In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

The Quest for the Best Baby Carrier

Our little testers seemed happy and content in the ComfortFit during testing.
Thursday December 19, 2019
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Are you looking for a comfortable baby carrier to wear your little one? We researched over 30 products and purchased over 15 of the top products for side-by-side testing over several months. With so many kinds of carriers and brands, it can get confusing fast. We have all the details you need to find the right option for your family. A variety of parents used each carrier on children ranging from newborn to toddler and ranked the product's performance in various metrics. We test carriers for baby's comfort, parent's comfort, ease of use, and ease of cleaning. Continue reading for all of the details, so that you can choose the right carrier for your family and wallet.


Top 15 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 15
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Value Award 
Price $65.00 List
$59.90 at Amazon - 8% off
$95.00 List
$94.95 at Amazon
$190.00 List
$149.02 at Amazon - 22% off
$159.00 List
$179.00 at Amazon
$50.00 List
$49.94 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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100
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100
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72
Star Rating
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Pros Easy to use, comfortable to wear, cozy for baby, lower priceComfortable, easy to adjust, pocketEasy to put on, super comfortable to wear, cozy for kidsComfortable to wear, machine wash and dry, cozyBudget-friendly, easy wrap, machine wash and dry
Cons Hang to dryHang to dry, rough fabricLong drying time, lots of buckles and straps, expensivePrice, harder to adjust on the goSize specific, no adjustability
Bottom Line Easy to use, comfortable sling to wear and sit inEasy to wear and adjust with comfort for baby but the fabric could be softerMost comfortable to wear with a cozy seat and easy attachmentComfortable carrier for parents and baby, but it's harder to use and expensiveInexpensive, easy to use, wrap style without the wrap hassle
Rating Categories Nalakai Ring Sling Maya Wrap... BabyBjorn One Tula Free-to-Grow Baby K'tan Original
Child Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
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7
10
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7
Parent Comfort (35%)
10
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9
10
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9
10
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10
10
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9
10
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7
Ease Of Use (30%)
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9
10
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9
10
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10
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6
10
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7
Ease Of Cleaning (10%)
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9
Specs Nalakai Ring Sling Maya Wrap... BabyBjorn One Tula Free-to-Grow Baby K'tan Original
Min/Max Weight 8 - 35 lbs 8 - 35 lbs 8 - 33 lbs 7 - 45 lbs 8 - 35 lbs
Carry Positions Facing In (8 - 35 lbs)
Hip Carry (8 - 35 lbs *BGL recommends Head/Neck/Torso Control)
Facing In (0 - 3 mo)
Facing Out (3 - 6 mo)
Hip Carry (6 mo - 35 lbs)
Facing In (0 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
Facing Out (5 - 15 mo./26 lbs)
Back Carry (12 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
Facing In (7 - 45 lbs)
Back Carry (Head/Neck/Torso Control - 45 lbs)
Kangaroo Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Hug Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Adventure Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Explore Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Hip Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Weight 0.9 lbs sm 0.92
lg 1.16 lbs
2.26 lbs 1.25 lbs sm 0.89
lg 1.04 lbs
Packable Size Small Small Large Medium Small
Fabric 58% Bamboo
42% Linen
Cotton, Polyester Cotton, Polyester, PU Foam 100% Cotton 100% Cotton
Hood No No No Yes No
Storage Options Pocket on the tail Zippered pocket on tail None Velcro pouch on waist belt Pouch on the belt.
Other Features & Notable None None Adjustable Seat Width,
Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1
Adjustable Seat Width, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1 Azo Dye-free
Included Accessories None None None None None
Care Instructions Machine wash cold, hang dry. Machine wash cold, hang dry. Machine wash warm, hang dry. Machine wash cold, tumble dry low. Machine wash cold, tumble dry low.

Best Overall Baby Carrier


Nalakai Ring Sling


Editors' Choice Award
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$59.90
(8% off)
at Amazon
See It

86
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Child Comfort 8
  • Parent Comfort 9
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Ease Of Cleaning 7
Carry Positions: 2 | Material: Bamboo & Linen
Comfortable to wear
Comfy for baby
Easy to use and adjust
Line Dry
Fewer carry positions

The Nalakai Ring Sling is a comfy sling that is easy to use and cozy for passengers. The fabric on the Nalakai is a soft bamboo and linen blend that offers some stretch for comfort and quick-drying properties to speed up cleaning. We liked the ability to make adjustments on the go to increase comfort for little ones and wearers. Being able to pull the fabric up for head support or tighten the sling to bring baby's face closer to yours can make a huge difference in comforting your baby and providing physical comfort. There isn't much to dislike about this budget-friendly straightforward sling.

