When I had my first baby, I didn’t know what kinds of products I needed or wanted. By the time my second one came around, I had a handful of baby products I knew I wanted to invest some money in for a quality product. The very first baby gear product on the list was a baby carrier.
Baby carriers are so necessary, especially if you want to continue to feel like a normal person after you have a baby and be able to get up and go. However, there are some carriers on the market that are just not worth your time or money. Investing in a good quality one is definitely worth the money and time you take to research it.
I’ve written a review for each one of the carriers that I discuss in this post, so if you would like to read a bit more about them, you can at each one of these links:
All of these carriers are excellent quality, and you would likely be relatively happy with any one of them, especially because many of them are similar in several ways. However, they all have their own little differences and I will explain them all below.
One of the biggest selling points when it comes to a carrier is how versatile it is. Most parents want a carrier that will grow with their baby so that they have the option of using it as long as possible. It is true that many parents will not use a carrier once their baby is toddler age, but you never know what your baby will like, even if you’ve had a baby before. It is great to have a lot of options.
The Lillebaby Complete has among the most positions available in the carrier world. A parent can use any one of the following positions (age appropriate):
- Fetal Position (0-3 months)
- Infant Facing Inward (0-12 months)
- Ergonomic Outward (6-18 months)
- Hip (6+ months)
- Toddler Inward (6+ months)
- Back (6+ months)
Now, some people might wonder why Lillebaby listed the fetal position, infant facing inward, and toddler inward as different positions, since they seem pretty similar. However, they are different based on the amount of neck support and how your baby sits in the actual carrier. It is important to stay on top of your baby’s growth milestones and always be aware of when they can move from position to position safely.
One thing I love about the Lillebaby Complete is that you don’t need to buy an extra newborn insert and it is completely capable of fitting a newborn as long as you follow the guidelines. Lillebaby suggests that you roll a receiving blanket, or something of a similar size, underneath your newborn’s bum in the carrier. This allows your baby to keep his or her legs inside the carrier and sit in a fetal position without sliding down.
Babies has such little support in their bodies that they can easily slump too far down your chest to where you aren’t supporting them correctly anymore if you don’t have something underneath their bottom to lift them up. Your baby should always be at a kissable distance at all times.
You can see how to adjust the carrier for a newborn here:
Many of the other carriers don’t have a hip position available. This is probably because it is not as needed or as comfortable as some of the other positions available. However, if you are a parent who frequently wears his or her child, you might find that the hip position is a lifesaver.
As your child grows, it becomes very difficult to be able to work around them if they are on your chest. Doing dishes or picking up toys off the ground can be nearly impossible. And don’t even get me started about how scary it is to cook while your baby is on your chest. At a certain point, it just isn’t safe to do some of these household chores with your growing and curious baby on your chest.
The hip position can help you keep your baby safe and to the side when you need to stir that pasta sauce or you are bringing plates to the table. It might not be the position you use most often, but it will definitely come in handy.
Ergobaby Omni 360
According to the Ergobaby website, the Omni 360 has four carrying positions. They are:
- Front Carry, facing parent (0+ months)
- Front Carry, facing out (5+ months)
- Hip Carry (6+ months)
- Back Carry (6+ months)
So, although the Ergobaby Omni 360 technically has only four positions, it actually has all the positions that the Lillebaby has as well, it just doesn’t list the different ages. You should be aware of when you should adjust the neck support for your baby as it grows, but you don’t have to adjust much else.
The Ergobaby is also newborn ready and you do not have to buy an insert to go with it. There are some other Ergobaby carriers that do require an insert, namely the 360 ALL POSITIONS, so don’t get them confused!
You do have to adjust things on the carrier to keep up with the size of your baby and these are all done with buttons. The neck support goes up and down with buttons and the seat width can be adjusted with buttons as well.
Check out how to adjust your carrier here:
The Ergobaby Embrace is the one carrier on this list that only takes your baby up until 18 months. For this reason, it is limited to only 3 positions and here they are:
- Newborn (under 23 inches)
- Baby Facing In (over 23 inches)
- Baby Facing Out (over 26 inches)
This is the only carrier on this list that measures your baby in height as well. This carrier can take your baby up to 25 pounds, or 18 months, but it is primarily for the early months of your baby’s life.
This carrier is great because it has the ease of putting on and taking off that a normal carrier does but it feels comfortable like a wrap. I look at this thing and just want to take a nap, it’s that comfortable.
Ths carrier doesn’t have buttons or snaps to adjust the seat width or the back height. Instead, you can adjust this carrier by folding the waistband to the correct height. It is pretty innovative and very easy to figure out. You can also adjust the width of the seat by pushing the straps narrower on your shoulders.
This might be a bit confusing, because it is unlike any other carrier. You can see how to adjust it here:
Infantino 4 in 1
The Infantino 4 in 1, as the name would suggest, has four different positions. They are:
- Infant Facing In (narrow seat)
- Baby Facing In (wide seat)
- Facing Out
- Backpack Carry
So this carrier has all the necessary positions that make it competitive in the carrier market that we are looking into. It does not have the hip carry, like the Ergobaby Embrace and the Tula Explore, but that position, as mentioned earlier, is not one of the most often used position that parents use.
