biggest downside of this wrap is the time it takes to put on. There is a technique which is a learning curve at first, but will be second nature after a few uses.
Best Mei Tei – Infantino Sash
- Fabric: 100% cotton outer, 100% polyester padding
- Age Range: Birth- 3 years
- Carry Style: Front, Hip and Back
Pros: Affordable, suitable for plus size, back support, baby head support
Cons: Not suitable for preemies, wrap technique required
Our best Mei Tai carrier goes to the Infantino Sash. If you are struggling to find a wrap which accommodate your bust and postpartum tummy these this is perfect. It’s just so adjustable and even comfortable on short mamas. Your partner will also be able to wear it without needing to readjust the sizing. Oh and let’s not forget for the price, it’s pretty much a steal. For the cost it’s a great option as a ‘back up’ carrier.
We should note this carrier is only suitable for larger newborns from 8lb upwards. It’s really comfortable to wear, even for those with back pain. The padded shoulder straps are lifesavers especially if you are carrying baby for long periods of time. This is another carrier which requires a wrap technique to learn.
Best Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) – Complete All Seasons Lillebaby
- Fabric: 100% cotton outer, 100% polyester mesh insert
- Age Range: Birth- 4 years
- Carry Style: Front, Hip and Back
Pros: Temperature control, lightweight, weather accessories, pockets
Cons: Expensive, bulky
The Best structured carrier is hands down the LilleBaby Complete All Seasons. If you’re looking to invest in a high quality carrier which will last a long time then this is the best. This carrier is just so comfortable to wear. The padded straps and lumbar support her to redistribute your weight to prevent aches and pains. The design is fairly unisex for men to wear.
For baby it’s really soft and the mesh padding keeps them really cool. Plus there is no need for an extra newborn insert which usually makes them overheat quickly. The sleeping hood is perfect for supporting baby’s head, protecting them from the sun and providing feeding privacy. One of the biggest downside was that it’s quite bulky so not one to easily store in a diaper bag.
Best Ring Sling – Mamaway
- Fabric: 100% Pima Cotton, nylon rings
- Age Range: Birth- 4 years
- Carry Style: Front Upright, Front Lying, Hip and Back
Pros: Portable, easy storage, lightweight, breastfeeding friendly, range of colours/designs
Cons: Expensive, plastic rings
The best rated ring sling has to be the Mamaway. This style is perfect for carrying new-born’s is both upright and cradled positions. It’s strong enough to carry your baby into toddlerhood. The design is really simple large piece of fabric and sturdy rings. It will take time to learn but you’ll pick it up quickly with written and video instructions.
We love just how portable this carrier is. It fold into a neat rectangle of fabric in its own self-contained pouch. So easy to carry around in your purse or a diaper bag. If plan on breastfeeding it also doubles up as a great discreet cover for feeding baby in public.
Best Pouch Carrier – HotSlings Adjustable Pouch Sling
- Fabric: 55% polyester, 42% rayon, 3% spandex
- Age Range: Newborn – 3 years
- Carry Style: Front and Hip
Pros: Comfortable, compact, perfect for a newborn
Cons: Sizing issues, requires practice
The Hotslings adjustable pouch carrier is a favourite option for newborn’s. It helps your baby to naturally adopt a foetal position just like you were holding them in your arms. We love that you don’t need to fiddle around adjusting or tying, just place baby in a go. It’s also great for when baby starts to walk and get easily tired.
The biggest concern with this wrap appears to be the sizing issues. Some find it is true to size and other think it’s made small. It can be adjusted but only slightly. You wouldn’t be able to change between a smaller and larger frame.
Baby Carrier Basics
Baby Carrier Types
A wrap carrier is a long, wide piece of fabric which is wrapped around baby and tied onto you. They are the most traditional type of baby carrier. Most common wrap fabrics are stretchy jersey knit or woven cotton. Wraps are the most adaptable for carry positions and sizing. They are quite tricky for beginners and you need to practice a lot before you’ll be confident using one with ease.