The Nalakai is line dry only, which is the only real downside to this sling. This detail means it takes longer for it to dry than options that go in the dryer. However, the fabric is reasonably quick to dry, and drying times are significantly lower than padded or structural carriers. Overall, the Nalakai has a reasonable price, is easy to use, comfortable for parents and babies making it tough to beat and our favorite carrier in the lineup.

Read review: Nalakai Ring Sling

Best Comfort Sling


Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling


Editors' Choice Award
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$94.95
at Amazon
See It

85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Child Comfort 8
  • Parent Comfort 9
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Ease Of Cleaning 6
Carry Positions: 3 | Material: Cotton & Polyester
More positions
Less expensive
Comfortable
Man-made materials
Lots of extra fabric

The Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling is a ring sling with a similar design to other slings, but the Maya has slightly rougher fabric and a zippered pocket on the tail end. The Maya is easy to use with only one adjustment point. It is comfortable to wear and cozy to sit in. We like that this carrier is intuitive, has a few hold positions, and works for babies from 8-35 lbs. The shoulder portion of the sling is lightly padded and includes more material for a more comfortable fit, so you can keep the adventure going for as long as you like without discomfort. This design makes the Maya Sling more comfortable than some of the competition.

If your little one has sensitive skin, the Maya is probably not the best option given the rougher texture of the fabric. In contrast, the Nalakai Ring Sling fabric is softer and gentler on napping faces. However, the Maya pocket is zippered and lightly padded, offering something other slings don't. Overall, the thicker wider sling fabric is comfortable and if used in the winter or for children without sensitive skin, the comfort makes up for the lack of softness.

Read review: Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling

Best Traditional Carrier


BabyBjorn One


Editors' Choice Award
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$149.02
(22% off)
at Amazon
See It

79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Child Comfort 7
  • Parent Comfort 10
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Ease Of Cleaning 5
Carry Positions: 3 | Material: Cotton, Polyester & PU Foam
Adjustable seat width
Easy to put baby in
Comfy for parents
Man-made materials
Harder to keep clean

The BabyBjorn Carrier One is a soft structured carrier that works in three positions for little ones between 8-33 lbs. This carrier is a quality option with multiple adjustment points to give various sized parents and babies a more custom fit for comfort and security. This BabyBjorn has safety buckles that work well and forward pull adjustment straps for quick on-the-go changes, and the seat width can be altered depending on baby's age or size. The One is easy to put on, and you can attach it before you pick up your baby, making it significantly more straightforward (and potentially safer) to use than the wrap carriers we tested that often require a helper.

This carrier is more expensive than some of the competition, which puts it lower on the list for parents on a strict budget, but for a soft structured carrier, it is closer to the average price for the type. It also requires hanging to dry, which can cause significant downtime with no carrier depending on your climate (humidity is not your friend). However, despite the unfortunate washing instructions (haven't they experienced a baby blowout?!), we think most families will find the One can be the potential "one" for them.

Read review: BabyBjorn One

Easy to Use Wrap


Baby K'tan Original


Best Value Award
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$49.94
at Amazon
See It

72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Child Comfort 7
  • Parent Comfort 7
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Ease Of Cleaning 9
Carry Positions: 5 | Material: 100% Cotton
Easy to setup wrap
No extra fabric tail
Several positions
Layers can get warm
Not as comfy as some

The Baby K'tan Original is a wrap "like" carrier without the traditional wrap design that is often challenging to master without help. This "special" wrap is two loops of fabric joined together, which makes it easy to put on without holding your baby and easy to put the baby in once the carrier is securely in place. We love this unique design, the soft, somewhat stretchy, fabric, and the use of 100% cotton for little ones from 8-35 lbs. The price is reasonable and great for families on a budget, and the easy to use design makes it worth the small price bump over traditional wraps, which are nothing more than large swaths of fabric with complicated wrapping designs.

