With so many different types of baby carrier to choose from these days, which ones are the best? We’ve got a quick overview of all the top contenders, ranging from traditional soft slings to the more structured ergonomic carriers and wraps, so you can find out which is best for you.
For a new (and very tired) mum, a baby carrier can be a lifesaver, giving them options of being able to put the baby down yet still being able to keep an eye on them, and freeing up their hands for getting a few jobs done around the house.
Which carrier came out on top? … The Ergobaby was designed for a newborn, is lightweight and fantastic for everyday use – it’s very comfortable. It’s useful from birth to young children, with the use of an optional ‘infant insert’. Once you get the hang of putting this on, it’s fast and easy to put on, especially when compared to putting on a wrap and a ring sling!
No problem! Many parents want to use a baby carrier from day one and so we offer a range of innovative baby carriers that can be used with newborns.
This is where baby carriers come in. A baby carrier is a brilliant bit of kit that keeps your baby securely held against you, whilst allowing you to be hands-free.
A baby carrier is a brilliant bit of kit that keeps your baby securely held against you, whilst allowing you to be hands-free
A baby carrier is a brilliant bit of kit that keeps your baby securely held against you, whilst allowing you to be hands-free. There’s a huge variety of different styles and brands, that allow you to carry your baby on your front, side or back, with the bonus of keeping your baby close. Some carriers can be used from day one and some can be used to carry children age 3 years and beyond.
We’ve tested a range of carriers with our parent testers and their babies that come with different carrying positions, fastenings and materials to bring you our top 10 list. We’ve also spoken to sling and carriers expert Hannah Wallace, the owner of Wear My Baby, who is one of the UK’s leading baby carrier shops and advice service. She’s outlined everything you need to know before choosing your carrier, as well as how to use one safely.
How we chose the best baby carriers
Knowing that all carriers are technically safe, choosing the best one comes down to your lifestyle, budget, body, and — of course — your baby.
The following carriers get good marks from caregivers we consulted and in reviews for:
being easy to use
adaptable to different needs and carrying positions
Rest assured, these carriers have also been vetted by a team of medical experts. There are no current safety recalls or other issues with product integrity you’ll need to worry about. The companies that manufacture these carriers have put their products through testing to meet industry standards.
That said, there are some limitations to this list because reviews are subjective and may reflect opinions that you might not necessarily share. Still, we hope our picks will give you a good starting point for finding the carrier that’s ideal for you and your precious cargo!
Healthline Parenthood’s picks of the best baby carriers
Best no-frills baby carrier
Soft wraps and ring slings may be a simpler choice than some other types of carriers, as they have fewer buckles and adjustments.
Even though they seem basic, it’s important to thoroughly read and follow instructions, as they can pose risks if used incorrectly, especially for babies younger than 4 months.
Pros: Soft, stretchy wrap that doesn’t feel so much like a carrier.
Cons: It’s not as comfortable with heavier babies.
Key features: This inexpensive wrap is a bestseller that comes in a rainbow of colors. While you can use this wrap with infants from birth, it’s also handy for toddlers up to 35 pounds (lbs). It’s made from 95 percent cotton for breathability and has 5 percent spandex for some stretch and hold. This wrap comes in a one-size-fits-all style that may be helpful with changing postpartum bodies and fitting other caregivers.
Considerations: Soft wraps may take some time to master. There are a variety of ways to tie them, but it may be frustrating for some users — especially when out and about. Other parents share that the life of this wrap is relatively short because, despite the weight limit, they don’t find it comfortable with heavier infants and toddlers.
Best baby carrier for toddlers
Toddlers are often on the move, but they may still like to be carried from time to time. Good carriers may help protect your back with good ergonomic support and padding.
Tula Toddler Carrier
Pros: Quality materials are used. It comes in a variety of prints and carries up to 60 pounds.
Cons: It cannot be used with young babies under 25 lbs.
Key features: This soft-structured carrier adjusts to fit a variety of body shapes and sizes. And when it gets dirty, you can just toss it in your washing machine for easy cleaning.
Considerations: At more than $100, this piece is a bit of an investment. Some reviewers don’t like that your child can’t face out in this carrier. Others say that there’s little head support for toddlers, which can be uncomfortable if they fall asleep while being carried.
Best baby carrier for dads
Men can use any baby carrier they like, provided it fits and is comfortable. There are a few carriers on the market that may fit a male build better.
Mission Critical S.01 Action Baby Carrier
Pros: It’s a rugged design made with durable materials.
Cons: Rough-and-tough fabric may irritate or scratch delicate baby skin.
Key features: The body of this carrier is made from durable and lightweight nylon fabric and has a rugged military design with webbing (great for attaching toys). The liner is removable for quick washing.
Considerations: Reviewers explain that this carrier can also fit tall dads with larger builds well but that it can be difficult to share with another caregiver who is a different size. Some also say this carrier may not be the most comfortable for growing babies. Why? Its seat may not promote the best position, as it allows baby’s feet to dangle instead of spreading wide with lifted knees into a more health-conscious, ergonomic shape.
Dangling legs, especially in the first few months of life, can increase the risk of hip dysplasia. When purchasing a new carrier, be sure to check the fit and make sure the base of the carrier is wide enough to support your baby’s thighs.
Best baby carriers for plus size
You’ll find carriers, particularly wraps and slings, that come in different sizes. Soft-structured carriers, on the other hand, tend to be one size with adjustable belts. The good news is that there are options made to accommodate larger bodies.