A mei tai (“may tie”) is a traditional Asian style baby carrier. The design cradles baby in a rectangular centre with four long straps to attach around you. Mei Tai’s are best for long term use from newborn to toddler. This style is a lot easier to learn than a wrap carrier. They are very light, portable and easy to change between mom and dad.
Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs)
Also known as buckle carriers, a SSC is a modern carrier style. The design is similar to a mei tai but with buckle attachments rather than ties. This style is best for beginners who want a comfortable and convenient carrier without a learning curve. Dads often love this style as they are similar to wearing a backpack. They may also come with additional feature such as pockets, hoods or weather covers. Some styles may require an additional insert to support a newborn baby.
A ring sling is a modern adaptation of traditional sash slings. A rectangular piece of fabric is held in place around baby with two tension rings. The fabric tail can be adjusted to comfortably fit the wearer. This type of sling is best for breastfeeding moms as it can be used a nursing cover. This type of sling is very easy to learn to use.
A pouch carrier is very similar to a ring sling without the rings. It’s a simple piece of fabric worn over the shoulder and across the body. The shape creates a pouch to cradle a newborn or seat infants and toddlers. This style is very quick and easy to use. It’s convenient to use when out and about as its compact enough to carry around in your purse or diaper bag. The downside is they can’t really be shared between caregivers unless they are a similar size.
It’s important your baby is held in a position safe for their age as well as comfortable for you. Ideally your choice of sling can adjust to most carry positions to adapt to you and baby’s needs.
This position is the most natural for a newborn. It comforts baby because it gives the warmth and sounds of being in the womb. You can keep a close eye on baby respond to baby’s needs quickly. The close contact helps encourage a healthy milk supply for breastfeeding moms. Baby will also become more responsive to your body, helping you to quickly notice early hunger cues.
Common front carry positions include:
- Fetal – An upright position for newborn babies. The legs adopt a natural curled position and the head, neck and back is well supported.
- Lying – Similar to you cradling baby in your arms, baby is on their back. The head, back and legs are supported by the fabric.
- Upright – As you baby grows and gains more strength their legs can take a seat positions. For healthy hip development a baby’s legs should develop an M shape in the sling.
This position becomes natural as your baby grows. Most moms with natural carry babies on their hips as they lift them up. Using a hip carry can make it easier for you to carry out task then a forward facing position. Your hips provide a support for your baby to adopt a natural wide leg position. It’s a great potions for communicating with you baby and helping them learn about the world.
Carrying on your back is ideal for older babies and toddlers. As baby gets heavier they will put more pressure on your baby in front carry positions. A back hold means you can carry your older baby for longer periods of time without becoming sore. Again it’s easier for you to do tasks which are difficult to do when baby is on your front.
The type of fabric used for your sling will affect how you carry your baby.
- Weave – Stretchy type fabrics can handle lighter babies but may not provide enough structure for toddlers.
- Finishes – What finishes or dyes have been used to make the sling? Does it conform to the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 Class I? Babies tend to suck on straps or fabric for comfort and you want to avoid them taking in any nasty chemicals.
- Weather appropriate – Carriers with singles layers of fabric, light colors and lightweight materials will help the air to flow and keep both you and baby cool.
The type of fastener a carrier has will affect how quickly you learn to put the carrier on. Fastener type also affects the type of learning curve of using the carrier.
- Knots – Carrier such as wraps and mei tai’s require you to hold baby on by tying knots in the fabric. This can be daunting to a beginner, but gets easier with practice.
- Buckles – Structured carriers close with clips. These are really easy to put on and convenient for beginners.
- Rings – Ring sling trap the fabric in between two metal or plastic ring to secure. They are easily adjustable, but require practice to become confident using with ease.
- None – Pouch sling don’t require any fastening at all which makes them easy and quick to use. However they can’t be adjusted as baby grows or between different wearers.
Choosing a carrier with good support for your back will prevent aches and pains. This is particularly important if you have pre-existing back pain. Good back support will help you to wear baby for longer periods of time without becoming sore.
Similar to back support, good shoulder padding will improve your comfort when wearing baby. As you baby grows the weight will begin to strain more on your shoulders. Passing prevents fabric rubbing and discomfort whilst carrying baby.