The K'tan's only potential downside is the design is not as versatile as a regular wrap, and it could be harder to make this wrap fit parents who are vastly different in size (think petite and linebacker); it can be challenging to make small adjustments for fit or comfort as there are no adjustment points. However, if you are average size and you and your mate aren't the odd pair, then the K'tan is an easy to use carrier solution we think you'll love.

Read review: Baby K'tan Original

Great Wrap on a Budget


Boba Wrap


Best Value Award
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$39.95
at Amazon
See It

63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Child Comfort 7
  • Parent Comfort 7
  • Ease of Use 4
  • Ease Of Cleaning 9
Carry Positions: 1 | Material: 95% Cotton & 5% Spandex
Stretchy comfort
Super easy to clean
Inexpensive
Only 1 position
Lots of extra fabric
Wraping learning curve

The Boba Wrap is a wrap style product that looks like a broad swath of material that you wrap around your body in various configurations depending on the position or age of your baby. Wraps can be challenging to use because they require a higher learning curve and often holding your baby while you put it on. However, the Boba wrap is super duper soft and made of stretchy fabric that helps tuck your little one securely to your body with more freedom of movement with a snuggly feel. We love that this carrier is budget-friendly, versatile, and works for babies from 7-35 lbs. The Boba is machine washable and goes in the dryer, which keeps your cleaning downtime down to a minimum (potentially during nap time), so you can go on more adventures without waiting for your carrier to line dry. It is also useful for parents of different sizes and growing little ones because you can make adjustments on-the-go for a personalized fit for comfort or size and the fabric is long enough to work with almost any size adult.

The Boba is just a wrap that could cause trouble as your baby grows and becomes more interested in the world around them. While it has positions that let little ones look out and explore, it can be limiting because the fabric gives and some babies won't want to be so snuggly pressed against their parents. However, if budget is a concern, or you want a comfy, easy to care for option that may not last until 35 lbs, then the Boba Wrap is a great choice your wallet will love.

Read review: Boba Wrap

Lifetime Carrier for Infants to Toddlers


Tula Free-to-Grow


Top Pick Award
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$179.00
at Amazon
See It

76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Child Comfort 7
  • Parent Comfort 9
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Ease Of Cleaning 9
Carry Positions: 2 | Material: 100% Cotton
Longer lifetime use
Comfy for parents
More customized fit
Limited positions
Harder to use

The Tula Free-to-Grow is a soft structured carrier with a variety of possible adjustments, so it grows with your baby and works for the life of your babywearing years, potentially translating to a "one and done" buying decision. This carrier is super comfortable for parents to wear even on prolonged adventures, and the strap style means you can make small adjustments on-the-go for comfort or fit. The more structured design gives little ones a little more space to wiggle than wrap style carriers.

This carrier may not be a good choice for families on a budget or parents who want a larger variety of positions for baby to ride in. This Tula is one of the most expensive in the review and only has two position options. However, this carrier is a quality choice that works well, feels good, and will work for several years without worry. Depending on your wearing goals, it could be the right fit for you and your family.

Read review: Tula Free-to-Grow



Why You Should Trust Us


BabyGearLab has been testing baby carriers for over 5 years with a variety of styles and types under our belt. Founder and board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Juliet Spurrier uses her background as a mother of two and a pediatric doctor to help her during product selection and test development to choose products that are safe for developing hips and convenient for parents.

Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz began her carrier love after having her first child 10 years ago. With a closet containing over 10 carriers, she's tried every style and brand with her own two children, as well as almost every carrier tested at BabyGearLab. The team also includes Senior Analyst Bob Wofford, father of 7, for the male perspective on child wearing. Bob has been professionally testing baby gear since 2014 and has a vast knowledge of baby carriers and their recent rise in popularity. Senior Review Editor, Abriah Wofford a BabyGearLab contributor since 2015, rounds out the team.

Related: How We Tested Baby Carriers


Analysis and Test Results


Babywearing has been around for centuries, and today's technology and advances in design present safer wearing choices than ever before. Carriers continue to evolve in their designs to meet the needs of modern parents and busy families looking for safe, hands-free alternatives for carrying little ones. We tested each carrier for parent and child comfort, ease of use, and ease of cleaning so you can find the option that best suits your needs.

Related: Buying Advice for Baby Carriers

Helpful Tip
Avoid the frustration and hassle of using a stroller in crowded places by using a baby carrier instead! Not only is it quick and easy, but it also takes up no more space than you do, and most babies find the experience to be soothing, which cuts down on crying and disruption to those around you.


