Top 10 Best Baby Carriers (Especially on a budget!)

babycarriers

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In one of my most popular posts, What You Should Have Put on Your Registry, you may have noticed I didn’t list any baby carriers. I love babywearing and think a carrier is actually the one thing that is truly a *must have*. But I couldn’t narrow it down to just one carrier as everyone has different needs, wants and budget.

You might envy the stashes of some hardcore babywearing enthusiasts or have sticker shock at the price of some carriers, but the truth is you can wrap your baby in a tablecloth and if you’re doing it safely, it’s fine. You do not need a super pricey carrier. This list only contains carriers from about $25-$150. I included two carriers that are under $30 that are ergonomic, cute and available on Amazon or even Target. If you prefer to wrap and are on a tight budget, you can even get several yards of osnaburg fabric at a local craft store and DIY it! (Great instructions here)

All these carriers are also perfect for babywearing beginners. If you’re new to babywearing, I’d recommend going to a local babywearing meeting to try different carriers and learn how to safely babywear. Babywearing (especially wrapping) has a learning curve. I have no doubt you can do it, it’s just important to do it safely. While learning, I watched a lot of Youtube videos, practiced with stuffed animals or with the baby above the bed. My Youtube favorites are BabywearingFaith and Wrapping Rachel.

In order for you to make the best decision based on your own personal preference, I’m including pros and cons. Keep in mind, personal preference is big. All these carriers are highly rated and well-liked by many. But my opinion is just that– mine. Maybe I don’t love the way the LILLEbaby looks, but you do. Well, GET THE LILLEBABY! These are all great carriers. For budget considerations, I’m listing lowest price (around $25) to highest (around $150). OK. Let’s do this!

Infantino Mei Tai ($32)– This is an all around GREAT carrier and it’s the most budget-friendly. You can also purchase at Target. Mei tais can be used with newborns-toddlers. No infant insert needed. It’s a great option if you love the custom fit and coziness of wrapping, but the ease of a soft structured carrier. I’ve also seen some mamas customize the damask pattern with fabric markers!  (GENIUSSSSS!)

  • What I love:
    • Price
    • Ease of use
    • DIY customization
    • Light enough for summer!
    • PACKABLE. Fold in a diaper bag or car. Easy peasy.
  • What I don’t love:
    • Personal preference- I prefer buckles over ties
    • I personally find nursing a little more difficult than with a soft structured carrier (SSC)
    • Only one style

Infantino Cuddle Up Hoodie Carrier ($39)– Obviously this is adorable, but it is an all around FANTASTIC budget-friendly SSC. The cute little hoodie hood snaps off just like a Tula. It’s ergonomic. Machine washable. Great option. Unlike the Ergo or Tula, there’s no infant insert and babies 12 lbs. and up can use. This can be a pro or a con depending on your own personal preference.

  • What I love:
    • Price
    • Ease of use
    • POCKETS
    • Cute factor
    • Safety
  • What I don’t love:
    • Like most SSCs, it’s hot and uncomfortable in the summer (But it’s more lightweight than the Tula or Ergo)
    • Can’t be used for newborns under 12 lbs.

Boba Baby Wrap ($39)– This is a really great stretchy wrap perfect for newborns and babies at a reasonable price point with eight different color and pattern options.

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Stretchy wraps are great for newborns, but you should ONLY back carry in a woven wrap like this Didymos Eva.

  • What I love:
    • Stretchiness awesome for newborns or even premies!
    • Reasonable price point
    • Cute options! (Especially compared to Moby)
  • What I don’t love:
    • Not ideal for big babies and toddlers
    • Not for back carries (Some will disagree. They are wrong. It’s super unsafe.)
    • Not as supportive as a woven wrap
    • One size
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My  son, six months old, in our first wrap, the Dolcino in Capri

Dolcino Woven Wrap ($88-140)– From the same company who makes the super popular Moby stretchy wrap, this is an ideal woven wrap for beginners or frankly any babywearer. It breaks in like a favorite pair of jeans and wraps like a dream.

  • What I love:
    • GREAT bang for your buck in terms of a woven
    • Perfect for newborns but still supportive for toddlers
    • Color options are great (Jamaica!)
  • What I don’t love:
    • Only two sizes/lengths available (although both those lengths are great for beginners)
    • Learning curve (typical of any wrap)
    • Personally I don’t find it easy to nurse in

Sakura Bloom Ring Sling ($100)– Ring slings are great for those who love the close coziness of a linen wrap, but want something easier and quicker to use. You can wear a newborn immediately, but it’s supportive enough for a toddler! Perfect for quick “up”s.

