Home Mom Life The Messy Test Kitchen: A Comparison of popular baby wraps & carriers

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And now, straight from the laboratories of … well, my messy kitchen: a highly scientific review of four best-selling contraptions for wearing your new (needy, unpredictable) baby.

Some parents are looking for a carrier to take their child hiking. Others want a hands-free way to hold a fussy baby and get dinner on the table.

Obviously everyone’s needs, priorities, and bodies are different, but here’s hoping one mom’s observations can help you make the best decision for your family.

This laboratory’s test subject was a 3-month-old male weighing 13 pounds who can hold his head up just a bit. The test wearer was a plus-size female in her early 30s, of average height, with a 3-year-old to chase.

 

Which is the best baby wrap or carrier? One mom tests 4 of the most popular!

 

Carriers and wraps were rated in six categories from a 1 (worst) to a 5 (best).

Wearer’s comfortability
Infant comfortability
Ease of use
Stability/sense of security of infant’s position
Versatility

1. THE BASIC CARRIER

Most stores with baby items sell some brand of a Basic Carrier front- or back-pack: you slip baby down through the top of the nylon and mesh carrier, its legs come down through holes in the bottom, and the straps go over your shoulders and then buckle to the carrier body. Sometimes there is a waist strap as well. Target, for example, sells several versions of the Infantino. A Baby Bjorn would probably fit into this category. The test carrier was a Snugli made by Evenflo.

Which is the best baby wrap or carrier? One mom tests 4 of the most popular!Affordability: 5
You can purchase most of these for less $30 or even less than $20.

Wearer’s comfortability: 3
You can tell you’re wearing a baby. The fabric breathes somewhat; it covers less surface area than a wrap will.

Infant comfortability: 3.5
It’s hard to know exactly how comfortable your baby is when it can’t talk. The position is slightly unnatural for the child; the newest of newborns might not be able to spread their legs wide enough for it.

Ease of use: 3
You could figure out how to use it without any instructions. However, it’s easier to top-load the baby with another adult around; getting baby out solo is arguably trickier.

Stability/sense of security of infant’s position: 3.5
A really tiny newborn might be too small for this style of carrier. Also, depending on your particular carrier, the material may not be stiff enough to adequately support a young baby’s head. Like all wraps and carriers, you also have to be careful to protect baby when you’re bending over. This type, though, didn’t loosen as I wore it, and I felt confident the baby wasn’t about to fall out.

Versatility: 4
Some versions of this style can be worn on your front or back; baby can face in or out. The carrier is adjustable to the size of the person wearing it.

 

2. ERGOBABY CARRIER

This was tested without the optional newborn insert. The ERGO Baby Carrier itself does not support an infant’s head and neck without the insert.

Which is the best baby wrap or carrier? One mom tests 4 of the most popular!Affordability: 1
Listed for $115 on Amazon, making it at least double the cost of the others in this review. More bells and whistles add to that price, including an optional newborn insert, starting at $20.

Wearer’s comfortability: 1
On a personal level, I scored this very low because the waist strap was very tight. It’s adjustable, but its max size barely buckled shut on me. For a plus-size mom, a mom still battling baby weight, or a larger husband, the ERGO Baby just might not fit.

Otherwise, I would have given it a 3. The shoulder straps have a few different options for adjusting. It felt slightly more ergonomic than The Basic, but covered more surface area, meaning it will get warmer.

Infant comfortability: 3
Again, it’s hard to know for sure how baby feels. For the standard heart-to-heart position, baby sits like it does in The Basic, except their legs need to spread a bit wider. Also, the carrier doesn’t provide any head or neck support to baby.

Ease of use: 3.5
It’s not as complicated as putting on a baby wrap, but I couldn’t tell which part was the top and which was the bottom the first time I looked at it! It made sense after a minute with the instructions. One edge over The Basic is that you can get baby in and out of it more easily on your own.

Stability/sense of security of infant’s position:3
ERGO Baby didn’t loosen as I wore it, and I felt confident the baby wasn’t about to fall out. I didn’t feel happy about the baby’s head and neck support, though. I wouldn’t use it for a young baby without that newborn insert. Even then, if an older infant fell asleep in the carrier, wouldn’t you want it to have  little head support?


Versatility: 2.5
ERGO Baby can be worn more ways than The Basic. But the lack of width in the waistband makes this not a one-size-fits-all.

3. MOBY WRAP (original)

Baby-MobyAffordability: 3
$45 on Amazon

Wearer’s Comfort: 3
For me, the
Moby Wrap was maybe a tad more ergonomic than the traditional carriers. However, the 18 feet of material that make up a Moby are all layered around you. If you were moving around a lot, or not in a climate-controlled environment, you’d get hot pretty quickly.

Infant comfortability: 3
Most of the ways that you can position baby in a Moby are somewhat more “natural” for baby than in a traditional carrier. However, all that material heating you up is also adding baby’s body heat to that equation. Again, there is limited head and neck support here. There is a newborn hold that should provide more support, but I had trouble keeping baby’s head in there.