Ergobaby Omni 360
Weight range: 7–45 lbs.
Baby position: Front, facing inward or outward; hip; back
Pros: Straps and buckles allow for fit customization. There are fun fabrics (like Harry Potter) and cool mesh fabric for warmer climates.
Cons: Material may be stiff. Package instructions aren’t the clearest for setup and use.
Key features: The Omni 360 is a versatile carrier that’s adjustable to fit petite to larger body types. The waist belt can adjust from 26 to 52 inches, and the shoulder straps can move from 28 3/4 inches to 48 3/4 inches. Along with carrying baby on the front, back, and hip, you can wear the straps backpack style or crossed. Reviewers share that the straps are nicely padded and that the material is sturdy but soft.
Considerations: A few reviewers shared that it was hard to get the hang of using this carrier with its many options. Those who are familiar with an older fabric used with this model explain that the current fabric is stiffer and doesn’t breathe well in warm weather. Shorter women say that this carrier just isn’t a good fit.
Tula Free-To-Grow Baby Carrier
Weight range: 7–45 lbs.
Baby position: Front, facing inward; back
Pros: Carrier has a streamlined design. It adjusts to width and height for your baby’s unique size/shape.
Cons: Carrier features many clips/clasps and straps. It may not be comfortable for long periods of wear.
Key features: The waistband on the Free-to-Grow adjusts from 27 inches to 57 inches. No infant insert is needed — instead, you simply adjust the height setting within the carrier to fit your child. It also comes in a variety of colors and prints to suit your style.
Considerations: Some reviewers feel the fabric is too thick and hot for warm weather. Others don’t like that you can’t face baby outward in the front-carry position. And a few mention that the straps are more difficult to adjust than those of similar carriers.
Best front-facing baby carrier
Younger babies are safest when positioned on your front, facing inward. However, as your baby gets a bit older, they may not be as content facing in toward your body. Moving your baby to face outward gives them a bit more stimulation and entertainment.
BabyBjörn Mini Carrier
Weight range: 7–24 lbs.
Baby position: Front, facing inward; front, facing outward
Pros: The carrier has a sleek and classic aesthetic. It’s even comfortable with the youngest babies.
Cons: Babies outgrow this carrier quickly — some as early as 3 months old.
Key features: You may think of a BabyBjörn when you think of a baby carrier. This style has been around since 1961, much longer than others you’ll find on this list. It’s a good choice for newborns because you don’t need an additional newborn insert. Reviewers like that this carrier isn’t bulky like some others on the market, making it more comfortable in the facing-forward position.
Considerations: Since this carrier only fits babies up to 25 pounds, you’ll need to buy a new and different one for older children. Some reviewers do not feel this carrier has enough padding to be comfortable wearing for long stretches — for parents or babies.
Best baby carrier for hiking
You may be able to use other baby carriers for short or easy hikes. If you’re more of a high peaks kind of adventurer, though, you might want to invest in a structured hiking pack for making trips more comfortable.
Weight range: 16 lbs. minimum child weight, 48.5 lbs. maximum (includes any gear you may be carrying)
Baby position: Back
Pros: The carrier is made of quality materials and designed for optimal comfort for hikes. It carries kids up to 45 lbs.
Cons: It has high price tag and cannot be used with younger infants.
Key features: Made of durable nylon, this structured carrier has an aluminum frame for lightweight support. It has 6 inches of adjustment in the torso to fit a variety of body sizes. There’s a “halo harness” in the seat area to help secure your baby in the carrier. Your little one will also appreciate the built-in sunshade on sunny days or for extra privacy when napping. Bonus: Osprey will repair this carrier for free if it becomes damaged for any reason.
Considerations: At almost $300, this carrier is expensive. It’s important to make sure it’s properly fitted before wearing. The waist belt can dig into the hip area and even cause bruising if it doesn’t fit properly.
This carrier should only be used once your baby is old enough to hold their head up and sit up on their own, which usually happens by about 4 to 6 months.
ClevrPlus Cross Country Child Carrier
Weight range: Up to 33 lbs.
Material: Oxford cloth
Baby position: Back
Pros: This is a more affordable structured carrier.
Cons: Its weight range only goes up to 33 lbs., so it likely offers less use in the long run.
Key features: This hiking backpack is a more budget-friendly option and works for babies and toddlers between 9 months and about 4 years old. The pack itself only weighs 5 1/2 lbs. and has an aluminum frame. It has padding on the straps, hip belt, and lumbar area, plus plenty of pockets for carrying water bottles, diapers, and other must-haves.
Considerations: Some reviewers appreciate the price of this carrier but say that the more expensive counterparts are worth the extra cash because they’re more comfortable and are made of quality materials. Petite users also complain that the size of the carrier just doesn’t work for them. A few mention that the backpack tends to squeak while in use.
Best baby carrier for summer
Yes, snuggling close with your baby in a carrier can be cozy. It may also get quite warm, especially in summer weather. The good news is that companies have addressed this by making carriers from materials that breathe.
LILLEbaby Complete Airflow
Weight range: 7–45 lbs.
Material: Cotton and nylon
Baby position: Front, facing inward; front, facing outward; back or hip
Pros: Carrier officially acknowledged as “hip healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
Cons: Carrier design is a bit complicated, and some materials may not be the highest quality for the price.
