Finding the right baby carrier can be a godsend for busy parents, allowing 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.
Most parents claim that baby carriers are their favourite baby product. When choosing a baby carrier, there are a few things to consider to find the right one for you.
We break down the different types of baby carrier to give you some of the best for you to choose from and chat to expert Rosie Dodds, NCT’s senior policy adviser to ask about safety when it comes to keeping your baby secure in a baby carrier.
Finding you the baby best carrier
At Mother&Baby we are constantly testing the latest baby carriers to find you the best and most safe ones to invest in. Thousands of our mum and dad testers have been putting these carriers and slings through their paces all year round and reporting back to help us coordinate this list of the best carriers out there. So, which are the ones they loved?
See our shortlist of the best baby carriers available in the UK reviewed by our mum and dad testers – including traditional, backpack, and sling – and find the right one for you.
What different types of baby carriers are there?
There are three main types of baby carriers that parents swear by:
Sling baby carriers: As opposed to a traditional, structured carrier, sling carriers are wraps made with super-long pieces of fabric which keep you and the baby closer. They are lighter than regular carriers and have a more natural philosophy, look and feel. A lot of parents swear by their sling carriers and you can read our guide to the best baby slings.
Traditional baby carriers: A “traditional” baby carrier will have a structured waist and padded shoulder straps and can be fastened with buckles or straps. It can conveniently convert into multiple seating positions (front, back, and hip).
Backpack baby carriers: These are an upgrade of the traditional baby carrier, suitable for babies six months and onwards. They’re structured like a hiker’s backpack, offering great back support so you can take your child on big adventures on your back. If you like travelling and hiking, or if your day consists of a lot of walking, a backpack baby carrier can prove extremely helpful. Read our guide to the best baby carrier backpacks.
While some parents prefer traditional baby carriers, others prefer slings, so the best one for you and your baby really depends on your personal preferences or needs. Baby carriers are usually age-specific – some are suitable for newborns, while others are only for toddlers – so before buying one, make sure that your baby fits the age range required to make sure they’re safe.
If you’re not sure what kind of baby carrier you need, some towns 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.
The best baby carriers to keep your baby safe and happy
Designed for active and social parents, Baby Carrier Move has built-in back support and a waist belt that distributes weight away from the baby wearer’s shoulders. The baby carrier’s thin and flexible 3D mesh fabric ensures that a newborn baby is sitting in a perfect position and the size of the baby carrier can be adjusted as the baby grows. The soft fabric hugs the baby’s back, legs and hips, and provides good support.
Our tester R D Farrar says: “This carrier is AMAZING! It is simple to use, comfortable to wear and my little one seems to be comfortable too! She loves being carried and this is by far the best one I have seen and used. This carrier feels safe and strong and so well made. I can clip my little girl in and out so quick and simply, but with the feeling of safety. It is simply a must-have product!”
Number of carrying positions: 2 (facing inwards or outwards)
Material: 100% polyester
Fasten type: Belt
Weight range: min. 3.2 kg max. 12 kg
Extra features: Machine wash at 40°C
Best for bonding
Won a Gold Award in the 2021 M&B Awards in the Best Baby Carrier/Sling
You can’t hold your baby all the time. Even though you may want to. CUDL makes it easy to keep baby close and secure, all while keeping your hands free. Keep baby facing in and snuggled up starting with an integrated infant booster for newborns, which then easily unzips as your child grows. As baby wants to explore the world, have them face out or switch to backpack mode for growing toddlers. Suitable from birth to 3 years, CUDL is ergonomically designed to support both baby and parent and magnetic buckles make taking little one in and out a breeze.
Our tester Ashleigh Brough says: “This sling is so easy to put on by yourself and wear for long periods it meant I could easily get on with anything around the house or chase after my toddler outside. My baby felt secure and safe at all times and the range of positions he could go in meant he was always happy! It is obviously a very comfy sling as he slept in it nearly every time he has been in it. The velcro waist strap meant I could easily change the fit every time I put it on, meaning the faff of leaving the house with two children was cut down.”
Extra features: Integrated hood to provide shade to little one
Best for hot weather
This carrier was Shortlisted for the 2018 M&B Awards Best Baby Carrier/Sling
This has four ergonomic wearing positions: parent facing, on the back, on the hip, and on the front but facing forwards. The ‘cool air mesh feature’ helps parent and baby stay cool in hot weather thanks to the breathable material.
Our tester Beata Jenner said: “The mesh design is great especially during the summer days, meaning your baby can’t overheat and I love the fact it comes in different colours. The Ergobaby 360 Cool Air Baby Carrier is very practical and a lot smaller and easier to carry around than our previous carrier. The best element of this carrier for me as mum is the even weight distribution, this is thanks to the wide back strap and padded shoulder straps.”
Won a Bronze Award in the 2021 M&B Awards in the Best Baby Carrier/Sling
The Izmi Wrap can be used from newborn for complete carrying freedom. The two hands-free carrying positions include: front carry and hip carry. It can also be used as a breastfeeding support. The luxuriously soft two-way stretch bamboo material hugs your baby’s shape in a snug and supportive hip healthy position, recognised by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. The straps can be spread over the wearers shoulders for comfort and also offer stabilising head support. This means that your baby is secure yet unrestricted when being carried, allowing them to suck their hands and rub their face if needed.