Ease of use: 1
Hands down, the biggest issue with the Moby is how complicated it is to coordinate the 18 feet of material. You need instructions, even videos; you may need to consult them several times. Even then, many people never figure it out and give up.

Stability/sense of security of infant’s position: 3
The material does stretch a little over time, so baby’s position does loosen a bit. I didn’t feel he was going to fall out, though, because of the stretching. There is some concern about baby’s head and neck, again.

Versatility: 4
The Moby is one-size-fits-all, and can be positioned a variety of ways.

 

4. BOBA WRAP

The test wrap was a Sleepy Baby Wrap, the earlier name.

Which is the best baby wrap or carrier? One mom tests 4 of the most popular!Affordability: 4
$37.95 on Amazon. (It is Amazon’s top-selling baby carrier.)

Wearer’s comfortability: 3.5
The Boba is kind of a slightly shorter, narrower, stretchier Moby. Again: a tad more ergonomic for me than traditional carriers, but lots of material to overheat you. It might be slightly cooler than a  Moby in theory, as you fold a Moby in half and thus have a double layer of material wrapped around your busy body. A Boba doesn’t fold in half.

Infant comfortability: 3.5
Nearly identical to the Moby: Arguably a more natural position; likelihood to overheat (though slightly less than a Moby); and head and neck concerns.

Ease of use: 2
Nearly identical to the Moby: a learning curve to putting it on. I’ll give it an extra half point because it doesn’t have that double layer in there to extra-confuse things.

I’ll give it a second half point for the stretchiness. The Boba’s claim over the Moby is that it’s made of a stretchier material that holds infants more securely. Where you tie the un-stretchy Moby somewhat loosely, you tie a Boba tightly, then stretch the material and slip baby in. I do like that. It was hard to guess with the Moby just how loose to wrap it — and if you guess wrong, you have to start all over.

Stability/sense of security of infant’s position: 3.5
Like Moby: The material does keep stretching a little over time, so baby’s position does loosen slightly — not as much as Moby. Again, there is some concern about baby’s head and neck.

Versatility: 4
The Boba (like Moby) is one-size-fits-all, and can be positioned a variety of ways.

Which is the best baby wrap or carrier? One mom tests 4 of the most popular!

So which is the best baby wrap or carrier?

THE RESULTS:

The Basic: 22
Boba Wrap: 20.5
Moby Wrap: 17
ERGO Baby: 14

Obviously, to each their own. Each of the moms kind enough to lend me their carriers loves the one they have. What’s important is to consider your priorities and budget before you make a purchase. Is cost an issue? Then steer clear of the overpriced ERGObaby. If you want versatility, consider a wrap. If cheap and easy are your factors, a basic baby carrier just might be the way to go.

Check back in a few months when the test subject has grown and The Messy Test Kitchen reviews carriers and wraps for the mobile baby.

And before you go, TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE wrap or carrier, leave a comment below!

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Author
Ariel
Ariel is a stay-at-home-mom whose 3-year-old has been asking “Please I come out?” of quiet time for the past 15 minutes, non-stop. She has a background in reporting, editing, publication layout, and digital libraries, and wishes she could spend all day doing family history research. She and her husband have two tiny humans and not enough coffee.
12 replies to this post
  1. UPDATE: After reading Ariel’s article I purchased the “Infantino Swift Classic” off of Amazon using the link at the bottom and it works GREAT. I started using it two months ago when our little guy was 4 months and LOVE how easy it is to get him in and out. Now he weighs 15 pounds and he probably spends 2-4 hours in it each day and it doesn’t bother my back at all. At only $17 I didn’t have high expectations, but it is well worth every penny (and then some ;)

  2. My third lived in a carrier. It was an inexpensive infantino, but once he was a couple months old it worked great and I quickly mastered getting him in and out.

  3. Great article! I was happy to come across this just before the birth of our second….a season when I anticipated that I would be needing/wanting to snuggle that wee little thing a lot while still trying to keep pace with a toddler and the needs of our home/life.

    I appreciated your concrete breakdown of each of the carriers. I have tried both the Bjorn and the Moby. I tried the Moby in the summer and was way way too hot! I could have gotten past the needed ninja skills required for use, but my own comfort is a bit more of a priority : ). “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” ;)

    The Bjorn that was given to us has served us well….feels stable and safe for babe, easy to get in and out of (especially easy for transferring sleeping babes), and not too hot. After wearing for extended periods (i.e.: four hours walking at the zoo), I did find myself wanting more lower back support.

