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baby carriers reviews

Soft-Structured Baby Carriers: The Yay to the Nay

By Ilana Wiles

the yay to the nayAfter I tested what feels like every baby wrap, sling, and mei-tai in existence, I moved onto soft structured baby carriers. Since it’s winter, I found myself using the baby wraps and slings inside the house and using the soft-structured baby carriers when I ventured outside.

With soft-structured baby carriers, it’s important not to skimp on price. You and your baby both need to be comfortable. The right baby carrier shouldn’t feel like any added pressure on your shoulders or back. You should be able to carry your baby for as long as he/she will let you.

Also, it’s important to note that I am dealing with a newborn so although all of the carriers I reviewed can be used in multiple positions, my only experience was front-carry and facing in. For infant carrying, with all of the carriers, you bend your babies legs and keep them inside the carrier as opposed to hanging out on either side.

1. Beco Gemini Baby Carrier Review

The Beco Gemini ($130) baby carrier comes in a multitude of different patterns or plain styles, is machine washable and its streamlined design makes it look more sporty than the other carriers. You can wear your child on the front (facing in or out), on the back and on the side. There is also a headrest which can be worn up or snapped down. It has safety buckles which prevent accidental opening and a width alternating base that allows for you to carry your baby from 7-35 pounds.

I had a few problems with the Beco Gemini. Although the buckles are designed for safety, I found them very hard to get on and off. You have to press three buttons at one time to release the buckle. Add that to the fact that the buckle is fastened in the back and I found myself getting frustrated. All the carriers are hard to get on by yourself, and this one even more so.


2. LilleBaby Complete Organic Baby Carrier Review

The LilleBaby baby carrier ($135) boosts an ergonomic design with a multitude of positions— front, back, and side with facing in and facing out options. They claim that their design supports proper baby leg positioning to aid in development of the hips, spine and pelvis. My version is 100% organic cotton and machine washable. There is adjustable neck and torso support with a taller body giving your baby added support. It also has lumbar support which prevents the waist of the carrier from sliding or cutting into your body.

It also has a head support which can be worn up or down but the LilleBaby Complete baby carrier effectively hides the hardware when it’s not in use as opposed to the Beco Gemini which lets it all hang out at all times. Another great feature is the removable sleeping hood which comes in handy to protect your baby from the sun and wind or to give him/her a little privacy and added head support if they fall asleep.

I really like the LilleBaby Complete Baby Carrier and found myself using it way more often than the Beco Gemini. The buckle is on the side and doesn’t have the extra safety button, so it’s easier to get off and on. Personally, I don’t find the extra safety feature on the Beco necessary. I liked all the little details that made the carrier more comfortable like the pad behind the buckle across your back and the hidden hardware under soft detailing. I also like the premium feel of the fabric and the more relaxed overall look of the carrier.


3. ERGO baby Original Baby Carrier Review

The Ergo baby original carrier ($105 to $115) was what I used with my first child and I loved it. The one major drawback is that it is not suitable for an infant on it’s own and you must purchase an additional infant insert. The style is similar to the LilleBaby— it has a relaxed shape but does not look and feel quite as premium. It has extra padding, a wide waist band, is made of durable cotton canvas and distributes the weight perfectly. It can also be worn front, back or hip carry, facing in or out (update: babies in the Ergo should never be worn facing out. Thank you, reader Allison). It features the sleeping hood and is machine washable.

The only other difference is that it does not have the head support option. But I still fully recommend the Ergo baby carrier, as so far I do not find myself using the head support option that often on the other two. I also recommend the Ergo for one major feature that I have no idea why it isn’t standard on all baby carriers. A front pocket. That pocket enables me to leave the house for a walk with only my keys, a credit card and a pacifier without having to worry about a bag.


Final thoughts on Soft-Structured Baby Carriers

I definitely recommend getting some type of baby carrier— I actually prefer to use them over a stroller. Especially now since my oldest can walk on her own. In my opinion, the LilleBaby is the best quality carrier but the Ergo has that dang pocket. Your call.


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Published February 22, 2013. Last updated October 29, 2017.
About the Author

Ilana Wiles

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertisin...

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertising for the past 15 years. She lives in the East Village of NYC with her husband, her two-year-old daughter and a rapidly growing pile of stuffed animals.

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  • tango november whisky

    February 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    So glad you reviewed these! I got an Ergo (after registering for a Moby wrap) and was pretty unsure if it was a good choice. Can’t wait to test it out myself in a few weeks! 🙂

  • susan

    February 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    how funny to read this today; i’ve been struggling all week with the decision to buy the new lillebaby or to somehow rehab my old one. or buy something else altogether. the lack of a pocket was such a big factor as otherwise it’s an awesome and flexible carrier (facing in or out- yay!).

    my new lillebaby just arrived via ups and i can’t wait to bust it out of the box. i think i’ll buy some fabric and add a zippered pouch myself somehow…

    • Isabel


      February 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      happy to hear this is helpful and you’re crafty!