Keeping both you and baby cool is important for safety and comfort. Features which improve airflow will help to prevent you and baby overheating. This is particularly important in summer months or in hotter climates. Look out for:
- Mesh panels
- Shaped sides
- Head Support
New born babies cannot support their head, so they have a tendency to flop down. Your baby’s head need to be positioned away from their chest in a carrier. If there is not head support, baby’s head can fall forward and put them at risk of restricting their airway.
When it’s cold outside you’ll want to keep baby warm. A sling cover is specially designed to over the area where baby gets cold, whilst keeping the head free. It’s important with any type of carrier cover that you can always see baby breathing at all times.
This is a handy features especially if you don’t want to carry a bag as well as baby. Pockets can hold your phone, keys, pacifiers, wipes etc. when you are out and about.
Baby Carrier Buying Guide
We’ve designed this buying guide to help you find a baby carrier which best suits your lifestyle. This will help you narrow down your choices to a select few carrier options.
- Age range – We already know you want a carrier suitable for a new-born but how long you do intend to use it for. Stretchy wrap carrier are best for short term use. Woven ring slings are best for carrying older children.
- Users – If you plan to use it between a few caregivers you’ll need a carrier which adjust to each person’s size. You should make sure each wearer is comfortable with the carrier fastening technique.
- How often – If you plan on using your carrier instead of a stroller then you need to invest in one which is durable. You will also want to make it portable so you can carry around with you at all times.
- How long – For wearing baby over long periods of time you’ll want to be comfortable. Look for a sling which has back and shoulder support to prevent pain developing in these areas over time.
- Where – Do you intend to wear the carrier when out and about or for use in the house? Breastfeeding moms may want a carrier which makes it easier to feed baby from.
Baby wearing should be comfortable for both you and baby. This is what you should look out for to improve comfort for you both.
- Position – Your baby needs to be is a safe and comfortable position. When upright ensure the carrier gives them a wide hip position to help them develop properly. Some carries will allow a cradle position for newborns.
- Support– Baby’s back and neck should be well supported. Baby should have the head positioned off the chest with spine in a natural C shape.
- Fabric – A soft but breathable fabric is best to keep baby comfortable and cool. Fabric should not rub against baby’s legs, arms or neck area.
- Support – Shoulder and back strains common as your baby gets heavier. Carriers which distribute the weight to these areas allow you to wear the carrier for longer periods of time.
- Sizing – Carriers with adjustable sizing allows you to keep a comfortable fit. This is important if you swap between your partner or when you are losing any pregnancy weight.
- Weight – Consider how heavy or lightweight the carrier is to wear with baby inside. SSCs are usually heavier than cloth carries such as wraps, mei tais or ring slings.
The style of a baby carrier is important if you want to use it frequently. Most brands will come with a variety of colors and prints to suit your taste. Remember that your partner probably won’t want to wear a pink, floral print to carry baby. Men often tend to prefer the structured carries as they have a unisex appeal.
Your baby carrier should conform to international safety standards ASTM F2907.
- Fabric – This must be suitable to hold the weight of your baby. Carrier should come with a maximum weight range which the fabric can support. Soft stretchy knits are suitable for newborns but not great for heavier infants.
- Position – You carrier should be able to position your baby’s head so they can be seen breathing. They hip position is important to prevent any developing problems with hip dysplasia.
- Durability – For frequent use the carrier must withstand plenty of knot tying or buckle fastening. Invest in a high quality carrier with strong stitching on the fabric.
Ease of use
- Fastening – Carriers without buckle have a learning curve of wraps and ties to hold baby in place. This can take a few practices to get used to. Plus throw a wriggly baby in the mix can make it more stressful. SSC’s and pouch sling are best for ease of use.
- Adjustable – To give you a comfortable custom fit its best to opt for an adjustable carrier. These will give you and baby a snug fit. They will also prevent back and shoulder pain as the carrier won’t pull or strain when baby is inside.
- Portable – A small and compact carrier is perfect for storing in your handbag or diaper bag when out and about. Fabric carriers are smaller and more lightweight than bulkier structured carriers.
