The months you may be spending carrying an unborn baby or carrying your newborn in the first few months after birth can take such a toll on your body. I had extreme aches myself when I had my first-born and I was able to overcome the consistent back pains and still carry my baby. As an expert in baby products now, I am excited to offer my unbiased advice to parents looking for the best baby carriers that have good back support in 2020. Most moms will say that motherhood is the most life-changing, beautiful, and treasured gift they have ever experienced and I want to make it easy for you to carry your baby regardless of any back-pain.
One of the most common complaints among mothers is postpartum sciatica. In simpler terms, this is pain that occurs in areas where the sciatic nerve is found. This nerve is the longest in the body running from the lower back and down to the lower extremities. So these women complain of lower back pain, pain that radiates from the hip to the foot, and pins and needles sensation, among other symptoms.
Mostly, this condition starts in the third trimester when the weight of the growing bump compresses the sciatic nerve. Luckily, most affected moms get relief after delivering. Still, some moms perhaps due to the trauma of delivery, start to experience these troubling symptoms for the first time, and others suffer from having their preexisting back problems aggravated.
If you suffer from back pain, you can still carry your baby. In this review, we will be discussing the best carriers that you can use without hurting your back even further. We will also be sharing tips to keep that terrible back pain at bay so you can keep enjoying the sweet moments of wearing your baby. But first, let’s look at:
Why use a baby carrier & benefits
- Holding the baby close in a carrier helps the baby feel loved, happy, and gives them a better playful mood.
- Close contact with your baby boosts breast milk production and promotes frequent breastfeeding.
- Walking around bearing the baby’s weight also counts as a great form of exercising.
- A carrier puts the baby at almost eye level, which promotes early speech development from constantly learning your facial expressions and speech patterns.
- Wearing your baby is a convenient option to keep your baby close and remain hands-free to attend to do other stuff. It also gives you the freedom of going to anywhere without lugging heavy car seats or strollers- imagine crowed places and stairs.
- When your baby held so close to you in a carrier, they feel safe and protected.
- It has been shown by research to promote better digestion, respiratory health, emotional wellbeing, better sleep, and more.
Carrying With Back Pain
Which carrier position for a bad back?
If you have a bad back carrying your baby in a position that distributes the baby’s weight poorly across your tummy will cause your pelvis to incline forward and your spine to be more arched than normal and may make your back pain.
Here are some ways you can carry the baby without hurting your back further:
- Carry the baby higher up in the front facing position to minimize back pain
- Place the baby in the middle of your back, so their weight is distributed evenly on your hips to ease the pressure on your spine.
Keep in mind these are just general guidelines, and that the best position for you would depend on your specific injury. So if you are looking for a suitable carrier, choose one that gives you the option of both fronts and back carries.
A hip seat carrier is a great choice for people with back problems. It consists of a wide waistband with a padded shelf-like seat for the baby. It helps by having the baby’s weight supported by the sturdy seat and belt rather than your back. But it can also worsen the pain for some people depending on the area of injury.
Some hip seats models do not have straps, so you support your baby by holding them close on one or both hands. Other models have removable panels that attach to the waistband allowing you to be hands-free. For anyone with back pain we recommend getting a hip seat model that also has straps to help balance the weight.
It is also a versatile carrier allowing you to carry the baby from the front, hip and back. However, we do not recommend carrying the baby at your side if you have back problems because the weight will pull on your spine unevenly.
Go for good adjustability and several positions
Choose a carrier that allows you to adjust the position where your baby is sitting. That way, if you feel sore in a particular spot, you can shift your baby a bit higher or lower, front or back to get some relief.
Shoulder straps – structure and padding is better
Some baby carriers have shoulder straps in H-style like a backpack with a clip at the back of the head to connect them. This is not the best style for anyone with back pain.
The best carrier designed to distribute weight evenly on your shoulders should have the straps permanently joined into an X-shape or Y shape. A good example is a carrier from Stokke My Carrier shown in the picture above. When the straps are also connected to the waist belt, it helps to distribute the weight evenly on the waistband even further. Even weight distribution not only ensures you are comfortable when carrying your baby but also great for your back.
Consider a carrier with lumbar support on the waist belt like this one on the picture above. Lumbar support is designed to stabilize and cushion your lower back. It helps relieve lower back pressure and allow the baby’s weight to be evenly distributed for a more comfy ride.
