Best Soft Structured Baby Carriers



Sep 15, 2021

A soft structured baby carrier is a must have for parents with babies. It is not only a convenient way to hold your baby but there are many benefits for your baby as well! One decent soft structured baby carrier will last you through multiple children. Get one that is the best fit for you!

soft structure carrier with my second son on a hike
Hiking with my family after our second son in a soft structure carrier in outward facing position

If you are like me and interested in hiking with your baby in a soft structured carrier read, Guide to Hiking with a Baby. I loved hiking with my baby, it allowed me time to do something I love while staying close to my little one. Just make sure you Dress Your Baby Correctly for hiking.

Maybe you want a day off of hiking. Check out great activities to do outdoors with your baby.

Summary of Best Soft Structured Baby Carriers

Soft Structure CarrierAge RecommendationFeaturesUses
Lillebaby Complete Original:
Newborns (8 lbs) - 32 lbs
- 4 Different carrying positions - Padded Shoulders - Easy On and Off - Simple Design - Machine Washable
Best Budget Soft Structure Carrier
Happy Baby Carrier:
Newborn - 45 lbs
- 4 Carrying positions - Breathable Mesh material - Lumbar Support - Hip Healthy Certified - Machine Washable
Runner Up Best Overall Soft Structure Carrier

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Rest assured all products I suggest are products I have bought or would buy based on personal experience or through my network of other mommas.

What Are the Benefits of Baby Wearing?

Baby wearing isn’t only convenient, allowing the caretaker to multitask, but has many benefits for the baby. WebMD quotes the benefits of baby wearing as:

  • Happier Babies: Studies shown that babies who are carried at least 3 hours a day cry less.  
  • Encourages Breastfeeding: having baby close enables you respond quicker to baby’s hunger cues
  • Healthier Babies: Skin to skin contact shown to help babies sleep more, stabilize heart rate, improve breathing patterns and more.

Soft structured baby carriers are my go to type of carrier for everyday baby wearing.  Unlike wraps, which take time to put on and get baby situated, soft structured carriers are quick to put on, consistent and help keep you supported. There is no messing around with these carriers! 

Personally I have no idea how I would have gotten through the infant stage (three times) without one. 

What Are Soft Structured Carriers?

A soft structured carrier is a baby carrier that has a padded structure that secures your baby against your body. Different brands have different designs that feature adjustable straps and buckles to fit the  adult's body. The structures are designed to support a baby’s body and, more specifically, their head.

The soft structured baby carriers are made to be comfortable for wearer and baby. It gives you a hands free experience, allowing the you to multitask. It is a must have Outdoor Gear for Baby.

best soft structured baby carrier and back carrier together
Me Hiking with my soft structured carrier and back carrier for a toddler

Me Hiking with my soft structured carrier and back carrier for a toddler

When I had my first newborn, I was in school for my MBA while working a treasury job during the day. Lucas loved to be held, but I had schoolwork at nights and weekends and still wanted to be close to him. I was lucky I found a combination that worked; I wore him using my soft structured carrier and utilized my high top table to get all my work done.

Fast forward 18 months to when I had my second son and the soft structured carrier was just as valuable. Now, I was chasing after an 18 month old and having to look after my newborn. My second son, was content in the carrier and I am not sure what I would have done without one. 

Which is the Best Baby Carrier for Newborns?

Newborns need additional support when being carried. Not all carriers are newborn safe. Some carriers are designed specifically for newborns, others come with newborn attachments, and some have a newborn position built into the carrier.

soft structure carrier with sunshade up
My 6 week old baby is well shaded with the Shaded Sleeping Hood Up

If you buy a carrier only suitable for newborns that carrier will have a shorter life span than carriers that can support a newborn or come with a newborn insert.

Best Overall Soft Structured Carrier

Lillebaby Complete Original

The Lillebaby Original has it all. The carrier can be used for years supporting a 7 lb newborn all the way up to a 45 lbs child! My three year old is nowhere near 45 lbs so imaging a couple more years till the carrier is obsolete with him, but of course there are the other kids. 

The carrier is recognized by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute as a healthy product for baby’s hip development which is important until a baby reaches 6 months of age. 

best soft structure carrier LIllebaby on a hike
Hiking with my Lillebaby Complete Original

All the features of the Lillebaby make this product a must have. The adjustable and padded straps make the carrier easy for either me or my husband to carry our boys in. The movable lumbar support allows you to adjust the position to fit you.

The carrier comes with a pocket which is convenient for storing your keys, phone or spare diaper.  The last thing you want to do is to bring another small bag while you are carrying your baby around. The sleeping hood allows you to cover the baby to protect from sun or provide additional support while napping.The product is versatile with many different carrying positions to adjust as your child grows.

The cost of the product is very reasonable and less than notable other competitors, but with this carrier you get so much more! The ability to take it off and put it through the wash is a godsend. I have used this carrier to go hiking and with a baby involved it can get dirty and being able to clean it easily saves time!

