This section of my site is especially for those people who are tight on the budget and want a cheap and reliable baby carrier for their children.
The main reason for including this post is I do not want anyone to feel that I am only promoting big brands which have expensive products.
While sourcing the baby carriers in this post I have only included those which are under $50 and do not create a hole in the buyer’s pocket.
The Infantino range features heavily on the list. We have found their range of carriers to be exceptional value for money and very well built. It is no coincidence that they are also one of the best sellers in the market today.
How to Find Value in an Inexpensive Baby Carrier
The danger in presenting a list of affordable baby carriers is that a cheap price does not mean you will receive good value.
You will see new brands with supposedly expensive carriers slashing 80% off the price! Usually, this is a gimmick for a new private label product that is new to the market. They are usually untested, and they may not be around in six months which would void any warranty offered.
To protect you from this we have only included baby carriers that have a minimum of 500 reviews on Amazon. This ensures the brand has a long track record and is here to stay!
We have included soft structured carriers, baby wraps, and ring slings as long as they met these criteria and could be bought for under $50 at the time of writing.
Affordable Baby Carrier Quick Summary
Here are the best baby carriers below our $50 threshold in each of the design categories.
Be sure to check updated pricing before you purchase.
We will also be reviewing the following budget baby carrier options that didn’t top their design category but are still great value options:
Best Cheap Baby Carriers of 2023
The Infantino Swift is well below our $50 threshold and offers decent performance for a bare minimum of cost.
The padded shoulder straps are in a criss-cross pattern instead of the usual loops. This means no waist belt, and less reliance on extra clips, buckles, and instead uses adjustable straps.
The child seat has high back support for your baby. This ensures they can sleep comfortably and without the risk of their neck falling backwards.
A detachable bib is also included which is handy to protect both you and the carrier from the inevitable mess from a drooling baby.
It is only suitable for parents who will only babywear until early toddler age. The weight range is narrow and only suitable for 8-22 pound babies. This is very limiting but for such a cheap baby carrier it still offers excellent value.
- Compact design
- Two carry positions
- Includes bib
- Easily machine washable
- Maximum weight of only 22lbs
- Narrow seat compared to the other Infantino designs
- Stitching less robust than a higher-end carrier
Baby wraps are amazing if you persist through the learning curve required to be able to tie them off properly. They are also excellent value for money with the most popular brands usually around either side of our $50 threshold.
We have selected the Boba as our top-rated wrap but also found the Moby to perform just as well if you wanted to compare current prices.
You have a few variations in the materials used in the Boba wrap carriers depending on which pattern you wanted to buy:
- Gray – Blend of cotton (95%), spandex (5%)
- Patterns – Blend of cotton (25%), spandex (7%), and viscose (68%)
Both cotton blends create a durable fabric that is stretchy and wonderfully soft on the skin. You also get an amazing fit due to that stretchiness which ensures your baby’s comfort as well as yours.
The weight limit is much higher than the Infantino Swift at 35 pounds. You can also use it with a newborn from day one if tied correctly so you definitely get better value with the Boba.
The only reason that it isn’t no. 1 is that structured carriers are preferred by many parents. You need a good strong knot and quality tie for truly hands-free parenting with a wrap and many just don’t have the patience or the time.
The Boba wins on most points of performance comparison but is less suited to parents who are constantly on the go.
- Higher weight capacity
- Strong and comfortable fabric that is nice and soft to touch
- Option for plan color or nice patterns
- Machine washable
- The wrapping technique will take some practice
- Can be time-consuming
The Vlok is the only ring sling on our list. Usually, we are not huge fans of ring slings but we love the Vlok due to the light quick dry polyester fabric used.
This means you can take your baby swimming with you in the carrier. After you get out of the water the material will dry in no time and you can continue to use as you would any other carrier.
You also get excellent air circulation through the light material. This makes the Vlok a nice budget option for those who live in warmer climates, or just love spending time at the beach or swimming pool.
The material rolls up into a neat little carry bag that fits easily in a beach or diaper bag.
It is also super affordable and well under our $50 budget.