Key features: While the belt and straps on this soft-structured carrier are made from 100 percent cotton, the body is nylon mesh for better air circulation in hot weather. It has added lumbar support for parents and a headrest for babies.
Considerations: Some reviewers say they appreciate all the different carrying positions but that it’s hard to figure out how to do them all. Others say that it’s not the best carrier for people who have short torsos.
Baby K’tan Active
Weight range: Up to 35 lbs
Baby position: Front, facing inward; front, facing outward; hip
Pros: Sling aspect of carrier allows for a variety of carry positions.
Cons: It may be difficult to determine sizing to fit your body, or you may need to size up/down with weight gain/loss.
Key features: This wrap wicks away moisture and sweat to keep you and baby cool. The fabric also blocks 90 percent of UVA and UVB rays. While it’s technically a wrap, you don’t actually have to tie it in any special way. Instead, the K’tan simply slips over your head and is worn like a T-shirt.
Considerations: You’ll need to choose the appropriate size, from XS to XL, to get the best fit with this carrier. This means you cannot necessarily easily share it between caregivers. Some reviewers share that the fabric may not hold up well over time. Others explain that this carrier is best used with small babies and can be uncomfortable as they grow.
Best budget carrier for multiple positions
Don’t have a ton of money to spend on a carrier? Or maybe you want to buy a few types without breaking the bank. That’s OK. There are some good options that come in well under $50.
Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier
Weight range: 8–32 lbs.
Material: Polyester and cotton
Baby position: Front, facing inward; front, facing outward; back
Pros: Carrier is designed to last and “better than expected” regarding budget/quality.
Cons: Carrier is not designed with parents in larger bodies or heavier infants in mind.
Key features: This bestselling carrier costs around $30 and allows you to hold baby in four different ways: facing in (newborn and infant), facing out, and back carry. While it’s machine washable, it also includes a “wonder cover” that’s a bib to protect the carrier from spit-up and other baby mishaps.
Considerations: Reviewers share that this carrier has less padding than its more expensive counterparts. Others note that the straps and clips that are near baby’s face are rough and uncomfortable. In general, people say it’s a solid choice. However, if you want something to use beyond the first year and for longer stretches of carrying, you may want to spend more for a different brand.
Evenflo Breathable Infant Carrier
Weight range: 7–26 lbs.
Baby position: Front, facing inward; front, facing outward
Pros: Carrier appears to be well made for the low price and delivers on its promise of good ventilation.
Cons: It may not be as comfortable as other carriers — less balanced weight distribution and more shoulder discomfort overall.
Key features: At around $25, the Evenflo is great for the price. A few reviewers were even surprised at how well it fit different members of the family, ranging from petite to plus size.
Considerations: Since this carrier only works with infants up to 26 lbs, if you want something that will last longer, you may want to go with a different option. A few reviewers say that baby’s weight is too focused on the upper back and neck to be comfortable for long wears.
Best baby carrier for twins
Maybe you’re having multiples or have babies quite close in age. There’s a carrier for you!
Weight range: 10–45 lbs.
Baby position: Front, facing inward; back
Pros: Carrier offers a variety of carry options, including the ability to split up carriers so two caregivers can use them at once.
Cons: It may be difficult to put both infants into carriers for tandem wear at once.
Key features: Created by a twin mom, the TwinGo allows you to carry two babies at once — from 10 to 45 lbs — one on the front of your body and one on the back. You can even divide it into two single carriers if you want to share the carrying responsibilities with another caregiver. The waistband is particularly accommodating, fitting from 20 inches to 99 inches.
Considerations: This carrier can only be used with babies on the front and back of the body facing inward. You’ll need infant inserts for babies who weigh under 10 pounds. While the price may seem steep at first, it’s can be helpful to consider that you’re basically buying two baby carriers in one.
Baby carrier comparison chart
Product name MSRP Weight limit/range Carrier type Carry positions
Boba Wrap $45 Up to 35 lbs. wrap front inward facing
Tula Toddler Carrier $169 25 to 60 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward facing), back carry
Mission Critical S.01 Action Baby Carrier $185 8 to 35 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward and outward facing), back carry
ErgoBaby Omni 360 $179 7 to 45 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward and outward facing), back carry, hip carry
Tula Free-to-Grow Baby Carrier $159 7 to 45 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward facing), back carry
BabyBjörn Mini Carrier $99 8 to 22 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward and outward facing)
Osprey Poco $300 23 to 45 lbs. structured back carry
Clevr Cross Country Child Carrier $128 9 to 48 months or up to 33 lbs. structured back carry
LILLEbaby Complete Airflow $125 7 to 45 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward and outward facing), back carry
Baby K’Tan Active $75 8 to 35 lbs. sling/wrap front carry (four ways: inward and outward facing, feet in and seated), hip carry
Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier $36 8 to 32 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward and outward), back carry
Evenflo Breathable Carrier $30 7 to 26 lbs. soft structured front carry (inward and outward facing)
Twingo Carrier $215 7 to 45 lbs. soft structured one twin baby carrier, two independent front carriers, two independent back carriers, one independent hip carrier
Do you need a baby carrier?
In short: No. You don’t have to use a baby carrier with your infant.
In fact, most items you’ll see on registries aren’t absolute must-haves. A baby carrier is in the could-be-nice category. Some parents may do well without it. That said, others cannot see living life any other way.
