As a mother who has tried EVERYTHING to calm down a crying baby and put him to sleep, I have to tell you, baby wearing is what you need.
It works like a charm for fussy babies, teething babies, colicky babies, overtired babies, curious babies, breastfed babies, and all kinds of babies that just refuse to be heavenly sleeping angels as much as you want them to. This thing does the trick!
Best Soft Structured Baby Carriers
Here is your guide to babywearing and 5 of the best soft structured baby carriers on the market:
Ergobaby Four Position 360 – Best top of the line Soft Structured Baby Carrier
Ergobaby is a worldwide trusted brand offering award-winning baby carriers and wraps. Its mission is to help build a global community of confident parents by encouraging bonding between parents and babies with their ergonomic baby wearing solutions.
The Four Position 360 Baby Carrier has an elegant design and comes in 10+ colors to ensure each parent finds their perfect match. The color options include Azure Blue, Black/Camel, Dusty Blue, Green, Dewey Grey, Midnight Blue, Moonstone, Dusty Blue, Pure Black, and Taupe/Lilac.
With four ergonomic wearing positions, Ergobaby four position 360 carrier offers enviable baby wearing diversity. Thanks to its new, supportive wide waistband and padded shoulder straps, it provides maximum comfort for the person wearing the baby.
The structured bucket seat guarantees your baby is always in an ergonomic frog-leg, seated position with his spine in the optimal “C” position. Its wide baby weight range and sturdy material guarantee you years of use. It comes with an infant seat (sold separately) that is appropriate for carrying infants 7-12 lbs. (3.2-5.5 kg) and the maximum baby weight is 33 lbs. / 15 kg.
- Its 4 ergonomic positions allow carrying your baby Front-Inward, Front-Outward, Hip, and Back.
- Its extra-wide Velcro waistband and padded shoulder straps provide additional comfort for parents.
- It is acknowledged as a “hip-healthy” product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
- It features a wide baby weight range (7*-33 lbs. / 3.2* – 15 kg).
- Appropriate for newborns (with infant insert)
- A structured bucket seat ensures your baby is ergonomically seated in all 4 positions.
- It offers extra head, neck, and back support for the baby.
- The sleeping hood provides added privacy while nursing.
- This is one of the most expensive baby carriers currently on the market.
- The Velcro waistband is a bit noisy.
- The clasp behind the shoulders is a bit lower than what would feel easiest to connect by yourself.
- They could make use of a pocket or two where you can put your phone/keys, etc.
If you don’t have any budget limits and you want a versatile baby carrier that offers the oh-so-enjoyable-for-babies front carry facing out position, the Four Position 360 Baby Carrier is the obvious choice for you.
Onya Baby Outback – Best Soft Structured Baby Carrier for Hot Weather
Onya Baby is another brand that is famous for its award-winning soft-structured baby carriers. If you are all about durability, gender-friendly design, and cool extra features, then you will fall in love with Onya and its comfortable soft-structured baby carriers.
As I mentioned above, one of the best things about Onya Baby carriers is their gender-friendly design. The Onya Baby Outback Baby Carrier, in particular, comes in 5 colors that are equally appropriate both for moms and dads. The color choices include Jet Black, Burnt Orange/Slate Gray, Chocolate Chip/Ivory, Chocolate Chip/Olive Green, and Orchid/Slate Grey.
Onya Baby Outback is a premium baby carrier. It has a durable exterior that’s water-resistant, which is a huge plus if you are hiking in the hills with your baby and it suddenly starts raining. It’s the air-mesh lining, though, that is the feature it is most famous for. Strategically located, it makes sure the front (where the real heat source comes from) stays fairly cool and dry, which is a great solution for babywearing in hot weather. Another feature Onya Baby Outback boasts about is the integrated seat that transforms almost any adult chair into a safe baby seat (4 – 48 months).
- The integrated chair harness with a safety strap makes it super easy for you to turn practically any chair into a baby seat.
- It easily fits any body type (including petite moms and dads).
- You get two pockets – one is small (for keys, money, etc.) and one is bigger (for an extra diaper, a phone, etc.).
- The breathable mesh guarantees both you and the baby stay cool in the heat.
- Its gender-friendly design is perfect for baby-wearing dads.
- It is loaded with compatible extras like chewie teething pads, hipster bags, waist belt extenders, zippered mesh storage bags, etc.
- Although lightweight, it could fold a little easier.
- It has no front-facing out option (but it still can be worn both as a front-pack and a backpack so that not a deal-breaker).
- If you want to use it with a newborn, you have to buy a carrier booster (it’s not included in the price of the carrier).
If you are parents who love being outdoors, hiking, traveling, and enjoying nature, this durable and comfortable Onya Baby Outback carrier is what you need. Thanks to its special features and not overly girlish design, it is a favorite among both moms and dads (especially dads).
BABYBJORN – Best Advanced Design Soft Structured Baby Carrier
The Swedish family-owned company for baby products Babybjörn offers some of the best-selling soft-structured baby carriers on the market. Its mission is simple – to develop good, functional, and safe products for babies and toddlers.
