Infant carriers are smaller and meant to be worn anywhere from 0-4 to 0-9 months, at which point you would switch to a larger “soft structured carrier,” which will take you well into toddlerhood.
Picking an Infant Carrier
You could also skip the infant carrier and go straight to a soft structured carrier to save some money – with the understanding that young babies (0-6 months) tend to get swallowed up in some SSCs.
It used to be that we recommended getting an infant carrier first and then a soft structured carrier once your baby outgrew it, because most structured carriers required the additional purchase of a newborn adapter in order to use them with a young baby (0-6 months). However, now it’s a moot point, since most of the top soft structured carriers out there either no longer require an infant adapter at all, or include one with the carrier for the same price.
Our Favorite Infant Carriers
1. Original Baby Bjorn ~ $79
For me, this is hands-down the easiest carrier to take on and off, especially if you leave it in its semi-intact position after taking it off. In the Bjorn, your baby can face in or out, which is fab. It can also be used very early on for newbs without needing a special newborn adapter. Lucie loved facing out in the Bjorn so she could watch the world go by.
However, this is not Sweden’s finest piece of engineering… the downside for the parent is the ouch-factor: think of carrying a heavy backpack on the front of your body. This carrier exerts a great deal of pressure on the lower back and the straps tend to dig into your shoulders. This results in a condition I call “Bjorn back” or “Baby back” (you may also be stricken with Baby wrist, Baby hips and knees, or Baby shoulder — none of which are pleasant). The BabyBjorn Miracle is slightly easier on the back, but for that price? I think you can do better.
People also love to hate on the Bjorn because it’s a dreaded “crotch dangler” [drink!], which means the baby is not in an ergonomically correct position and, in theory, could develop hip dysplasia. With casual use, I don’t think this is a real issue. However, for baby’s sake, I would not wear it heavily. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns.
Having just talked all that smack, I have to admit I LOVE the Bjorn for its easy on/off, around the house convenience. Need to throw it on to unload the dishwasher, get the mail, or tend to another child? YEP! For 0-4 months or so, this is a very handy carrier indeed. Closeted, crotch-dangling mothers around America agree. But after baby hits the 15 lb mark? Forget it, your back will be DYING. It absolutely pains me to see moms or dads carrying around older infants or even young toddlers in a goddang Bjorn. Ouch, people! It makes me want to have an impromptu baby carrier intervention.
I’m not sure I would buy one new, but if you can borrow one from a friend for the first few months, you’ll be glad you did. It’s all about options!
BabyBjorn introduced a new carrier, the Carrier One, named so to be “the only carrier you’ll need from birth through toddlerhood.” This is a pricey (but pretty nice!) carrier that behaves more like a traditional soft structured carrier, like the Ergo, but with the convenience of easy in and out that Bjorn is known for. Read our complete review of the BabyBjorn Carrier One.
2. Moby Wrap Original ~ $34
The Moby is the bizzaro Bjorn: difficult to get on, but a pleasure to wear. The closeness and comfort that you get with a wrap is like no other, mainly because you are literally wrapping baby to your body so you move together as one unit.
The Moby is a single, long piece of stretchy fabric that you tie around you and your baby and, like grits, is an acquired taste. It takes a bit of practice to tie it correctly, but once you do, you’ll be in love. Unlike the Bjorn, it’s great for wearing for long durations because it doesn’t cause back fatigue. Seriously though, I would never have figured out how to tie it if I had just read the manual.
I made an instructional video here:
Just remember: it takes some practice and patience. If you lack both of these qualities, see #3. The Moby is totally perfect for your 0-6 month old baby and at $35, it’s very affordable.
- A lesser known, but similar wrap is the Boba Wrap ($39). Many moms like it better because it’s more stretchy and less bulky.
- Ergobaby released the Ergobaby Wrap in March of 2014. This wrap has a built-in pocket to store all the fabric so it doesn’t drag on the ground. It’s about $80 though, double the price of the others. So unless someone else is buying… see my review here.
3. Baby K’tan (pronounced Ka-TAHN) ~ $49 ($39 on sale)
The K’tan fits like a wrap, except with NO tying. Your baby can face in or out (yay!), and can be carried on your hip when they get older. Unlike most other carriers, the K’tan is not one-size-fits-all. It is sized to fit the wearer (you), not your babe. Therefore, you may not be able to share it with your partner if there is a great size difference between the two of you (which there usually is). This is the biggest downside. The K’tan also comes in two breathable versions to keep baby cool, the K’tan Breeze ($60) and the K’tan Active ($60).
For a video on how the K’tan compares to something like the Moby, click here.
- Pay close attention to the sizing recommendations. If you are at all in-between sizes, get the smaller one. The material is quite stretchy.
- It comes with an extra piece of fabric that you can tie around to give you extra support (more like a Moby) if you feel like you need it. Some people forget about this piece then complain it isn’t secure enough. It’s there – use it.
4. Nesting Days ~ $89+
The Nesting Days carrier is different because you wear it around your tummy, like a shaper, which makes it very secure, comfortable, and totally hands free. This carrier also gives much needed tummy support after giving birth, especially for C-section moms.
The creator of Nesting Days, Julie Arvan, is a nurse and postpartum doula who also worked in the apparel industry. With the Nesting Days carrier, she brought together the best of both worlds. The fabrics are soft, stretchy, and completely machine washable.
This has become my go-to gift for new moms and the friends who received one can’t stop raving about it. See our demonstration video here.
Nesting Days is ‘made-to-order’ in small batches in San Francisco. Immediate delivery is $99. Pre-orders that ship in 4 to 6 weeks are $89. Sizing is based on your pre-pregnancy dress size. They run a little small, so size up when you order. Wrong size? Nesting Days sends you the right size in a few days, and a pre-paid envelope for the return. Made for newborns 5-18 pounds. You’re going to love going skin-to-skin!
Available exclusively online at nestingdays. Enter discount code LUCIESLIST (or LuciesList) and you will get a $5 discount off any order.
For babies already 6+ months old, check out…