For this reason, you may want to check around to see if your area has any local babywearing groups. You may be able to try out different carriers for free with the group’s loan program.
There are definitely pros when it comes to using a baby carrier:
Allows your hands to be free. You’re able to do anything from washing dishes to caring for other children.
Is an alternative to a stroller. If you’re small on space in your home/car or if taking a stroller doesn’t make sense at your destination, having a carrier can be beneficial.
Gives your baby or toddler a convenient seat. This can be helpful if you’re out to eat or somewhere else where you might not have access to a high chair.
May help to soothe baby. A very dated study from the 1980s showed that babies who are carried more, fuss and cry 43 percent less than infants who are carried mainly for feeding and when they cry in the first 3 months. A baby carrier may make this easier, though it’s not necessary.
Allows for exercise. You have peace of mind while you’re walking or doing low-impact aerobics that baby is close and comfortable.
Lets you breastfeed on the go. Some carriers, like ring slings, are particularly easy to figure out, but you can find a way to breastfeed in most carriers with enough practice.
Related: Oh, baby! Workouts to do while wearing your infant
What are the types of carriers?
If your head is still spinning with all the brands and options, try breaking it down by type. Maybe a certain style of carrier speaks to you — but you may not know until you try.
You may even find that your preferences change as your baby gets older. If you don’t have a local babywearing group, consider asking a friend if you can borrow their carrier for a test run.
The main types include:
Soft wrap is a long piece of material that you tie around your body (stretchy).
Woven wrap is a long piece of material that you tie around your body (no stretch).
Ring sling is a wrap with a ring that allows you to adjust the tightness with ease.
Meh dai or mei tai is an Asian-style carrier that’s made of a panel of fabric around baby — two wide, padded straps that go around the waist and another two that go around the shoulders of the caregiver.
Soft structured carrier is a carrier with padded shoulder straps and adjustable belts. It can be used for infants and older toddlers.
Structured carrier is acarrier with a frame, usually aluminum, that’s used for hiking or other longer trips.
What to look for when shopping
When you’re shopping, try to remember to look for key features that make sense for your family’s needs.
These might include:
Baby’s weight. Some carriers are made for the tiniest babies. Others are made for toddlers and preschoolers. Some help span the range by offering options to grow with your child. When shopping, remember your baby’s size and that they’ll likely grow quickly in the first year. Some carriers may require a special infant insert for smaller babies.
Preferred carry position. Some carriers allow for just one way to carry baby. Others are adjustable or made for multiple carry positions. If adaptability is important to you, consider buying a carrier that will move and groove with you.
Ease of cleaning. Babies spit up, have blowouts, and can otherwise make a mess of things. Try finding a carrier that you can easily wash in your washing machine. Alternatively, you may consider purchasing drool pads and other covers that you can secure around the dirtied areas and remove for easy cleaning.
Budget. While certain brands or patterns may be hard to pass up, you don’t need to go broke buying a baby carrier. Keep your budget in mind. And if you can’t get what you want new at the store, try a local secondhand baby shop or borrowing/buying from a friend.
Hip-friendly design. It’s important to choose a carrier that allows baby’s hips and knees to sit in an ergonomic “M” position to promote healthy development.
Safety tag. Again, sling carriers that have been tested for safety will include a tag with that associated information. You may run across vintage or homemade carriers if you’re looking secondhand. Be careful when considering these choices. Safety standards are continually changing, so getting a more current carrier may be the safest option. And be sure to examine every carrier closely to make sure everything is in working order.
In addition to purchasing a safe carrier, it’s also important that you follow all instructions for usage. Injuries related to baby carrier use do happen, and babywearing products can lead to a greater risk of injury and hospitalizations in children under age 1. Check for the correct sizing, selection, and wear of your baby carrier to reduce risk of injury.
Frequently asked questions
How long can I wear my baby in a carrier?
Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to the weight/age that is appropriate for use in your carrier. Each baby carrier is different. If you find your carrier secondhand, look up the specs online before use.
As far as how long each day you can wear your baby, there is no set standard. It’s really up to you and your little one. Genevieve Howland, a doula and childbirth educator at the blog Mama Natural explains that as long as your carrier “supports healthy positioning, you can continue to wear [your child] for as long during the day as you are both comfortable.”
When can a baby face forward in a carrier?
Before anything else, make sure your carrier is intended to be used in a face-forward (or outward-facing) position. Again, all carriers are different. For example, the Mission Critical carrier may not be suitable until 12 months old, as babies need to be able to face forward without the carrier obstructing their mouths.
Other manufacturers, like Ergobaby, share that babies need to be between 4 and 6 months old and have good head control before facing forward in carriers. When in doubt, consult your child’s pediatrician.
Can newborns use baby carriers?
Some carriers are appropriate to use from birth. Others come with newborn inserts that allow you to use them with newborns. Others, like hiking backpacks, may not be suitable until your child has head control. Read your instructions to find this information.
How do I know if my baby is in a safe position?
There’s a helpful acronym — TICKS — that can help you determine if you are carrying your baby safely.
Tight. Your baby should be snug against your body with no loose fabric or opportunity for slouching.
In view at all times. You should be easily able to see your baby’s face/mouth to see if they’re breathing and not experiencing an obstruction.
Close enough to kiss. You should be able to easily bend your chin down and kiss the top of your baby’s head.