- Can be used in water
- Cheap and lightweight
- Mid-range weight capacity (30lbs)
- Less durable
- Harder to use a ring sling with larger babies
Mei Tais are a hybrid model of baby carrier that sits somewhere between a structured carrier and a wrap. You get the shoulder straps like a regular carrier, and then tie off the base with a sash to customize the fit and ensure enough support.
The design is clever, user-friendly, and offers a nice babywearing experience. It is also the only Infantino carrier that can accommodate three positions instead of two; front carry, back carry, and hip carry.
The straps are wider than your standard carrier. They have less padding than a more expensive alternative but the broad strap compensates a little.
There are a couple of design issues that knocked the mei tai down a few places on our list.
First of all, the straps are quite long. You will have to tie a thick knot to take up all of that slack, and you then have this sitting in the middle of your back instead of a nice flat waist strap like a regular carrier.
Secondly, the baby seat area is quite big. While you have the flexibility to just tie it off in a tighter position you may find that you end up with more back panel than you need to get a snug fit around a smaller baby.
You have a detachable baby hood which can create a more enclosed area if your baby is feeling overwhelmed or wants to sleep. So that is a handy extra.
- Simplicity of design
- Weight capacity up to 36lbs
- Detachable hood
- The straps are quite long
- The seat area is quite large
The Cuddle Up Carrier is best for use with an older baby who is at a later stage of development. The weight range starts higher with a minimum of 12 lbs (vs 8 lbs for the other Infantinos on the list) and a maximum of 40 lbs.
The detachable hood with this carrier is great for colder weather. It looks more like a hoodie than just the usual thin hoods that most baby carriers have.
You also have a couple of storage pockets at the back of the seat area that are conveniently located so they are within easy reach.
At the time of writing this was also the cheapest carrier available on our list. This may just be because it is an older model.
The Carry-On model is also very similar but is almost double the price at the time of writing. There is not a lot between them in performance so we went for the Cuddle-Up instead. We think it is one of the best value baby carriers for those on a very tight budget.
- Good quality for a very low price
- Weight capacity up to 40lbs
- The removable canopy hood is great for cold and windy weather.
- Dated design
We also wanted to include one low-cost baby wrap (even though the Boba is well within our threshold). The Keababies Wrap fits all of our criteria and is a much cheaper option.
The only difference is that the material is 100% cotton and doesn’t have the spandex blend of the Boba. As a result, the fabric is not as stretchy but is more breathable.
The material is still very soft to touch and is comfortable on you and your baby’s skin. You also get 4″ more material than you do with the Boba which makes it suitable for plus-size parents or larger babies.
You don’t lose anything on weight capacity either with the KeaBabies able to handle up to 35 lbs.
- Excellent value
- Weight capacity up to 35lbs
- Longer wrap (202″ vs 198″)
- Machine washable
- Less stretchy
Be Patient and Find a Bargain
Some of the best baby carriers available sit in that price bracket just above our target for this article.
If we increased our threshold to $100 then some popular carriers like the Lillebaby carrier would be near the top of our list. The step-up in quality is massive and it is worth the upgrade.
So, if you have an eye for a bargain and have some time before you start babywearing you could keep an eye out for any discounts that may pop up.
Check out some of our buyers guides for baby carrier categories slightly higher on the value chain:
- Top rated soft structured baby carriers
- Stunning baby wraps with eye-catching patterns
- Best ring slings
Infantino has featured heavily on this list because they are a long-established brand that really targets this cheaper end of the market. So their designs are simple, light, and cover the absolute basics.
You will find it harder to get longer-term use out of them and the ergonomics will not be as friendly on your body. Upgrading to a slightly more expensive soft structured carrier will give a more comfortable experience and more longevity of use.
But, if you need to stick within our price range and are will be babywearing a lot then the Boba Wrap might be a better option for you.
A wrap allows you to control the weight distribution just as well as more expensive carriers. But it takes a bit more work to get the result.
However, if it is only light use then there is no point spending more than you need to and anything on this list will do the job nicely.