Avoid the ring sling
Carrying the baby in a ring sling puts the weight on one shoulder resulting in your body being weighed down on one side and consequently placing pressure on one side of your lower back. You are better off with a carrier that spreads the weight across both shoulders evenly like a wrap.
Now that you know what to avoid and what to look for in a carrier, let’s get to the best carriers for people with back pain
Reviews of Best Baby Carriers with Back Support in 2020
#1. Lillebaby Complete
Lillebaby complete is the overall best carrier for you if you have back pains because it has all the features that help to alleviate back pains. The shoulder straps are wide and well-padded, and you can wear them crisscrossed, which helps to distribute the weight evenly across your back. You can also opt to wear backpack style.
It also has a wide padded waistband to help distribute the baby’s weight evenly on your hips. But it also includes lumbar support to help those with back problems by cushioning and supporting the lower back.
As for carrying options, it is a 6-in-1 baby carrier, allowing various front-facing positions, hip and back carrying styles. This is really helpful if you are suffering from back pain because you can switch to positions that feel comfortable for you.
The other thing to like is that this model has variations for all-weather wear. The airflow model has a temperature regulated panel that you zip up for warmth or zip down to reveal a cool, breathable mesh. Airflow, the best if you live in hot places, is all breathable mesh. The one above is the original version which is all cotton.
- Recommend for babies from 7 to 45 pounds
- Carrying positions: front in (fetal, infant and toddler style), front out, hip, back
- Waistband size: up to 54 inches and extra extension strap that adds 9 inches
- Material: cotton and mesh versions
- It has a crossable shoulder strap option
- It has lumbar support
- Ergonomic and approved hip safe
- It has convenient storage pockets
- Removable hood for
- Has adjustable neck support
- Has breathable mesh versions
- Easy care, machine wash
- It feels bulky or huge for petite moms
- Some customers complain that the material feels rough and tough
- It requires you to have arm flexibility or assistance to clip the buckle on the upper back
#2. Ergobaby 360
Ergobaby 360 carrier is one of the most popular in the babywearing trend with thousands of happy customers and it came second in this 2020 list of best carriers for back support. It is a great carrier for anyone suffering from back pain.
This carrier is designed with comfort in mind. The shoulders are wide and padded to avoid putting any stress on your shoulders. The waistbelt is also wide with lumbar support at the back. Thus, the baby’s weight is distributed evenly on your shoulders and back, without causing you any discomfort.
Even if you are petite or plus size this carrier is very adjustable with the velcro waistband to give you a comfortable fit. It is also versatile, giving you many carrying positions that will be comfortable for you and enjoyable to your little one.
And whenever you are strolling in the sun, your baby stays protected with the provided hood which also doubles up for a cover for discreet breastfeeding.
This is also one of the carriers that have a wide range of color and pattern options that look amazing for both mom and dad.
- Recommended for babies from 12 to 45 pounds ( or from 7 pounds with infant insert, bought separately)
- Carrying positions: front in, front out, hip, back
- Material: cotton
- Waistband: up to 52 inches
- Wide and padded shoulder straps
- Wide waist belt with lumbar support
- Ergonomic and certified hip-healthy
- Allows discreet breastfeeding
- Tons of color options to choose from
- Easy care, machine washable
- Requires an infant insert at an extra cost
- Reviewers find the velcro annoyingly loud
- It is hard to reach the clasp for the shoulder straps
- It does not have pockets
#3. Babysteps Hip Seat
BabySteps Hip Seat is one of the hip seat carriers that are great for people with back pain because it has a detachable panel that allows you to carry the baby backpack style or with the hip seat alone. It is our 3rd best carrier for support of any parent’s back in 2020.
The hip seat is attached to a wide velcro waist belt to distribute the weight evenly over your hips. If you also attach the carrier panel with comfy shoulder straps, the weight is distributed even more nicely over your shoulders and hips, helping to alleviate discomfort on your back.
It is a highly versatile carrier offering up to six positions with the shoulder straps and some with the hip seat alone. Additionally, it comes with an extra strap to use around your neck without the shoulder straps for supporting a weightier toddler in the hip seat hand-free. As you can see, if you have a bad back, you have many adjusting options to help alleviate your pain. However, keep in mind that with a hip seat, it really depends on where your injury is because it places the weight on the belt and around your waist.
