The Best Baby Carriers of 2018

By Sarah Kovac

Having a good carrier can be the difference between feeling like a slave to your baby's whims and actually accomplishing a few things for yourself, your family, or your home. As a mom of three who home schools and keeps up a writing career in my "spare" time, I know this all too well.

Over the past eight years I've tried several different carriers in an attempt to keep my babies close while keeping my other kids alive—and perhaps even occasionally cleaning my house. But after researching nearly every carrier on the market and testing 12 of the top models over six weeks—as well as enlisting three of my mom friends with their kids—we are confident that the best baby carrier for most people is the Lillebaby Complete (available at Amazon).

Why do we like it so much? In short, it's beautiful, soft, and works well with kids from 7-45lbs, no infant insert required. But while the Lillebaby was my favorite, it was a very close call at the top, so we'd definitely encourage you to check out all our top picks to see which one might work best for you.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated January 05, 2018

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Lillebaby Complete Best Overall
Credit: Reviewed.com / Sarah Kovac
The Lillebaby Complete All Seasons 6-in-1 Carrier is the best that we tested for most people.

Lillebaby Complete

Lillebaby
  • Editors' Choice

Lillebaby Complete

Best Overall

The Lillebaby Complete impressed me from the start. Not only is it beautiful and soft, it's an extremely comfortable carrier. The straps are nicely padded and the waistband is supportive. There is a generously-sized lumbar pad in the back which I loved (but don't worry, it can be removed if giant lumbar pads aren't your style). With that pad in place and the waistband tightened around my hips, there was no spot at which I felt the waist strap digging in.

There is also a little pad that protects your back from the shoulder buckle and the shoulder straps can be worn traditional backpack style or criss-crossed. The seat width is easy to adjust as the baby grows, and the side straps adjust from both ends so you won't find yourself stretching your arms back behind you to try to tighten anything. It's a little touch, but those small details add up to a really pleasant experience.

The fabric of the Lillebaby Complete is almost buttery. It is incredibly soft and smooth without feeling cheap. My baby had no trouble falling asleep in this carrier. One of our testers is tall and has a narrow frame. She had sworn off baby carriers because she could never find a comfortable fit. I asked her to try out the Lillebaby, and she said it was comfortable enough that she was reconsidering her stance on carriers.

I also have very narrow shoulders and was very comfortable in this carrier, so it seems to be especially good for those of us who don't have broad shoulders (though, our more broad-shouldered tester also felt good wearing it). The Lillebaby Complete is a six-position carrier and can accommodate babies from seven to 45 pounds. And, bonus, it's lightweight and easy to carry.

One complaint I have is that the waistband adjusts by pulling the strap backward. It buckles at the hip, but then the tail has to be pulled straight back behind you to tighten it. This makes it tricky to tighten. Another gripe I had was that the strap between your shoulders is almost impossible to adjust while wearing, even with a second person's help.

Despite the minor drawbacks, everyone who tried this carrier on liked it. There is support where there should be, a head rest and hood for the baby, a nice storage pocket, and an adjustable seat for babies of just about any size -- no infant insert necessary. The Lillebaby Complete just feels like quality.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies/kids from 7-45lbs (no infant insert necessary).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, facing out, on the hip, or on the back.

Infantino Cuddle Up

Infantino cuddle up
  • Editors' Choice

Infantino Cuddle Up

Best Value

For the price (around $34 on Amazon), we were surprised at how comfortable the Infantino Cuddle Up is. The fabric is soft and warm, it has a hoodie-style pocket for your hands, and there's a super cute detachable hood to keep baby's head warm in chilly weather. It rolls up well, but the waistband isn't very firm (therefore not incredibly supportive.)

The Cuddle Up holds baby's legs in a good ergonomic position, but it can't be used to face baby outward or with babies under 12 pounds. It’s not the most versatile, but it is one of the top-sellers on Amazon (though that’s likely due to the low price). If you're looking for something snuggly to carry your older baby in, and you're on a budget, we think you might be happy with the Cuddle Up.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for kids from 12-40lbs, not to be used with infants.