BABYBJORN Baby Carrier One has as a simplistic and elegant design (not that we would expect anything else from a Swedish brand). It comes in Khaki, Brown/Black, Black, Silver, and Black/Silver. You also get 2 options for the fabric (cotton mix or mesh).
This soft carrier is a best-seller for a reason. For several reasons, to be precise. First, we will all admit it looks fabulous with its stylish appearance and classy color combinations. Second, it offers multifunctional front and back carrying, which ensures its long usage with your growing baby (perfect from newborn to 3 years). Third, unlike some baby carriers, this one is really easy to use without assistance (regardless of the positions you are using it in).
- Thanks to one of its unique features, you can single-handedly move the baby from the front to the backpack position.
- The innovative zip system makes adjusting the leg settings a piece of cake.
- Its ergonomic design makes it comfortable both for the baby and the parent.
- It is easy to put on and take off. Unassisted.
- It’s machine washable.
- It has no zipped pocket.
- It is a bit bulkier, compared to other carriers.
- It has a high price tag attached to it.
If you are parents who like simplistic design, clean shapes, and forms, BABYBJORN Baby Carrier One will not leave you disappointed. It has a lot of innovative features (like moving the baby from front to back with one hand and easily adjusting the leg settings) and is a great purchase for parents who can allow spending more for supreme quality.
Tula Ergonomic Carrier – Best Custom Size Soft Structured Baby Carrier
One of the leaders in the baby-carrying industry, Tula Baby is a brand famous for its high-quality baby carriers combining comfort and style. Its mission is to promote babywearing through its products, education, and community outreach.
Tula’s soft structured ergonomic canvas carriers come in a wide range of prints and colors to suit every parent’s taste. Solid color options include: Indigo, Cloudy, and Urbanista and printed options include: Archer, Betty, Bliss Bouquet, Concentric, Confetti Pop, Equilateral, Gray Zig Zag, Later Gator, London, and Melody, among others.
The feature we like the most in Tula’s carriers is that they actually come in 2 separate sizes (baby size and toddler size). Unlike other baby carriers that use different adjustments to best fit your growing baby, Tula ergonomic baby carriers are produced in two different sizes. Tula baby carriers and Tula toddler carriers make sure you can comfortably and safely wear your child from infancy to toddlerhood.
- The wide seat base ensures your child’s comfort and prevents the so-called dead leg.
- The extra padding on the straps makes all the difference when it comes to parents’ comfort.
- The longer padded area on the waistband offers extra support. And hides your love handles…
- Its design diversity is out of this world. You simply cannot check all their designs and not fall in love with at least one.
- It doesn’t offer the front-facing out option.
- It is among the most expensive baby carriers on the market.
- If you want to use it with an infant, you have to buy the Tula infant insert (not included in the price of the carrier).
- If you want to use it through your child’s toddlerhood, you have to buy both the baby carrier and the toddler carrier.
With its wider seat and higher body, Tula’s Ergonomic Carrier offers unparalleled security and comfort for the baby. If you are a parent who doesn’t put up with less than outstanding craftsmanship and quality, you won’t regret buying this Tula model.
Boba 4G Carrier, Dusk – Best Value Soft Structured Baby Carrier for Money
Boba is all about safe and stylish babywearing. They are firm supporters of the bond between baby and parent and this can be seen in the high-quality baby carriers, baby wraps, and baby-wearing accessories they produce.
Following the trends of simplistic design, the boba 4g carrier has clean shapes and a design that’s equally suitable for hiking in the mountains and long city walks. It comes in 3 plain colors (Dusk, Slate, and Moab) and 5 prints (Kangaroo, Peak, Tweet, Vail, and Verde Organic).
Boba 4G carrier is loaded with features we love. With a weight capacity of 7 – 45 lbs (with infant insert included), it surely is made to grow with your child. Both the waist belt and the shoulder straps are adjustable so it easily fits parents of all sizes and shapes. On top of all this, the integrated infant insert snaps into two positions (7-10 pounds and 10-15 pounds). Did I mention it is included in the price?
- The zippered waist belt pocket comfortably fits your keys, money, etc.
- It is suitable from birth up to 45lbs without having to purchase any extra infant inserts.
- It takes up less space than other similar carriers.
- It is very easy to adjust it between different wearers.
- Thanks to the lengthening straps, it’s easy to nurse in it.
- The detachable hood takes up very little space, yet it is a surprisingly nice size.
- The straps don’t cross behind your back, which would be a nice feature, especially when you are wearing heavier kids.
- There is no extra padding on the leg holes, which would add extra comfort to the child.
- The padding of the waistband is soft (and more flexible) which takes out a point or two from the comfort score, especially with heavier kids.
If you need a sturdy carrier and can go without the front-facing out a position similar carriers are offering, Boba 4G Carrier is your best option. It also offers the best value for money so it will definitely be a purchase you won’t regret!