If you want to go out, but you don’t want to carry a purse, this carrier has a convenient pocket at the waistband and another one in front to keep a few handy items, keys, phones, cash, etc. and, this pocket opens to reveal breathable mesh if it gets too hot in the day.
The other thing that you will love about this carrier is that all the buckles and clips are easily accessible, making it easy to wear and take off on your own.
- Recommended for babies from 8 to 44 pounds
- Carrying positions: front in, front out, back, hip facing in, hip facing out
- Material: 100% cotton and polyester
- Waist belt: up to 48.8 inches
- Hip seat with padded straps for even weight distribution
- Has a wide waistband to provide back support
- Convenient storage pockets
- Has protective and privacy hood
- Highly versatile
- Great pricing
- Reviewers say that the clips are of poor quality hence break easily
- The side clips squeak when walking
- It can overheat
- Might not fit some plus size people
#4. Baby K’tan wrap
Baby K’tan is famously the no-wrap wrap; you don’t need to wrap and is the 4th on our list of best baby carriers for back support. It has patented double loops, so you slip over your head and put your arms through the loops like wearing a T-shirt. It has sizes from XXS to XL, so you just use your dress size or shirt size to select the K’tan that will fit you.
This is another option to explore because apart from affording you the natural feel and snugness of a wrap, the design can also help some people with bad backs. When wearing the baby in this carrier, the baby actually sits high on your torso so the weight is not placed around your waist or hips, which helps relieve any pain you may be having on your lower back.
As you can see from the picture above, the shoulder straps are worn crisscrossed and bound together, which helps to distribute weight evenly on your upper back and shoulders. They are also wide so as not to dig into your shoulders and you can still spread the material over your shoulder even more to get better weight distribution. However, because the weight concentrates on the upper back and shoulders rather than also spreading to the waist and hips, it may trigger soreness and pain for some people, especially the busty moms.
It is also a versatile carrier giving you 5 different carrying positions so you can switch to any that feels comfortable and enjoyable for you and your baby.
Baby K’tan also has other models for summer wear. They have a Breeze model with mesh on one to keep you cool, and an Active model with mesh, UVA protection, and moisture-wicking fabric, ensuring you are not drenching in sweat.
- Recommended for newborn up to 35 pounds
- Carrying positions: front facing in (kangaroo and hug), front-facing out, front-facing sideways, hip.
- Material: cotton, versions of the mesh
- Size: XXL to XL
- Easiest to wear
- Excellent shoulder support
- Versatile, five carrying positions
- Allows breastfeeding
- Easy care, Machine wash, and dryer safe
- Approved hip-healthy
- Might be tricky for some people to find a fitting size
- Does not have a hood or pocket
- Not flexible to accommodate different wearers, no sharing
- Uneven weight distribution may cause shoulder pain for some wearers
#5. Ergobaby Omni 360 all-in-one cool air mesh baby carrier
If you are looking for a back-support carrier with a breathable air mesh, Ergoaby Omni 360 is your best option. This carrier shares a lot of the similarities with the Ergo original we saw above, but there are a few differences. The first obvious difference is that the Cool version is all mesh while the original 360 was cotton. This is the carrier to choose if you live in hot places. Second, the Cool version has a buckle waist belt instead of velcro which customers disliked in the original Ergo due to the loudness.
The Ergo cool air mesh carrier is well designed, premium quality materials, and adjustable to fit all body types. It has cushy shoulder straps, a wide waistband, and padded lumbar support, making it super comfortable to wear even with a bad back.
This carrier allows all carry positions (front, hip, and back), so you can adjust to whatever you find comfortable and enjoyable for you and your little one. The good thing is that it distributes weight evenly across the shoulders and hips so as not to strain your back.
- Recommended for babies from 12 to 45 pounds or from 7pounds with an infant insert, bought separately
- Carrying positions: Front inward, front-outward, hip, back
- Material: mesh
- Waistband size: up to 54 inches
- Lightweight and breathable
- Various stylish designs to choose from
- Wide waistband with lumbar support
- It has padded shoulder straps
- UVA 50 tuck-able hood
- Machine washable
- It does not have pockets
- Some customers complain that the mesh fabric is hard and scratchy
#6. Nuna Cudl carrier
Nuna Cudl is a new carrier that just hit the market in June this year, so it does not have a lot of reviews and it is our 5th best baby carrier most suitable for back support. However, it is stylish, innovative, safe, and comfortable for you and the baby.