Keep off the chest. Your baby should not have their head tucked onto their chest (may restrict breathing).
Supported back. Your baby should be worn close enough to maintain their natural spinal position — no slouching/slumping.
Trend or no trend, babywearing is here to stay. And, really, it’s a win-win situation. Your baby gets all the closeness and cuddles. You get both of your hands free to get stuff done, work out, or explore the world.
So if toting around your baby sounds like something you’d like to try — consider borrowing a friend’s carrier for a day or two. You may not find the right fit at first, but — in time — you’re sure to find one that works for you and your family.
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Baby Carrier for Newborn
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- Best no-frills baby carrier: Boba Wrap
- Best baby carrier for toddlers: Tula Toddler Carrier
- Best baby carrier for dads: Mission Critical S.01 Action Baby Carrier
- Best baby carrier for plus size: ErgoBaby Omni 360, Tula Free-To-Grow Baby Carrier
- Best front-facing baby carrier: BabyBjörn Original Carrier
- Best baby carrier for hiking: Osprey Poco, Clevr Cross Country Child Carrier
- Best baby carrier for summer: LILLEbaby Complete Airflow, Baby K’tan Active
- Best budget baby carrier for multiple positions: Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier, Evenflo Breathable Carrier
- Best baby carrier for twins: Twingo Carrier
Your little one was carried for 9 months in the womb. While that may sometimes have been a challenge for the person doing the carrying, your baby was likely pretty happy with their cozy digs.
Since babies tend to know what they like (and let you know, loudly) some parents choose to continue carrying their infants in the fourth trimester (newborn days) all the way to the toddler years (and sometimes beyond).
While babywearing may seem trendy, it’s actually been practiced for thousands of years. These days, there are a number of baby carriers on the market — and it can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with all the styles and terms.
Don’t worry, though. You can’t necessarily go wrong.
To be marketed and sold, baby carriers must meet certain safety criteria set forth by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other organizations.
Some carriers can be used multiple ways, including:
- front, facing inward
- front, facing outward
Until babies are about 3 to 6 months old and have good neck control, they should only be worn on the front, facing inward. After that, you can try other positions.
So it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you. That’s where we come in.
Why use a baby carrier?
They’re incredibly practical – You’ll have your hands free drink a cup of tea, look after other children…the list is endless. Baby carriers take up far less room than prams and strollers, making travelling by car or public transport a whole lot easier.
A well fitted carrier can help postnatal recovery – Wearing a carrier can increase your strength and fitness as you carry your growing baby – without any hardcore exercise regimes! Babywearing supports parent-child bonding as it gets lots of Oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’) flowing and may also ease symptoms of postnatal depression.
You can keep your baby close – Newborns in particular feel comforted by being close to you and from the movement of your walking and the sound of your heartbeat. It’s good for their physical, cognitive, and emotional development, too, as they’re able to engage with the world around them – and with you at the same time. Being held upright is great for their digestion and has many of the same benefits as tummy time.
You can wear one for an extended period – There’s no upper limit to how many hours a day you can carry your baby, so long as they’re safely fitted to the carrier and their airways are protected (see the TICKS guide below). While you may find yourself carrying a newborn for long periods each day, for the first few months, your growing baby will start to let you know – loudly! – when they’d prefer to get out and have some playtime on the floor.
Best baby carriers at a glance
- Best baby carrier for a range of carrying options: Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier All-In One Cool Air Mesh, £154.90
- Best compact baby carrier: Integra Baby Carrier, from £70
- Best baby carrier for all weather: Infantino In Season 5 Layer Ergonomic Carrier, £74.99
- Best baby carrier for adjustability: BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One, £160
- Best baby carrier for portability: Tula Lite Baby Carrier, £79.90
- Best baby carrier for sturdy support: Neko Switch Baby Size Carrier, £130
- Best baby carrier for intuitive features: Nuna Cudl, £150
- Best baby carrier for big kids: Tula pre-School Carrier, £129.90
- Best baby carrier for long journeys: LittleLife Cross Country S4, £179.99
- Best baby carrier for comfort: Beco 8 Baby carrier, £125
What to look for when choosing a baby carrier:
Get the right size – Choosing a baby carrier is a lot like choosing jeans or shoes – how it fits depends both on your body shape, and your preferences of what feels good on your body. For example, mums who are very petite and/or have large breasts should generally avoid very bulky carriers that have internal harnesses. I spend a lot of time looking parents up and down and assessing which carriers will be perfect for their size and shape! I can almost always find carriers that will fit both mum and dad, so you don’t necessarily need 2 carriers – but if you get the opportunity to try on a wide range of carriers, you may find that you have different ‘favourite’ carriers.
Get the right fit – Remember that how a carrier is fitted is just as important as which one you choose. If not well fitted, even the fanciest, high-end carrier may not offer optimal safety for your baby and can put a strain on your back and shoulders. It’s worth getting advice from baby carrier experts like Wear My Baby or your local sling library, where they can advise what carrier or sling will suit you best based on your body type and help you get the most comfortable fit.
Carrying positions – Carriers come with a range of positions that will help you and your baby to get a comfortable fit as they grow. From 4 months (to around 10 months) your baby can be carried facing outwards. Babies never need to be carried facing out – letting them ride with their arms out of the carrier is a great alternative – but many babies enjoy facing forward and discovering the world with the warm feeling of the parent. Your baby will feel heavier as their weight will be pulling away from you, so only do so for short periods of time (30-45 minutes is ideal). Many carriers can also be used for hip carrying (from 5-6 months) and back carrying (from 6-9 months).
