The Best Baby Carriers of 2021
|Price||$190 List||$95 List||$65 List|
$61.95 at Amazon
$115.98 at Amazon
$179.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Easy to put on, super comfortable to wear, cozy for kids||Comfortable, easy to adjust, useful pocket||Easy to use, comfortable to wear, cozy for baby, lower price||Comfortable to wear, machine wash and dry, cozy||Comfy for parents, variety of colors and patterns|
|Cons||Long drying time, lots of buckles and straps, expensive||Hang to dry, rough fabric||Hang to dry||Price, harder to adjust on-the-go||Lots of adjustments, harder to clean, not as comfortable for baby, expensive|
|Bottom Line||Most comfortable to wear with a cozy seat and easy attachment||Easy to wear and adjust with comfort for baby but the fabric could be softer||Easy to use, comfortable sling to wear and sit in||Comfortable carrier for parents and baby, but it's harder to use and expensive||While comfortable for the wearer, this carrier is complicated and less comfy for baby|
|Rating Categories||BabyBjorn One||Maya Wrap ComfortFi...||Nalakai Ring Sling||Tula Free-to-Grow||Tula Explore|
|Child Comfort (25%)|
|Parent Comfort (35%)|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Ease Of Cleaning (10%)|
|Specs||BabyBjorn One||Maya Wrap ComfortFi...||Nalakai Ring Sling||Tula Free-to-Grow||Tula Explore|
|Min/Max Weight||8 - 33 lbs||8 - 35 lbs||8 - 35 lbs||7 - 45 lbs||7 - 45 lbs|
|Carry Positions||Facing In (0 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
Facing Out (5 - 15 mo./26 lbs)
Back Carry (12 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
|Facing In (0 - 3 mo)
Facing Out (3 - 6 mo)
Hip Carry (6 mo - 35 lbs)
|Facing In (8 - 35 lbs)
Hip Carry (8 - 35 lbs *BGL recommends Head/Neck/Torso Control)
|Facing In (7 - 45 lbs)
Back Carry (Head/Neck/Torso Control - 45 lbs)
|Facing In (7 - 45 lbs)
Back Carry (Head/Neck/Torso Control - 45 lbs)
|Weight||2.26 lbs||sm 0.92
lg 1.16 lbs
|0.9 lbs||1.25 lbs||1.73 lbs|
|Fabric||Cotton, Polyester, PU Foam||Cotton, Polyester||58% Bamboo
|100% Cotton||100% Cotton|
|Storage Options||None||Zippered pocket on tail||Pocket on the tail||Velcro pouch on waist belt||Velcro pouch on waist belt|
|Other Features & Notable||Adjustable Seat Width,
Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1
|None||None||Adjustable Seat Width, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1||Adjustable Seat Width, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1|
|Care Instructions||Machine wash warm, hang dry.||Machine wash cold, hang dry.||Machine wash cold, hang dry.||Machine wash cold, tumble dry low.||Machine wash cold, hang dry.|
Best Overall Baby Carrier
Nalakai Ring Sling
The Nalakai Ring Sling is a straightforward, comfortable sling that is easy to use and super cozy for passengers. It is a soft bamboo and linen blend that stretches somewhat for comfort and has quick-drying properties for fast cleaning. We appreciate that you can make adjustments with your baby in the sling to improve fit or comfort for passengers and parents. You can even pull the fabric up for head support or tighten the sling to bring your little one closer to you. This ability can make a huge difference when offering comfort to your baby by increasing close physical contact. We love almost everything about this budget-friendly simple sling.
The Nalakai requires line dry after washing, which is a potential flaw as it takes longer to return to use than those options that can be tossed in the dryer. So, there is the possibility that you'll be without a sling when you need one. However, this fabric dries quickly. Our tests' drying times were lower than the padded or structured carriers (drying times vary depending on your local climate and humidity level). Overall, the Nalakai has a reasonable price, is easy to use, and is comfortable for most users, making it tough to beat and one of our favorites.
Read review: Nalakai Ring Sling
Best Comfort Sling
Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling
The Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling is a ring sling with somewhat rougher fabric than the competition, but it has a super helpful zippered pocket on the tail. This sling is easy to use with a single shoulder adjustment. It offers impressive comfort for passengers and wearers with a close-hold design. We like that this sling works for children from 8-35 lbs. The shoulder strap of this sling is lightly padded. It includes more material for a broad placement across the shoulder and back when wearing it to increase comfort. The thoughtful design translates to longer, more comfortable adventures, making the Maya one of the most comfortable products in this lineup.
If your child has delicate skin, the Maya may not be at the top of your list, given that the material is somewhat scratchy. However, the Maya zipper pocket is functional and easily within reach, giving the wearer a feature we didn't see on any other sling in our tests. Overall, the thicker fabric can be comfortable for the wearer and ideal for winter use, and we feel the wearable comfort makes up for the lack of softness.
