10 Best Baby Carriers for Dads

Why do dads need a baby carrier?

A baby carrier gives you the freedom to travel and move around easily whilst bonding with your baby.

When it came to researching the different types of baby carriers I was bombarded with the different types and I really felt overwhelmed. Most were aimed at moms and how to breastfeed in them. 

But there wasn’t much information guided towards dads. 

So in this guide, I’m going to break down the different types of baby carriers and go through the pros and cons to help you make a constructive decision.

You want to show the world to your baby but you get to an escalator and there are no elevators, or you need your hands free to take your baby on a hike.

No problem! With your baby safely in the baby carrier, you can navigate escalators, public transport and go for hikes with your baby. 

Pros:

  • You can use an elevator or escalator easier.
  • You have hands free to do household chores.
  • Hiking and taking walks is easier than using a push chair.
  • Using public transport and travelling by airplane is easier.
  • Bonding with your baby...is priceless!

Cons:

  • There is a learning curve when wearing baby carriers.
  • You have hands free to do household chores. (A pro and a con, depending on how you look at it!)
  • Baby carriers can be expensive.

As a new dad, thinking about purchasing a baby carrier can be the last thing on your mind. Your partner has just gone through the birth and you are all bonding as a new family. 

Other things will take precedence such as helping your partner with breastfeeding, for this, we have an article with 35 ways you can help your partner with breastfeeding.

But you will find that your new baby grows rather quickly! and a baby carrier is one of the essential items I needed. There were times when I preferred using the baby carrier over using a pushchair. 

TOP TIP: It is really important to make sure your baby’s bottom is below their knees, forming an m shape. 

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends this m shape to prevent injuries which may not be detected until adulthood.

Hip Dysplasia recommended baby positions:

Baby Harnesses

Not Recommended (narrow based carrier):

Better:

Thigh NOT supported to the knee joint. The resulting forces on the hip joint may contribute to hip dysplasia.

Thigh is supported to the knee joint. The forces on the hip joint are minimal because the legs are spread, supported, and the hip is in a more stable position.
 

Recommended baby position:

Thighs spread around the mother’s torso and the hips bent so the knees are slightly higher than the buttocks with the thighs supported.

Baby Slings

Not Recommended (cradle position):

Baby carriers that force the baby’s legs to stay together may contribute to hip dysplasia.

Better:

Baby carriers should support the thigh and allow the legs to spread to keep the hip in a stable position.

For more information please refer to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute: https://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/

Lets get started with choosing the right baby carrier for you!...

The baby carriers are numbered not in any particular order. But rather sequentially as I go through the different categories.

Soft Structured Carrier

First impressions:

When I think of a baby carrier this is what first springs to mind. It looks sturdy and robust.

What is it?

A soft structured baby carrier typically consists of a buckled, padded waistband, buckled padded shoulder straps and a back panel with a sleep hood. 

They are super quick to pop on and very supportive.  SSCs (soft structured carriers) do not require any learning or technique in the way a woven wrap does.

This style of carrier is very popular with parents looking for a carrier that’s quick and easy to put on, take off and adjust.

How old does baby have to be to be worn in a soft structured carrier?

You can carry infants who are between 7-12 lbs. in some carriers, be sure to check the manufacturer’s details for the exact weight. The soft, cushioned insert allows you to easily put your baby in and take your baby out of the baby carrier. 

It also ensures they stay in the ergonomic “M” shape or frog-leg position and maintain safe head and neck support while in the carrier.

Their upper weight limit varies and some go up to 20 kg/44 lb so you can carry a heavy toddler or pre-schooler in them. Please check the manufacturer’s specifications. SSCs appeal to most parents (and especially fathers) because they are easy and quick to use and to adjust.

Pros of Soft Structured Carriers:

  • You can carry your baby in a variety of positions, front, back, hip carry
  • Quicker learning curve
  • Can take off and put on easy.

Cons of Soft Structured Carriers:

  • Some require you to use an insert until your baby has good neck and head control.
  • Bulkier to carry than other types of baby carriers

Recommended Soft Structured Baby Carriers:

1. Good for a beginner:

I have a soft spot for the Ergobaby Original. It’s the first one I tried and it suited all of my needs.

Pros:

  • It comes it many different colors and patterns.
  • Wear on the front, hip or back as baby grows (~4-48 months/12-45lbs or start with newborn infant insert ~0-4Months/7-12lbs, sold separately)
  • Extra padded waistbelt & shoulder straps, fits multiple wearers from petite to larger body types (waistbelt adjusts 26-52", shoulder straps 28 to 47”).
  • Acknowledged as hip healthy by the International Hip Dsyplasia Institute. Deep, wide seat supports baby in an ergonomic natural "M" position in all carry positions.