The Pros and Cons of Baby Wearing
Wearing your baby in a baby carrier or a sling is pretty much being pregnant all over again. Yes, there’s the extra weight of the baby you have to carry around but, hey, at least your feet don’t swell and you don’t suffer from heartburn! Oh, the glorious days of pregnancy… Thank God they are over. But I digress.
Once you get used to the convenience baby wearing offers, you will never (ever) again want to go back to the buggy because when baby wearing:
- Your hands are free. Now you can actually drink that cup of coffee that you just reheated for the 5th time today.
- Steps are no longer an issue. Any mother who has had to maneuver a flight of steps with a baby pram will know what I mean.
- You and your baby can easily get into an elevator TOGETHER. I am looking at you, extremely tiny elevators. No, the huge mirror does not compensate for the lack of space when you have a pram AND a baby to get to the next floor.
- Crowded places don’t make you sweat. How come? Well, prams are heavy. And I don’t even refer to the pram’s weight! When you put your baby in a pram, you inevitably feel obliged to fill the pram’s basket with God-knows-what AND attach a diaper bag equaling your own weight to it. Add to this the fact that prams take up A LOT of space and you’ll get the picture.
- Happy baby
Did you know that babies who are held cry less and are less fussy? It is hard for us, 21st-century parents living in the developed world to digest the fact that in undeveloped cultures where baby wearing is the norm, babies cry for as little as just a few minutes per day. I am not sure if we will be able to achieve the same success but baby wearing vastly reduces the time babies cry.
As we all know (some of us from experience), a crying baby means an unhappy baby and even unhappier parents. When the baby is crying often and for longer periods of time, his stress hormone levels are often kept at their highest which is devastating for the baby’s developing brain.
Just think about it. When the baby is crying, he is stressed and cannot do anything else but… cry. When the baby is calm, he obviously doesn’t cry so he has better things to do with his time, like observing the world around him, learning about it, and basically directing his energy towards more constructive things than making his parents go nuts with his crying.
- Rock-a-bye, baby
As much as I love baby swings, they can be used primarily indoors. What about when you want to get a breath of fresh air, when you need a walk in the park to clear your mind or when you have a hundred errands to run today? As you (probably) know, babies sleep a lot during the day (probably to compensate for the sleepless nights we apparently have to endure as new parents).
So, how do you manage to get outside the house and actually get stuff done when you have a young baby who is always either hungry or sleepy? Get a baby carrier! Babies love feeling your warmth and just adore the rocking movements of your body as you desperately try to find your keys (for example). The result – your baby drifts off before you manage to say, “I found them!” (the keys, that is).
- Dads rock it
One of the best features of baby wearing (and my personal favorite) is that dads can baby wear as well! They are not only physically stronger than moms but they are also usually rather enthusiastic about baby wearing as well. Perhaps they find in baby wearing a great way to bond with the baby or a chance to get the baby off mommy’s hands so she can finally wash her hair…
I don’t know what it is and it’s probably different for different fathers. But, judging by the number of fathers I am seeing babies wearing, they must love it. Oh, and they look so cool and sexy in the eyes on other moms. But I digress.
P.S. Grannies and grandpas can do it as well. Need I say more??
- Discreet breastfeeding
If you are a breastfeeding mama, baby wearing is for you. It makes it so easy to just flip it out and nurse/comfort your baby without having to worry about the curious looks of passersby. That’s super convenient, especially during the first few months when the baby is hungry all the time. No need to search for a place to breastfeed your baby anytime they start crying. You just do your business and nurse wherever you are without anyone noticing.
- Heavy shopping
As with every product on the market, baby carriers have their cons as well and one of them is that they are not handy when you have a lot of shopping to do. The extra weight of shopping bags does not go well with the extra weight of the baby, resulting in your back and neck feeling not happy about it. If you plan on grocery shopping for the week with your baby, perhaps a pram would be more convenient for you.
Sorry, twins (multiples) mamas, but baby wearing feels most comfortable with one baby. I know it sucks and, even though there are some twin baby carriers on the market, carrying two babies is a real challenge…
- Keep walking
One particular drawback of baby wearing I noticed when my baby was younger is that you have to keep on moving for him to sleep. Besides that, both slings and soft structured baby carriers work best when you are in upright position. This means that you cannot just sit down and take your breath whenever/wherever you want.
- Putting it on
Let’s face it. With baby carriers and baby slings, you need some practice to master the put-it-on/take-it-off process, especially when you try to balance your baby along the way. With the sling, it was a matter of 3-4 trial and errors for me before I could do it with my eyes closed. With my baby carrier, I needed just one try before I got the hang of it.
Hint: Use a baby-sized stuffed animal or a doll while you practice – it will make all the difference!
There are, like, a thousand and one types of baby carriers on the market. I know this is a decision that’s hard to make. Whatever baby carrier you go for, make sure it is produced by a reliable brand. There are, of course, different price ranges and you will certainly find the best baby carrier to fit your budget. Still, we strongly suggest you go for quality over a few saved bucks as this is your child’s safety and comfort we are talking about.