Parents love soft structured carriers because they go on fast, they're easy to adjust, and they're more comfortable than wraps or slings for longer wears with heavier babies. Dads also tend to prefer soft structured carriers over wraps and slings because they feel a bit manlier—more like wearing technical gear than like wearing your wife’s favorite accessory.
Whether this is your first baby or your second (but definitely if this is your second/third/etc.), you're going to want to have carrier or two on hand. Baby will be living in it.
These are the absolute best baby carriers, based on a variety of needs and preferences.
- Ergobaby Omni 360 ($150+)
- Sakura Bloom Scout ($180+)
- Artipoppe Zeitgeist ($297+)
- Sakura Bloom Onbuhimo ($160+)
More about these carriers (and carriers that didn't make the cut) below.
On a budget? Secondhand Ergobaby carriers are absurdly easy to find. You can also see below for additional brands that are worth scooping up if you find one gently used.
The Ergobaby does it all—inward-facing, outward-facing, back carry, and side/hip carry—and it does it all ergonomically. It is safe for babies 7-33 pounds and is extremely comfortable and supportive for both baby and babywearer (that's you), featuring a ton of adjustability and lumbar support to boot.
It comes in some nice neutral colors, even though, overall, it definitely has a sportier look than some of my other favorite carriers listed here. The sportier look and feel makes it great for hikes (it has a cool mesh option for hot days!) and makes the Omni 360 a fan favorite among dads.
Simple, gorgeous, compact. This carrier is absolutely beautiful and super functional too.
The Scout is definitely less comfortable than something like the Ergobaby Omni 360 for longer wears or extended hikes with heavy littles, but it's plenty comfortable for short errands or longer wears with lighter babes. Speaking of lighter babes, it fits newborns so well and is just as amazing for wearing larger babies and toddlers on the front or back.
The only bummer is that the Scout is inward facing front carry or back carry only, so if a front facing front carry option is important to you, you probably will want the Ergobaby Omni 360 instead (or also).
The Artipoppe Zeitgeist is gorgeous in that artsy, high-fashion sort of way that beautifully suits the super stylish among us. It's also comfortable for baby and babywearer, and ergonomic in all the important ways a baby carrier should be. The carrier is designed to be worn with straps crossed at the back, which many find simultaneously more comfortable and slightly more difficult to adjust. It can also be worn in the back carry position, but because it does not have a chest strap, it is not as secure in this position as other carriers. It does not accommodate an outward-facing forward carry position.
Available in a variety of stunning prints, many of which are listed at the $325 price point or higher, the Artipoppe Zeitgesit is admittedly expensive. That said, if fashion is your jam, you're likely used to paying more for great aesthetics. If you can see past the price tag (and it's understandable if you can't), you may discover a babywearing experience that makes you feel like your old fashionable self (+bebe).
The gorgeous Sakura Bloom Onbuhimo is ideal for older babies and toddlers (15-35 pounds) and is designed for back carrying, sitting older babies up a little higher than other carriers for a better view.
The Onbuhimo is tricky to put on, but—like anything—gets easier with practice. This carrier is not suitable for newborns, and although it can technically accommodate an inward-facing front carry position, it's best when worn on the back.
More Perfectly Lovely Baby Carriers
These are few popular baby carriers I don't love as much as the ones detailed above (and why)…
- Happy Baby Carrier ($148) – This is a fantastic-looking baby carrier that allows for two carry styles– inward-facing and back carry. The Happy Baby Carrier folds compact enough to fit in a diaper bag, is rated for kiddos up to 45 pounds, and is surprisingly comfortable given its minimal bells and whistles. [full review]
- Lillebaby Complete Original ($120+) – A lot of people love Lillebaby, and functionally, I understand why. Their carriers have all the bells and whistles, including lumbar support, well padded shoulder straps, and even neck support for tiny ones, all for a great price. But all those add-ons give the carrier a heavy duty “baby gear” look my vanity has a tough time accepting. If you're cool with the intense-looking neck support situation on the Lillebaby (it folds down once your baby doesn't need it anymore anyway), this might be the right carrier for you, especially at the very reasonable ~$120 price point. [full review]
- Ergobaby All-Position 360 ($160) – The predecessor to the Ergobaby Omni 360, the All Position 360 differs from the Omni in two important ways. One: It has a wide velcro waist strap with no lumbar support. Two: It requires an infant insert for babies 7-12 pounds, which is sold separately for $25. If you're planning to use a sling or wrap for the first few months anyway, the All Position 360 saves you $20. It can also be found on sale or lightly used readily, making it far less expensive than the Omni 360 despite the list price. [full review]
