Best Inexpensive Baby Carriers of 2021

Spoiler alert, the best discount baby carrier of the year is the adorable and versatile Infantino Flip baby carrier!

Are the best baby carriers not fitting your baby-wearing budget? We have good news - you can get an awesome baby carrier for about 50 bucks!

We have been testing baby carriers for over 10 years, and have tried most of the carriers currently available on the market. Some of them are as cheap as about 20 bucks, whereas others cost upwards of $300!

Each year we update this list with the best baby carriers that won't break the bank, trying to keep the cost under about $75 for a fully-featured carrier.

Here are the top five budget baby carriers we found, followed by our full reviews.

Picking the perfect baby carrier can be challenging, especially when you have a tight budget!

Well, we did the work for you and found some excellent options for you budget-savvy mamas!

Are the best baby carriers not fitting your baby-wearing budget? We have good news - you can get an awesome baby carrier for about 50 bucks!

We've been testing baby carriers for over 10 years, including options from trusted brands like BabyBjorn, ErgoBaby, and Boba, and popular emerging brands like Beco, Baby Tula, and Onya. Our testing evaluates ease of use, safety, comfort (for baby and parent!), versatility, breathability, and long-term reliability.

Best Budget Baby Carriers of 2021

Relatively inexpensive carriers tend not to have the quality, features, or versatility to be ranked among the premium carriers, but they are definitely worth considering if you're looking to save some cash!

Note that if you're looking to save even more money, take a look at our annual list of the best baby wraps.

1. Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Baby Carrier.

best baby carrier infantino flip

Style, versatility, quality, and a fantastic price? Get us two of them! The Infantino Flip 4-in-1 baby carrier is a fantastic inexpensive baby carrier with some great features and simple but trendy styling. Supporting babies from 8 up to 32 pounds, this baby carrier can be worn in 4 ways: front carry parent-facing for infants with the seat flaps buttoned back to support a narrow baby, front carry parent-facing with a wider seat for older babies (using the seat flaps), front carry facing-out for babies with head/neck control, and back carry parent-facing for older babies. So technically it supports facing-in and facing-out as a front carrier and can be used as a backpack baby carrier. For about $30 that's excellent versatility. It achieves the wider baby weight range by having an adjustable seat width by opening or closing two thigh flaps on each side of the bum and having adjustable leg and chest openings. For the parents, it also includes adjustable shoulder straps and waist belt, keeping things more comfortable and supportive for various body types (speaking of which, the waist belt adjusts from 24-47"). So it can fit skinnier moms, and also plus-sized moms up to about 250 pounds. In our testing, we found the carrier to be very lightweight, breathable, and generally reliable with moderate quality buckles and adjustments. We also loved that you can throw the entire thing into the washing machine, and it didn't shrink at all on us.

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The shoulder straps were decent - not anywhere as nice or comfortable as the top baby carriers on this list, but reasonably padded. Carrying a baby over 15 pounds for a couple hours and you will probably find yourself in some back and shoulder pain, unlike with some of the more premium carriers. The Infantino Flip Advanced baby carrier does include a drool pad with a velcro attachment, which we found of limited value: it works best for front carry outward-facing, but also tends to fall off and can be easily removed by a baby. It's a decent idea but not ideally executed. A few limitations yes, but did we mention how cheap this baby carrier is!? Needless to say we're impressed by the bang for the buck! Who else thinks the Infantino Flip is a great budget baby carrier? Our friends at Babylist, Babygearlab, and WhatToExpect. Impressed? You can check out the Infantino Flip here!

2. Bebamour Baby Carrier.

best baby carrier bebamour

This is an awesome hip-seat option, one of only a few hip-seat carriers on our list. This one is super versatile, with 6 different carrying positions. It can be used in front carry position, for inward or outward facing (3-36 months), on your back forward facing ("backpack position"), and as a versatile hip or front seat. So without the hip-seat it's a pretty typical carrier: you can use it as early as 3 months, and it supports babies up to 44 pounds. It has tons of awesome little pockets for cell phones, pacifiers, and keys, and a ton of adjustments to make it fit virtually any mom shape and size. We loved the number and range of all the adjustment straps! It also has a nice breathable hood that attaches using little loops, so there is no loud snap or clip that might disturb your sleeping baby. They also did a nice job with the softness of the fabrics, nice wide and padded shoulder straps and hip belt, and overall decent fit and finish. It is a big carrier, and we thought that it would be most appropriate for babies over about 4-5 months, unless you have a larger baby. Otherwise, it's a bit roomy.