The Infantino is capable of carrying babies from 8 pounds, so it isn’t as newborn ready as some of the other carriers. You might think, “Well, that is only one pound of difference, it can’t take a 7 pound baby that long to gain a pound of weight.”
And it is true, many babies do grow very quickly. However, I know from personal experience, that my babies took about a month to get to that 8 pound mark.
If your babies are on the bigger side, this probably won’t be an issue. A newborn can be carried in this carrier, since it has excellent neck support and it has an adjustable seat, so you can make it more narrow for your newborn. However, if you have smaller babies, it might be very frustrating that you cannot use your carrier for a while.
The Infantino 4 in 1 is easy to adjust with a combination of snaps, buckles, and toggles. You can see it in this video:
Like the Lillebaby Complete, the Tula Explore lists a lot of positions that are very similar to one another. The Tula Explore has 6 positions that are:
- Infant Front Carry
- Baby Front Carry
- Toddler Front Carry
- Facing Out
- Back Carry Baby
- Back Carry Toddler
Like the Infantino 4 in 1 and the Ergobaby Embrace, the Tula Explore does not have the hip carry feature–even though it lists 6 different positions.
You can manipulate this carrier to be more comfortable for your baby at every stage that he or she is in through adjusting the seat width and the neck support.
The Tula Explore can be used with a newborn and you do not need any extra inserts. The standard Tula carrier does require a newborn insert, so make sure that you are shopping for the Explore model, if you want to avoid having to buy and keep track of another product. The explore has the same weight requirements as the standard carrier, so it seems like the product most parents would want to get.
The adjustments on the Tula are mostly made with buttons and snaps. You can see how to use these adjustments here:
The Lillebaby Complete comes with a few different fabric choices. They are mostly classic colors that will never go out of style, which is nice when you are planning on having more than one baby.
This carrier also is made of a sturdy, natural fiber similar to canvas. It also comes in a mesh if you are looking at the all seasons version.
Ergobaby Omni 360
The Ergobaby Omni 360, like the Lillebaby complete, is made of 100% cotton that feels like a canvas. It is sturdy and durable and can withstand frequent washing.
As mentioned above, the Ergobaby Embrace feels more like a wrap than the typical carrier. It is made of a super soft knit fabric. It is still durable and thick enough that it won’t get misshapen, but it is very soft and cozy.
Infantino 4 in 1
Many people wonder how the Infantino 4 in 1 can be so much less expensive than the other carriers that I discuss in this post. This is because it is made from synthetic material, for one thing. It is made from polyester, which might not have the texture that you find ideal, but it isn’t abrasive. The carrier is easy to clean, but might not be as breathable as other natural fibers.
It is also made in China, which is why it could be manufactured at such a low cost.
The Tula Explore, like the Lillebaby Complete and the Ergobaby Omni 360, is made from 100% cotton. This fabric is breathable, sturdy, and comfortable.
The Lillebaby Complete has a pocket that is big enough to fit some keys and your wallet. It is located right on the front of your carrier and is easy to access, even with your baby in the carrier.
The All Seasons complete has a zippered pocket that is located on the flap that can pull down to expose a mesh liner in summer seasons. This is a great feature, but it makes it impossible to have a large pocket, so it is really only big enough to hold a credit card or two. It is also frustrating because the zippered pocket folds down so you can use the mesh panel, and then you can’t use your pocket at all. It would have been nice to have a pocket on the front waistband or on a strap on this model instead.
Ergobaby Omni 360
The Ergobaby Omni 360 definitely wins the prize for the best pocket. This carrier not only has the biggest pocket available from the listed carriers, but it is also detachable. Some of the other carriers have easy to access pockets, but it can be difficult to find what you want in the pocket because it is usually on the front of your baby somewhere.
The Omni 360 has a large pouch that can easily fit a travel size wipes envelope, a diaper, keys, and a small snack. And you can pull it on and off easily when you need to.
The Ergobaby Embrace does not have a pocket.
Infantino 4 in 1
The Infantino 4 in 1 does not have a pocket.
The Tula Explore has a small pocket located on the front waistband of your carrier. This pocket is not as substantial as the Omni, but it is much bigger than the Lillebaby Complete all seasons, though it is about the same size as the standard Lillebaby Complete.
You should be able to carry your keys and a wallet easily in this pocket, but fitting much else in there could be a challenge.
Tula does offer an additional accessory that you can buy–a hip bag. This is big enough for all of the above mentioned essentials along with some baby essentials like a diaper and travel size wipes pack. You can carry this hip bag on your shoulder or around your waist like a fanny pack so you can wear it while you are carrying your baby. One nice thing about these bags is that you can buy them in the same print as your carrier, so it looks like it came in a set.
