Best Soft-Structured Carriers for Babies
Babywearing is nothing new, existing for hundreds of years in many ways, shapes, and forms, such as wraps and papooses. Over the past few years, it has definitely become a popular choice for parents, as it keeps your baby happy by being close to you, and it helps you to bond with your little one.
The soft structured baby carrier is by far the most common method of babywearing. This type of design is perfect for everyday use with convenient and versatile features, and multiple wearing positions that allow you to use whatever is most suited to your baby’s growth stage.
Similar to a backpack in design, these carriers can often be worn on the front and back, and are easy to fasten with buckles on the shoulder straps and waistband.
When you consider the toll that babywearing can take on your body, the soft structured carrier is the best out of the box solution that will provide sound ergonomics that minimize the strain on your body. All while ensuring maximum comfort and safety for your precious cargo.
Table of Contents
- 1 Baby Carrier Features and Assessment Criteria
- 2 Top Rated Soft-Structured Baby Carriers
- 3 Our Recommended Carrier
Baby Carrier Features and Assessment Criteria
When reviewing these products we have concentrated on the following elements to determine what represents quality and value for money. By understanding these elements you will best be able to find that carrier that matches your needs.
Having a variety of positions in which you can carry your baby is a must. All soft-structured baby carriers can be worn on the front with the baby facing in, and many even offer a back-carry option, but having front facing and hip carrying options will give you some variety if you need relief from a certain position and can keep your baby happy with a change in scenery.
Your budget may be the biggest determining factor when it comes to which soft-structured baby carrier you use. On the low end, you may be looking at $40-50, which are likely not the best quality products, often having little support in the back and waist area, but there are still a couple of good ones in this price range. For a decent baby carrier, you may be looking at $130 and above.
Your child will likely be content with being carried for the first few years of her life, and, depending on your lifestyle (i.e. if you like to hike a lot or you live in an area that is too crowded to always have a stroller), you may need a baby carrier that lasts for several years of your child’s life.
Unfortunately, many baby carriers only support up through 2 years of age, and even hen may not have sufficient support for their weight when carrying them for long periods of time. Finding a baby carrier that works up until about the age of 3 or 4 will likely be a good investment for you and your little one.
Hip dysplasia is a big topic of concern when it comes to baby carriers. If the carrier has little support in your baby’s hip area, particularly if the seat is narrow, your baby is at risk for hip dislocation and poor development. A wide seat keeps your baby’s legs and hips in the safe and natural “M” shape position will with protect their fragile hips.
Easy to Use
Likely, you will be using your baby carrier a lot when you are alone, either running errands or just around the house. The last thing you want is to be fumbling and struggling with a carrier that is difficult to adjust or buckle when you are by yourself.
You also want to find a carrier that is easy to adjust and convert, especially if you are changing users (such as between mom and dad) or switching positions (like front to back). Finding a carrier that adjusts and converts easily will save you a lot of frustration and headache.
As your baby gets bigger and heavier, your baby carrier may begin to cause a lot of strain to your body, particularly your shoulders and lower back. You will want a carrier that offers enough support in these areas, taking the weight off your shoulders and redistributing it to your waist, that way you can use your carrier comfortably for long periods of time.
You want your baby carrier to hold your baby securely, especially as she gets heavier and begins moving and squirming more. Look for a carrier that has tight, secure buckles, and possibly even reinforced with strong Velcro.
Top Rated Soft-Structured Baby Carriers
Known for their trusted and comfy baby wraps, Boba also has this soft-structured baby carrier. It can be used for a wide range of ages, from newborn to toddler. It is also available in multiple designs and colors, you will be able to find one that matches your style.
Read our full review of the Boba 4G here.
- Simple design: essentially, this carrier is just a rectangle of fabric with a waistband and shoulder straps, making it simple to use and adjust from front to back.
- Fits most sizes: many plus-sized mothers and larger framed fathers have praised this carrier for its ability to accommodate many different wearer sizes.
- Wide range of age usage: this carrier is advertised as being able to be used from age 0 to 48 months, giving you lots of wear out of this carrier.
- Includes pockets and purse strap holder: the waist band is fitted with a small pocket that can be useful for carrying a phone and some cash if you want to not be weighed down by a bag, but it also includes unique clips on the shoulder to help you carry your purse without having to readjust it constantly when the straps slip off.
- For such a simple design, and very few features and carrying positions, this carrier is at the higher cost end of the market. Brand reputation and durability are a big reason for this though.
- Stiff and rough material: even though it is made of 100% organic cotton, which is ideal for preventing allergic reactions on babies’ sensitive skin, the material can be a little too scratchy, especially when compared to Boba’s super soft baby wraps.
- Baby cannot face out: this carrier can be worn only on the front and back, and only in an inward facing position, which may become tiresome for your baby who wants to look around.