The hip-seat aspect is nice. When worn like a typical carrier, it does a nice job putting most of the baby's weight on your waist rather than back and shoulders. It can also be worn independently of the rest of the carrier. This is great for very little babies, for resting their bum or side on the hip seat, for instance, while nursing, or rocking to sleep. It's also great when they get a bit bigger and can hop onto the hip seat and use their arms to hold on - this is great for toddler and older. Overall, we really liked this carrier. The only drawback is really the large carrier size that doesn't accommodate smaller babies. There's also the fact that it's a Chinese company and made in China, which makes the descriptions and instructions a bit difficult to digest. Overall, this is a great carrier, especially for the price. Usually around $75. Interested? You can check out the Bebamour Baby Carrier here!

3. Sunveno Hip Seat Baby Carrier.

best baby carrier sunveno hip seat

This is a new release this year, and we were excited to get our hands on yet another cheap baby carrier that offers some great versatility with the added bonus of a convenient and comfortable hip seat. The hip seat is primarily used early on in your baby's life, from newborn to about 6 months of age when parents will benefit from getting a little bit of their weight off while being held in a cradle hold or parent-facing against the chest. The hip seat is great for this, and can be used with or without the shoulder straps. The shoulder straps help a ton to prevent the hip seat from sagging under the weight of your baby, and we are happy to report that the straps are actually pretty comfortable and can be used in the typical H configuration or an X cross-strap configuration. But the Sunveno is way more than just a hip seat! It offers support for newborns up to about 36 months of age (or about 35 pounds), and can be used in front carry as either parent-facing or outward-facing. And it has an impressive set of features for this price point, including a hood to block the sun or wind, a front zippered storage pocket, side zippered storage pocket, and a little bottle pocket (not insulated) on the other side. The front area has a panel that can be unzipped to reveal some mesh for higher breathability. There are also some convenient Velcro-attached drool shields or bibs that can be attached to the upper edge (for when outward-facing) or the shoulder straps (for when inward-facing).

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In our testing, we were impressed with the feature set and versatility for the price. It wasn't especially comfortable and could benefit from a taller waist belt, wider shoulder straps, and a lumbar support. Also, it cannot be used as a backpack carrier, taller babies will quickly out-grow its relatively limited height, and its relatively short waist strap is not a great option as a baby carrier for plus-sized parents. Overall, this is a decent option. Definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a versatile hip seat that won't break the bank! Tends to go for about $50 online. Interested? You can check out the Sunveno hip seat baby carrier here.

4. Infantino Cuddle Up Hoodie Carrier.

best baby carrier infantino

Infantino makes a wide range of baby products and several varieties of baby carriers. They have over a dozen baby carrier options, some of which are difficult to tell apart from others, and some are not really worth considering. We will say that we're impressed by the pricing and features of the Infantino line, with an overall reliable and secure set of carriers at great prices. As with all the others on this list under $50, it has limited weight range, versatility, and comfort. The Cuddle Up is included in this list for a few reasons. First of all, it is adorable, with a cute bear hood cover that goes on like a soft hoodie cap and has cute little ears. When it's off, it has a cute colored chevron pattern on the fuzzy inside. It's the only carrier on this list that has a hood that can actually keep your baby's head a little warm in the fall. Second and continuing the hoodie theme, it also includes a front pocket just like your favorite hoodie, though we point out that things can fall out of it at times, particularly when taking the baby in/out or taking the carrier off. Third, we found the pads to be reasonably supportive and the adjustments were sufficient. Not too much back or shoulder pain. Carry positions are relatively limited, only supporting two: front carry parent-facing, or back carry parent-facing. It also only supports from 12 to 40 pounds, which is limited for infants under a few months old, though it's not surprising at this price point! Usually about $40 online.

