If you’re looking for the perfect baby carrier for your newborn, you’re not alone! As a new parent you want to make sure that you find something comfortable and safe. I’ve used baby carriers with all 3 of my kids, and I started using carriers when they were newborns.
The newborn period is such a sweet phase (and a short one) and it’s an awesome feeling to be able to cuddle your baby without having to hold them in your arms all day. I mean, some of you are probably fitter than I am and could manage it, but I don’t go to the gym that much and frankly my arms aren’t toned and I don’t really want a challenge.
So a baby carrier for a newborn?
Baby carriers absolutely can be used for newborns. In the newborn period there are some special considerations when it comes to babywearing, and not all carriers are appropriate for very small babies.
Best Carriers for Newborns
Of course there are loads of carrier options, and I haven’t used them all! I’ve used lots of them though, and these have, for me, been the best bets for the newborn period. (For older babies and toddlers my favorite is hands down the Ergo).
I’ll talk about my favorite newborn carriers below, as well as discuss some special considerations for using a carrier with a newborn. I’ll also give an overview of some different carrier options (lots of parents LOVE ring slings and woven wraps, too!!)
But first –
Is a baby carrier right for you?
Baby carriers allow you flexibility that other baby gear does not.
Strollers have their place, but sometimes a stroller isn’t convenient or even possible to use – in overcrowded places, with lots of stairs, etc. And if you’re traveling with a newborn, it will be much easier if you’ll be getting through airport security with a baby carrier at your disposal!
Baby carriers allow you to move around easily with your baby, in almost any situation, while remaining hands-free. Trust me, as much as you love your new baby, you’re still going to be wanting access to your own hands from time to time.
Baby carriers are the only item that lets you cuddle your baby while getting other things done! This is a game changer my friends.
It can be hard to accomplish much of anything in the newborn stage. Some babies prefer to be held almost constantly, and unless you have a team of baby holders available (which, come to think of it, would be a handy addition to the registry) you’re going to need somewhere secure to put your baby.
Swings are also helpful (all of my kids have loved the Fisher Price swing – the Mamaroo not so much). But nothing beats a baby carrier when it comes to bonding with your baby if you don’t want to be tethered to your couch for several months at a time.
If you’re just starting to learn about babywearing, you may want to check out my babywearing for beginner’s guide.
If you’re experienced with babywearing and are having a second child, the tandem babywearing tips post can give you some direction in how to make this successful. You can use combinations of different carriers together for tandem babywearing, it’s pretty cool!
Ok, so what’s the best baby carrier for a newborn? Let’s take a look.
Types of Baby Carriers for Newborns
Baby carriers appropriate for newborns are available in different styles, with four main categories you should know about:
Ring slings are popular for good reason – they work well for newborns and many preemies (although you should always check with your pediatrician if you aren’t sure, particularly if you have a preemie! If there is a local babywearing group or consultant you can speak to, that’s another good option).
The fabric used in ring slings makes them useful well past toddlerhood, which means you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck! Some parents continue to use the same ring sling with their preschooler (if their child gets exhausted on a hike or something) that they used with that same child as an infant!
Ring slings resemble short woven wraps. The fabric is gathered on one shoulder and attached together with two metal rings (hence the name “ring sling”). The material gets looped across your body and threaded through the rings, which end up sitting below your shoulder.
Ring slings can be either “single layer” or “double layer” depending on how many layers of fabric are used. Single layer ring slings tend to be easier to adjust.
Double layer slings can accommodate heavier toddlers, up to 35 lbs. Single layer slings typically go up to a 25 lb. weight limit. You need to check your individual sling to confirm the weight limit, as it can differ from product to product.
Ring slings may seem a little intimidating at first. I found that with all baby carriers I needed to watch video tutorials several times, and then practice at home with my own baby over the bed before I felt confident using the carrier on the go.
I used stretchy wraps with all 3 of my kids when they were newborns. I started out with the Moby wrap and I really liked it. The fabric is super cozy, and I actually enjoyed learning how to do the actual wrapping!
Eventually, though, I ended up switching over to the Baby K’tan as my primary wrap when the kids were still very small.
The switch came about one day when it was pouring rain and I was trying to get my baby boy into the Moby, and the fabric was dragging on the ground and getting soaked and I was all this is too much for me. I’m not very hearty when it comes to things like that, I just cave easily and want something simpler to use.
The K’tan ends up feeling pretty similar to the Moby. But instead of one super long piece of fabric that you have to wrap around your body like a member of a rhythmic gymnastics team, you just have a short piece of fabric to deal with.
It doesn’t fall on the ground and get all wet.
This speaks to my sense of practicality and to the fact that I don’t want to wrap wet fabric around myself. I think that’s a reasonable wish.
Anyway, I enjoyed using the K’tan and would highly recommend it. I think it’s an especially good choice for babywearing after a c-section, because the fabric doesn’t sit at all near your incision (I’ve had three c-sections, so I know something about this!)
Whatever type of delivery you had, this is a good, solid choice for a newborn carrier.
Limitations of Stretchy Wraps
Over time, as your baby gets bigger, these wraps tend to sag and become less comfortable. They definitely don’t have the shelf life of a sling or a soft structured carrier (like the Ergo).
Now, if you look on Amazon they will show you photos of giant babies still enjoying the K’tan (and it does technically go up to 35 pounds!) In reality I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone using this type of carrier for a kid that big.
(I’ll go back and revise this if I do see a large child out in the wild enjoying a ride in the K’tan).
So, I would say that stretchy wraps have their place, but if you plan to use a carrier long-term just know that you’re going to eventually need a second carrier. I was ok with this, because they’re not overly expensive.
Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs)
I would highly HIGLY recommend getting a soft structured carrier to use with your babies. But, I will admit that this is not my first choice for the initial newborn stage.
Some SSCs require an infant insert if you’re using them with a newborn. I didn’t love the infant insert on the Ergo, and was antsy to be able to “wear” my baby. I felt like at the newborn stage that carrier was just a little too big, so I preferred the K’Tan.
Of course, babies get big fast, and before you know it your child will be ready for lots of different carriers!
Not every soft structured carrier requires an infant insert.
The Tula Free To Grow carrier, for example, is a great structured carrier that you can use right away with your newborn, no insert needed.
I have the Free to Grow, and I love how cute it is. It doesn’t have an option for forward facing, but you can wear bigger babies on your back, and for me that works just fine if little Ani here wants to look around.
The Baby Tula Explore works for babies 7 pounds and up with no insert as well, and this option does allow for the forward facing carry position.
Woven wraps have a steep learning curve. I’ll start with that, because these aren’t for everyone. And they’re not for you unless you feel really into the idea of babywearing and want to commit some time to learning how to use them.
But! Woven wraps are great for newborns – very secure as long as you know how to use them properly. Because they’re extra secure, they can be especially useful if you have older kids you need to chase after.
My middle child was almost two years old when I had my daughter, and he was a runner! A fast toddler runner, despite his rather pudgy tod-bod. Anyway, he would often bolt at the park, and that was very stressful if I was holding the baby, as you might imagine.
I’m not going to go into detail on woven wraps here, because that’s really it’s own subculture. But take a look at this video if you want to get a feel for what’s involved in wrapping a newborn, and you can take it from there if you’re interested.
My Top Picks for Newborn Baby Carriers
The Baby K’tan is very easy to get the hang of. It’s appropriate for newborns and even preemies (although you should check with your own doctor if you’re not sure!)
I feel like this is a great choice for parents like me who want to be kind of cool and vaguely crunchy/natural with their babies, but who also don’t really want to deal with learning ancient wrapping techniques that require lots of practice and patience.
That lady right above us wearing the K’tan isn’t me. Although I wouldn’t mind being this lady, she looks nice.
Anyway, the K’tan is an affordable, simple, cozy choice. You can keep one in the car and toss it on for an errand, or snuggle with your baby around the house.
The K’tan has no fussy buckles or straps, no extra fabric to trip over, and you can put it over your head like a t-shirt.
It’s lightweight and the fabric is soft, and well I just like it! Just be aware that in a few months your baby will probably be over this, and you’ll be posting it on FB Marketplace or packing it up for your next baby. Because of reasonable the price point, I’m ok with that.
Here’s a video tutorial on the Kangaroo position perfect for a newborn:
The Baby K’tan comes in a variety of colors and prints, and you have to choose a size (which also means that you might not be able to share the carrier with your spouse).
I didn’t own a Tula until I had my 3rd baby. And to be honest, I didn’t *really* need one. I just really, really wanted one!
Tula carriers are adorable, and as much as I loved my Ergo Original (which is actually still my favorite all around carrier, just not for newborns!) I still wanted a Tula. My particular Ergo happens to be a basic navy blue. It’s nice, but not adorable. And I had two boys in a row and it worked great and I loved it.
But when I was pregnant with my 3rd child and 1st girl, I was like this is my chance! I know I could have gotten a stylish print for my boys, but this was the one item that I had the urge to really pretty-up for a baby girl. Eh, what can I say.
So when my sister was looking for gift ideas for the new baby, I knew I wanted a Tula.
Just a quick note on Tulas – there is an entire subculture of Tula enthusiasts who collect these bad boys, in particular the woven wrap conversions (I think I’m saying that right, but I’m scared that a real Tula enthusiast will come on and tell me I’m not saying that right). Anyway, that’s not the type of expensive Tula/collector’s item that I’m talking about. I’m just talking about the normal Tulas you can find on Amazon.
(Although if you want an interesting read, this blog post about the cult of Tula fascinated me)!
Where were we.
Here’s what I like about the Tula for newborns – it doesn’t feel overwhelming for an infant. If you want a baby carrier but don’t want to spend money on two carriers (one for the newborn stage and then another one in a few months) the Tula can be a great choice.
The Tula has a pocket (which the K’tan does not) and I like that addition. It’s not a huge pocket, but something is better than nothing.
There’s very little learning curve to the Tula Free to Grow, so you should be able to get going quickly. Here’s a video tutorial to give you an idea of how the carrier works.
The Beco Gemini has been the unsung hero in my carrier collection. I sometimes forget about it. It’s not as cozy as the other carriers, and I think this is why I don’t necessarily think of it as a favorite right away.
But this much is undeniable: this carrier works REALLY well for newborns.
It’s the least bulky of all of my structured carriers, and also probably the coolest, if you think you’re likely to become overheated while babywearing. In the summer this can be a real issue.
It’s extremely easy to put on and to adjust, and I think it’s the least overwhelming of ALL the carriers when you’re new to babywearing.
I keep my Beco in the car at all times, so I can throw it on in a pinch. I don’t favor this carrier if I want to be cuddly with my babies, but I for sure use it as a practical, light, easy carrier.
The Beco is good from 7 lbs. to 35 lbs., and you can wear the baby in the forward facing position.
I’m now going to provide you with two rather unattractive photos of my family, so that you can see that we are “real people” and not models.
Find the carrier that’s right for you!
Hopefully this post has given you some good options to consider. What you ultimately end up with comes down to personal taste, comfort, style, and price! No matter which option you end up with, I can confidently say that having a baby carrier, especially in those newborn days, is enormously helpful.
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