  4. I have a sleepy wrap and a Boba carrier! I really like both of them (even though I haven’t used either of them a ton). The sleepy wrap is tricky to get on, but once it was on it felt so secure and my baby never slipped or got loose. I loved how it felt and how close and snug my baby was! The Boba carrier is great too! I flew to Chicago by myself with my 11 month old and it was a lifesaver! I wore it from the time I got out of my car at the airport to the time I got into the car in Chicago! My baby slept in it, I was able to leave the waist part attached and just slip off the shoulder straps. I like how it supports the child’s hips and doesn’t put all the pressure on their groin. It has fun little foot stirrups too to make it even more comfortable for the child. It’s easy to put on and the straps are super easy to adjust. I love the Boba and would highly recommend:)

  5. Thanks for writing this! Its nice to read one mom’s experience with multiple different carriers as opposed to reading multiple different mom’s reviews. The comparison makes it more relateable and trustworthy. I personally loved my Moby Wrap, but hated actually wrapping it. I found the MobyGo much easier and just as comfy. I also love that you can nurse in it!
    Honestly, my favorite carrier (so far!) is my super inexpensive Infantino Fusion! Its versitile in how you can have baby sit (on your back, facing in, facing out, wide hip, narrow hip). I also love that they have velcro bibs you can put on the front (sure beats washing the entire carrier!) I was thinking about buying an Ergo, since I had heard such great things about them as far as preventing hip dysplasia goes, but after reading this I’m going to actually try one out before I buy it.

  6. I used an older, 2nd hand Snugli carrier when my son was a baby. It didn’t seem very comfortable for him (I’m sure they’re better now) and the Moby wrap was too complicated, so he rarely rode in one. With my 2nd baby I used a newer BabyBjorn carrier. I really liked it.

    With my 2nd baby I figured out an easier way to strap her in: I would strap myself into the carrier, squat beside the bed, lay baby in position on the flap, then lean over her and strap her in. Sooo much easier! :)

    -Holli

  7. I am wanting aTula! I have an Infantile or whatever that brand is. I used it when i had to bring my baby with when changing the pastures for the heifers on my small farm, it was nice to have my hands but didn’t feel safe for that task. Baby kinda swung around alot, And when she would fall asleep her poor face would be against the clips that hold her in. My back would get very sore since there wasn’t good straps to distribute the weight. I would also be using my arms to still hold her kind of. Aaand I’d get very warm. Like the author said, it is reasonably priced and you can easily get a slightly used one at a garage sale. .. But i believe they are usually slightly used for a reason. I was glad to have mine for the few times i really needed it, but if you are going to be using it a lot you probably want a more comfortable and secure one that is also not going to hurt the development of their hips.

  8. Great reviews! I agree with a lot of this, but have to say that once you master the art of the stretchy wrap (Happy, Moby, Boba, K’tan etc), you feel like a superstar ninja putting it on with all the people who admire that skill! Haha! It does take a lot of practice and can be frustrating though. Thanks to several hours of youtube videos, I was able to get it! Haha! I do like the stretchy wrap for the newborn stages though!

    I do want to make sure to give a second comment to the hip concern another person voiced. A carrier that keeps the knees up and not dangling down is a much healthier option for the hips than one that is considered a “crotch dangler”. That position also puts unnecessary pressure on the sensitive areas on the baby!

    When you do your more mobile kids version, you should try out aTula! Although it’s drawback is the money, it has been the perfect carrier for us! I love that we can use the same one for our (small) 1 year old AND our (big) 3 year old!

  9. I loved my moby wrap when my babies were little! :) It did take some practice to figure it out, but once I figured it out I could put it on and keep my baby in the wrap happy for hours. It helped me get a lot done around the house, while also cuddling my little one. Yay! <3 To deal with the heat drawback, I would wear a tank top or tshirt under the wrap, and then a zip up hoodie or cardigan over it all if my arms were cold. Of course, my babies were born in September and November, so the heat was actually more of a bonus for us!

    In response to Dawn's comment, I used my moby for grocery shopping and errands all the time! I would just put it on before I left the house, and then I could slip baby in when I got to the store! It worked really well for us.

    Just a note, for the basic carrier, I would recommend looking for a version that has a wider seat area, so it supports out to the baby's knee. There is some concern for baby's hip joint if they are in a carrier that leaves their legs dangling because of how it pulls on the joint.

    Great post! Baby-wearing is so good for mama and baby! Anything that helps mamas get started is wonderful.

  10. I agree with your assessments! I had a moby, never could get the hang of it and make it work well. Both my kids lived in a Bjorn, but bending down (to put laundry in the dryer or empty the dishwasher) was a little difficult. We are done with babies and I have lovingly passed on the carriers. The carriers do last forever, and hold their resale which makes the price tag a bit more manageable.

  11. I have a Pikkolo and I love it! A bit spendy but got input from a baby shop owner and she says this one doesn’t put so much pressure on baby’s hips. I’m also plus size and it fits just fine. Baby can be in it facing you, facing away, one your back, or on your hip. Has an extra little piece of fabric for head support for newborns. LOVE IT!

  12. I have a Moby wrap and I really like the position that the baby is in and they always feel secure, I just dislike how complicated it is to get it on, makes it more impractical to wear grocery shopping. After reading this I think I may look for a basic one :)

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