10 of the best baby carriers
The top structured carriers tried and tested by expert mum and dad reviewers, there's a carrier to suit your babywearing lifestyle.
What is a baby carrier?
A baby carrier is a basically a comfy “pouch-on-a-harness” that allows you a hands-free way of carrying your baby on your front, side or back, with the bonus of keeping your baby close.
Generally suitable from birth to around 3 or 4 years, front carriers can be used for more than just transport, and are great for getting things done around the house or soothing a fractious baby.
Carriers are also worth a shot if you’re interested in baby slings, but feel a little daunted by how to wear them.
What are the different ways of carrying a baby?
Baby carriers (we've picked the best in this article): Carriers are made with firm fabric, have structured waist and padded shoulder straps and can be fastened with buckles or straps. They tend to have multiple seating positions (front, back, hip), and more structure than a sling with some featuring an actual frame. They are easy to put on and take off and have straps that allow adjustments to be made easily too. You can also feel more confident the carrier is in the correct position on your body.
Wraps: Slings are a wonderful way to carry your baby around. A sling is (usually) a stretchy or woven long piece of fabric that wraps around you and lets you carry your baby against your body (front or back). Ideal for smaller newborns, slings differ from baby carriers in that they don't usually have clips, buckles or buttons, and have to be tied to fit securely, which will take practice. And if you're looking to buy a baby sling then check out our 10 of the best wraps and slings.
Mei Tai's, Pods and Onbu: A mix combination of a structured buckle carrier and wrap. They traditionally have a square body with waist straps and longer shoulder straps and are tied around the parents’ waist. Often allowing multiple seating positions (front, back, hip).
One shoulder and hip ring slings: Made up of a long piece of fabric that is stitched around two rings and secured by passing the free tail through the rings. These slings can only be used in one position and so your shoulder will take all the weight of your child.
Backpack carriers: Backpack carriers are great for parents who like to head places a buggy would struggle to go, whether this is an epic mountain trek or just the local market! Back carriers are suitable for babies who can sit up and support themselves – generally you’ll see them labelled as being okay for use from 6 months and last until your child’s 3 or 4 - if your back can withstand it!
Facing in or facing out - what’s the safest way for baby carriers?
The best carrying position is the one that mum/dad and baby are happiest with, however safety experts recommend that baby faces parents for the first 4-6 months, as they need the neck support.
After that, when they can hold their head up, many babies enjoy facing forward and discovering the world with the warm feeling of the parent.
Essential safety tips on carrying your baby:
- A newborn baby's position should be changed often, it's best if you alternate between a baby carrier, lying your little one on her back and carrying her in your the arms.
- Always follow the T.I.C.K.S guidelines whenever you're babywearing.
- Support you baby's hips, head, neck and back when you're using a carrier of any kind, but allow them to move their arms and legs freely.
- Facing inwards is beneficial to your baby's cognitive development, particularly in the first 4-6 months. Once he is old and strong enough to hold up his head he can face outwards and benefit from interaction with the world, while still having you close.
- Choose the position that's best for you and your baby
- It's vital to position your baby safely.
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