The Best Soft Structured Baby Carriers

Nothing beats the bond of having your baby close in a carrier against your chest. Parents and experts alike often recommend a baby carrier for the newborn stage and beyond because they offer a hands-free way for caregivers to get things done around the house, an easier way to transport a baby on the go, can soothe infants to reduce crying and support the bond between baby and their caregivers.

Whether you’re looking to add a baby carrier to your registry or want to start babywearing with your baby, choosing between all the options on the market can feel overwhelming. 

You’ve come to the right place - we get it. When preparing for a new baby, or entering a new developmental stage, it feels like there are a million questions and decisions to make! Shopping for a baby carrier can be particularly challenging because of all the different options. Every baby is unique, and different carriers are best suited for different developmental stages and weights. 

If you’re looking for an introduction to babywearing, be sure to check out our Baby Carriers 101 post which outlines all the different types of carriers including wraps, slings, backpack carries and more. In this guide, we’ll specifically explore SSCs (Soft Structured Carriers) which are great for parents who are new to babywearing and are typically what you’d imagine when thinking of a traditional baby carrier. 

Okay, let’s get into it. 


What are SSCs?

 

Soft Structured Carriers, known as SSC or “front packs”, feature a buckled, padded waistband, shoulder straps with padding, and a back panel. SSCs are probably what you first imagine when you think of a baby carrier. This type of carrier is typically recommended for 7 lbs up to 40 lbs, depending on the manufacturer's specifications, but generally, they can support babies at the newborn stage through toddlerhood.

These are easy to slip on and offer adjustable straps and buckles to ensure a comfortable and supportive fit for baby and caregiver. While some varieties are intended for the newborn stage, many grow with baby into toddlerhood and offer front inward, front outward, and back carry positions. SSCs are ergonomically designed to distribute weight evenly for the wearer. Many premium brands in the JoyLet collection are designed with performance fabrics or mesh that are ultra-breathable and come in fashion-forward patterns or colors. Unlike woven wraps, SSCs don't require any special skills or techniques to use. They're a favorite for parents seeking a hassle-free carrier that's simple to put on, remove, and adjust.

SSCs are bulkier than wrap options and may be more challenging to fit into an everyday diaper bag or purse. Unless you choose a model designed for infants, you may need an infant insert or to wait until baby gets a little bigger to get full use out of your carrier. And, while carriers can support carrying toddlers up to 40 lbs, it may be uncomfortable for extended use after age 3. 


How to Choose a SSC 

After tons of research and testing on many SSCs, we developed our own evaluation system for SSCs based on several important factors that significantly contribute to the ultimate comfort for both child and parent: 

  • Age range: how long you can use it
  • Breathable mesh: ensures both baby and caregiver can feel comfortable while babywearing 
  • Easy-to-clean fabrics: for the sake of your time and effort 
  • Seat and support design: ensuring proper hip placement for baby and evenly distributed weight for the caregiver 
  • Positions: different options you will need in different situations
  • Ease of use: low learning curves for busy parents 
  • Safety standards: including any relevant authority certificates related to health and safety

Consider JoyLet your trusted partner in parenting. Our team is made up of parents and baby gear experts, including a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST). We've rented and cared for tons of gear and have seen it all. We understand how real families like yours actually use various pieces of gear and how gear stands up to wear and tear over time. Count on us to provide unbiased guidance to help you make the right choice for your family.

All that being said, here are our top picks for the best Soft Structured Baby Carriers. 