- Machine Washable – This can make cleaning carrier very quick and convenient. Do however make sure you know how long it takes to dry or you may be left with a wet carrier and a grumpy baby.
- Stain resistant – A few stain will start to show if you frequently use a carrier with an older baby. Lighter color become grubby quicker than darker colors.
A good quality baby carrier can cost anything from $30 – $160. Regardless of your budget you will find a carrier that is safe, comfortable and suits your needs. We highly recommend investing is a high quality carrier if you intend to use it daily or as an alternative to a baby stroller.
Benefits of Using a Sling
Baby carrier have been used for centuries and modern moms are starting to realize the numerous benefits they offer to new parents.
Ease of movement
If you’ve ever used a stroller in a crowded area you’ll know how difficult they are to use. A baby carrier requires very little space and you can move around as freely as you do normally. You can take stairs and escalators with not need to wait in line for an elevator. They make activities such as hillwalking much easier with baby in tow.
If you are on a tight budget or want to try attachment parenting then a baby carrier can help you avoid using a stroller at all. Stroller are a huge expense with a baby carrier costing at least half the price.
For those who don’t have enough room to swing a cat, storing a bulky stroller can be problematic. A baby carrier tucks away neatly with minimal space required.
Even when you are on maternity leave you’ll have things you want to do. Whether its reply to emails, some housework or caring for older siblings. A baby carrier allows you to comfort baby and do these tasks at the same time.
The extra weight of baby can help you to shed the pregnancy pounds by burning off more calories as you walk.
Babies who receive kangaroo care are known to settle better and sleep for longer. This is because they are comforted by the close contact, warmth and sound of a heartbeat.
Upright positions ease the symptoms of colic or acid reflux for a baby. Their digestion is aided so there is less chance of them vomiting or becoming gassy, leading to fussiness.
Studies have shown that babies who are carried in a sling cry 40% less than those who are not. This eases the pressure for parents and can lead to less incidents of postnatal depression.
The skin to skin contact helps your oxytocin hormones to flow. This is an attachment hormone known to improve your baby’s IQ and social skills in later life.
Again the oxytocin hormone help to improve your breastmilk supply. A baby who is help close will be more responsive to feeding.
Carriers are heavily encouraged for premature babies as the close skin contact helps them to gain weight faster and have a better temperature regulation. The improved breastfeeding relationship is also important for preemies as breastmilk promote quicker development.
Issues with Baby Wearing
There are some areas of baby wearing which should be addressed to ensure you and baby get the best experience possible.
Baby carries are complete safe to use with the right technique. The important thing is to follow the TICKS baby wearing rules which we will discuss in the safety section below.
Ensure that you are always suitability clothed to be wearing a baby carrier. It’s always best to opt for a lighter layer as you will soon heat up with baby attached to you. Try not to carry around extra bags which can cause your shoulder to become lopsided. If possible try to find a carrier with storage pockets.
If you have ongoing pain issues, discuss baby wearing with your doctor or health care provider beforehand. The most suitable carrier to choose will offer distributed back and shoulder support with comfort features. If your back pain increases, stop using the carrier immediately.
Baby Wearing Safety
It is always important to ensure your baby is being carried safely every time you use your carrier. A simple way to check this is to use the TICKS method.
- Tight: Your baby should be adjusted so they are snug up against your body. The fabric should not allow them to slump down as this can cause baby’s head to flop and your back to hurt.
- In View: When upright you should be able to see your babies face at a simple glance. When in a lying position they should be facing upright and not inwards toward your body. Never cover their face with any fabric.
- Close to Kiss: In upright positions your baby should sits high up enough on your chest so you can kiss their forehead or face.
- Keep Chin off chest: Your baby’s chin should tilt up towards your head rather than down towards this chin. This can restrict their airway, making it difficult to breathe. There should always be at least one finger width between baby’s chest and chin.
- Supported Back: Baby’s back should be supported in a natural position. When upright their tummy should be towards you. In a lying position their bottom should be in the deepest part of the carrier. Check by pushing on their back – it shouldn’t uncurl or move inwards.
To find the best way to wear your baby dependent on their age or carrier type check out this fantastic resource by Baby Wearing International.