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in or on the back.

Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions with Cool Air Mesh

Ergobaby 360

Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions with Cool Air Mesh

Runner-up

Ergobaby has been one of the top names in baby carriers for 25 years, and for good reason. As the name suggests, the Ergobaby 360 carrier offers ergonomic seating for baby no matter whether you're wearing front- or inward-facing, on your hip, or on your back. The seat of the carrier is more concave than others, which makes it easier to get the baby centered and keeps pressure off of the waistband.

We tried out the Cool Air Mesh version, which has a mesh panel stretching across the baby's back. My baby and I tend to get sweaty in carriers, and this one did a great job of keeping us cool. The fabric is soft and the carrier is padded in all the right places, including the lumbar area (though, I should note that the lumbar pad is not removable).

The Ergobaby 360 is simple enough to put on, and the seat and headrest adjust via large buttons. Though my baby was just over the 12-pound requirement for using the carrier without the extra $36 infant insert, she sat a little lower in it than I (and she) would like. It wasn't our favorite for very small babies (we preferred the Lillebaby Complete), but this carrier was very comfortable with older babies and toddlers.

The Ergobaby 360 doesn't have any storage pockets, per se, but there is a zipper pouch under the neck support that holds the baby hood. Something small like a cell phone could be tucked in there, but it might detract from baby's comfort (plus some parents might worry about cell phone radiation).

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for kids from 12-33lbs, can use with babies 7 lbs and up (requires an infant insert which typically costs $36).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, facing out, on the hip, or on the back.

Baby Bjorn One Air

Baby bjorn one air

Baby Bjorn One Air

Runner-up

I was immediately fond of the Baby Bjorn One Air for its ease of use and unorthodox buckles. Those in our testing party who were used to the usual pinch-to-release clips initially found this carrier a bit confusing, but using the One Air proved to be a breeze once we figured out how the buckles worked. This carrier might be especially great for someone with fake nails or arthritic fingers, as securing the baby and waistband require less in the way of finger strength than any other carrier we tested.

We had both the One and the One Air to test, but since the structure is exactly the same between the two models, we just tested the Air (which is mesh instead of regular fabric). The adjustment straps are made of smooth fabric and are easy to slide. The waist belt can be tightened by pulling either of two different straps, which are pulled toward the front of the body rather than awkwardly backward (as with the Lillebaby Complete). The seat width and height are adjusted using zippers (super easy), and the head support adjusts simply by folding up behind baby's head or down out of the way. No clips or buttons required.

The back yoke (the strap that runs across your back between the shoulder straps) slides up and down easily, and instead of reaching behind your neck to clip it together, it stays connected at all times. Just slide the carrier on like a sweater and secure the waist belt. Easy.

That all said, there are some drawbacks that keep it from our top spot. The Baby Bjorn One Air has no storage pockets, it's a bit unwieldy to roll up, and it can't be worn hip-style. But the simplicity of this carrier and comfortable mesh made it the one that I reached for even when I wasn't testing.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies/kids from 8-33lbs (no infant insert required).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, facing out, or on the back.

How We Tested

Buying a baby carrier is extremely tricky. I've tried plenty of carriers over the years, but I never found one I liked enough to use with any kind of regularity. Even worse, carriers are expensive, and it's easy to just give up if the first one you buy doesn't work out.

To find the best for this roundup, I researched nearly every carrier on the market, testing 12 of the top models over six weeks with my 4-month old—while also enlisting the help of three mom friends as well as their kids. Some of the carriers were received on loan from manufacturers, but most we simply purchased.

Of course, carrier preferences are going to vary quite a bit depending on your body type and the age of the baby you're carrying. To try to find a balance in picking the best, our panel includes kids ranging from 4 months to 3 years old. Each carrier was worn for at least 30 minutes and rated on 13 different criteria such as ease of use, comfort, value, etc.