  • autumn

    February 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    We have the Ergo sport and it has straps that are 5 inches longer than the standard, perfect for the “full figured” among us.  I’m an apple shaped size 16/18 and it fits just fine, where the standard was kinda too small.  

  • Ally

    February 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Out of all the carriers I have tried I liked the Ergo the best. That being said I much preferred my baby hawk mai tai. I used that from the first weeks up until my kids were well past one. I didn’t really see the need to use a carrier.

  • Leigh

    February 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I have a Beco Gemini and love it. I havent had issues with the buckles. If there’s tension on the straps you can unsnap with one hand. Also, I don’t think the Ergo could do an outward facing front carry.

  • Danielle

    February 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    I have the Beco Gemini and love it. I’ve had no problems or complaints about the buckles, or getting it set up/taken off in general. The buckles have always felt easy to undo to me. And I appreciate the extra security. I also love that it’s sleeker than the Ergo, which just looked absurdely bulky on my petit frame.

  • lld

    February 22, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    What?! I love my Beco. I would have been seriously worried about those plastic clips if they didn’t have that extra button. Actually, as I first-time mom, I was still afraid to let go at first! 😉 I also like that it is not as bulky as the Ergo. Seems like you were a little too quick to slap a ‘nay’ on this one. Oh, and a friend of mine also prefers one called the Action baby carrier, which I think is similar to these.

  • Arialvetica

    February 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    I have the Beco Gemini and both my husband (6’2″ and I (5’7″) LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  When I run into other random mamas on the street with the same carrier, we feel the need to greet each other and bond for a minute over our shared love of the Beco Gemini.  The front carry facing in is our favorite, but we’ve also done front facing out, back, and hip carry as my son’s preferences have changed over time.  Now he’s a 16-month-old sprinter and doesn’t like being constrained by a carrier, but we agree it is the most essential baby item we own.

    The buckles definitely were a little tricky at first, but within a week it was second nature.

    Whatever you do, buy with your husband in mind so he can wear baby when you need a break.

  • sabrina

    February 22, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    When my son was newborn he hated anything that restricted his legs. Slings, wraps, the ego insert all were loudly rejected. I got the beco Gemini and we both loved it. (I had never heard of the lily one you me tioned). Yes the safety clips are annoying though they get looser over time and with practice it isnt a huge deal. He is 13 months old and we still use it a lot. I still prefer it to the ergo- it just seems to fit us better.

  • Allison

    February 23, 2013 at 12:47 am

    The Ergo is not to be warn with baby facing out. It says so on their website. 
    I personally would never face my baby outward in a carrier. It is not good for the baby’s hips and legs, it does not support the head and neck of the baby and it is not good for the back of the person carrying the baby.
    There are many sites and articles supporting this claim, but here’s just one
    My main concern is for the health of my child and even if my son really wanted to face out I wouldn’t do it. It is my job as the mother do what is best for my kids. 

  • Trish

    February 25, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I have a  Beco Butterfly and love it. Reviews of carriers is all well and good, but you really have to try them on and see which one is a good fit. I had an awful time with the Ergo because the back is so low and my eldest son seemed determined to vault backwards out of it. 

  • allisonjayne

    February 25, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I have only an ergo (and a moby) and I love it. I still use it with my 22 month old and while I can’t go 8+ hours with her in it like when she was wee, I can still use it for a couple of hours and be quite comfortable. What I find the hardest about it now is if I have her on the front, it’s awkward to do things with my hands. But that’s due to her size, not the carrier. On my back it’s great, but of course she prefers the front.

    I’m 5’4″ and my wife is 5’10” and we both find the ergo comfortable. My cousins-in-law have the same one (the grey one with the stars), she’s around my size and he’s a big dude and they both find it comfortable as well.

    We started using it when my daughter was less than 3 months – with no insert – we just froggied her legs in and made sure her head was to the side/not floppy, especially when she got tired.

    But yeah, I second going to a store that lets you try them on. It’s hard to do when you’re pregnant though….I practiced with the ergo (we got it as a gift so I never did try any others on) while I was pregnant and it was weird.

    And yeah, thirding the no to facing out in any carrier. Even if you’re not sure about the claims that it’s bad for babies, it’s definitely harder on the back of the person doing the wearing. Much more comfortable to face in.

  • Hillary

    February 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Totally agree with Arialvetica that the Becco is where its AT! My husband (6’3″) and I (5’7″) can interchange the Becco seamlessly – the straps are super easy to adjust on the fly. The buckles are annoying, but you get used to them. The carrier adapts so easily to front/back, infant/toddler carrying and is lightweight/compact enough that we can take it anywhere and it isn’t a problem. We’ve brought it and used it for the baby and the 3yo with a minimum of fuss. Plus, it is MACHINE WASHABLE. Also, it lasts. We’ve had ours for 3 years now. The only other SSC I’d add to your list is the Belle: VERY light and easy to use, but doesn’t have a high weight limit.