We have picked these three SSCs as our top recommendation for parents:


Before delving into the specific recommendation aspects for each carrier, we want to highlight that BABYBJÖRN® and Ergobaby brands have both created carriers that have been recognized as “Hip-Healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI). According to the IHDI, products that encourage healthy hip development are especially important during the first six months of a child's life, when their hips are growing rapidly. 

baby bjorn soft structured carrier

BABYBJÖRN® Baby Carrier Mini (Mesh)

BABYBJÖRN® Baby Carrier Harmony 

Ergobaby Omni Breeze Baby Carrier

Best for families who: 

Who are looking for a more compact, newborn-specific carrier for the first year 

Who are looking for a super stylish, supportive, and versatile carrier for babies and toddlers 

Who are looking for a very structured, adjustable, and supportive carrier for longer periods on the go

Age Range

0-12 months; 7lbs to 25lbs 

Newborn to toddlerhood; 7lbs to 40 lbs 

Newborn to toddlerhood; 7lbs to 40 lbs

Breathable mesh

Yes 

Yes

Yes 

Ease of cleaning 

Machine washable, hang to dry

Machine washable, hang to dry

Machine washable, hang to dry

Seat and support design

Sturdy and adjustable head support, with soft fabrics to hug baby’s back, legs, and hips

Flexible head support with 3 positions, certified “hip healthy” by The International Hip Dysplasia Institute

Adjustable head support, sheat that adjust size as baby grows, certified “hip healthy” by the The International Hip Dysplasia Institute

Positions

Front inward and outward carry positions (after 5 months) 

Front inward and outward carry (with special newborn position), and back inward carry positions (after 1 year)

Front inward and outward carry), hip carry, and back inward carry positions (after 5-6 months)

Ease of use 

Simple design is more intuitive than others and easy to take on and off by yourself 

Slight learning curve, but easy once understood; bulkier design is less compact than Mini 

Slight learning curve, buy easy once understood; bulkier design is not compact 

Included in JoyLet Membership? 

Yes 

Yes

Yes 

Non-member monthly rental rate

$55/mo

$55/mo

$55/mo



BABYBJÖRN® Baby Carrier Mini (Mesh)


This soft structured baby carrier is good for newborn parents seeking a minimalist and easy-to-use baby carrier. Many families in our community found this carrier as a perfect first baby carrier for a newborn.

Not all carriers work well for newborn babies, however the BabyBjorn Mini was thoughtfully designed with special features to ensure newborns have a cozy fit. This carrier offers leg straps that reduce the leg opening for newborns between 7 and 10 lbs, sturdy and adjustable head support, and a feature that allows you to easily unfasten the entire front section to put a sleeping baby to sleep without disturbing them. We love how soft the fabrics are that they can gently hug your baby’s back, legs and hips and provide good support. The flexible fabric of this baby carrier allows you to see and feel your newborn’s position and the natural C-curve of their back.

Tired newborn caregivers will appreciate this carrier’s ease of use; it has been designed more intuitively than other options, without complicated straps or buttons that can get in the way. You’ll find color-coded slots and a measuring-tape style section that make adjusting the the panel to fit baby’s size easy. We’ve chosen the soft mesh fabric for our collection because it is breathable for both baby and caregiver. 

The BabyBjorn Mini allows you to front carry two ways - inward and outward facing. Be sure that you don’t transition to the outward front carry position until baby reaches 5 months. Looking for carriers that you can use on your back? Read on for other options. 

At JoyLet, our top priorities are safety and cleanliness. The BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Mini is machine washable and complies with both the European EN 13209-2:2015 and the American ASTM F2236 safety standards for baby carriers.

Pros 

  • Specifically designed for newborns with newborn-specific features.  
  • The front section can be easily unfastened to lift out a sleeping baby without disturbing them.
  • Provides the flexibility to carry the baby in front inward and outward carry positions (after 5 months). 
  • Especially easy to use, and a good introduction to babywearing.  
  • Fits more easily into a diaper bag than traditional SSCs. 

Cons 

  • The max age limit for this carrier is 12 months, so if caregivers expect to babywear beyond that timeframe, they should use JoyLet to swap for another carrier. 
  • The minimalist design provides less padding and support compared to other soft structured carriers, which could potentially affect comfort during longer wearing sessions.
  • While breathable, the mesh material may not offer as much warmth or protection in cooler weather conditions compared to carriers made from thicker fabrics.