Ease of cleaning – It’s common for parents to use their baby carriers for several hours a day, several days per week, for a couple of years so it’ll no doubt get dribbled, chewed and vomited on. It’s worth checking if you can pop it in the washing machine or if it’s suitable for wipe cleaning only.
How to wear a baby carrier safely
Babies should always be carried upright – This so that their airways are open and clear. Babies should never be carried in a laying down, ‘cradle’ position.
Make sure it’s well-tightened – Ensure your baby cannot slump inside the carrier. If it is too big or too loose, your baby’s chin can drop down onto their chest which could compromise their airways.
Make sure it’s adjusted correctly – If your carrier is adjustable, make sure the width and height of the carrier is set to the correct size for your baby’s age and stage. There’s usually a guide to this one inside of the carrier’s waistband; if not then refer to the instruction manual.
Make sure you can see your baby’s face – Babies should be positioned high up on your chest and be close enough for you to easily kiss the top of their head without craning your neck.
Make sure their legs are positioned correctly – The IHDI (International Hip Dysplasia Institute) recommends carrying with baby’s hips in a natural position during their first 6 months, with the hips bent a little more than a right angle – 90°+ (see image below) – and spread so each hip is spread 40-60°. Small infants often keep their hips bent up more than 90° and that’s fine since it’s a natural position for the hips, according to the IHDI.
Be sure not to overheat your baby – As a rough rule of thumb when carrying, your body counts as one layer of clothing, the baby carrier is at least one more, and if you’re in a warm place that’s a third – so make sure they’re not overdressed.
Remember the T.I.C.K.S guide to babywearing safety – This is a handy reminder of what to check for when using a baby carrier (Tight, In view at all times, Close enough to kiss, Keep chin off the chest, Supported back).
What are alternatives to a baby carrier?
If you’re after a soft, stretchy wrap to wear with your baby, rather than a structured carrier, we’ve also tried out 10 excellent wraps and slings with our parent testers. 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.
Backpack carriers are also 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!
How much does a baby carrier cost?
Most carriers tend to sit around the £130 to £150 price point, with the most expensive on our list going up to £180 and the cheapest starting from £70. Price isn’t necessarily an indication of quality when it comes to carriers, as some of the lesser-known and more affordable brands performed as well as as higher-priced brands in our tests.
The most important thing is to find a carrier that fits you well and you can use easily – this may well be a more affordable design.
How did we choose our 10 of the Best?
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
When testing carriers we considered a number of factors including ease of use, material, comfort and value for money.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
Here is our pick of the best baby carriers to buy in 2021
1. Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier All-In-One Cool Air Mesh, £154.90
– Best for a range of carrying options
Suitable from: birth to 4 years (3.2kg to 20kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – front-facing parent, front-facing out, hip and back | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Gold – Baby carrier over £100, MadeForMums Awards 2021
In the words of sling expert and babywearing consultant, Hannah Wallace, the Ergobaby Omni 360 is “well loved by mums and dads of all shapes and sizes.” This is thanks to to its brilliant support when outward facing, breathability, excellent lumbar support and easy adjustability around the head and neck area.
MFM reviewer Georgina, mum of 2, shares use of the Ergobaby carrier with her husband and found it adapts well to different body shapes. She explained, “I love that we only had to buy one carrier for the both of us. It is easy to adjust the waistband and straps, so we can swap the carrier between us with ease – and the Ergobaby is comfortable for both of our body types.”
The Omni 360 has 4 different carrying positions, including on the hip. Hannah notes “it’s a bit tricky to work out how to get an ideal fit right away”, but colour-coded velcro and and simple clips help to make this easier. Home tester Amanda, mum of 1, called this carrier a “game-changer” and even found it a suitable for her premature baby. “My own baby was premature so on the smaller size for age but I instantly felt very comfortable carrying her in this,” she said. “But it also feels like there is plenty of room for baby to grow and still be comfy and secure!”
Pros: adjustable head support, suitable for all body types, 4 carrying positions, breathable
Cons: high price point
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2. Integra Baby Carrier, from £70
– Best compact baby carrier
Suitable from: birth to 5 years (3.2kg to 24kg) | Carrying positions: 2 – back and front | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Gold – Baby carrier under £100, MadeForMums Awards 2021
Created by mum of 3, Sarah Sadler, the Integra Baby Carrier is designed to be compact but supportive for your baby. Sling expert, babywearing consultant and MadeForMums Awards 2021 judge, Hannah Wallace, commented that the Integra has “all the feel of a wrap, but much easier to use” and praised the lack of bulkiness and thick padding. However, she recommends trying the Integra first to check how well it fits your body shape.
Made to last your baby up to their toddler years, it comes in 3 sizes, with Size 1 suitable from birth until around 2 years, Size 2 from 18 months to around 3 years and Size 3 from 3 years up to 5 (admittedly, for “shorter carrying moments”, as the brand points out).
Home tester Paul, dad of 2, said, “The Integra is a great carrier; it’s compact but also felt comfortable for our little one and supportive for my back. It is high quality – the material looks and feels great. We loved the design, which is cheerful for kids but modern for parents too.”
