When it comes to baby essentials first-time parents include on their baby registries, you’ll often find items like a car seat, a safe crib, swing, playpen, bouncer, clothes and blankets. Smaller items like pacifiers, bottles, baby wash and lotions, bibs, and more will find their way on wish lists as well. However, one item that's often missing is one that plenty of parents use every single day: a baby carrier.
As a new mom, I seriously underestimated the power of baby carriers. I didn’t want to bother with learning how to use a baby carrier and properly adjust the various straps and buckles, so my first carrier sat in the closet unused. As it turns out, this was a shame, considering my son was what I lovingly referred to as a "velcro baby." He constantly had to be held, or he was miserable. Alas, we survived — and I got pretty good at doing things one-handed.
When my second child arrived, I realized having two free hands was essential when running around a busy toddler on top of caring for an infant, so I gave another type of baby carrier a try — and it was a lifesaver. I wore my daughter everywhere. She was snug as a bug in her baby carrier, I could still tend to her brother and other household chores, and it made me regret not giving baby-wearing a chance with my first child. The rest is history. My third little one spent most of her first year strapped to me in her baby carrier, and I plan to do the same with her baby sister, who will arrive in a few short months.
It can be overwhelming for first-time parents to shop around for a baby carrier (I know it was for me), because there are so many options, depending on your needs and preferences. There are wraps, slings, structured carriers, and pretty much everything in between — and the price range can vary widely. It might seem impossible to know where to begin. The good news is, this been-there-done-that mama has already done the hard part for you. I’ve compiled a list of the best baby carriers for 2020, so you can compare all of the top-rated brands and models in one convenient location. Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference as you tackle that baby registry.
1. Nalakai Ring Sling Baby Carrier
For infants, ring slings can be an ideal baby carrier choice. Nalakai Ring Sling Baby Carrier is lightweight and breathable so your baby can nap safely curled up to you (and you won’t sweat to death). Using a fabric-padded metal ring, parents can adjust the wrap to fit comfortably. This bamboo and linen carrier is designed for babies newborn on up, comes in many different colors, and retails for $60 on Amazon.
One five-star reviewer raved about the Nalakai Ring Sling: "Before purchasing this sling I researched it well, found great reviews and confirmed that Pura Vida complies with the CPSIA and ASTM standards. The fabric has been tested for strength and also for low flammability and the unwelded rings have been tested to be lead free and have been weight tested as well. Pura Vida has a Children’s Product Certificate showing their compliance that has been approved by the CPSC. Safety is very important to me and I was satisfied with Pura Vidas compliance with all standards. My baby and I love the slings comfort and support. The fabric is so soft and smooth without even wearing to break it in."
2. Baby Tula Free-to-Grow
As its name suggests, the Baby Tula Free-to-Grow Baby Carrier grows with your baby, and accommodates a child from 7 pounds to 45 pounds. It can even be used as a newborn carrier with no additional insert. This carrier comes in four different colors and offers three carrying positions: newborn, front inward carry and back carry. You’ll love its dual-adjustment padded straps, which offer neck and shoulder comfort, along with easy adjustments, and comfortable wide padded waistband. The price varies from $120 to $170, depending on the color you choose. Its 4.5-star rating makes the Tula Free-to-Grow carrier worth the investment.
3. Babybjorn Baby Carrier One
The Babybjorn Baby Carrier One offers four different carrying options — newborn, front-facing in, front-facing out, and back carry. It’s designed for babies 8 pounds to toddlers up to 33 pounds, and is acknowledged as a hip-healthy carrier by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. This carrier comes in 10 colors on Amazon and runs from $190 to $220, depending the color and material you choose.
As one satisfied customer wrote, "I ordered several different carriers to figure out which one I liked best, this was the winner. I liked it better than the ring sling, Lillebaby, and a couple others. This one was less bulky and was easier to sit in. It was also easier for me to put on myself without help. I use it around the house and when I go for a walk with my two dogs instead of the stroller so I can control both leashes. Great carrier"
4. Baby K’tan ORIGINAL
The Baby K’tan Original is a unique wrap in that it slips on like a t-shirt and requires no actual wrapping. Parents can easily switch between its five carry positions. This carrier works for preemies, newborns, infants, and toddlers up to 35 pounds. The only thing that’s a bit tricky is that the Baby K’tan Original comes in different sizes — from XXS to XL — so make sure to use the sizing chart to ensure the best fit. This carrier is also acknowledged by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute as a "hip-healthy" product when used as directed. At just under $40 on Amazon, this carrier is affordable and available in 17 different colors.