Value


Possibly one of the best things about purchasing a carrier for your baby is they come in a variety of price ranges, so most families can find a good product that meets their budget needs. Also, should your carrier of choice be out of range, you can consider adding it to your registry or forgoing a stroller until your baby is older to offset the investment. The Boba Wrap is a basic wrap in the $40 range and features a variety of wrapping methods that hold little ones up to 35 lbs. The Baby K'tan Original has a similar price and is easier to use with almost 10 more points for its overall score. The Nalakai RIng LSing is also relatively inexpensive and offers a lot for the price. Looking for a more structured carrier? High-quality carriers can last for years through multiple children making a larger initial investment worth it over time. Many parents skip the stroller and opt for something like the Tula Free-to-Grow with a list price of $160. While structured products come with a higher price tag, you can usually use them for longer, and if it translates into skipping the stroller purchase, it can save you even more money in the long run.

We tested a variety of styles and options in our newest review of baby carriers including the most popular brands and types.
We tested a variety of styles and options in our newest review of baby carriers including the most popular brands and types.

Did You Know?
Wearing your baby not only adds ease and convenience to your daily routine, but the practice also contributes positively to the baby's social, emotional, and physical development.

The Nalakai offers soft  stretchy support for little ones with a simple design that both supports and conforms to their body and movement with little restraint.
The Nalakai offers soft, stretchy support for little ones with a simple design that both supports and conforms to their body and movement with little restraint.

Baby's Comfort


Wearing your baby isn't pleasant if your baby isn't comfortable. We paid attention to which positions baby favored, and if they fell asleep, were they able to stay asleep comfortably?


The material also has a significant impact on comfort, so we considered which materials were hot or caused chafing, or which didn't offer enough support or the right kind of support. We looked for proper head and neck support, a nice deep and wide seat, soft fabric, stretchy materials, and an overall sense of security.

Safety Tips
We urge those interested in babywearing to read our safety guidelines article entitled Best Practice Tips for Baby Wearing.

The Infantino Flip and several of the other soft structured carriers aren't as comfortable for little ones because they don't have give for freedom of movement and the space for baby can be too small with few ways of adjusting some of them for size.
The Infantino Flip and several of the other soft structured carriers aren't as comfortable for little ones because they don't have give for freedom of movement and the space for baby can be too small with few ways of adjusting some of them for size.

Some carriers are inherently more comfortable for babies than others, and some are better for newborns but can grow uncomfortable as little ones grow. In our tests, little testers were most content in products that were more adjustable for size and those with softer and somewhat stretchy materials that allow natural body postures with a supported feeling. These preferences means the slings have an advantage over the structured carriers with the Nalakai Ring Sling and the Maya Wrap ComfortFit Ring Sling both earning an 8 of 10 for baby's comfort (the high in the group). The most uncomfortable products have rougher fabrics, less adjustability, or designs that limit movement or growth, several carriers earned a low score of 5, and all were soft-structured products, including the Infantino Flip Advanced.

The BabyBjorn One is so comfortable to wear that no trip is too long.
The BabyBjorn One is so comfortable to wear that no trip is too long.

Parent's Comfort


As with baby, if the person wearing the carrier isn't comfortable, wearing the baby regularly isn't going to stick. For comfort, one of the biggest complaints are shoulder and back strain. We looked at how long we could use the carrier before we experienced discomfort or pain.


Things that made a difference for us were padding (especially in the shoulders), strap width, lumbar support, and waist straps. Being able to wear a baby in different positions is also key to comfort, where we could quickly and easily switch from front to back, etc. if needed.

The ComfortFit sling is so cozy our tiny testers often fell asleep during use.
The Infantino Flip waistbelt has no padding or support on the majority of the strap so it fails to support baby's weight comfortably without digging into the wearer.

While most parents can wear any of the carriers we tested for a short period without significant discomfort, we think a carrier should be as comfortable as possible for longer trips so you can get the most out of your babywearing and bonding time. The BabyBjorn One is the most comfortable carrier for parents to wear with nicely padded shoulder pads and supportive waistband that helps support your baby's weight and distributes it evenly for a comfortable fit. This carrier earned a perfect 10 of 10, something unrivaled by any other option we tested. The Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling (above left), Nalakai Ring Sling, and the Tula Free-to-Grow all earned 9s making them the second most comfortable choices for parents. So whether you prefer a soft structured carrier you wear like a backpack or a sling that rests on a single shoulder, there is a baby carrier that can work for you. The most uncomfortable carrier to wear is the Infantino Flip Advanced (above right) with a 3 of 10 and less padding in the shoulders with no real supportive waistband. While you may be able to wear this product for short durations, it won't pass muster for the long haul or frequent use.