One important note: many of the carriers we tested require an infant insert to be used with smaller babies, which we did test. A few of these inserts are included, but most are purchased separately, so keep that in mind when comparing price points.

Other Carriers We Tested

Though the following carriers didn't quite beat out any of our top picks, there are a lot of great carriers at a wide variety of price points. If you have particular needs or a particular budget, one of these might be a better fit.

Lillebaby Essentials All Seasons 4-in-1

Lillebaby%20essentials

Lillebaby Essentials All Seasons 4-in-1

Much like the Lillebaby Complete, the Lillebaby Essentials All Seasons offers a comfortable, ergonomic design along with the ability to wear the straps backpack-style or crossback. The strap that spans your shoulder blades (when wearing back-pack style) is difficult to slide and nearly impossible to adjust while being worn.

The carrier does, however, boast some good-sized pockets as well as a flap over baby's back that can be unzipped to reveal 3D mesh for better airflow in warm weather. The waist panel provides solid support in front, but I found myself wishing there was a lumbar pad when the strap started digging into my still-squishy-four-months-postpartum lower back. You know what I'm talking about.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for kids from 15-45lbs, can use with babies 7 lbs and up (requires an infant insert which typically costs $25).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, on the hip, or on the back.

Infantino Carry On Multi-Pocket

Infantino carry on

Infantino Carry On Multi-Pocket

The Infantino Carry On Multi-Pocket carrier is exactly what it sounds like. This carrier has storage pockets all over the place. It can accommodate babies from 8-40 pounds facing in, facing out, and back carried. The facing out position is not ergonomic for baby's hips, but the other two positions are.

We liked the many zippered and stretch pockets as well as the easy-to-adjust seat and headrest. At $39.99, the price tag isn't bad either. What we didn't like was the comfort factor. The babies seemed happy enough, but the mamas testing the carrier didn't find it to be very comfortable. The shoulder straps and waist belt were a little too flimsy to provide enough support. However, if you're looking for storage, this carrier has you covered.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies/kids from 8-40lbs (no infant insert necessary).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, facing out, and on the back.

Baby Tula Ergonomic Carrier

Baby tula ergonomic

Baby Tula Ergonomic Carrier

The Baby Tula carrier makes a great go-to for moms who want a no-frills option that is quick and easy to shove in the diaper bag. It rolls up compactly and there is a decent-sized pocket on the front of the waist band. A snap-in hood can be pulled up to attach to the shoulder straps to keep baby's head out of the sun, support a sleeping baby, or offer privacy while breastfeeding. There's no place to stow the hood on the carrier aside from the one waist pocket, so it's not hard to imagine the hood getting misplaced at some point.

The leg openings are padded, which we thought was a nice touch. To use this carrier with infants, you'd need to purchase the infant insert, which is another $40. The insert doesn't secure into the carrier via snaps or buckles -- it just sits in there.

It certainly wouldn't fall out, but it might be tricky to get it centered. Amazon reviewer Tmhale had issues with the insert staying in place: “ the fit is weird in the carrier with the baby inside. She was never comfortable and the insert would move to the sides. Would work better if there was a way to connect it so it wouldnt move.”

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for kids from 15-45lbs, can use with babies 7 lbs and up (requires an infant insert which typically costs $40).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in or on the back.

Boba 4G Carrier

Boba 4g carrier

Boba 4G Carrier

The Boba 4G looks and feels a lot like a Tula with some extra bells and whistles. The 4G comes with an infant insert that snaps into place and adjusts to two different sizes as baby grows. The baby hood snaps to different tightness levels and folds away into a zipper pocket when not in use.

The 4G doesn't have the padded leg openings that the Tula has, but it does come with detachable stirrups to keep toddlers' legs in an ergonomic position for longer. There is a cell-phone-sized zipper pocket on the waistband and a purse strap holder on each shoulder. This carrier is clearly designed to accommodate babies of all sizes, but stays simple to use and easy to adjust. We did, however, find the waist buckle unusually stiff and difficult to release.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies/kids from 7-45lbs (includes an infant insert).

