First-off take your partner with you. Jeff enjoyed baby-wearing SO much and he knew he would so I had a goal of us using the same carrier and then realized men and women carry differently b/c of body structure.
We have purchased SO many and spent 2 days in Alberta trying on every carrier with a weighted doll stores supplied.
CSection Mamas Tip: During fresh recovery I LOVED wrap carrier (Solly/Beluga) for the compression.
THE EVERYTHING CARRIER and our FAV 14-34lbs (imo) : Our number 1 baby item ever was our I-angel Miracle Carrier - not cheap (WCK and Indigo use to sell it). I had never seen it before or even heard of it but the woman that was working said it's her #1 and to give it a shot... I was also in the mindset we drove 8 hours, I will absolutely try everything.
We were able to use it past 2 years old with little to no effort b/c of the styrofoam hip-seat. It is not fashion forward but I could take my 30 lb toddler on my back for hours without pain and grief. Carrier are like jeans or backpacks, they fit everyone differently but this one my parents have borrowed even to and we all love it. My only tip is to be careful with velcro strap if you have delicate clothes.
Non-structured Carriers : The newborn snuggle phase. How I miss it dearly! We purchased a Solly Baby, paid crazy duty fees but Beluga Baby (Canadian) I had not heard of when I was pregnant. Although I really don't appreciate the enormous logo; it's the same thing. Lots do not like this carrier b/c it's an art to put on. My Husband watched the youtube/insta video twice and managed to get it first try and I practiced a handful of times pregnant and had it down. If you have a summer baby I LOVED the We Made Me Flow wrap (same thing but mesh and stretchy) - Deb at Ready Set Baby showed me it and I found it different enough to purchase as well but I think this company did not survive the pandemic b/c they are at TJMaxx stores for 50% OFF frequently now. If manually doing a wrap does not interest you these were my fav structured small baby carriers.
SMALL/FRESH Carriers with more structure:
Boppy Comfyfit https://amzn.to/3zTxiaB
- great price point, comfy and easy for small babies. You will notice majority of carriers are not meant for fresh babies which is annoying (minus the wrap above or ring slings (not my style personally didn't love as much as I tried to get onboard). I garden and pack orders and such and wanted the head to be supported and the baby to be in the proper M position while also propped up high enough that you can kiss their head. If you want even more structure the
Baby Bjorn Carrier FREE Mesh https://amzn.to/3zTUYfd
Super great for small babies, not a great price point when I only would like/use for under a year old but love how they structured head support and the only Baby Bjorn carrier that I liked, its unique for its purpose. The Baby Bjorn ONE (as seen on Jillian Harris) drove me crazy because you put on like a backpack and it also isn't skin to skin there is a barrier which I found very annoying, I sold it after one use.
Structured Carriers -
Lille Baby All Seasons COMPLETE https://amzn.to/3Gnkagt
I found this one with a million adjustments, slightly annoying but when baby was small it was great and had awesome head-support. I preferred my I-angel over everything but I understand it has a high price point so I'm giving other options (although if I could only buy 1 the I-Angel would be it FORSURE). OR if the Lille Baby didn't suit your fancy I did like the Ergobaby Omni 360 (which is now the
Ergobaby Omni BREEZE https://amzn.to/3nkqe1L
with some great upgrades). It is slightly simpler to understand but the Lillebaby did fit a small baby better for the beginning. There would be no purpose to own both of these and they both do well for resale so it's all about preference.
Quick on and off: I love the idea of ring slings but could not find the love for them. My compromise that I found genius is the
We Made Me Smile Classic https://amzn.to/3FhfuHr
(I paid $85 but they are found at Winners/Home Sense/Marshalls often for 50% OFF in the last year I have noticed. It is comfy and you literally just slip on, nothing crazy to fuss about and a must have IMO (when we are in a normal world and are popping in and out of places!).
HIKES/Exploring: We did buy the Thule Sapling and I almost lost my mind. Downside of living in SK is no one has hiking carriers to try. I would've tried the Deuter or Osprey but no one has them in the province and I love our Thule Chariot so much I thought it would be love. 30 minutes in and I was dying of sweat, it was just WAY to heavy for me without my boy let alone with his weight. Jeff managed but after half a dozen attempts to love it we went back to our I-Angel and learned our lesson. Resale was effortless thankfully.
I could write about over half a dozen and pick them apart as to why I didn't like them but I think everyone will have their own preferences and hope my experience is helpful to you. I did find it interesting on how our FAV was the least marketed (however I did meet the designer at the Baby Show while WEARING IT, I'm sure she was tickled and surprised b/c every booth kept asking us where it was from).