The Best Baby Carriers For 2017

Find out why I got rid of my $800 stroller for a cheap baby carrier.

 the-best-baby-carriers

Last Updated: March 7, 2017

Let me say that this post was originally supposed to be a review of my favorite baby stroller. I was about 500 words into the post when I thought about how much we really used our stroller. I could count every occasion on both hands.

It all started after a disastrous trip to Paris with our one-year-old and a stroller we ended up paying extra to carry as checked luggage. As you probably know, Europe is known for ancient (narrow) winding stairs and sidewalks. During our trip we discovered that most of the Metro stations did not have elevators and those that did were usually closed or out of service. This meant that instead of the stroller carrying our baby for us, we ended up carrying the baby and the stroller up and down twenty-plus stairs every time we had to take the Metro. After the first day we left the stroller in our hotel room.

As in all things, I researched for hours with our firstborn before settling on the perfect stroller; it had shock absorbing wheels, lots of storage space, bag hooks, faced front and back, and even had different positions for newborns and toddlers. It was supposed to be the most functional, most elegant, most perfect stroller ever! I had daydreams of pushing LO1 (little one #1) and power-walking around our neighborhood while the other moms at the park looked on jealously.

But in practice we’ve ended up using our stroller less than a dozen times between the two kids. Even with the best stroller money could buy, we almost always chose our carrier over messing around with the bulky contraption. After our vacation we picked a baby carrier when we came back home and even to this day prefer the lightness and convenience of a carrier to a suped-up baby carriage.

That’s not to say that a stroller is useless. We still keep a light fold-able stroller around for whenever Grandma (who has a bad back and a frozen shoulder) comes over to take the kids out. Since my husband and myself are young (or so we think!) and healthy, we prefer to do some work if it means we can travel light and quick. As for the fancy baby mobile, we re-gifted it to my sister when we got back from our vacation.

I know the trend is for super double wide strollers with lots of gee-whiz features, but unless you live in the suburbs where the sidewalks are extra-wide and there’s never anybody competing for space with you, you’ll find that strollers are clumsy to handle (omg I still remember the glares we got from people in the crowds when we went to the zoo on the weekend) and heavy to lift in and out of the car.

In the end, we bought the LILLEbaby 6 in 1 carrier (Amazon | buybuybaby). While it’s more expensive than simple sling type carriers, the all-seasons mesh material is a lifesaver during humid summer weather, the variety of positions for both our baby means we can use the same carrier from newborn to toddler age, and the supportive shoulder and waist straps mean we won’t damage our spine whether we carry our LO in front of our chests or on our back.

#1 LILLEbaby Complete All-Seasons 6 in 1 Carrier – Real World Review

I chose the LILLEbaby carrier as the best choice because it lets you carry your baby in multiple positions, has the best padded straps to prevent shoulder and back pain, and it comes at a reasonable price point compared to other products on the market.

Pros

Lillebaby rear and front facing baby carrier

  • It’s ergonomic. The large vest area/backpack style with thick padded shoulder straps and hip straps are great for longer outings and heavier babies.
  • Your baby can sit facing toward you or facing away from you PLUS lying down in fetal position. You can also carry your baby either in front of your chest, on your back, or lower down on your hips if you have a bad back.
  • The back panel is made of mesh material so you and your baby won’t get sweaty during hot weather.
  • The neck rest/back panel is wide enough to give you privacy to breastfeed without unstrapping the carrier or taking your baby out.
  • LILLEbaby has an “all seasons” model made with mesh fabric that’s great for summer.
  • The carrier is adjustable for newborns-toddlers (45lb limit).
  • This is one of the few carriers that distributes weight evenly on the shoulders and hips instead of concentrating the weight on your shoulders and upper back. It has a hip strap and a lumbar pad in the back so you don’t strain your back.
  • The straps are all adjustable so it fits smaller frames (under 5’3″ or 130 lbs) comfortably.
  • Has a belt to strap your baby in securely so they can’t squirm out.

Cons

  • This carrier does cost over $100, which is not as expensive as a stroller, but still pricey.
  • The LILLEbaby is expensive than the original Ergobaby, but has more positions for your baby (facing away or towards you) and you don’t need an insert for infants unlike the Ergobaby. On the other hand, it costs less than the newer Ergobaby models and still has more sitting positions.
  • There’s a zippered pocket on the portion that covers your baby’s chest/back area, but it’s kinda small. Big enough for a smartphone and keys, but forget about fitting any extra supplies in there!

LILLEbaby Complete All-Seasons 6 in 1 Carrier

Lillebaby carrier in blue elephant pattern

Rating: 5 out of 5

Overall, despite the slightly higher price, the LILLEbaby is the most comfortable carrier that you can buy. With wide padded straps, a hip band, and comfy mesh fabric, you can carry your baby in 6 different positions without tweaking your back or ending up in a sweaty mess.
Check prices: Amazon | buybuybaby


Why LILLEbaby vs Ergobaby and Baby Bjorn?

The Ergobaby (Amazon | buybuybaby) was one of the first carriers on the market and if you know for sure that your baby likes to be carried facing your chest, it may be a cheaper choice compared to the LILLEbaby. However watch out for the thick inner liner if you plan on using the carrier on long hikes or in hot muggy weather. It’s hot, hot hot!

The Baby Bjorn (Amazon | buybuybaby) lets your baby face in or out, but it’s the least comfortable carrier I’ve tried. There’s no hip strap so all the weight will be concentrated on your neck and shoulders. Paired with the thin unpadded shoulder straps and the thick fabric, I couldn’t wear this carrier for very long. It does cost much less (under $100) compared to the LILLEbaby and the Ergobaby, but at this price point and with all the negatives, you might as well just get a cloth sling carrier.