With only one adjustment point  the Nalakai Ring Sling is easy to use.
With only one adjustment point, the Nalakai Ring Sling is easy to use.

Ease of Use


How easy a carrier is to use on a day-to-day basis can also make or break whether you use it more than a handful of times. We began with each carrier out-of-the-box-new, so we'd get the full experience.


We liked instruction manuals that offered clear pictures and instructions. We considered how simple a carrier would be to grab and go or for use without help. Could it fit in a diaper bag? How quickly can you put on? Once on, we compared which carriers are easy to adjust, both for fit and if your baby needs to change positions.

The ComfortFit is intuitive and simple in design with the advantage of a storage pocket which makes it easier to use than some of the more convoluted competition.
The Storchenwiege Woven Wrap is hard to use with difficult to remember wrap styles and material that doesn't give  it can be harder to get this carrier on and baby inside without some kind of struggle.

More straightforward carriers are easier to use, both out of the box and on the go. The slings with only the ring adjustment point and one end to pull or loosen are the easiest to put on, use, and fit. Both the Nalakai Ring Sling and the Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling (above left) earned 9 for eas of use. The wraps are more complicated with a giant piece of fabric that requires wrapping skills and holding your baby while you put on the carrier. Not only is the learning curve high to remember how to perform the wraps, but holding a baby while you do them alone is also hard. Both the Moby Wrap Classic and the Boba Wrap earned 4s and function the same way with the same challenges. The Storchenwiege Woven Wrap (above right) received the lowest score with a 3 of 10 thanks to more positions and wrap options and material that doesn't "give" like the other wraps. The soft structured carries varied for ease of use between 4 and 7 depending on the number of straps and adjustment points and how hard they were to use while wearing the carrier with a baby inside.

The Free-to-Grow is easy to clean on the go and in your washer and dryer.
The Free-to-Grow is easy to clean on the go and in your washer and dryer.

Ease of Cleaning


Cleaning is another key consideration, and you can anticipate a lot of wear and tear with a well-loved carrier. They're often grabbed, stuffed, dragged, chewed, drooled on, and more.


In other words, carriers need cleaning, making it essential to know how easy this will be to accomplish. The carriers that scored highest in this area can be machine washed and tumble dried. Others are machine wash, but hang-to-dry. Unfortunately, when it comes to babies, sometimes only a washing machine will do.

The K'tan is machine washable and can be tossed in the dryer for a quick turn around time that gets you back out and on with life.
The Beco needs to hang to dry and is harder to spot clean.

Being unable to put a carrier in the dryer means more downtime between uses. If you live in a more humid climate, it can take more than a day for a padded soft structured carrier to dry thoroughly. This prolonged drying time means you and your baby will be waiting to use the carrier longer than if you had a product you could toss in the drier. Several carriers earned 9 of 10 for ease of cleaning. The Baby K'tan Original (above left), Boba Wrap, Moby Wrap Classic, and Tula Free-to-Grow are all machine washable and dryable. These products are also easy to spot clean on the go. Several, including the Nalakai Ring Sling, can be machine washed but require hanging to dry. Slings will dry quicker than structured carriers like the Tula Explore that have padding that will increase drying time. The hardest to keep clean or those with the longest possible downtime for hang drying earned 4s and include the Beco Gemini (above right) and the Infantino Flip Advanced.

With so many carrier options on the market  it can be difficult to figure out which options are the best. Use our detailed review to help you narrow the options to find the best choice for you.
With so many carrier options on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which options are the best. Use our detailed review to help you narrow the options to find the best choice for you.

Conclusion


Choosing the best baby carrier for you and your little one can be a daunting decision filled with different styles, types, and materials. Our goal is to provide a complete analysis of competing products, using our extensive testing process, so you can narrow down the plethora of potential options to find the right carrier for your needs and budget. While there may not be a single carrier that is good for every family or every need, we do believe that there is a baby carrier in this review that is right for you.


Wendy Schmitz & Juliet Spurrier, MD