If you have read any of my reviews on nursing pillows or carriers, you know how important I think back support is. Especially for new mothers who have higher levels of Relaxin in their bodies after giving birth, it is important to always make sure your posture is on point. Your body may be more flexible, but it is slowly going back to normal, and you want to make sure that you have the right support as your body adjusts back.
I love, love, love the Lillebaby back support. It has a stiff waistband that goes around your hips and will help to distribute the weight of your baby, but it also goes a step further. The carrier has a removable lumbar support in the back. It is much taller than some of the other models of carriers and it helps your posture so much.
Ergobaby Omni 360
Ergobaby Omni 360 did not always have the best back support, but its most recent model of the Omni 360 does have some lumbar support. The lumbar support for the Lillebaby still seems a bit bigger, but the Omni definitely is a contender for the most supportive carrier.
The Ergobaby Embrace has a pretty basic back support. It does have the waistband that helps to distribute the weight of your baby evenly on your back. The straps are also very supportive in the cross position on your back. However, it does not have extra lumbar support and it does not have a back carry option.
Many parents move on to the back carry option when their child is a toddler and becomes so heavy that their front really can’t handle the weight anymore. You cannot wear the Embrace on your back, so the weight constraints are limited. In fact, even wearing your baby facing outward can put quite a bit of strain on you. This is an excellent carrier for the first year of life, but if you’re looking for a very long term carrier, you might want to look more closely at the other options.
Infantino 4 in 1
Though the Infantino 4 in 1 does not have a full on lumbar support pad like the Lillebaby Complete, it does have good back support. Any carrier that has a sturdy waistband will distribute the weight of your baby more evenly on your back, shoulders, and hips.
The Tula Explore, like the other carriers on this list, has a waistband that will help to evenly distribute the weight of the baby onto the rest of your body. This carrier does not have a lumbar support pad like the Lillebaby, and the waistband is not as thick as some of the other carriers, but it does the job of distributing the weight.
All of the carriers that I reviewed on this post were similar in that they do not require a newborn insert. They are all completely ready as they are. They do have different weight constraints, so how ready they are for newborns is debatable. However, they do not require the purchase of any other accessories to keep track of to use them for the weights I list below.
This is a big feature of the carrier, and for me, when I am buying a carrier, the weight is one of the first things that I look at.
I mention the average weight of babies at a lot of different ages, and I got all of that information from Babycenter.
The Lillebaby Complete can handle babies 7-45 pounds. This means that it is equipped to carry babies from newborn until well after their toddler years. In fact, many children are about 6 years old before they weigh that much.
While having a carrier might be nice for a 6 year old, there is no way in heck that I would be strapping my kindergartener to first grader on my back and carrying them around long term. So it’s great that that is an option, and that the carrier can handle that kind of weight, but it’s definitely something you probably won’t need to use that long. Nice option though.
Ergobaby Omni 360
Like the Lillebaby Complete, the Ergobaby Omni 360 can handle 7-45 pounds. Again, you might not need you carry your child for that long, but at least you know you have a very durable carrier if you need it.
Also, the carrier would be especially convenient for parents with children who have special needs. Their abilities may be a bit slower than the average child and you might find that you are carrying them for longer into their lives.
The Ergobaby Embrace is made for babies that are 7-25 pounds. Before you disregard this carrier right away, just remember that the average child weighs 25 pounds at 21 months, so just shy of their second birthday. The average child is walking well before that and likely won’t want to be held often in a carrier.
Another thing to remember about this carrier is that it does not have a back carrying position. You can still have your baby on your front facing in or out, which keep most kids happy, but you won’t want to carry a child much bigger than 25 pounds on your front for long periods of time.
Infantino 4 in 1
The Infantino 4 in 1 is capable of carrying babies 8-32 pounds. So this is a tad bit later than the other carriers that are ready to carry newborns of 7 pounds. The average baby is born at 7 pounds and it can take a little less than a month to gain weight to 8 pounds.
Though it isn’t the end of the world to not be able to use your carrier right away, I personally found it frustrating when I was unable to carry my newborn in the carrier right away. The carrier comes in handy so much especially when you have multiple children and are in that first month where you are learning to juggle everyone’s needs all at once.
The average child weighs about 32 pounds at about 3 years, which is a great maximum weight point. At three, many children want to be walking on their own if they can.
The Tula Explore can handle babies 7-45 pounds, like the Lillebaby Complete and the Ergobaby Omnni 360. As mentioned earlier, this is a very large range and you might not need to carry your baby that long, but it is great to have the option.
Overall, these carriers are all great models. They are so similar that it is difficult to definitively say which one is the very best, but there are things I like about each of the carriers. These are all my opinion, but this is how I would grade the carriers:
Best back support
Ergobaby Omni 360
Infantino 4 in 1
Best fabric prints
So which of these features mean the most to you? I am someone who sometimes experiences back pain, especially after a 9 month pregnancy, so back support was my number one concern. However, any one of these features are important. All of these carriers are great quality products, and you will likely be happy with any one of them. Their specific feature is just the cherry on top.