Men with baby carriers — not just a joke in romantic comedies anymore! It’s also been scientifically proven that infants dig being next to dad just as much as their mothers. So, if you’re going to be lugging your kid around for almost 3 years (and you’re going to be), you should get a baby carrier that’s part athleisure-wear, part ergonomic science, and very securely fastened.
Carrier Or Wrap?
The first thing you need to know is that BabyBjorn has a lot of company, and most of it features similar functionality: 3 (or 4) adjustable positions, breathable (and sometimes organic) fabric, and buckles and straps for days. The other popular option is one of those flower-print wraps you see Yoga Pants Mom sporting. These should remain as mysterious to you as whether or not your wife actually goes to yoga in those pants because … well, because babies can do a number on your masculinity, so keep the easy decisions easy, ok?
Get One For Every Age
The second thing you need to know is that your carrier should be good to go for a bunch of different ages. Get a carrier that can do the extra-cradling, front-facing newborn position, but also the weekend backpacking toddler mode for a few years down the road.
The Best Way To Carry
Front, back, side-to-side? The dads who live in places without a Buy Buy Baby (like the Bhil people of central India) know how to carry a kid without slipping a disc. The basic idea is that, once they’re no longer infants, you want to keep them as close to your spine as possible, either on the back or the hip. We’re the only culture that still insists on toting a 4-year-old on your belly like Kuado.
Pros: As you’d expect from the originators, the BabyBjorn One Air (which sounds like it’s available at Foot Locker) is an all-in-one carrier that gets high marks for its ergonomic design, but the big feature is the breathable fabric. As one Amazon reviewer touted, “Compared to a baby wrap, this is immensely easier to get your baby into. It took me literally 5 minutes to get the fit around the hips and the straps at a comfortable position.” Although getting your baby into their carrier isn’t a competition. Yet.
Cons: Baby Gear Lab wasn’t terribly impressed by the Air’s airiness, saying “It is also bulky and did not perform well during our testing in both the Baby and Parent Comfort categories.”
Age: Newborn – 3
Max Weight: 33 lbs, Infants 8 lbs
BabyBjorn One Air ($230)
Pros: Winner of a JPMA Award — a big honor in the juvenile product manufacturing game — the Juno looks like a bulletproof vest (Editor’s note: has no bullet-stopping capabilities), but is one of the best carriers for couples. The PNMag reviewer says, “My husband is a big guy and I am quite the opposite. We can easily take turns with the carrier without it being a daunting task of adjusting straps.” It was also highly-rated for the ability to transition your sleeping baby from your chest to the crib with its magnetic sternum strap.
Cons: Not as well padded as some of the others in the lineup. Also, there was a little concern about the height of the fabric when you kid faces out. Cool Mom Picks says, “I was actually nervous about the placement of my baby’s face which was partially obscured by the fabric.” Of course, if your baby is a tiny ninja, that could be considered plus.
Age: Newborn – 4
Max weight: 44lbs, Infants 7.7lbs with the insert (included)
Mountain Buggy Juno ($180)
Pros: The Jeep Wrangler of baby carriers, the Onya Outback is great for getting outdoors with a fabric that repels moisture and mud. It also has a “gender neutral and somewhat rugged appearance makes it a favorite among dads,” according to Baby Gear Lab, which gives the Outback an Editor’s Choice award.” It’s also more versatile than your average carrier: Strap it to any chair with a back and it converts instantly to a high chair. Or a baby interrogation tool.
Cons: There aren’t too many haters out there, but one pain is that if you have a newborn, you’re going to need a separate “Baby Booster” insert.
Age: Newborn – 4
Max weight: 45 lbs, Infants 7 lbs (with insert)
Onya Outback ($160)
Pros: From the people that brought you the stroller that looks like a UFO comes a baby carrier that looks like — a baby carrier. The MyCarrier has the requisite set-ups you’re looking for like newborn head cushioning and toddler backpack. But it also has the added feature of “masculinity.” The Dad Network writes, “Anything that makes a man feel like a man is a winner in my eyes, and this really does. From the moment you take it out the box and touch, see and smell (not so much smell) the material, you know it’s made well.”
Cons: Another expensive option (for that price you’re getting organic cotton), the Stokke also has three separate parts. This may be too complex for those that are sleep deprived or have trouble deciphering IKEA instructions.
Age: Newborn – 3
Max weight: 33 lbs, Infants 7.7 lbs
Stokke MyCarrier ($219)
Pros: Baby Gear Lab gave the Ergobaby the bronze in their Editor’s Choice Awards, saying it’s a solid carrier, that got points for versatility. At least one parent on Amazon found that you could use the 360 for infants without the insert (although Ergobaby may have an issue with that.)
Cons: “The Velcro waistband sucks,” says Tina on Amazon.com. “It’s loud and you can’t adjust it once it’s on without undoing the whole thing and then re-velcroing it.” So until a young Zach Braff makes silent Velcro available, naptime is being cut short.
Age: Newborn – 4
Max weight: 7-33 lbs, Infants 7-12 lbs with the use of the insert (sold separately)
Ergobaby 4 Position 360 ($180)
Pros: It’s the “just in case” carrier that you can easily toss into a backpack, briefcase … maybe a valise if you’re traveling by steamer ship. Adventurous Parents took their daughter on a 22 km (roughly a million miles) hiking trip in Banff National Park and this lightweight carrier held up against blowing snow. Although it’s probably good for running to Trader Joe’s, too.
Cons: The fact that it isn’t one of those bulky “real” carriers is also its drawback. Heidi on Amazon.com says “The straps were not padded — which makes it more portable — but after 10 – 20 minutes of the straps digging into my shoulders and back, it was not so comfy anymore.”
Age: 1 – 4
Max weight: 45 lbs, minimum 15 lbs
Boba Air ($65)
Pros: It’s a wrap. Which is to say that without the straps, buckles and velcro, it’s about as easy to put on and take off as you think. Parents have said that this most mimics the womb (obviously not in an anatomical way), and Baby Gear Lab reports, “after struggling with fabric a mile long and complicated how-to videos with the Moby and Boba wraps, the simplicity of the K’tan brought a welcome sigh of relief.”
Cons: Plan on getting two. “If you and your significant other plan on both using the carrier and do not have a similar build, you will need to buy different sizes,” says PNMag. But since it’s 3 times cheaper than all the other baby carriers, splurge and buy 2. Or buy 20 — it’s called free will!
Age: Newborn – 3
Max weight: 35 lbs, Infant 8 lbs
Baby K’Tan Active ($60)