Cons:

  • For smaller babies you will need to use an insert. But you can purchase one at the same time.
  • The Ergobaby original only allows you to wear the baby facing inwards. On your chest, hip or back. I put my baby facing me on my chest and this suited my needs.
  • The buckle at the back is awkward to clip without assistance. But after practice it is fine.

Why do I like it?

The Ergobaby original is great for a beginner. Good thick straps and back support.

2. Good for carrying your baby in a variety of positions:

Pros:

  • Adapts to your growing baby from newborn to toddler (7-45lbs and fits babies from 0-48 Months). No separate infant insert required. All carry positions included, face baby in or out, wear on the hip or back. Large storage pouch also included.
  • Includes UPF 50+ tuck away baby hood for sun and wind protection, privacy and easy breastfeeding. Machine Washable and Made from 100% Premium Cotton.
  • Easy, one-handed slider adjustment allows you to quickly switch baby to face in or out on the fly.

Cons:

  • For petite people you may find the fit isn't as good as other carriers due to the bulky straps.
  • Cost can be higher than other carriers. Be sure to check out the current price on Amazon.

Why do I like it?

Ergo is a reputable company that make good baby carriers. Good quality material and you can carry your baby in a variety of positions.

3. Good for functionality:

Pros:

  • removable, washable liner and one-person operation; Made of 600D tactical polyester
  • Easy to adjust with UTX buckles for babies and toddlers 8 to 33 pounds; Baby can face in or out depending on developmental stage
  • Made for Safety and Comfort – Meets safety requirements for baby carriers (ASTM and CPSIA); Features wide bottom to support baby’s hips
  • Carrier is designed with a wider base to provide more support to your child’s hips and thighs. Providing more support and having the legs spread, keeps the hip in a more stable position which helps prevent the development of hip dysplasia.

Cons:

  • No front pocket
  • The front shade hood could have been longer.

Why do I like it?

Built with dads in mind, so it caters for all sizes including big dads. It looks manly and awesome.

4. Good for when your baby is small:

Pros:

  • Two safe and ergonomic carrying positions: baby facing-in and baby facing-out.
  • Perfect for newborns - no infant insert needed. From birth to approximately 12 months.
  • Developed with paediatricians to give the proper support for baby's head, neck, spine and hips.

Cons:

  • The max weight is 11 kg.

Why do I like it?

Great for newborns and no extra insert needed. However, when your baby gets bigger you will need to move onto another carrier to accommodate them.

Backpack Baby Carrier

First impressions:

It looks like a hiking back pack. But instead of camping gear you have your little one in the back. 

I must say if I was a baby I would love being in one of those. It reminds me of the time I rode an elephant in India, buts that’s a whole other story!

What is it?

Usually a lightweight aluminium frame with a padded seat and lots of pockets, pouches and sun canopy. 

How old does baby have to be to be worn in a backpack baby carrier?

Babies who are at least 16 lbs. (6 months or so) are good candidates, as long as they have full head and neck control. Ask your paediatrician to confirm that your child can ride in a carrier. Make sure your child plus the gear in the pack weighs no more than 48 lbs.

Pros:

  • Allows you to go hiking safely with your baby
  • Lots of accessories like pockets, pouches and sunvisor.

Cons: 

  • Bulkier and heavier to carry than other baby carriers.
  • Usually more expensive

Recommended Backpack Baby Carriers:

5. Good value for money:

Pros:

  • Ideal for Children Between 6 - 48 months old (Max Child Weight: 33 lbs approx.)
  • Strong but lightweight, aluminum frame, weighs only 5.5 LBS
  • Multiple pockets including a Extra large back pocket for diapers and necessities, plus two water bottle pockets
  • Canopy can be easily removed or folded back out of the way

Cons:

  • Baby can not put feet in, only ony the sides.
  • Less padding than more expensive carriers

Why do I like it?

Less expensive than other carriers and lightweight.

6. Good for overall quality:

Pros:

  • For safe carrier use, child must be able to sit upright without assistance and weigh at least 16 lbs.
  • Maximum load: 22 kg/ 48 lbs. (combined weight of child and gear contents)

Cons:

  • it can make you a little top heavy. If you are going to be on any remotely steep hills I would recommend using trekking poles or a hiking staff to keep you stable.
  • There could be more padding in the shoulders and hip belt.

Why do I like it?

Lightweight and good padding. Very convenient to use and the weight spreads on the shoulders evenly with the hips.

