Tested by M&B Gear Expert Heidi Scrimgeour:
The Mountain Buggy Juno carrier can be worn in four different positions - on your chest with baby either facing you (birth - 24 months), or facing outwards (six months to 18 months), on your hip (six - 24 months) or on your back (six month - 48 months). It has been approved by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute as a hip-healthy product.
But the big appeal of this baby carrier is that it comes with a newborn insert, making it usable from day one well into toddlerhood and right up until your child is around four years old. It represents great value for money if you use it for that length of time - although I’m not sure I’ll be carrying my little one on my back very far when she’s a strapping four year old!
The newborn liner can also be adjusted so it’ll continue to fit even as your baby grows - you just use the poppers to adjust the size as appropriate. (In our video, the liner is on the setting for a larger baby but the doll in the starring role is on the small side!)
The Juno is ergonomically designed with a width adjustable seat, and I love how straightforward it is to change the seat position - you just unfasten poppers and do them up again according to which of the four different positions you plan to carry your baby in. (Mountain Buggy have some really useful video demonstrations for how to change the seat position on their website.)
That said, the instructions baffled me at first - they are mainly pictures without words and I didn’t find it the most intuitive baby carrier to use. You definitely need to practice using this before trying it for real with your baby for the first time, but once you’ve got the hang of how it works it’s actually pretty quick to pop on. I was able to put this on by myself without help except in the back-carrying position - I found that largely due to the weight of an older child, I needed some help from another adult to get her into position before doing the carrier up.
A distinctive feature of this baby carrier is the ‘hands through connection pouch’ which just means you can pop your hands underneath the outer layer of fabric to give your baby’s back a gentle rub. I am a big fan of this feature - the outer fabric is durable and robust, as you’d want it to be to offer good protection against the elements - but it’s lovely to be able to reach through and feel your little one close. An added bonus is that you can warm your hands up if it’s chilly, too!
The fabric is also notable - it’s made from 100% chemical-free, Okeo-tex certified textiles and I found the stripy nautical lining really cheery but also soothing to touch. Baby carrier fabric is so often robust and durable at the expense of soft and comforting but the Juno pulls off both.
The infant insert is a great idea and very straightforward to use. I especially like that it’s included rather than an additional expense.
The Juno is billed as a hands-free carrier, presumably thanks to the storage pockets on the waistband. They are frankly ingenious, and apparently big enough to hold the latest smartphone, too. It should be law that all baby carriers have tsuch functional features! I do wish the pockets had zips though - I once forgot my phone was in the pocket when I took this off and it consequently it slid out of the pocket and across the pavement.
The Juno is easy to use, especially with baby on your chest. I found adjusting the shoulder straps a bit fiddly I imagine the fabric will soften up with use and this will get easier.
You fasten the Juno with a magnetic sternum strap which I found a little strange to use at first - it’s hard to believe it’s totally secure when you literally just snap the pieces together without having to wiggle them into place or ensure anything is properly aligned or engaged - it doesn’t really feel as though you’re securely doing it up but it works, and it’s an ideal feature when you’re wearing the Juno on your front - you just reach behind you neck and slot the strap together without having to crane to secure something you cannot see. Very clever.
When my daughter was on my back I felt the straps were perched a little precariously on the very outer edges of my shoulders with only a minimal chest strap across the front for stability, but it may be that my shoulders are on the narrow side and that further fiddling with the shoulder straps might have yielded a more comfortable fit. I had the urge to pull the whole thing more snugly around my body but all that said, it was extremely comfortable to carry a 2.5year old toddler in this for a fairly long walk to the shops so the ergonomics, although a little strange to get used to, clearly work.
We’ve also since discovered that the sternum strap is actually adjustable - that’s not immediately evident and easy to miss on the instructions, but adjusting this will enhance the overall fit and comfort of the Juno.
There’s also a protective hood which stows away into a pouch on the front of the baby carrier which I also really liked - handy for nap times if your little one gets over-stimulated easily in a baby carrier, and it also offers a bit of extra protection from the elements.
Overall this is a well-designed, highly versatile baby carrier which offers excellent value for money thanks to the fact that it can be used from birth to 48 months. Thoughtful, additional features such as the storage pockets, protective hood, ‘hands through connection pouch’ and the inclusion of an infant insert make this really parent-friendly. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it but I do advise trying it out before you buy to make sure you like the way it fits.