One of the top choices amongst most moms, the Ergobaby carrier is a trusted and versatile product. The wide waistband and padded shoulder straps make this carrier comfortable to use, and offers you flexibility with its ability to be worn in any position.
Read our full review of the Ergobaby 360 here.
- Multiple wearing options: the Ergobaby carrier allows you to carry your baby in a variety of positions, including front, back, and hip, and this 360 model even offers an outward facing option when worn on the front.
- Wide bucket seat: the wide seat keeps your baby’s hips in the proper position, and this product is recognized by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute as a safe and hip healthy product.
- Includes baby hood: the removable baby hood is great for privacy, protecting your baby from the sun, and keeping their head supported if they fall asleep.
- Newborn insert sold separately: this product can be used with newborns, but only when you purchase the separate newborn insert.
- Wide waistband may not fit all users: some shorter or more petite users have claimed that the wide waistband does not work for their frame, often pushing into their ribs making it uncomfortable to use.
This carrier by Lillebaby is exactly what the name suggests: complete. Ready to use from birth with no need for a newborn insert, it can be used in 6 different positions, making it ideal for use through late toddlerhood.
- Lumbar supporting waistband: the wide, padded waistband also offers additional padding in the lumbar area to give your lower back support when wearing your baby on the front.
- Usable in all carrying positions: not only can this carrier be used on the front (facing both in and out), hip, and back, but it also offers a fetal position in the front, which is ideal for your newborn.
- Breathable mesh material is a bit rough: this product also offers breathable mesh material, but it can be a bit rough on your baby’s exposed skin when compared to a cotton carrier.
- May not fit all users and babies: smaller framed users have claimed that this carrier feels and looks bulky on them, which may not make it the most comfortable or ideal for all body types.
- Can be complicated to adjust and change position: changing from front to back or an outward facing position can take quite a bit of maneuvering, sometimes requiring that the carrier almost needs to be taken apart and put back together.
This carrier by BabySteps is one of the best carriers for active parents. It is great for hiking and comfortable when worn for long periods of time, thanks to its built-in hip seat, which can be used from infancy through toddlerhood.
- Low price: this carrier is one of the least expensive on the market, but it is still safe and comfortable to use.
- Unique design with hip seat: the firm built-in hip seat, which can be used with or without the carrier harness, makes this carrier comfortable for both baby and parent.
- Wide waistband for lumbar support and limited strain to shoulders: the wide padded waistband helps to support your child’s weight, taking it off your lower back and shoulders.
- Limited color options: this carrier is only available in green, which may be a turn-off for parents who want something more neutral or would just prefer more color and design options.
- Recommended for babies that can hold their own head: designed more for older babies, this carrier is not recommended for babies who cannot hold their own heads, typically under 4 months of age.
- May be bulky to transport/pack: the hip seat makes this carrier comfortable to wear, but it does make this carrier too bulky to easily pack into a bag to take on the go.
This carrier by Mo+m offers a comfortable way to carry your little one without the bulk that some other carriers have. It also keeps your baby comfortable with its removable hood, which is good for sun protection and sleeping, and its unique venting system, which will help to keep you and your baby cool during the hot summer months.
- Inexpensive: this product is another great carrier that falls on the lower end of the price range.
- Unique mesh vent area: the back of the carrier unzips and opens like a backpack, exposing a vented mesh area which allows air in and out, keeping your baby cool.
- Compact for ease of packing: this soft, cotton carrier can be easily carried in a diaper bag to have handy when you need it on the go.
- For age 4 months and older: there is no newborn insert for this carrier, and it is only recommended for babies who can already hold up their own heads.
- Only usable in face-in positions: the design of this carrier only allows it to be used in inward facing positions, on both the front and back.
Our Recommended Carrier
The BabySteps 6-in-1 Carrier!
Versatility: this carrier can be used in all positions – front carry, facing in and out, one-shouldered hip carry, and back carry – as well as with and without the carrier harness, if you just want to hold your child with your arms with the extra support from the hip seat.
Cost: very inexpensive while still offering comfort and versatility.
Age/Weight Range: the wide waistband and hip seat allow this carrier to support babies and children up to 44 pounds.
Ergonomics: the wide hip seat keeps your baby’s legs and hips in line, in the recommended “M” shaped position, which can protect their joints and prevent hip dysplasia.
Ease of Use: there are no complicated straps and buckles, which makes this carrier easy to adjust between users and convert into any carry position.
Comfort: comes fitted with a removable baby hood, heat resistant hip seat, mesh backing for ventilation, wide waistband, and padded shoulder straps, making this carrier comfortable for both wearer and baby.
Safety: tight buckles, reinforced with sturdy Velcro straps, make this carrier safe to use for parents and babies alike.
With all these features, this carrier is sure to be a favorite of parents and babies everywhere.