This carrier can be used from birth up to 4 years with the integrated infant booster to hold babies four months and below more comfortably. It allows you to carry facing in, facing out, and back depending on your baby’s age.
If you suffer from a bad back, this carrier may work well for you because it has cushy shoulder straps and a wide waist belt to distribute the weight evenly on your hips and shoulders.
You will also love its innovative design with magnetic buckles that make wearing and taking off a breeze. Plus a convenient pocket for small handy items and two organic cotton bibs included.
You will also not be sweating buckets, because this carrier is all meshy and airy, keeping you and the baby comfortably cool under hot weather.
- Recommended for babies from 0 to 4 years
- Carrying positions: facing in, facing out, back
- Material: Oeko-Tex with mesh
- Waistband size: up to 57 inches
- Premium quality and stylish
- Approved hip-healthy
- Wide padded shoulders and waistband for comfort
- Includes convenient pockets and two bibs
- Easy wear, magnetic buckles
- Breathable mesh fabric
- Includes infant booster to support small babies
- Does not have lumbar support
#7. Zarpar Bebe Bohemian Sands Snap Baby Carrier
Zarpar Bebe Snap Baby Carrier is an Australian wrap made in Nepal and Indonesia. It is designed like a wrap but with ease of buckles.
It is made with linen fabric making it lightweight, absorbent, and cool- the perfect carrier for summer adventures.
It provides an ergonomic seating position for the baby, with front and back carrying modes. With wide shoulder straps that are worn crisscrossed across your back and a wide padded waistband, the baby weight is evenly distributed, keeping you in proper posture and comfort.
The other impressive thing with this carrier is that it is very simple to use and doesn’t require any assistance to wear. The buckles secure at the front, making it easy and quick to wear or take off. The shoulder straps and belt are also easy to adjust to fit multiple wearers.
Moms will also love that they can breastfeed on the move. You can loosen the straps to lower the baby and shift the waistband to the side you want to nurse from. The large hood will keep things discrete from curious eyes as well as shield your baby from the sun or wind.
- Recommended for babies from 4 months (5.5 kgs to 15 kgs)
- Carry Positions: facing in, hip, back
- Material: 100% Linen
- Waistband size: women dress size 8 to 22, men XL
- Soft and comfortable material
- Simple and easy to use
- Certified hip-healthy
- Wide and crossable shoulder straps to distribute weight evenly
- Easily adjustable panels
- Suitable for all body types
- Machine washable
- Does not allow front facing out carrying position
#8. BabyBjorn baby carrier one – ergonomic edition
BabyBjorn ergonomic edition is a very stylish carrier designed with comfort in mind. This version uses soft materials that feel cozy for your baby.
If you have a bad back, this carrier has form-fitting shoulder straps and a sturdy waist belt, so you will hardly feel weighed down as you carry your little one. The wide waist belt helps support your back and distribute the weight on your hips, preventing any discomfort on the shoulders and back.
This carrier keeps your baby in the recommended ergonomic position where thighs are supported to almost knee level to allow healthy hips development. And it will enable you to switch between four carrying positions to keep your baby happy and ensure you are comfortable.
- Recommended for newborns up to 3 years/ 8 to 33 pounds
- Carry positions: front in, facing out, back
- Material: Oeko-tex tested fabrics
- Soft and plush padded for comfort
- Does not need an infant insert
- Has padded shoulders and a sturdy waist belt
- Acknowledged hip-healthy
- Machine washable
- Hard to adjust the strap joining the shoulder straps on your upper back on your own
- No lumbar support
- No hip carry option
7 tips for preventing child wearing back pain
There are set guidelines stating how many hours you should spend carrying your baby, but it is wise that you cut down the duration as soon as you start having discomfort. You can also use the following tips to avoid pain on your back:
- When carrying the baby in front of your body, position the baby high enough that you can easily kiss the top of their head. This helps to minimize pressure on your back.
- Tighten the carrier to keep the baby as close to your body as possible. Wearing the baby too loose increases pressure on your lower back.
- When using a soft structured carrier, ensure you secure the waistband tightly over your hips so that the baby’s weight is on your hips instead of your back.
- When wearing the shoulder straps of your SSC, ensure you tighten them sufficiently and evenly.
- Switch to back carry position when your toddler reaches 6 months or 20 pounds. Carrying a heavy baby from the front strains your back and can cause lower back pain.