5. Evenflo Infant Soft Carrier Baby Carrier.

best baby carrier evenflo breathable

One of the least expensive baby carriers on the market, this breathable Evenflo carrier packs some great bang for the (very little) buck! Coming in at less than $20, this baby carrier is available in the grey chevron pattern (pictured to the right), a grey and neon yellow pattern, and a black and neon pink color. We only tested the grey chevron version, and we were impressed by the simplicity, fabric quality, versatility, and comfort. Out of the box, the fabric feels reasonably soft but also durable, and the buckles and adjustments feel like decent quality. The entire thing is very lightweight, and the shoulder strap padding is surprisingly thick and soft. It includes a removable drool bib, and a little instruction manual to help you figure out fit and configurations. Speaking of configurations, it can be used inward-facing and outward-facing, and with or without the fold-down neck support pad (depending on baby's age and configuration). It supports babies as small as 7 pounds and as large as 26 pounds. Your baby's back or tummy is up against mesh fabric that provides a bit of breathability for warmer months. Putting the carrier on was simple, and we appreciated the cross-strap configuration of the shoulder straps, which tends to be much more comfortable than vertical straps. The cross-straps use a clever set of slits that allow it to adjust automatically to you when you tighten or loosen the bottom strap adjustments. It's overall pretty comfortable and we tested it with an 8-week old baby facing in and a 6-month old baby facing out. It's surprisingly large and is a good baby carrier for plus-size moms or dads given its range of adjustments. Everything worked perfectly well, but it's overall pretty minimalistic. It's missing many of the features of the pricier carriers, such as a more ergonomic position for your baby's legs and hips, a zip-down panel for airflow and temperature control, a hood, storage pockets, adjustable bottom width to accommodate a growing baby, or a back-carry option. But for less than 20 bucks, you're getting a reliable, reasonably comfortable, and decently versatile (in terms of weight range and carry positions) baby carrier. Interested? You can check out the Evenflo Breathable Soft Baby Carriers here!

6. You+Me 4-in-1 Ergonomic Baby Carrier.

best baby carrier you+me ergonomic

This is a great back-to-basics soft-structured carrier with some great versatility, especially given the price point of only about $30. There are 4 carry options: front-carry facing in (regular newborn and wide-seat for toddlers), front-carry facing out (6+ months), and back carry (regular newborn and wide-seat for toddlers). It's a bit misleading to suggest that this carrier is as versatile as many of the others on thist list, since they include the two seat width options as additional carry positions. In any event, this is one of the best baby carriers on the market for parents looking for something a bit cheaper without compromising a ton on versatility. It supports babies from 8-32 pounds, has a breathable 3D cool mesh lining that helps with airflow (though it doesn't open on the back so it's not as effective with airflow as many other cool mesh carriers). The carrier is machine washable, and includes a bandana style bib that helps double as a drool guard for the front. In our testing we found it to be comfortable and versatile, the shoulder straps to be sufficiently padded, and the shoulder and waist straps to be sufficiently adjustable for plus-sized (or otherwise big or tall) parents. However, we also found it to be really pretty small overall, especially for taller babies who need more upper support - even with the upper headrest support in the up position, it was pretty limited. The overall security of the straps was a limited as well - especially with the forward-facing front position, we never felt completely secure and the straps weren't very comfortable for longer journeys. Finally, the buckles and adjustments didn't feel very high quality - nothing ever broke or malfunctioned for us, but it felt like a $30 carrier. So overall, this baby carrier offers a nice, versatile option for parents looking for somethign simpler and cheaper, but don't expect any superior levels of comfort, adjustment, or quality.


Why Baby Carriers are Important, and Our Review Process

For full details about how to choose a baby carrier, check out our new baby carrier buying guide!

Babies love being held close to mom or dad, feeling the warm comfort of their chest and the gentle rhythm of their breathing and heartbeat. But unless you're Ronda Rousey or Mark Wahlberg, your arms and shoulders are going to get very tired from lugging around a growing baby all day. That's where baby wraps and slings and soft-structured baby carriers come in!

Each year, there are dozens of new entrants into the baby carrier market, making it challenging to make an informed decision about which ones are best for you and your baby.

Soft structured carriers are the most popular and versatile baby carrier option and come in many different shapes, sizes, prices, and quality levels. Most can be strapped on your front or back to carry the baby parent-facing or outward-facing, and are well tested for safety and durability.

Rather than a wrap, soft structured carriers have an intrinsic padded structure that gives the baby reliable support, minimizing the risk of your baby wiggling into odd positions like you sometimes see with a wrap or sling. Not quite as customizable as the wrap carriers, and not quite as convenient to pack away for travel, but definitely a more user-friendly option without the major learning curve associated with learning how to wrap a baby.

What to Look for in a Baby Carrier

Baby Carrier Ergonomics

To ensure proper hip and back development, the ergonomics of a baby carrier are very important. There are a few things to look for here. First, for the first few months you want your newborn infant to adopt the C spinal alignment, which means there is a nice curvature to your baby's back, with legs tucked up. This is called the "fetal tuck" position, and it reduces pressure on the spine and hips, promoting calmness and easier digestion.