Read review: Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling
Best Traditional Carrier
The BabyBjorn Carrier One is a soft structured option with three positions for little ones between 8-33 lbs. This product is a quality contender with multiple adjustment points providing parents and babies with a custom fit for comfort and security. This BabyBjorn has safety buckles that work well and has forward pull adjustment straps for quick on-the-go alterations, and the seat width is adjustable depending on the 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) than the wrap carriers we tested that often necessitate a secondary helper.
This carrier is one of the most expensive in the review, which might put it lower on the list for parents with smaller budgets. However, for a structured carrier, the price is average compared to the competition. The One is also drip dry only, resulting in a significant downtime depending on your climate (humidity is not your friend). Outside of the unfortunate washing instructions (babies are messy and cleaning could be frequent), we think most parents will find the One can be the potential "one" for them.
Read review: BabyBjorn One
Easy to Use Wrap
Baby K'tan Original
The Baby K'tan Original is a wrap "-ish" carrier without the convoluted wrap features that make them harder to master without assistance. This "special" wrap is two loops of fabric linked together, making it easier to put on without holding your baby and easy to put the baby in once the carrier is 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 K'tan's price is reasonable and ideal for tighter budgets, and the easy-to-use design makes the minimal price bump over ordinary wraps worth it.
The K'tan's design isn't as versatile as a regular wrap, and it can be more challenging to fit this wrap for parents who are vastly different in size or shape. There is also no fit or comfort assistance as there are no adjustments to use. However, if you are average size and you and your mate have similar shapes or don't plan to share, then the K'tan is an easy-to-use "wrap" we think you'll love.
Read review: Baby K'tan Original
Great Wrap on a Budget
The Boba Wrap is a wrap carrier that looks is essentially a broad length of material that wraps around your body in various ways depending on the desired position for carrying or the age/size of your baby. The Boba wrap is super duper soft and has stretchy fabric that pulls your baby securely into your body with the ability to move while retaining snuggly comfort. We love that this option is budget-friendly, versatile, and works for little ones from 7-35 lbs. The Boba is machine-washable and dryable, reducing cleaning time (potentially during a nap or overnight), so you can use it more often without waiting for air drying (a standard method in the competition). It is also helpful for parents of different sizes and growing little ones because you can make adjustments on the go for a custom fit for comfort or size, and the fabric is long enough to work with almost any size adult.
Wraps can be somewhat challenging to use because there is a learning curve that often requires holding your baby as you maneuver the fabric ends around your body. Some even need to carry a cheat sheet card on wrapping for several weeks before committing the process to memory. The Boba could be trouble as your little one gets bigger and becomes more interested in the world around them. While it has positions where little ones can look out at the world, it can be limiting because the fabric stretches, and some babies won't want to be pressed so tightly against their parents. However, if budget is a concern, or you want a comfy, easy-to-care-for wrap that may not last until 35 lbs, then the Boba Wrap is a good choice that will fit in most budgets.
Read review: Boba Wrap
Lifetime Carrier for Infants to Toddlers
The Tula Free-to-Grow is a soft structured carrier with a variety of possible adjustments, so it can grow with your baby and should work for the lifetime of your babywearing years, potentially translating to a "one and done" choice that can save you money and hassle over time. This carrier is super comfortable for parents to wear even on prolonged adventures, and the strap style means you can make minor adjustments on the fly for both comfort and fit. The structured design of this Tula gives babies a little more space to wiggle and breathe than wrap or sling options.
This carrier might not be the best choice for those on a budget or families looking for various positions for a baby to ride. This Tula is one of the most expensive in the review and only features two potential riding options. However, this carrier is a high-quality choice that works well, feels good, and can function for several years without issues. Depending on your wearing goals, it could be the right fit for you and your goals.
Read review: Tula Free-to-Grow
Why You Should Trust Us
BabyGearLab has been testing baby carriers for over 6 years with various styles and types in our wake. 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 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 children and almost every carrier 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 (probably as long as there have been babies), and today's technology and design advances present safer wearing choices than ever. 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 for comfort, convenience, and bonding. We test each carrier for parent and child comfort, ease of use, and ease of cleaning, so you can find an exciting and helpful carrier that best fits your needs and lifestyle.
Related: Buying Advice for Baby Carriers
Avoid the frustration and hassle of a stroller by using a baby carrier! Not only are they quick and easy, but they take up significantly less space, and most babies find the experience soothing with increased feelings of closeness, which decreases crying and public meltdowns.
One of the nice things about carriers is the variety of price ranges available, which means most families can find a suitable option within their budget that meets their needs. Alternatively, should the carrier of your dreams be outside your budget, you should consider putting it on your registry or skipping a stroller until your baby is older to postpone the purchase until you aren't spending as much on gear. The Boba Wrap is a straightforward option with a reasonable price and various wrapping methods that work with little ones up to 35 lbs. The Baby K'tan Original is in the same price range and is easier to use, with almost 10 more points for its overall score. The Nalakai Ring Sling is also relatively inexpensive compared to the competition, and it offers a lot for the price. Want a structured carrier? High-quality soft structured carriers (SSC) can last for years through multiple children, which can justify a more significant initial investment. Some parents skip buying a stroller and choose something like the Tula Free-to-Grow with a higher list price but small compared to a quality stroller. While structured options typically come with higher price tags, you can usually use them for longer, and if it translates into forgoing a stroller, it can save you even more money.