Pros: modern prints, great value, supportive, compact
Cons: doesn’t suit every body shape
Read our full MadeForMums Integra Baby Carrier review
3. Infantino In Season 5 Layer Ergonomic Carrier, £74.99
– Best all-weather carrier
Suitable from: birth up to 3 years (3.6kg to 18.1kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – in-facing (infant), in-facing wide, outfacing and backpack | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Silver – Baby carrier under £100, MadeForMums Awards 2021
Ideal for the unpredictable British climate, the all-weather Infantino In Season 5 Layer Ergonomic Carrier has a wide range of options – including a soft jersey knit layer, a quilted panel layer and a full coverage cover – meaning your baby stays comfortable whatever the season.
The ergonomic seat is adjustable and supports your child’s back and hips in the ideal “M” position with knee-to-knee support, while the carrier is suitable for all body types, which home tester Donna praised. Home tester Zeynep, mum of 3, loved that the poppered layering options didn’t weigh the carrier down. She explained, “I found it very lightweight even with the all other padded parts on.” While Donna added that “using layers may seem complicated, but you simply take them out of their pocket, pull them over the body and snap them in place.”
Similar to the Ergobaby Omni 360 and Tula Lite, the Infantino has a handy zipped pocket on the waistband to hold your mobile phone, car keys and purse. Plus, we love the addition of the soft, muslin hood to keep your baby’s head protected.
Pros: all-weather, lightweight, supportive
Cons: limited colours and patterns
4. BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One, £160
– Best for adjustability
Suitable from: birth to 3 years (3.5kg to 15kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – newborn, in-facing, outfacing and back | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Silver – Baby carrier over £100, MadeForMums Awards 2021
As with the Ergobaby Omni 360, if you and your partner will be regularly sharing a carrier, the BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One is a great option due to how easy it is to adjust, according to our home testers. Its structured back support and sturdy waistbelt is great for heavier children or parents who need extra support, compared with the less padded Integra.
The Carrier One offers 4 different carrying positions and the longer torso of the carrier can work well with taller parents. MFM reviewer Eva, mum of 1, commented, “An ingenious touch is the zip system that lets you adjust the leg settings. Not many carriers offer such a range of adjustments. And that’s the real beauty of the product. It offers versatility and gives you different options as your baby grows.”
Home tester Rebecca, mum of 1, echoed this praise and added, “This is the most comfortable carrier I have used. The padded straps are great and the ease of adjusting each element means it’s easy to make tweaks if needed, even while my baby is in the carrier.”Babywearing expert, Hannah Wallace, doesn’t recommend this model for back carrying but said it’s ideal if “you want a highly structured and engineered carrier.”
Pros: good support, offers longevity, adjustable zip system
Cons: high price point, not the best for back carrying
Read our full MadeForMums BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One review
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5. Tula Lite Baby Carrier, £79.90
– Best for portability
Suitable from: 4 months to 18 months (5.4kg to 13.6kg) | Carrying positions: 2 – in-facing front and back | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Silver – Baby carrier under £100, MadeForMums Awards 2021
For parents on the go, the Tula Lite is a great portable option and a brilliant carrier to take on holiday. Sling expert and babywearing consultant, Hannah Wallace explained, “It’s absolute genius design to have a carrier that folds into its own integrated bum bag.” While it doesn’t “do everything”, for example it doesn’t have a ‘seat’ like many other carriers and the waistband isn’t padded, Hannah praised the Tula Lite for its softness, good value and clear instructions.
The carrier scored highly with our testers due to its breathable design, minimal padding and the nature-inspired gender-neutral designs and the choice of colours. The use of woven Ripstop fabric also means it’s quick-drying and durable.
Home tester Amy, mum of 2, noted that one of its downsides is that it can only be worn in 2 positions and there’s no neck support for sleeping babies, but it is great for short walks or as a second carrier. “The Tula Lite is an excellent carrier for holidays and travelling – compact enough to slip inside a changing bag, lightweight and breathable,” she said. “There is also a separate zipped pocket for essentials, meaning you don’t need to take out a separate bag.”
Pros: compact, lightweight, portable, quick-drying
Cons: no head support, no out-facing option
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6. Neko Switch Baby Size Carrier, £130
– Best for sturdy support
Suitable from: birth to 2-3 years (3.5kg to 15kg) | Carrying positions: 2 – front and back | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Silver – Baby carrier over £100, MadeForMums Awards 2021
Thoughtfully designed by a babywearing consultant, the Neko Switch offers great support for parents of all shapes and sizes, thanks to the high density foam in the shoulder straps and strong waistbelt. “Even on two hour walks carrying a sturdy 6-month-old, my back feels supported,” said MFM reviewer Rohese, mum of 1.
Made from soft organic cotton, the Neko Switch is ideal for newborns and has a special buckle adjustment for babies under 6 months, which Neko says avoids putting a strain on their back and spine. The carrier is easily adjusted to fit a growing baby, as the unused buckle tucks away neatly into a pocket and can be used from 6 months onwards. The Neko Switch also comes with removable teething pads and a rain hood.
Home tester Michelle, mum of 1, was also impressed by how well the carrier evenly dispersed her son’s weight. She said, “The long padded straps feel as though they help take the strain off my lower back, while the foam pads make this very comfortable to wear for long periods.”
Our testers did find the instructions a little unclear, but recommend looking at video tutorials online for some visual guidance.