- Beco 8 ($180) – A simple carrier that does it all—inward-facing, outward-facing, back carry, and side/hip carry, the Beco 8 is rated for babies 7-45 pounds and is both comfortable and nice-looking for parents of all shapes and sizes. This carrier has a built-in zippered mesh panel which can be opened for extra airflow in hot climates or closed for cozy warmth in colder climates. [full review]
- Beco Gemini ($140+) – Similar to the Beco 8, but without the built-in mesh panel (though there is a cool mesh option). [full review]
- Boba ($140) – This carrier is nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done and is both comfortable and looks nice enough doing it. It can be used for infants—though an (included) infant insert is required, which is sort of a hassle—and toddlers 7-45 pounds. It can be used for inward-facing forward and back carry positions only. [full review]
- Tula Free-to-Grow ($159) – Tula is one of those brands that is oddly coveted by carrier collectors (a thing, apparently), and moms go especially crazy for their “special” patterns. I find the patterns to be a bit homely for my taste, but the Tula itself is a great two-position carrier and looks nice in most of the solid and neutral colors in which its sold. While this carrier isn't as special as some might lead you to believe, it's a solid option if you don't need outward-facing forward carry anyway. [full review]
- BabyBjorn Carrier One ($190) – This carrier makes the list because it's a favorite among dads and it meets my minimum criteria for inclusion, but it's not my favorite. It has a very European, technical look (which seems to be preferred by dads, but is overall not as feminine for moms). In the forward-facing position, the carrier is a bit of a crotch dangler, but it's very comfortable for both parties in inward-facing front carry and back carry positions. That—plus the fact that dads seem especially willing to wear BabyBjorn carriers—has to count for something. [full review]
Baby Carriers That Didn't Make the Cut
These are some popular baby carriers I don't like and why…
- BabyBjorn Carrier We: Similar to the BabyBjorn Carrier One, but without a front-carry option and slightly uglier.
- BabyBjorn Miracle: Slightly more supportive than the other BabyBjorn carriers (except the BabyBjorn One), but also significantly less attractive.
- BabyBjorn Original: The original crotch-dangler carrier that does not hold baby in a proper ergonomic position, this gets a no-go from us.
- Beco Woven Carrier: Very similar to the Boba, but the only colors available are limited editions, very expensive, and not very good looking.
- Ergobaby Original: Of the two position carriers out there, the Ergobaby Original is one of the uglier, more industrial looking ones due to its enormous front pocket. It also requires an infant insert for babies 7-12 pounds, which is sold separately for $25. This carrier can be found for super cheap online though, and if you’re on a budget, might be a great option regardless of the pocket situation.
- Ergobaby Organic: Same as the Ergobaby Original. The only difference is this one is made with organic fabric, which is basically just a marketing gimmick. These carriers have been discontinued. (Though if you're passionate about organic cotton, maybe this is important to you.)
- Infantino Flip Advanced: Many parents gravitate toward this good-looking, inexpensive, four-position carrier because it is… inexpensive. But at only about $25, you get what you pay for. It is uncomfortable for parents and unsupportive for baby. Lose lose.
- Lillebaby Essentials: Similar to the Ergobaby Original in look and function, and we don’t prefer it for similar reasons. It is marketed as being a “4-in-1 carrier,” but it doesn't accommodate a front outward facing carry.
- Tula Standard: Similar to the Tula Free-to-Grow, but requires an infant insert for babies 7-15 pounds.
Which is the Best Baby Carrier for You and Your Baby?
The best carrier for newborns… Ergobaby Omni 360, Sakura Bloom Scout, Happy Baby Carrier, Lillebaby Complete, Beco Gemini, Tula Free-to-Grow, Artipoppe Zeitgeist, and BabyBjorn Carrier One carriers can all be used without an infant insert from ~7 pounds. All carriers mentioned above are great for newborns except the Tula Toddler and Sakura Bloom Onbuhimo carriers, which are designed for older infants and toddlers.
The best carrier for forward-facing… Ergobaby Omni 360, Ergobaby All Position 360, Lillebaby Complete. The Beco 8, Beco Gemini, and Babybjorn Carrier One all also forward-face, but we don’t love baby’s position in these carriers compared to the ergonomic positioning in Ergobaby and Lillebaby carriers.
Consistent babywearing of any variety reduces infant fussing and crying by a whopping 43%, and the soft structured baby carrier is by far the easiest, most foolproof way to wear a baby.
For baby wrap recommendations, click here.
For ring sling recommendations, click here.
Note: There is no one universal “best,” especially when it comes to parenting. These are “The Best Soft Structured Baby Carriers” based on Also Mom's strict criteria, detailed here.