Carry Options: Can be worn Can be worn facing in or on the back.

Stokke Mycarrier Front and Back

Stokke mycarrier front and back

Stokke Mycarrier Front and Back

The design of the Stokke MyCarrier is unique on several different levels and required a bit of instructions-reading for us to be able to even put it on. The buckles and adjustment mechanisms are unlike any other carrier we tested. I hoped we'd be rewarded for our efforts with an exceptionally comfortable fit, but unfortunately we didn't feel it was very comfortable in the front carry positions.

The waistband didn't extend down far enough to sit around my hips, and instead dug into the top of my hip bones. I am only 5'4", so it's not as though my exceptional height was the issue. The back carry, however, was a much more pleasant experience. Two flat, metal back support rods form an X across the parent's back and transfer all the weight from your shoulders to your hips. We liked this as a back carrier, but the metal rods made it impossible to roll up and it wasn't great in the front carry positions.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies/kids from 7-33lbs (no infant insert necessary).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, facing out, or on the back.

Mountain Buggy Juno

Mountain buggy juno

Mountain Buggy Juno

The Mountain Buggy Juno seemed comfortable enough for the babies we tested with, but the moms unanimously felt the carrier was uncomfortable. One mom said she felt like she was wearing football shoulder pads, and it does look like it may be designed with broad shoulders in mind.

The material is very warm and the straps are well padded. The included infant insert is made of the same warm material as the carrier, so an infant being worn in the Juno would likely get pretty hot at temps any higher than "chilly." There are some nice pockets in the waistband, and the seat adjusts to the narrow setting with a single snap closure. The sternum strap is easier than most as it uses a magnetic closure instead of a clip, so the Juno isn't without its merits... it just wasn't all that comfortable for our test moms.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies/kids from 7-44lbs (includes infant insert).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, facing out, on the hip, or on the back.

Infantino Flip Advanced

Infantino flip advanced

Infantino Flip Advanced

The Infantino Flip Advanced is the most affordable carrier in our lineup, but unfortunately this is a situation where you get what you pay for. While the carrier is lightweight and easy to stuff into a diaper bag, the material feels very cheap and the waist belt isn't stiff enough to actually be supportive at all. That means you'll feel most of the baby's weight on your shoulders.

The straps don't easily slide through the buckles when adjusting, and there are no cushions around the straps right next to baby's face. It does offer an easy-to-adjust ergonomic seat... so that's something. The Flip Advanced might be alright for occasional use, but I was uncomfortable wearing it for only 30 minutes with a 12-pound baby.

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies/kids from 8-32lbs (no infant insert necessary).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in, facing out, and on the back.

Baby Bjorn Carrier Original

Baby bjorn original

Baby Bjorn Carrier Original

Of all the carriers we tried, the Baby Bjorn Original was by far the easiest carrier to put on. Its simple design and adjustment made us immediately think of grandparents and babysitters who need something quick and easy to understand.

However, there is no way to wear this carrier so that the baby’s hips look to be in a comfortable position. Baby’s legs just kind of dangle as opposed to being in the frog-leg position that’s supposed to be ideal. Compound that with the fact that there's no waistband (read: all the weight is on your shoulders), and it's clear why we didn't end up liking this carrier at all.

It caused pain in our shoulders almost immediately, and I would hate having my baby in it for any length of time knowing that she's not in an ergonomically correct position. Amazon reviewer Michelle had a similar experience: "This carrier is easy to put together and get the baby in and out of. However, I used this for a busy weekend we had (about 3 hours on Sat and 3 hours on Sun) and my back, neck and shoulders were killing me on Monday."

Size and Weight Restrictions: Good for babies from 8-25lbs (no infant insert necessary).

Carry Options: Can be worn facing in and facing out.

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