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.
Wearing your baby isn't going to work for very long if your little one isn't comfortable. We considered which positions the baby favored, and if they fell asleep, were they able to stay asleep comfortably?
The material also significantly impacted comfort, so we considered which materials were hot or caused chafing or 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.
We urge those interested in babywearing to read our safety guidelines article entitled Best Practice Tips for Baby Wearing.
Some carriers are more comfortable for babies than others, and some are better for newborns but grow uncomfortable as little ones get bigger. In our tests, little testers were happiest in options with the most adjustability for size and carriers with softer and somewhat stretchy fabric that allow natural body postures without sacrificing support. These preferences mean 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.
As with a baby, if the person wearing the carrier is uncomfortable, using it regularly isn't going to happen. The chief complaints are shoulder and back strain, so we test how long we could wear the products before experiencing discomfort.
Things that make a difference for us are padding (especially in the shoulders), strap width, lumbar support, and waist strap adjustability. Being able to wear your baby in various positions is also crucial to comfort, including quickly and easily switching from front to back, etc., when desired.
While most parents can wear any of the carriers in this review for a short time without significant discomfort, we feel they should be as comfy as possible so you can get the most from your babywearing and bonding time. The BabyBjorn One is the most comfortable carrier for parents, with nicely padded shoulder straps and a supportive waistband that helps distribute your baby's weight evenly for a comfortable fit. This carrier earned a perfect 10 of 10, something unrivaled by any competitor in our tests. The Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling (above left), Nalakai Ring Sling, and the Tula Free-to-Grow all earned 9s, making them almost as comfortable as the One. So whether you prefer a structured pack style carrier or a shoulder sling, there is a carrier that works for you. The most uncomfortable option is the Infantino Flip Advanced (above right) with a 3 of 10 and less padding in the shoulders with a supportless waistband. While you can wear this product for short durations, it won't work for long adventures or frequent use.
Ease of Use
Carrier ease of use on a day-to-day basis can make or break whether you choose to use it more than a couple of times. We started our ease of use testing by taking the products out of the packaging to ensure a complete experience.
We prefer user manuals with clear illustrations and directions. We consider how straightforward a carrier is to grab and go or to use without assistance. Does it fit inside a diaper bag? How quickly can you get it on? We also compare how easy the carriers are to adjust for fit and if your baby needs a new position.
Simple carriers are easier to use, both out of the box and on the go. The slings have only one ring adjustment point and one end to pull or loosen, making them the easiest to put on, use, and fit. The Nalakai Ring Sling and the Maya Wrap ComfortFit Sling (above) earned 9 in this metric. The wraps are complicated with a giant swath of fabric that requires significant wrapping skills while holding your baby as you put it on. The learning curve is high, including remembering how to perform the wraps and holding the baby while you do it. Both the Moby Wrap Classic and the Boba Wrap earned 4s and function the same way with the same challenges. The soft structured carriers vary for ease of use, with scores between 4 and 7 depending on the number of straps and adjustment points and how hard they were to operate with a baby inside.
Ease of Cleaning
Cleaning is a crucial factor as you can predict significant wear and tear with a well-loved carrier. Carriers are often grabbed, stuffed, dragged, chewed, drooled on, covered in spit-up, or victims of accidental blow-outs.
To put it simply, your carrier will require regular cleaning, making it essential to know ahead of time how easy or difficult this process will be. The options that score highest for ease of cleaning are machine washable and can go in the dryer. The second best includes those that are okay in the washer but are hang dry only. Unfortunately, when dealing with babies, sometimes only a good machine wash will do.
Air-drying your carrier translates to an increase in downtime between uses. Living in a humid climate could result in more than a day for a padded soft structured carrier to completely dry. This extended drying time means you'll be waiting to use your carrier longer than those that can be machine dried. Several carriers in our tests 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 contenders are also easy to spot clean when accidents happen. Several products, including the Nalakai Ring Sling, are machine washable but need to hang dry. Slings dry quicker than structured carriers like the Tula Explore with thicker padding that increases drying time. The hardest to keep clean are those with the longest possible downtime for hang drying earned 4s and include the Beco Gemini (above right) and the Infantino Flip Advanced.
Choosing the right baby carrier for your baby can be a confusing challenge with so many styles, types, and fabrics from which to choose. Our research and extensive testing include an analysis of performance features and functionality for each carrier in this review. We use a hands-on, side-by-side comparison to help narrow the field of potential options so you can find the best one for your baby, budget, and goals. We suspect that there isn't one carrier that will work for all families, nor is there a perfect style for every baby. However, we believe there is something for most parents and caregivers in this review of popular carriers, and you will find a great option in our high-ranking products and award winners.
— Wendy Schmitz & Juliet Spurrier, MD
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.Learn More