7. Good for comfort:

Pros:

  • The built-in sunshade deploys quickly and easily from a dedicated zippered pocket. Max Load: 48.5 pounds
  • The adjustable double halo harness and child seat is surround by a fully framed and padded Cockpit for safety

Cons:

  • More expensive than some other baby carriers. Be sure to check the current price on Amazon.

Why do I like it?

Well thought out carrier with a good amount of storage space and convenient pockets. Osprey has excellent warranty service.

Baby Wrap

First impressions:

It looks interesting. It could be left on and not look too out of place. With or without putting a jacket over it.

What is it?

A single long piece of fabric that is tied around your body to form a harness for your baby. You can create a pouch on your hip, back or chest for your baby to sit. 

The baby’s weight is distributed across your shoulders and hips. By having the fabric wrapped over your shoulders and torsos, there is no need for rings or buckles like other baby carriers.

How old does baby have to be to be worn in a baby wrap?

Each wrap has it’s own weight limit depending on the fabric and the age of the child. Generally, 25 pounds is a good maximum baseline. 

Baby wrap for newborns can be used from birth, there is no minimum weight for full-term, healthy babies. For premature and babies with medical conditions, always consult your doctor.

Pros:

 
  • Easy to carry around
  • Weight is distrubed more evenly

Cons:

  • Have to check that the material is not too stretchy
  • Once you have taken it off you have to retie

Recommended Baby Wraps:

8. Good for convenience:

Pros:

  • unique one-way stretch slips on like a t-shirt
  • Ready-to-wear out of the box
  • The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has acknowledged the Baby K'tan Baby Carrier as a "hip-healthy" product when used as directed.
  • Safe for babies birth up to 35 lbs.

Cons:

  • Not as much back support as soft structured carriers.
  • There is a learning curve to get the right position.

Why do I like it?

It is light, compact and versatile. It comes ready to wear straight out of the box.

9. Good for using in water:

Pros:

  • For babies 8-35 lbs
  • You can use it every day in and out of the water, It's great for the pool, beach, shower, or a hot day.
  • Breathable and Quick Dry

Cons:

  • Fabric is not as stretchy as some other wraps
  • It takes some practice to learn how to use the wrap.

Why do I like it?

Less expensive than other wraps. Lightweight and breathable material.

Ring Sling

First impressions:

At first glance the ring sling looks like a long scarf. On closer inspection, it looks super easy to wear and practical to carry around.

What is it?

A ring sling consists of a single long piece of fabric with two rings on one end. The side with the rings drapes over your shoulder. You then wrap the other end of the fabric under the opposite arm. Lastly, you pull the fabric through and under the rings.

You put the baby on the other side of the rings. As I’m right handed I would put the baby on the left side so that I have my right arm free. To avoid shoulder pain and depending on the weight of the child, it’s helpful to switch sides every 30 minutes or so.

Top Tip: Check that the fabric is not twisted and use one with pleated fabric for added material strength

The rings need to be on your shoulder or just below your collarbone,  so baby does not slide when putting her into the pouch area. The tail fabric can be used as a head rest. Make sure to tighten the middle area of the fabric, if you don’t the pouch will sag and you will get neck and shoulder pain

Make sure your baby is not too low. You should be able to comfortably kiss the top of your baby’s head.

How old does baby have to be to be worn in a ring sling?

Each sling has its own weight limit depending on the fabric and the age of the child. Generally, 35 pounds is a good maximum baseline. You can generally wear a newborn in a ring sling right away (assuming there are no medical problems – be sure to consult a medical professional before officially wearing your newborn in a sling – just to be safe.)

front carries high on your chest for little babies and hip carries from 4-6 months or so (once the baby has good head control).

Recommended Baby Slings:

10. Good for an introduction to ring sling carriers:

Pros:

  • For babies and toddlers from 8-35 lbs
  • The soft bamboo fabric is easy to adjust through the rings.

Cons:

  • Not as much support as soft structured carriers.
  • Tail fabric is long and could get caught on objects

Why do I like it?

The fabric is breathable and lightweight. A variety of colors and patterns are available.

Bonus - Something interesting!

Why wasn’t this around a few years ago? It looks ingenious! 

Conclusion:

A baby carrier is a wonderful way to bond with your baby. My wife didn’t want to purchase one initially but she acknowledged later that it was a great purchase. 

A baby carrier was a great way to integrate our growing baby into our lives.

For the complete beginner, a soft structured baby carrier is a great introduction to baby carriers. It has a low learning curve and feels great.

The backpack baby carrier is great for hiking and longer trips. With the baby wraps and ring slings a great option due to the easy storage and versatility.

Which baby carrier have you used or are interested in?

Further reading:

For more information on correct baby carrier positions: International Hip Dysplasia Institute: https://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/

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