Second, you want your infant (3+ months) baby's buttocks and hamstrings to be supported, putting the baby into a "frog leg" or W-position. In other words, you never want the legs to be dangling down below the carrier (just from the calves down), and this is true for at least the first couple years of life. In contrast, you also don't want just the feet sticking out of the sides.

When testing out the carriers, we looked for the fetal tuck for newborns, and a maintained frog leg position for infants, toddlers, and bigger kids. Of course, we also need to think about ergonomics for mom and dad, not just for baby. As your baby gets heavier, you will realize that ergonomics will become increasingly important to maintain back, shoulder, neck, and hip comfort.

The best baby carriers have criss-crossing shoulder straps that serve to more evenly distribute weight on your body and prevent the straps from falling off your shoulders. They also have a tall waist belt that effectively transfers weight from your shoulders to your hips. Most premium carriers are great examples of this. This is essential for wearing the baby on your front, or on the rear as a baby backpack.

Note that one common issue is compatibility between diaper bags and baby carriers: when you're baby-wearing, it's cumbersome to also carry a diaper bag. Some of the best carriers have storage pockets that can fit some baby essentials, like a diaper and wipes, a pacifier, and maybe some other small baby gear items. In those cases, you can leave your diaper bag at home or in your vehicle.

Baby Carrier Versatility

Gone are the days when a baby carrier can only support a single carrying position. You no longer need separate infant, toddler, big kid, and hiking (backpack) carriers. Nowadays, if you invest in a carrier for newborns, it will be versatile enough to support multiple carrying positions as the baby grows into a toddler and beyond.

At the low end, some carriers have 2 positions, usually front carry parent-facing and outward-facing. At the high end, carriers have six positions, including front carry parent-facing newborn (fetal tuck), front carry parent-facing infant (legs out), front carry outward-facing toddler, hip sling, and back carrier (like a hiking carrier). The best ones tend to be more versatile and last from newborn (about 7+ pounds) until about 4 years old (about 45 pounds), but they also tend to be the most expensive ones.

Baby Carrier Safety & Reliability

Safety is of critical importance when evaluating a baby carrier, and there are a lot of factors to consider here. How is the stitching along the important seams, and where the buckles and zippers attach? What is the quality of the zippers? What is the quality of the clips, fasteners, adjustment slides and loops, and Velcro? How do these components stand the test of time, with repeated wearing and adjustment?

Some carriers use lower quality fasteners, zippers, fabrics, and stitching, and don't do well with repeated wearing. The last thing you want is a malfunction of a weight-bearing component. Safety also considers the baby position, the breathability of the fabric, and the appropriate head and neck support. Our reviews consider short-term hands-on use, and reviews from long-term use, pulling together a wide range of data regarding these safety considerations.

Note that we do not include any ring sling style carriers on our list, given the safety concerns with these carriers. Specifically, while ring slings can be very comfortable and safe when used correctly (and with the appropriate baby ages and sizes), there have been some cases of misuse and negligence. That doesn't mean that you can't use a ring sling, just that you need to be more careful. Here's a good article from Mayo Clinic summarizing that point.

Baby Carrier Ease of Use

Some carriers look great, feel great, are super comfortable and reliable, but are a total pain in the butt to put on, take off, or adjust. Carriers have come a long way in terms of convenience and ease of use, but some are still quite poor in this regard. Our best baby carriers list carefully considers ease of donning, doffing, and adjusting the carrier.

Baby Carrier Comfort & Breathability

After ergonomics are considered and you are certain the baby is in a proper position for safe carrying, comfort is a determining factor as to whether the baby will stay content during an extended journey. The padding needs to be in all the right places: along the back contour, where arms and legs meet open air, on the bum, and wherever a body part might come in contact with a fastening or adjustment component. Less padding around the head and face to ensure breathability and high airflow where it matters. Many premium baby carriers have a zip-open front panel that reveals high airflow mesh fabric that can help keep your baby cool during the warmer months. We love these!

Baby Carrier Cost

Carriers vary widely in pricing, from as low as about $25, to upwards of $250 for the higher quality and more versatile ones with all the bells and whistles. Because our list values versatility, reliability, comfort, safety, etc, it also tends to include some of the more expensive carriers, with a lower price range around $100, up to around $200. We do provide some limited reviews of lower cost (and limited feature) options toward the end of this article. Some of these less expensive options have some great features and can make a really great baby registry gift.

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