Pros of the Lillebaby Complete Original

  • Infant option built in
  • Recognized by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute for baby’s healthy hip development
  • Distributes baby’s weight for more comfortable carrying
  • Adjustable straps to fit carrier
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Lumbar Support
  • Multiple carrying positions (6 in total)
  • Long use; great for newborns to toddler 7-45lbs
  • Built in storage pocket
  • Sleeping hood
  • Machine washable

Cons of Lillebaby Original

  • Not marked for breastfeeding ease

Best Premium Soft Structured Carrier

Baby Bjorn Harmony Baby Carrier

If you are looking for a premium feel baby carrier and not strapped by cost, Baby Bjorn soft structured carrier is your winner. This outstanding carrier comes in three different color options and designed for comfort, for both baby and you.

The soft structure carrier can be used for newborns up to a 3 year old. The Lillebaby and Ergobaby OMNI 360 last till a child is 4. The carrier feels extremely soft with its jersey and polyester material and is light weight, making it a great travel soft structure carrier. It is also machine washable!

The baby carrier allows for 4 holding positions. I found this carrier easy for quick on and off and positioning baby. It is a great soft structure carrier that will last through many babies.

Pros of Baby Bjorn Harmony Carrier

  • Extremely soft and lightweight carrier
  • Fully Adjustable Straps
  • Newborn support included
  • Lumbar Support
  • Machine Washable
  • Padded Straps

Cons of Baby Bjorn Harmony Carrier

  • Cost
  • No storage compartment

What is the Difference Between Baby Bjorn Harmony, Baby Bjorn One Air and Baby Bjorn One Carriers?

Baby Bjorn One is made from a soft cotton blend. The Baby Bjorn One Air is made from a 3D mesh which makes it ideal for hotter climates. Both Baby Bjorn One carriers support a baby from 7 lbs to a 3 year old.

Baby Bjorn Harmony was made for a more luxurious feel with a layer of stretchy meshfabric. The waist band is pressure relieving and added padding to the waist band and shoulder straps. Harmony offers an additional head support option totaling 3. This carrier is the premium of the Bay Bjorn carriers.

All three carriers are geared to a newborn up to 3 year old.

Best Budget Soft Structure Carrier

Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

The Infantino cannot be beat for its price. This product is known for its ease of putting on and taking off and also for its lightweight material. The Infantino 4-in-1 flip offers four positions to hold the baby and supports a child from 8-32 lbs.  

However, the low cost can be felt by parents that have tried other carriers through lack of features and overall feel. This carrier doesn’t have as much support in the waist or shoulder straps resulting in the baby’s weight not being evenly distributed. 

Pros of Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

  • Low costs
  • Machine washable 
  • 4 carrying positions
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable waist belt, baby seat and carrying straps
  • Support child from 8-32 lbs

Cons of Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

  • No storage space
  • Straps not as supportive as more expensive carriers
  • No lumbar support

Best Compact Soft Structured Baby Carrier

Happy Baby Carrier

The Happy Baby Carrier can’t be beat for lightweight and compatibility. This carrier is around 30-50% lighter than most other carriers on the market! The carrier comes in several different linen designs that you can choose to match your style or outfits.

Happy Baby Carrier can fit easily in your diaper bag and is by far the easiest to bring while traveling. The sun hood protects the baby's head and face from getting burnt on a sunny day. The wider padded shoulders provide support and help to balance out the baby's weight.

Of course with its compatibility and light material this carrier only offers two carrying positions, front inward facing and back carrying and has no storage pockets. 

Pros of Happy Baby Carrier

  • Stylish Design
  • Support child from 7- 45 lbs
  • Light padded on shoulder straps
  • Easily fit in diaper bag
  • Lightweight line fabric
  • Comes with sun cover

Cons of Happy Baby Carrier

  • Baby seat not padded
  • Limited carrying positions (2)
  • No storage availability

Notable Other Soft Structured Carrier

ErgoBaby Omni 360

The ErgoBaby Omni 360 is a close second in best overall carrier. The product’s pros are similar to the Lillebaby Complete Original and everyone I know that owns one raves about it. I find it comfortable as well.

My neighbor’s son had colic and constantly needed to be held. I never saw my neighbor without carrying around her son in this carrier and if not wearing it, having it on standby in case her baby got fussy.

My neighbor's son lived in the Ergobaby Carrier

However, the Lilliebaby Original comes with more carrying positions for the baby, built in pocket instead of detachable, cheaper, and its expandable back panel pushed the Lillebaby product into first place. 

Pros of Ergobaby OMNI 360

  • Support child from 7-45lbs
  • Includes detachable storage pouch
  • Machine Washable
  • Breastfeed in carrier
  • 4 carrying positions
  • Lumbar Support
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Hood with UPD 50+

Cons of Ergobaby OMNI 360

  • More expensive carrier
  • Can be hard to clip the shoulder straps yourself

What is the difference between the Ergobaby OMNI 360 and Ergobaby 360?

The ErgoBaby Omni 360 is a better choice for newborns compared to the Ergobaby 360. The Ergobaby 360 does not support a baby under 12 lbs without purchasing an additional infant insert. The OMNI 360’s  straps have the option to cross in the back to help easily put on or take off the carrier yourself.

Also there is a difference in costs, the OMNI 360 costs around $40 more than the 360. Therefore, if you are not interested in the newborn support option the 360 would be the better choice.

Hope you found this helpful in selecting your perfect soft structure baby carrier!

Once your baby grows up you will want to check out Hiking with Toddlers and Toddler Hiking Gear!