Baby carriers can be a godsend for busy parents. They allow you to keep little ones snug and close while you use your hands for other things such as playing with other children. They also give you the freedom to go to places that a buggy can’t and make the dreaded ‘you can’t fit that buggy on here’ bus fear a thing of the past.
How to choose the perfect baby carrier:
The best way to pick a baby carrier is to go and try them out. Humans, big and small, range so much in shape and size that your glass slipper might be somebody else’s hobnailed boot.
Some areas have sling 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 heard-earned dosh.
How often will you use a baby carrier?
When you go out, when you need to use your hands, when you have a specific bus to catch... This is a piece of equipment that has serious cost-pre-wear potential.
How much money should I spend on a baby carrier?
They range from £30 to well over £100.
Are baby carriers safe?
The British Association of Baby Wearing Instructors offers guidelines about safe baby wearing. 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 are the best baby carriers to buy?
We've hand-picked our favourite baby carriers on the market here:
The ease and comfort of using this carrier on both the front and the back is second-to-none. It’s suitable for babies from six months on the front, and on the back from eight months and beyond. 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.
BabyBjörn are pioneers in infant carrying, so you know you’re in safe hands. This model is developed with paediatricians and approved by the IDHI. 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. Plis it’s the endorsed by the IHDI.
Any downsides? It’s reportedly 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.
Best baby carrier for outdoor lovers: LittleLife Adventurer S2 Child Carrier, RRP £119.00, John Lewis
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, our testers commented on the thick straps and padding around baby’s joints, It’s also machine washable, which could be a real boon, and 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 hard to follow, our mum testers recommended finding YouTube videos to help.
Suitable from birth as there are multiple front positions. It allows for discreet nursing, which is brilliant, and the fabric looks good but is durable – perfection. It was shortlisted in the Mother & Baby Awards 2018 Best Baby Carrier/Sling category.
Any downsides? You need to buy a rain hood separately.
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.