- Consider back wearing once your baby is old enough to support their head. Avoid the forward-facing position on your front because it can place pressure on your lower back and pelvic floor, leading to many undesirable issues like back pain and urinary incontinence.
- If you have suffered from back pain in the past, you can still be able to carry your baby. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist first to get the go-ahead. They will also advise you on how best to carry depending on where your injury was. Then select a carrier that is designed to distribute the baby’s weight evenly across your shoulders and hips.
Buyer guide – what to consider when buying carriers for back pain
There are different types of carriers that you can use even if you suffer from back pain. Below are some factors you need to consider as you look for a suitable carrier that won’t worsen your problem:
Your child’s age
Some carriers work better for newborns others for older babies. For instance, a wrap gives the best carrying positions for preemies and newborns and can be used until 15 pounds. On the other hand, Soft-structured carriers are great for bigger babies and have a higher weight capacity up to about 45 pounds.
Since you will be carrying your baby from their first months of life to a year, you want a carrier that keeps them seated in an ergonomic position. For newborns and preemies, their legs should stay together and tuck with their back curved. For infants above three months, the carrier should support their thighs and buttocks so that the legs are not dangling to encourage the hips to develop normally.
Reliability and safety
When you choose a carrier, you need to be confident that it is safe for your baby. Start by checking the weight and height restriction on the carrier before putting your baby in it. Ensure it is well made to endure long periods of babywearing without the zippers, buckles, and seams coming undone. It should also have enough room for your baby to wiggle a bit without being too loose that they can fall out. And it should be able to support your baby’s neck.
Although most carriers have a universal fit and can be shared with family members, some are size-specific. It is a good idea to try a carrier before you buy to ensure it fits comfortably, and it does not cause pain on your back.
You want a carrier that offers you multiple carry positions. If you have a bad back, a carrier that allows front carry is great so that you can take the weight off your lower back.
No matter how safe or nice-looking a carrier is if it is not comfortable for the baby and you, it is not worth considering. You want soft materials, padding in the right places, and wide shoulder straps and waistband to distribute the weight so as not to strain your back or shoulders even with long wear. Also, consider airy material if you will be babywearing in hot weather.
Weight of the carrier
If you already have back problems you don’t want to compound your misery with a carrier that weighs a ton on top of your already weighty baby. Choose a safe, comfortable, and lightweight carrier. Avoid those with heavy materials and heavy frames.
Ease of use
There is always a bit of a learning curve when you first start using a baby carrier but some are easier than others. Wraps are especially difficult for a beginner and also some SSCs that have so many pieces of buckles, straps, zippers that can be confusing.
If you have to get a headache and take hours just to wear a carrier, it’s not worth it. Choose a carrier you can use with ease. And if you can wear it faster on your own it is even better.
Ease of Cleaning
Messes come hand in hand with a baby. Choose a carrier that you can conveniently toss in the machine for easy cleaning and drying. It will help keep it looking fresh and prolong user life. Some models recommend only spot cleaning others recommend air drying only. Consider what is workable for your situation.
Types of baby carriers
Basically, there are five different types of carriers. Each has its own unique characteristics, so you need to consider which ones are most desirable for you in a carrier. The five types of carriers are:
- Ring sling
- Soft Structured carriers
- Baby pouch/ pouch slings
Babywearing tips for those with high back pain
If you normally experience pain in your upper back, below are a few points to keep in mind as you wear your baby, so as not to hurt your back even further:
Lift your baby carefully when placing your baby in the carrier at all times
Bend your knees as you lift the baby into the carrier
Avoid jumping and bouncing games while carrying the baby; sudden movements can cause the buckles or snaps to come undone.
Start babywearing for a few minutes then progress to longer and longer durations as you feel comfortably possible.
Choose a carrier that distributes weight evenly on your hips to relieve upper back and wear the baby close to your body as possible.
How to wear a baby carrier if you have back pain
The following are some principles to apply when wearing a baby carrier if you have a bad back or a history of bad backs.
Don’t let your baby slant forward because it will cause you to bend your back to support the weight, and could lead to strain and muscle or joint injury. The idea is to keep your baby close to you in an upright position so you can also maintain the correct posture.
Secure the straps tightly to keep the baby stable and not sagging; this, in turn, keeps your back from slouching, which causes pain.
Choose front carry over a back position to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the back muscles.