One reviewer wrote, "This carrier is amazing. I tried 3 other wrap types before finding this one and I was about to give up because they were so frustrating to use especially when you have a squirmy crying infant. This one has been a lifesaver. Provided you find the right size it fits well, baby feels very secure, and it’s comfortable. I was lucky that the first size I tried, XS, worked. After watching a couple videos and practicing with my husband's help and a mirror, I can now get my 7-week old daughter into this completely unassisted in less than a minute. Yesterday I did it without even waking her! It allows me to get things done around the house AND relax and watch some TV without being frozen on the couch with my arms cramping. My only issue which I think is unique to me is I’m very short with a short torso and she is no longer a small baby so I waddle a bit like how I walked when I was pregnant when I have her in this, which makes my back sore after a while. Otherwise it’s literally the best!"
5. LÍLLÉbaby Complete Airflow
This carrier is ideal for summertime, or if you live in a place where it’s warm year-round. The LÍLLÉbaby Complete Airflow allows for plenty of ventilation and temperature control for both babies and parents. You’ll love its versatility, as it offers six carrying positions: front inward (fetal, infant, or toddler settings), front outward, hip, or backpack. The LÍLLÉbaby Complete Airflow accommodates little ones between 7 and 45 pounds, comes in 8 different colors on Amazon, and retails for around $80 Other specs include: an adjustable hood, headrest, and a zippered pocket.
Ergobaby is yet another trusted and well-rated brand of baby carrier — and the Ergobaby Omni 360 is one of its most popular models. This particular design is for children between 7 and 45 pounds. With this versatile carrier, parents can face their baby in or out while they carry little ones in the front, wear them on the hip, or wear them on the back. Not only can parents look forward to plenty of lumbar support — along with the option of crossing the straps in the back — but this carrier is another one that's rated "hip-healthy" by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. The Omni is available in nine different colors on Amazon, ranging in price from $112 to $180.
The Moby Wrap Classic is a one-size-fits-all wrap and another parent favorite. Granted, at first it's intimidating to turn a really long piece of fabric into a baby wrap, but with the help of a handy tutorial — and lots of practice — you’ll be wrapping up your baby like a pro in no time. Its soft, breathable, and durable material is machine-washable, too. The Moby Wrap Classic comes in six colors on Amazon and ranges in price from $30 to $45. Check out this tutorial to see it in action!
The Ergobaby 360 allows parents to carry their babies front facing in, front facing out, on the hip, and on the back — and they can do so in a hip-healthy, ergonomic way in all four positions. For the record, it was named the best "Support System Carrier" of 2020 on BabyList. On Amazon, the Ergobaby 360 is available in five colors from $128 to $160, depending on the color.
I can personally vouch for this carrier, too. I used it every day for more than a year with my third child, and I liked it so much, I bought another one for our fourth child. I loved that it could easily adjust from fitting my petite frame to fitting my broad-shouldered husband. One note: This carrier is designed for little ones weighing between 12 and 33 pounds, so you'll need to grab a newborn insert (sold separately) that accommodates infants weighing between 7 and 12 pounds.
Like most carriers, the Gemini Performance Baby Carrier by Beco grows with your baby. It can accommodate children from 7 to 35 pounds, and you can wear your baby front facing in, front facing out, on the hip, and on the back. A 4.4-star rating on Amazon isn’t too shabby, either. Its price ranges from $140 to $150 on Amazon, depending on which of the 28 colors you select.
As one reviewer wrote, "Loving this carrier! I can get back to cleaning house with her on my back!"
They later edited the review to add an update, "UPDATE: I used this carrier for a week long convention. From the start of the day til the end I was able to strap my 3month old on and walk the vendor exhibit hall as well as sit through sessions. It was extremely easy to change positions from front to side or back. Baby loved it, I assumed she would be ready to be put down by the end of our day and not be held (as that's a lot of holding) but no she preferred being in the carrier! She slept comfortably in it and my back didn't hurt at all (can't say the same for my legs as it was a lot of walking). I wish I could give this additional stars."
10. BABYBJORN Baby Carrier We
Babybjorn is yet another trusted baby carrier brand, and it offers a number of models to suit any family’s needs. The Babybjorn Baby Carrier We is designed to grow with your baby from newborn to 3 years (or 8 to 33 pounds) — and no newborn insert is needed. With the Babybjorn We model, caregivers can front carry and back carry. Just keep in mind that you can’t wear your baby in the front while facing outward. You can snag this baby carrier for $140.
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