It might be hard to put your little one down the first week they are home. From soft baby skin to that newborn baby smell, babies are irresistible. Even so, newborns come with a lot of responsibilities and you’ll need your hands free to make bottles, sort through baby clothes, and get things done around the house.
Babies aren’t always cooperative when you try to set them down. The alternative? Wear your little one.
Below, you’ll find our list of the best affordable baby carrier options. This includes everything from soft-structured carriers to ring slings and baby wraps.
Best Budget Baby Carrier – Soft-Structured
Soft-structured baby carriers use straps, buckles, and supportive fabrics to keep your little one close to your body. New parents may prefer the because the buckles look less intimidating than tying a baby wrap. Even though a carrier might be a good choice for families where many people are going to be carrying the baby, wraps are easy to tie once you get some practice.
On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $25-50 for a basic carrier and upwards of $100-200 for some of the more expensive models.
For parents looking to save big bucks, the Evenflo model mentioned costs less than $15!
Evenflo Infant Soft Carrier
The Evenflo Infant Soft Carrier is small and compact, which makes it easier to take on the go. A side-entry makes it easier to slide your little one inside and the buckle clicks audibly so you know they are secure inside.
The headrest of this carrier is padded for your baby’s comfort and provides enough support that it can be used starting from 7 pounds.
The straps are padded and adjustable to fit small to plus-sized parents.
Even though the manufacturer recommends a maximum weight limit of just 25 pounds, there is not a lot of back support once your baby is older.
In addition to being compact, this carrier is also easy to clean. It has machine washable fabric and holds its shape in the wash.
- Very affordable
- Works with newborns
- Adjustable and well-padded
- Machine washable
- Not a lot of support for older children
Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier
The Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier has a slightly higher weight range than the previous model, being recommended for infants 8-32 pounds. It works facing inward for an infant and an older baby, having either a wide or narrow seat.
The carrier also can be used with your little one froward-facing, either on your front or on your back.
The carrier is easy to adjust and has good back and shoulder support. There are a lot of buckles to pull and straps to tighten once your little one is in the carrier, but the added support keeps their head and neck supported when they are young.
Overall, this carrier is lighter weight and less bulky than some other options. However, the position of the belts and adjustable straps could be better positioned. They can be scratchy on your little one’s face.
As an added benefit, a 2-in-1 bib works to protect the carrier and your clothes from drool or spit-up. If your little one does make a mess, the bib is machine washable.
- Easy to adjust
- Good back and shoulder support
- 2-in-1 bib included
- Lightweight, low-bulk design
- Positioning of straps and buckles are too close to child’s face
Cheap Baby Wraps and Ring Slings
Baby wraps and ring slings are made of a long, supportive piece of fabric that you tie around your body and make a pouch for your baby. They can usually be used from infant size because of the support they offer, though it’s very important to be sure your baby has enough room to breathe in the pouch.
Another major benefit of the wrap style is that you don’t usually need an extra blanket for discreet breastfeeding. Your little one is close and covered, so you can feed them comfortably anywhere.
Wraps and ring slings are similarly priced, usually ranging from $25-50. There are some higher-end wraps made of higher-quality fabrics like bamboo that can be more expensive, ranging from $60-80.
KeaBabies Baby Carrier All-in-1 Stretchy Wrap
The KeaBabies Baby Carrier All-in-1 Stretchy Wrap is wider and longer than the average wrap. By folding it in half, you create a safe pocket for newborns. This wrap is also available in several colors.
Once your little one is bigger, the wrap also helps maintain the M’ shape that is important for their legs. This wrap can be used until they are 35 pounds.
For parents who are intimidated about tying a wrap for the first time, there are tutorials online that can make it easier to learn. There is a learning curve with all wraps, but once you practice a few times, you’ll quickly become a pro.
If you’re shopping for a baby shower, you’ll appreciate that this wrap comes in a gift box. There is no fabric information available online for this cheap baby carrier, but the fabric is soft. It is also machine washable.
Another bonus is the warrantythis can be returned for a full year after being purchased.
- Wider and longer than most baby wraps
- Comes in a gift box in several colors
- Cradles your baby closely
- Stretchy but supportive
- Machine washable
- No information available about fabric composition
Kids N’ Such 4-in-1 Baby Wrap Carrier and Ring Sling
The great thing about the Kids N’ Such 4-in-1 Baby Wrap is that it functions as a wrap and a ring sling. Since parents don’t always know which style works best for them, these wraps give you the option to choose in a single inexpensive baby carrier.
Many parents have also chosen this wrap, as it is a recipient of the 2020 National Parenting Product Awards. In addition to the soft cotton wrap, it also comes with an instruction booklet, two rings, and a carrying pouch.
The 4-in-1 design functions as a hip carry, sling carry, or dad carry. It also works as a belly band for moms trying to tighten their stomach postpartum.
The fabric is made of 95% cotton and 5% spandex. It is soft and stretchy but retains its shape well enough to provide the support your little one needs. It is also breathable enough for comfort in the summer. If it gets dirty, just put the wrap in the wash.
Even though this wrap is incredibly versatile, some parents had trouble securing it because it is so long. More than likely, the wrap will drag on the floor when putting it on.
- Four functions for versatile carrying styles
- Fabric is soft and stretchy but provides support
- Received 2020 National Parenting Product Awards
- Fabric is breathable
- Might be too long for some parent’s preference
Vlokup Baby Ring Sling Wrap
The Vlokup Baby Ring Sling Wrap costs less than $20 so it is the best wrap on a budget. It has a weight range of 8-30 pounds and is designed to be used in and out of water.
A unique jersey mesh design and polyester fabric make it perfect for pool time with your little one. Like many ring slings, it has versatile folds including tummy-to-tummy, tummy with leg out, hip carry, and kangaroo carry.
The fabric also dries quickly, which is nice when you are spending by the pool or on the beach. It is not as soft as some other fabrics, but that is expected for the design. The design does make it breathable.
The fabric is stretchier than some other fabrics, which can be a problem for heavier toddlers. Some parents also did not like the extra-long tail, which can get in the way in the pool.
There is a wide range of colors for this baby sling wrap. Unfortunately, they do not always appear the same color when they arrive as the pictures show online.
- Jersey mesh fabric is breathable
- Dries fast
- Works well for in or out of the water
- Wide range of colors
- Versatile design works from 8-30 pounds
- Tail might be too long for smaller parents
- Not true to color
Finding an Inexpensive Baby Carrier
Even though baby carriers are quite as expensive as car seats, all the little things you buy for your new baby add up.
Baby carriers are a good item to buy secondhand, as it is easy to check for rips, damaged hardware, or other defects caused by use. One thing to be aware of is the type of fabricsome baby wraps stretch out over time and won’t provide the support your baby needs.
Clearance sales are another good option, especially if you are trying to find a cheap Baby Bjorn or LILLEbaby carrier. These are more expensive options, ranging from $75-150 and can be significantly discounted when stores have a sale.
The best cheap baby carrier is one that fits into your lifestyle. Some parents prefer a soft-structured model with buckles and adjustable straps, while others find a wrap suits their needs better.
The important thing is choosing a model that provides your little one’s head and neck (and your back and shoulders) with the support needed to make babywearing comfortable.
All of these choices meet that criteria, plus they stay in your budget so that you have more money to spend on your sweet family.