Baby carriers can be a godsend for busy parents. They allow you to keep your little one snug and close while you use your hands for other things. They also give you the freedom to go to places that a buggy can’t.
A baby carrier is the only gadget that lets you do your thing, hands-free, while your little one relaxes against you. That is the reason of most parents say baby carriers are their favourite baby product.
Choosing your baby carrier
When choosing a baby carrier, the most important factor is the comfort for both you and your baby. You need to think about how are you going to use it. Is it for only your use or for other people as well? And for how long do you want to use it?
Types of baby carrier
There are two types of baby carrier. The first are wraps (or slings), which are super long pieces of fabric which keep you and the baby closer together. The other one is the properly structured carrier, which looks like a backpack to “pack” your baby. Some parents prefer slings over carriers, so we have a separate article all about the best baby slings. Baby carriers range from £30 to well over £100, depending on the features they have.
A baby carrier will have a structured waist and padded shoulder straps and can be fastened with buckles or straps. You can also use it with multiple seating positions (front, back, and hip).
Another difference between baby carriers is the size if its only for newborns or also for toddlers use. Some of them can be used in different stages as they can resist more weight.
If you’re not sure what kind of baby carrier you need, some areas have baby carrier libraries that allow you to borrow a carrier for a couple of weeks for a small charge. They also run advice workshops on sling wearing, which could be well worth checking out before parting with your cash.
What are the best baby carriers to buy?
The ease and comfort of using this carrier on both the front and the back are second-to-none. Although it’s not designed for newborns, it’s suitable for babies from six months on the front, and on the back from eight months. It folds away into a small bag so it's portable, and it's light. Any downsides? It only comes in one colour. Yep, that’s pretty much the worst our testers could find to say about it. No wonder it won the Mother & Baby Awards 2018 Best Carrier / Sling award.
One for serious adventurers, weight is distributed equally, avoiding any strain on mum. It’s lightweight at 1.9kg and has snack storage space. It’s designed so that it stands alone on the floor for you to safely lift your child inside before putting it on your back. Suitable from six months. It took the Mother & Baby Awards 2018 silver Carrier / Sling award. Any downsides? You need to buy a sunshade separately.
This has a high comfort factor with our testers commenting on the thick straps and padding around baby’s joints. It’s also machine washable, which could be a real boon, and is suitable for babies from 3.2kg. It won the bronze prize in the Mother & Baby awards 2018 Best Carrier/Sling category. Any downsides? The instructions are little hard to follow, our mum testers recommended finding YouTube videos to help.
This has four ergonomic wearing positions: parent facing, on the back, on the hip and on the front facing outwards. The ‘cool air mesh feature’ helps parent and baby to stay cool in hot weather due to the breathable material. Any downsides? Our testers pointed out that you need to buy a newborn insert separately.
BabyBjörn are pioneers in infant carrying, so you know you’re in safe hands. This model is developed with pediatricians and approved by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI). It’s machine washable and is suitable from birth due until around three years. Any downsides? It’s at the pricier end of the scale.
Mother & Baby testers report that It's very simple to use and the instructions are easy to follow. It is also easy to clean as it's made from fabric and can just be put in the washing machine. Plus it’s the endorsed by the IHDI. You can carry your baby in four positions: front, outward facing, hip and back. Any downsides? Our testers reported it was quite tricky to use the baby on your back position if you’re on your own.
This is a very reasonably priced carrier. Our testers liked that you put it on like a t-shirt, meaning there is no need for an extra pair of hands or complex instructions. Your baby can face inward or outward. Any downsides? It’s only suitable until age six months.
How to use a baby carrier safely
The British Association of BabyWearing Instructors offers guidelines about safe babywearing. They recommend the ‘TICKS’ checklist, developed by the Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers:
- Tight — Slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close, as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier, which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
- In view at all times — You should always be able to see your baby’s face simply by glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position, your baby should face upwards not be turned in towards your body.
- Close enough to kiss — Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward, you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.
- Keep chin off the chest — A baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger’s width under your baby’s chin.
- Supported back — In an upright carrier, a baby should be held comfortably close to you so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose, they can slump, which can partially close their airway. (You can test this by placing a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently — they should not uncurl or move closer to you.)
Also, look out for products that are endorsed by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI).
What is the best position to carry a baby in a baby carrier?
The best position to carry a baby is the one both baby and parent are happy. Safety experts recommend baby facing parents from newborn to up to 6 months. When your baby can hold his/her head up, he/she can enjoy the facing forward position.
This position is very good for development as your baby is able to explore the world and be stimulated with new colours, shapes and sounds.
Also, newborns should have their positions changed often alternating from baby carrier to others. On a baby carrier, you need to make sure your baby’s hips, head, neck, and back are well-supported and his/her arms and legs are moving freely.
Have we missed anything from the list? Let us know!
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