Pros: soft cotton, easy to adjust, supportive
Cons: unclear instructions, not front-facing
7. Nuna Cudl, £150
Best for intuitive features
Suitable from: birth to 3 years (3.5kg to 16kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – in-facing (up to 4 months), in-facing (4 months+), facing out, back | Machine washable: Yes
The first-ever carrier from Nuna – a brand known for its buggies, car seats and cots – is a chic, comfortable carrier for both parent and baby. What makes this carrier stand out from similarly priced competitors is its range of intuitive features, including a velcro waistband, magnetic buckles, a sunshade hood for the baby, and 2 washable dribble bibs.
“The ease in which you can put the carrier on – and your baby in it – is a great selling point”, said MFM reviewer and dad of 2 Joe. He also praised the magnetic clasps that were “really easy to fasten compared to standard release buckles”, as well as the fact “you can buckle the shoulder straps before you put the baby in and then just pull the sling over your head like a jumper.”
The Cudl has a modern, minimalist design and is available in neutral muted colours, but Joe did report it to be quite bulky due to the wide well-padded shoulder straps and thick velcro waistband.
He added, “This carrier is certainly built for comfort and not speed – it’s very comfortable in short bursts – but because it’s so heavily padded, I could imagine it’s quite difficult to wear it for longer than an hour or two.”
Pros: intuitive features, minimalist design, well-padded
Read our full MadeForMums Nuna Cudl carrier review
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8. Tula Pre-school Carrier, £129.90
– Best for big kids
Suitable from: 4 to 7 years (16kg to 31.8kg) | Carrying positions: 2 – back and front | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Silver – Baby carrier over £100, MadeForMums Awards 2021
With reinforced construction and an extra-large carrier panel, the Tula Pre-school Carrier allows parents to comfortably carry older kids from preschooler and beyond. Babywearing expert, Hannah Wallace explained, “This is really good value for extended carrying and offers something new and important to the market. It is ideal if your child is in age 3-4 clothes and you’ve outgrown your baby/toddler carrier.”
MFM tester Rachel, mum of 1, found it to be a great fit for her child and said,”I haven’t used my stroller since I’ve had it on test… My preschooler loves it, says he’s super comfy and calls it the ‘carry cuddle’!”
While our home testers found the padded shoulder straps comfortable, they expressed that this carrier is not necessarily suitable for someone with back problems. “Initially comfortable and felt very supportive, but after about 5 minutes my back was very strained when used front-facing. I have a bad back (thanks kids!) and found that I wouldn’t be able to use the carrier for very long,” said home tester Lucy, mum of 2.
Pros: offers extended carrying, extra supportive carrier panel
Cons: not suitable for back problems
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9. LittleLife Cross Country S4, £179.99
– Best for long journeys
Suitable from: 6 months to 3 years | Carrying positions: 1 – back (from 6 months) | Machine washable: wipe clean only
While the range of LittleLife carriers look fairly similar, the Cross Country S4 is the updated version of the original Cross Country. It is based on the design of mountaineering backpacks, but with a slimmer profile. New features include lightweight airflow shoulder straps, updated fabrics and a newly designed face pad. The S4 also comes with a sun shade, foot stirrups and a viewing mirror.
If you have a particularly heavy baby or want to carry toddlers on long walks, the Cross Country can take weight up to 20kg (around 3-4 years old). This multipurpose carrier has an adjustable back system to ensure a good fit and the sturdy anchor point evenly distributes your child’s weight make the carrier very comfortable.
MFM reviewer Georgina, mum of 2, loves the large base pocket and bottle pocket. She said, “The pocket can hold quite a few items, such as phone, keys, snacks, a spare nappy and wet wipes, much more than the ones that come with baby carriers. That along with the water bottle pocket means we can head out on a walk without having to take an extra bag.”
It is also really easy to put your child in the carrier; the anchor point at the base of the carrier has a handy hole for your foot so that when the carrier is on the ground you can keep it secure with your foot and have both hands free to strap your child in.
Pros: large storage pocket, easy to use, comfortable
Cons: not machine washable, bulky, high price point
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10. Beco 8 Baby Carrier, £125
– Best for comfort
Suitable from: birth to 4 years (3.5kg to 20kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – back, front in-facing and out-facing and hip | Machine washable: Yes
Structured and supportive, the Beco 8 has a removable newborn insert, padded headrest and adjustable back panel to make sure your baby is positioned correctly. For parent comfort, it has a wide adjustable waistband, easy-to-adjust chest-strap sliders and dual-adjustable straps.
MFM reviewer and mum of 1, Tara explained “This is the comfiest carrier I’ve tried and is absolutely perfect for our long family walks. It feels very secure, yet lightweight, and the 100 per cent cotton fabric is soft, which helps the carrier to contour to your body shape.”
While MFM reviewer Tara found the instructions “confusing” and the multiple carrying positions “a little daunting”, once you get the hang of it the Beco 8 is “extremely easy to put on and take off.”
A MFM user agreed and said, “I have tried a lot of carriers and this was instantly my favourite! This is a hard structured carrier so takes the weight of baby rather than putting the strain on your back and feels very secure for baby.”
Pros: comfortable for baby and parent, wide waistband, easy to adjust
Cons: confusing instructions
Read our full MadeForMums Beco 8 Baby Carrier review
Available from: Amazon