  • What I love:
    • Ease of use
    • Can easily nurse while wearing
    • Looks nice! (I just love the way wraps look)
  • What I don’t love:
    • Sakura Bloom maxes out at 35 lbs. (Still hefty, but something to keep in mind)
    • SB also has limited color options

Ergobaby Original Baby Carrier ($114)– This is what I received on my birthday 12 days before I gave birth to my first baby. It’s a total gateway carrier. It’s one of the most popular and easily accessible carriers and it’s a great one! As the name suggests, it’s ergonomic and comfy for both wearer and baby.

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My son, two months old, in the Ergobaby carrier.

  • What I love:
    • Very comfy
    • Huge storage pocket in front
    • Reasonable price and easily accessible
  • What I don’t love:
    • Infant insert (Personal preference, I just don’t like separate, bulky infant inserts)
    • Sleeping hood does not detach (although you can’t lose it that way…)
    • Personally I don’t find it supportive for toddlers

BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One ($124)– BabyBjorn is famous for their narrow based carriers like this one commonly referred to in the babywearing community as “crotch danglers”. There is even a commonly spread myth that the crotch danglers cause hip dysplasia in babies. This has been proven untrue.  But the myth still pops up pretty frequently and the original BabyBjorn carrier is pretty loathed in many babywearing circles. I never bought into the hip dysplasia myth, but narrow based carriers aren’t the most comfortable for wearer or baby, so I’ve never been a BabyBjorn fan.

It seems like BabyBjorn really tried to redeem itself with this carrier, which took years to develop and was actually created with the blessing of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. They did a great job! It’s an excellent ergonomic carrier at a good price point.

  • What I love:
    • Quick release clasps (which sets it apart than the Ergo 360)
    • Multiple position options (including front facing)
    • Highly adjustable for different sized babies
    • Comfortable for both baby and warer
    • Mesh option for warm weather
    • Decent color options online
  • What I don’t love:
    • The carrier’s a bit bulky and stiff
    • Max weight recommendation is 33 lbs., so not great for big toddlers
    • Does not come with sleeping hood

Boba 4G Carrier ($125)– This is another great SSC. Although it’s supportive enough for a toddler, it’s very comfortable to wear and isn’t bulky at all. Fair price point. Great color and pattern options!

  • What I love:
    • Integrated infant insert (this feature is better than Tula and Ergo, in my opinion)
    • Included foot straps for toddlers and sleeping hood
    • Shoulder clip to secure diaper bag or purse
    • Nice weight maximum (45 lbs!)
  • What I don’t love:
    • Wears a little hot in the summer
    • Doesn’t feel quite as supportive as the Tula

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      My son, two years old, in the toddler Tula. SUPER supportive!

LILLEbaby six-postition carrier ($140)– This is probably the MOST adaptable carrier on this list. You can wear an infant to a 45 lb. toddler. In my opinion, it has better features and options than most SSCs. You can carry on your front, back or hip. Lots of cute patterns and color options (including the tokidoki collaboration).

  • What I love:
    • All weather options! You can unzip the front panel to expose a breathable mesh.
    • Huge storage pocket
    • Great sleeping hood
    • NO infant insert
    • Lumbar support
    • Great for newborns from 7 lbs. to 45 lb. toddlers. Huge range!
  • What I don’t love:
    • Personally I find it a bit bulky and stiff
    • Just not as aesthetically pleasing as other carriers (When it comes to baby carriers, I’m SHALLOW, ya’ll)
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Wearing my daughter, 2 months old, in a Plum Posey Tula. Pro tip: Babywearing leaves your hands free for beer!

Tula ($150)– This is the carrier that inspired a cult following (“Tula in the wild!” “Caw-caw!”) and for good reason, it’s a great carrier. It’s a SSC that has a wider and taller panel, so you’ll notice it feels a bit bigger than some other SSCs. In my opinion, it is the most supportive and best for bigger babies and toddlers. It’s also just my personal favorite and what I tend to wear most.

  • What I love:
    • They’re pretty. Tons of tons of patterns and options.
    • Supportive
    • Customization (um, just search Etsy for Tula accessories and see for yourself)
    • Comfortable for long periods of time
    • Standard size and toddler size available (If you wear a toddler, I think the toddler size makes a big difference!)
  • What I don’t love:
    • Scarcity. There’s a whooooole other B/S/T market for Tulas. You want a certain print? Oh, it’s been discontinued. Now you can’t find it. OR you found it and the seller wants three times the retail value. Personally if I want something, I JUST WANT TO BUY IT.
    • I find it supportive, others may find it bulky.
    • Infant insert is a pain, in my opinion
    • Hot in the summer, like most SSCs (The wrap conversion Tulas are cooler, but are more pricey and harder to purchase)

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      Wearing my daughter, six months old, in our wrap conversion Tula. (Tula Bahamas wrap)

I really hope you find a carrier you love! Babywearing has been a real blessing to me and I love to hear of new parents being introduced to babywearing. Do you have a favorite carrier? Love one in this list? Be sure to comment below or on the For the Love of Wine and Coffee Facebook page!


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