*Monthly Rental Price: $55/month (Retail Price: $109.99)

Rent From JoyLet Now


BABYBJÖRN® Baby Carrier Harmony

This soft structured baby carrier is well-recognized as one of the most popular carriers on the market for good reason. It is stylish, versatile, and supportive for both parents and babies making it a good choice for longer babywearing sessions from the baby stage through toddlerhood (around 3 years, or 40 lbs). We love the luxe breathable mesh of this carrier that keeps babies and caregivers cool while wearing. 

While many all-purpose carriers don’t work well at the newborn stage, the BabyBjorn Harmony can be adjusted in the front inward carry position by moving up the waist belt higher up your torso for newborns from a minimum weight of 7 lbs. Once baby grows the pressure-relieving waist belt can be moved down to hips to better distribute their weight. Once baby reaches 5 months and can hold their head up unaided, it can be used in the front outward carry position and when baby reaches 1 year, it can also be used as a back carrier. 

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has evaluated BabyBjorn Harmony and declared it to be “hip healthy” when used in accordance with the instructions. This means that the BabyBjorn Harmony provides proper support for baby’s hips. 

Caregivers will love the padded straps, waistband, and good support this carrier provides. Because of all the adjustable positions, this carrier offers various buckles, zips, and poppers which make it slightly more bulky to take on the go. Harness and straps create a layer between caregiver and baby which is great for support, but can create challenges if you’ll be breastfeeding while the baby is in the carrier or the straps may push down on breasts, causing discomfort. Caregivers agree that it may take a bit more of a learning curve than the BabyBjorn Mini but once you get the hang of it, it is easy to use and adjust. 

While this carrier can be used in the newborn stage, we find that in practice, newborn parents may prefer the BabyBjorn Mini, which is less bulky for those early months, and transition to this carrier around 8 to 12 months.

At JoyLet, our top priorities are safety and cleanliness. Baby Carrier Harmony meets European or American safety standards, depending on the sales market: EN 13209-2:2015 or ASTM F2236.

Pros 

  • Padded shoulder straps and back support make this carrier ideal for longer carrying sessions or heavier children.
  • Soft and breathable mesh helps keep the baby and caregiver cool. 
  • Four carrying positions cater to different needs and preferences as your baby grows.
  • Designed for intuitive use, making it easy for parents to put on and adjust without assistance.

Cons 

  • Despite being ergonomic, this carrier may still feel bulky or cumbersome for some users, particularly for carrying newborns around your home or for short trips.
  • Does not include a storage pouch.
  • Harness and straps create a layer between caregiver and baby which can create challenges if you’ll be breastfeeding while the baby is in the carrier or the straps may push down on breasts causing discomfort.
  • No hip carry position is available. 

*Rental Price: $55/month (Retail Price: $239.99)

Rent From JoyLet Now


Ergobaby Omni Breeze Baby Carrier


This soft structured carrier is highly awarded as #1 in airflow, a Good Housekeeping Parent Award Winner for Top Transport Gear, and chosen as a Parents Magazine Best for Baby Award Winner. Parents in our community love the on-the-go pouch, the adjustability that can better suit petite parents, and supportive design making it a good choice for the baby stage through toddlerhood. 

While many all-purpose carriers don’t work well at the newborn stage, the Ergobaby Omni Breeze provides knee-to-knee support, promoting the optimal "M" leg position which is crucial for healthy hip development. The soft, breathable mesh fabric ensures that even the youngest babies stay cool and comfortable, while the adjustable head and neck support keeps them secure and well-supported. The carrier's straps can be crossed at the back for added security, particularly beneficial for smaller babies who need closer contact and more stability. Once baby reaches 5 months and can hold their head up unaided, it can be used in the front outward carry position and Ergobaby notes after 5 to 6 months, it can also be used as a hip and back carrier. However, many families will wait until closer to 1 year to back carry. 