Why I preferred the LILLEbaby carrier over the Ergobaby.
ergobaby-original

  • The original Ergobaby only allows baby to face inwards. If your little one wants to face forward…tough luck!
  • New ergobaby 360 allows 4 positions, but costs more than the LILLEbaby which already allows 6 positions.
  • The original Ergobaby’s fabric and insert is thick and worse for airflow = sweaty and hot during the summer. There’s a ‘cool air’ version of the ergobaby 360 made with mesh fabric, but again it’s more expensive and limited to only 4 positions.

Why the LILLEbaby carrier is better than the Baby Bjorn carrier.

baby-bjorn

  • The Baby Bjorn only allows you to carry your baby in front of you.
  • There are only two positions for your baby. Upright and facing towards you or away from you.
  • There is no waist/hip strap. The LILLEbaby and Ergobaby carriers have a padded strap that distributes weight to your hips to take the load off your back (like a hiking backpack). In the Baby Bjorn, all the weight is concentrated on your shoulders and upper back. This is not a big problem if you’re carrying a newborn, but once your baby gets heavier, you’ll really feel the pain in your neck and back!
  • Also, due to a design quirk, a lot of pressure is placed on the bottom area of the carrier. Some parents have reported that the leg area cuts off circulation to their baby’s legs!
  • Breastfeeding in the Baby Bjorn is not as easy as in the LILLEbaby as the back panel is not wide enough to provide privacy.
  • The fabric is thick and uncomfortably hot in the summer.

Given all these issues with the Baby Bjorn, you might as well go with a sling-style carrier like the Boba Baby Wrap (see below) instead. Wrap style carriers have similar issues, but they cost less, are easier to wash, are less bulky, and are cooler with better airflow.


Sling-style carriers are a cheaper alternative – Boba Baby Wrap review

If big feature-loaded carriers are too intimidating, then a great low-cost, no-fuss alternative are cloth carriers. These carriers are light, easy to clean, provide more coverage for easy breastfeeding, and are great for travel. You can even use them in the water for your baby’s first swimming lesson! They’re light on the wallet too, most brands come under $100.  My favorite wrap carrier is the Boba Baby Wrap (Amazon | buybuybaby) since it lets your baby sit in upright and semi-fetal position.

boba-baby-wrap

Pros

  • It’s made of light and thin cotton and spandex. Perfect for hot weather and long walks.
  • It’s a very budget friendly choice, coming in under $50.
  • If you wrap it tight, the Boba Baby Wrap can carry newborns and premies securely. Other carriers are made for larger babies with big leg and arm holes. That means that there’s always the danger that smaller babies can squirm out!
  • The wrap folds flat and comes with a carrying pouch, which is great if you need a carrier on vacation, but little room in your luggage.
  • It’s easy to wash and dry, so you can wade through water with your baby and throw the carrier in the washer afterward.
  • One size fits most. The carrier fits many body sizes and builds. You adjust how the fabric is wrapped,so you don’t have to mess around with buckles and straps that bite into your skin.

Cons

  • Weight is not evenly distributed and is concentrated on the shoulders and upper back. Not a problem when baby is newborn, but once you get over 15 pounds, you’ll feel the weight in your upper back and neck area.
  • There are not as many adjustable positions for baby, so make sure you get the right model that supports your baby’s favorite position. Carriers are either ‘front-facing’ where the baby faces outward away from your chest or ‘back-facing’ where your baby’s face will be against your chest.
  • It is made of thin cloth which means lower weight limits compared to fancy carriers made out of thicker materials. I think the max weight limit before the cloth cuts into your back/shoulders or baby’s legs is about 20 lbs.

The Boba Baby Wrap Sling Carrier

boba-baby-wrap

Rating: 4 out of 5

For younger babies, the Boba Baby Wrap is a great low-fuss, low-cost carrier. It’s semi-adjustable so you can sit your baby upright or lying down for a nap. The cloth material covers the front of your body for comfortable breastfeeding in public without messing with panels or an extra shirt for coverage.
Check prices (Amazon | buybuybaby)


Conclusion

If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a stroller, consider a baby carrier. If you need more flexibility in how your baby sits or if you want to keep using a carrier when your baby gets older, get the LILLEbaby Complete 6 In 1 Carrier (Amazon | buybuybaby). Otherwise, if you need a carrier for occasional trips, for a newborn or premie, or don’t want to spend more than $100, the Boba Baby Wrap (Amazon | buybuybaby)is a great alternative.

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LILLEbaby 6 in 1 All Seasons Carrier

I want…
A carrier that I can use during long walks or during the summer without getting hot and sweaty. I want a variety of positions in how my baby can sit or lie down and the option to carry them in front of me or on my back. I’m going to use this carrier even when my baby gets bigger so I need a carrier that won’t cause neck or shoulder pain and won’t strain my back.

The best baby carrier…

  • for newborn to toddler stages
  • for long trips
  • for squirmy babies
  • for larger and older babies
  • for back pain relief
  • for lots of positions
  • for breastfeeding
  • for smaller adults

$$$

Boba Baby Wrap Carrier

I want…
A carrier that does not cost a lot of money. I need a carrier for occasional short trips and do not plan on carrying my older baby for a long time. I would like a carrier that is easy to wash so I can use it during the summer or in the pool. I want privacy and easy access for breastfeeding when we’re out of the house. I want a carrier that is easily adjustable to fit multiple body shapes and sizes.

The best baby carrier…

  • for hot summer weather
  • for frugal parents
  • for breastfeeding
  • for newborns, premies, and smaller babies
  • for occasional use
  • for swimming
  • for most adult body sizes

$

Check prices Check prices

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