  • KJ

    February 25, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I will join in the chorus of beco-lovers.  I didn’t personally try other models, but we have been thrilled with our Beco.  I would classify the buckles as a minor annoyance and not a huge deal.  The magic thing that changed my whole perception of the Beco was when I realized you could attach the over-the shoulder straps in a criss-crossed way (so the strap that goes over your right shoulder stretches across to attach to the buckle on the left upper side of the carrier, and vice versa) – that made all the difference in me being able to put it on myself.  
    I know there are raging debates about hip health and so on, but we had a super sturdy baby who from an early age was much happier (as in, grinning instead of screaming) if she could watch the world go by, so for us, the front-facing option was a huge bonus.

    Now that I’m done defending the honor of the beco: what I recommend to any new parent is that they get some kind of carrier in this category, and make sure it’s a high-quality one with a hip belt.  I suspect that many of these brands could work well for most people.

  • Hi, I'm Natalie

    February 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Great post! I agree about the pocket – I love the pockets on both my Zolowear sling and the Ergo – the lack of a pocket on my (very, very comfortable) Mei Tai drives me crazy!

  • rikki.o

    February 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    When my daughter was born, she spent most of her time strapped to me in a Moby Wrap and screamed when we tried an Ergo (at first). Even with its yards of fabric, I got really fast tying the Moby on, and my favorite feature was that you could tie her on AFTER she already fell asleep on your chest. (Seriously, I got really good at this.) As a newborn, the Moby was soft and comfortable for her, and very secure and hands-free for me. But, she outgrew it quickly and we moved on to…

    The ERGO! Which is 100% my favorite long-term carrier:
    • She ADORED riding on my back (they have to be a little bigger for this) and still does.
    • It distributes the weight like a hiking pack: all on your hips. I can’t speak for other body types, but if you’re a pear shape (I’m 5’5″ with a smallish waist but a “generous” backside), the Ergo will feel like you’re barely carrying anything.
    • The front pocket is truly genius, and BONUS, you can also get a small backpack that straps right on to the Ergo. It’s all we need for a full day trip, fantastic idea:
    • My daughter has always been a big 95%-er, she just turned 4 and we were still using it a few months ago. We took a family trip to Moab, and I wore the Ergo as we hiked up to Delicate Arch. She climbed a lot of it (go girl!), but when she got tired she hopped in the carrier for a rest.
    • Easily adjustable from me (5’5″) to husband (6’3″) when necessary. Though, he prefers a Kelty kid carrier with a frame when we are able to bring it. (The Ergo is better, of course, for packing on long trips.)

  • Teresa

    February 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    The Beco imo is the best option of these, and the Beco Butterfly is being discontinued but is really great from about 3 months onwards, you can find them used for under $100. What’s great about it is you can put it on without the baby in it and then pop baby in when you need to using just one buckle if the baby is still smallish which made it really great for quick ups in a parking lot, it was my fave and I tried a lot of carriers, it’s also great for learning back carries. The Gemini is awesome for small babies and if you must do forward-facing out. 

    Another great SSC is the Babyhawk Oh Snap! Great for 6 months through toddler, it does the highest back carry I’ve ever found which is key to keeping an awake baby happy when they’re older and fits a wide range of wearers.

    And finally I would suggest people look at Manduca if they’re buying a new carrier. It does front/back/hip carries and has an extendable back so that it grows with your baby so it will actually last a bit longer than the Beco or Ergo. I am totally getting one for my next LO. 🙂

    • Isabel


      February 28, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks for all the great info. 🙂

  • Alicia

    March 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    The Ergo with the newborn insert was my favorite for everyday home use. It was comfortable for both my son and myself and easy to use and adjust. For day outings when he got bigger my favorite was the Kelty backpack carrier.

  • Jen R

    March 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I much prefer my Gemini over the Ergo. Straps that cross are a must for. It’s so easy to put on  by myself whereas the Ergo was not. I’m thinking of getting a Lillebaby or Soleil because my daughter loves to be carried! 

  • Jackie j

    January 30, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Which is better for everyday and hiking? And what about Tula?

  • Victoria

    January 31, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Some Lillebaby carriers have front pockets! Check out their website! They have a ton of solid or printed carriers and some of them have front pockets. They also have tons of accessories. Thanks for your review! My son loves the Moby wrap but I am in need of a new carrier and after reading, I definitely think I will go Lillebaby!

  • Jenna

    February 26, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I am surprised that this post being so new that the Boba 4G and the Beco Soleil are not on here. As a Mom I totally understand that there is only so much time to do and try things, however, with Beco, Boba and Ergo being in the top 3 on almost every list out there that those two are missing. Was there a reason that they are not on here? If so I would love to know why and what you thought since I am in the market for a SSC. 

    • Isabel Kallman

      Isabel Kallman

      February 26, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      This post was written in February 2013.

  • Amanda

    May 4, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I appreciate this comparison of the three! And I was excited to learn Lillebaby has since added a front pocket.

  • Alex

    July 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    The Lillébaby company now has a pocket on all models, so I think it’s the official winner now!

  • Amy

    August 23, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Thanks for the information, this definitely jives with my research as well.