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has evaluated Ergobaby Omni Breeze carrier and declared it to be “hip healthy” when used in accordance with the instructions. This means that the Ergobaby Omni Breeze provides proper support for baby’s hips. 

This carrier is truly in its element for on-the-go adventures and longer babywearing sessions. It is designed to accommodate various body types, this carrier offers adjustable shoulder straps that can be worn in an "H" or "X" configuration, ensuring a snug fit for both petite and plus-size parents. Caregivers will notice the wide, supportive waistband and thick straps enhance comfort for the long-haul. However, this is a bulkier carrier because of how it adjusts and supports parents.  Plus, this carrier offers extra accessories like pockets, storage, and a hood for privacy and sun protection. Breastfeeding parents will also appreciate the option to breastfeed while baby is in the carrier. 

While this carrier can be used in the newborn stage, we find that in practice newborn parents may prefer the BabyBjorn Mini which is less bulky for those early months, and transition to this carrier around 8 to 12 months.

The Ergobaby Omni Breeze baby carrier is designed with comprehensive safety and ergonomic standards. Additionally, it adheres to ASTM and CPSIA standards, which are critical for baby products in the U.S., ensuring it is free from harmful substances and built to robust safety specifications​ 

Pros 

  • Versatile fit for caregivers of all sizes and builds including moms, dads, petite and bulkier builds. 
  • No layer in between you and baby providing ultimate closeness and easier access for breastfeeding while in the carrier.
  • Mesh design and extensive mesh coverage ensure optimal airflow, keeping both parent and baby cool and comfortable.
  • Four carrying modes to accommodate the baby's growth and various carrying preferences.
  • Extras like pockets, storage, and a sun shade make this carrier a fan-favorite.

Cons

  • While breathable, the mesh material may not offer as much warmth or protection in cooler weather conditions compared to carriers made from thicker fabrics.
  • Buckles connecting the shoulder straps on the back of the wearer's body can be difficult for some wearers to clasp on their own. 
  • The bulkier design may make it hard to bring it along for quick trips or when needing to pack it away. 

*Rental Price: $55/month (Retail Price: $199.00)

Rent From JoyLet Now


How to get your soft structured baby carrier – should you buy a new baby carrier, get a secondhand baby carrier or rent your baby carrier?

Many families find that different carriers are best suited for different developmental stages and milestones. While a newborn SSC may be the ideal cozy spot for a newborn, parents will likely be looking for more all-purpose SSC with support by the time baby surpasses the six-month milestone. Then, throughout toddlerhood, families may discover a need for an everyday hip seat or an adventure-ready backpack carrier. To learn more about the different types of carriers check out our Baby Carriers 101 Guide. Investing in each of these pieces individually can cost parents time spent researching each new item, hundreds of dollars purchasing each one, and stress as old carriers accumulate throughout their homes. 

While buying carriers secondhand can seem like a good way to save money, parents can run into unforeseen issues when buying through an unmanaged platform like FB Marketplace. Issues with secondhand baby items include the prevalence of counterfeits, recalled items still in circulation, quality or safety problems, and cleanliness issues. We always recommend parents research the make and model to ensure it has not been recalled. Some manufacturers like ErgoBaby offer used carriers for sale through their Everlove program which is a safer bet in our opinion. Further, buying secondhand doesn’t eliminate the need for trial and error to find the right fit, storage issues, and resale hassles. 

A rental membership like JoyLet can offer busy families the freedom and flexibility to try and swap carriers (and other gear) to ensure they find the perfect fit for baby and parent’s unique preferences. Our membership ensures families always have the right gear at the right time to meet their child’s constantly changing developmental needs. Plus, there’s nothing better than getting unused gear out of your home, so it doesn’t clutter up your living space when you’re ready to move on to what is next.
Back to blog