For a secure and practical way to carry your baby around, you'll want to get the best baby sling you can find. A baby sling is usually a long piece of fabric with special features that can be wrapped around you and your baby, tying you both together. In general, a baby sling doesn't have clips, buckles or buttons like other baby carriers, but, if tied correctly, they are super secure and your baby will love being in it (and it'll leave your hands free).
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Baby slings are especially good for newborns as they offer closer contact with you so they feel snuggled and happy while you are free to get on with doing other activities at home or out and about.
Baby slings aren't the only baby-carrying options. The traditional-style baby carrier provides more back support and backpack carriers are great for long walks or hiking.
You can check out our picks of best baby carriers and best baby carrier backpacks here. If you've decided on a sling, then scroll down to see our top picks for the best baby slings as reviewed by real mum testers:
Winner of the 2020 Gold Best Baby Carrier/Sling M&B Award. This is the ideal everyday wrap which is made with a flexible and comfortable fabric. With this carrier wrap, you will be able to keep your baby safe and secure all day long. It comes in one size fits all and is designed to carry up to 35lbs. You and your baby will be happy with this choice.
Our mum tester Nicola said: "I would recommend this due to price, ease of cleaning, and the ability to just pop it in your changing bag. It is lightweight and I had the eucalyptus print which was stylish and very soft on the skin. My baby enjoyed being in it and I felt closer to her than I do in my rather bulkier carrier I have. I have washed the FreeRider and it came out very well."
This sling is different from the other ones in this list, as it is sized (rather than a one-size-fits-all design like many others). It's easy to use in different positions and for different ages. The only drawback is that you can't really share it with your partner if they're a different body size to you.
Caboo +Organic is a sling with good support. It's designed to provide more structure, and it allows you to carry your baby in five different positions. This sling is easy to use and to adjust, feeling super comfortable even for heavier babies. You can use it during summer as its made of breathable fabric but will also keep your baby warm in winter. The only negative aspect of this sling is that it doesn't allow you to carry your baby on your back.
This carrier won the 2017 Silver Best Baby Carrier/Sling and 2015 Gold Best Baby Carrier/Sling in the M&B Awards.
Our tester Amy Connolly, mum to Bodhi, five months, said: "I love how secure it feels and how easy it is to put on – it’s so much more practical than struggling with tying a wrap sling. It’s extremely comfortable to wear and Bodhi seems very cosy and warm in this, so it’s just perfect for our long wintery walks."
This is a multi-use wrap sling which works when your little one is a baby and later when they get to the toddler stage. You can only carry the baby in one position with this but with well-distributed weight that is even across the back and shoulders. It's highly recommended for newborns and for mums after a C-section.
Tested by mum Sarah Panter for the M&B Awards 2016; she said: "I liked that this sling was made of breathable material. Wearing a baby can be warm for both mother and child so breathable material is a must. I liked the way the wrap felt comfortable and secure for both mother and baby, and allowed me the freedom to continue with day-to-day tasks having both hands free. It was easy to wrap up in a ball and transport too."
The We Made Me Wuti Wrap was Shortlisted for the 2016 M&B Award for Best Baby Carrier/Sling.
This baby sling is super affordable without compromising on quality. You can use it from newborn to toddler, but it's perfect for when your baby is around 6 to 12 months old, and it's perfect for breastfeeding too as your child can lie sideways in it. It comes in several different colours and is the basic model from a wide range of slings from Je Porte Mon Bébé.
The most important advantage this sling has is you can carry both babies and toddlers (but not at the same time!). It's also extremely simple to use. There is extra padding on the shoulder which can be helpful, making it particularly comfortable to wear, but some of our mum testers complained about the fact that it looks bulky.
Tested by Amy Connolly, from Cornwall, mum to Bodhi, five months. She said: "I found this so simple to use. The instructions are great and easy to follow, and I found that the extra padding on the shoulder really helped distribute Bodhi’s weight evenly, making it particularly comfortable to wear. It sits well on my hip and provides good bum support, although I don’t think it would be practical for longer walks."
Read our full review about We Made Me Soohu Sling Classic.
Shortlisted for the 2017 M&B Awards Best Baby Carrier/Sling, the AmaWrap sling is comfy and soft for mum and baby, with no buckles or clips to contend with. It comes in a range of colours to choose from.
Our mum tester Vikki Hind said: "As a baby carrier this is one of my favourites because baby is able to be next to me and the wrap is comfortable to wear for long periods. There are no buckles and straps which means it fits different sizes quickly and there is also nothing digging in when wearing baby. I like how small the wrap folds so it can be put in a changing bag. It can also be used as a makeshift blanket when out and about if not being worn."
Check out our tried and tested baby carrier slings
Our annual Mother&Baby Awards sees hundreds of baby products tried and tested by our panel of mums, so for extra peace of mind, be sure to check out the slings that won in the Mother&Baby Awards 2020. Want some more options? Have a look at our favourite baby carrier backpacks and other baby carriers.
How to use your baby sling safely
Your baby sling needs to be tight, keeping you and your baby closely attached, but you need to be able to check on your baby regularly to ensure they are comfortable. Try 'the kiss test': if you can kiss your baby’s head, you are in the right position. The best position for your baby is on your chest, and with good support for their back, neck, and hips.
Dr Rosie Knowles is a GP, carrying consultant, author of Why Babywearing Matters, and a mum of two; carryingmatters.co.uk who recommends following the TICKS safety rule.
- T is for Tight. Your carrier should be close fitting to make sure it holds your baby in a safe position.
- I is for In view at all times. Make sure you can clearly see your baby’s face so you can check on him easily.
- C is for Close enough to kiss. You should be able to kiss the top of your baby’s head easily while he is in the carrier, but make sure he can still move his head freely.
- K is for Keep chin off chest. ‘His chin should be off his chest and his airway open and unobstructed, and remain so if he falls asleep,’ says Rosie.
- S is for Supported back. ‘The sling should be snug so baby’s chest and back are well supported, with no slumping or sliding downwards,’ says Rosie.
You can use your baby sling as much as you want, you even use a sling while breastfeeding or bottle feeding (in both cases, you need to keep the baby in a certain position to allow the milk flow and avoid any choking). However, we would advise you to consider the two-hour baby rule where you avoid keeping your baby in the same position for over two hours, as their spine is still in development and it's important to keep changing their position. As opposed to a more structured baby carrier, with a baby sling you have to be a little bit more aware of your baby's positioning. For more on baby sling safety have a look at the UK Sling Consortium's TICKS method, and also see our safety tips here.
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