Our tester Emily Hentley says: This is absolutely amazing it’s like giving your newborn a cuddle the sling holds them right in tight and they are comfy as well as you. When my little boy was in the wrap he was so happy and settled. I have a toddler too and being able to have him in the wrap means I can easily to playgrounds with my daughter or help her with other activities.
Shortlisted in the 2021 M&B Awards in the Best Baby Carrier/Sling
Easy to use alone it pops on over the head like a t-shirt, giving you all the great positioning, support and flexibility of a stretchy wrap but without the headache of tying. Once on it tightens down to fit baby and wearer exactly thanks to the clever rings. The soft wide straps make carrying more comfortable, and allow you to tuck little one’s head in cheek to chest when needed. Caboo Lite is designed to provide all the same closeness for that little bit less!
Our tester Miriam Bibi says: “The caboo is a new mums best friend! It allows me to keep baby close to my body while giving me the freedom to move about the house, have a cup of tea and get some chores done! It really does change your day completely from being quite sedentary to being mobile while feeling the closeness and warmth of baby. I found other wrap style slings really tricky to put on but the Caboo is more structured and much easier to wear. It’s quite easy to put on quickly and soothe baby.”
Shortlisted in the 2021 M&B Awards in the Best Baby Carrier/Sling
Soft, cosy and super comfortable, our newborn carrier is the sweetest way to stay connected. No complicated wrapping or tying, Embrace keeps you and baby close as you find your new rhythm together. Cosy & ergonomic – Cuddly jersey fabric keeps your baby close to your heart in its natural position. It offers a supporting waist belt & spreadable shoulder straps. With easy buckling without the frustration of wrapping or excessive fabric and compact and lightweight with Oeko-Tex STANDARD 100 Certified Fabric. Embrace has the ErgoPromise 10-year Guarantee and is machine washable. Acknowledged as hip healthy by International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
Our tester Helen Broe says: “This product is a hybrid of a sling combined with a carrier. When I put the Ergo Embrace on my baby will feel so comfortable she will fall asleep far quicker than other carriers. Her head is well supported and I have been able to bend down and tie my toddlers shoe laces whilst carrying my baby. I am also able to get ready at the speed of light with the simple straps that fasten easily. There is no excess material to tuck away which I am used to being such a small build. The weight is evenly distributed across my shoulders and I have never noticed any red marks on my baby’s legs. With other carriers I have even changed her outfit so the material did not dig in, however she is able to wear anything as the material hugs her without rubbing.”
Shortlisted in the 2021 M&B Awards in the Best Baby Carrier/Sling (The Monlo design is currently out of stock, but we love this fun basil design which packs the same qualities)
Made of wood pulp from natural forests and sustainably managed tree farms. Incredibly soft, light as a feather and incredibly breathable. Its fibres absorb 70 per cent more moisture than Cotton allowing for a drier sleeping environment. Softer than silk, our slings have a smooth surface area, giving the fabrics a soft feel and ensuring comfort for sensitive skin. Its fibres are known to last longer and withstand repeated wash cyclescompared to cotton.
Our tester Adelle Barnett says: “Carriers suitable for newborns are so much more needed than I first realised. Our baby was born small so the carrier that we had we could not use for the first 6 weeks as she was under 3kg. This carrier is light weight and the material is beautiful but I still found it hard to put on and was not confident it was 100% secure.”
Shortlisted in the 2021 M&B Awards in the Best Baby Carrier/Sling
Every position your baby will need, including a facing out position. Each provides a natural, ergonomic position that promotes healthy hip and spine development for baby. A more slimline, innovative body panel with three width settings to find a perfect fit as baby grows from newborn to early toddlerhood. Used from 3.2 to 20.4kg (7 – 45 pounds), no infant insert required. Padded shoulder straps provide optimal neck & shoulder comfort and offers quick adjustments for multiple wearers. Wide padded waistband helps evenly distribute weight. Comfy and stylish! Plus with so many designs to choose from, you can choose a style to suit you.
Our tester Amy Goddard says: “I love using a sling. It is helpful in the house when the baby won’t settle but i have things to get done. It enables me to have two hands for tasks and not try and juggle the baby. It is practical for use outside the house as well, making quick trips to the shops much easier because I don’t have to lug a pram around.”
Fasten type: Shoulder straps, waistband and buckles
Weight range: 3.2 – 20.4 kg
Extra features: Machine wash
Best for travelling
This won a 2020 Silver Best Baby Carrier/Sling in the Mother&Baby Awards
This multifunctional baby carrier is soft and breathable, and perfect for carrying your newborn in the early months. The carrier is easy to use in the day and through the night, as well as having a detachable front section that you can lift out when your baby is sleeping.
Our tester Charlotte says: “The carrier is very transportable, it isn’t too bulky and it is very easy to use when taking your baby out and about. It is ideal for newborns who like to be held all the time as it allows you to get things done while your baby is sleeping! It’s much quicker and easier to use than the stretchy wrap style slings and my baby was still able to sleep whilst in this carrier.”
Winner in the M&B Awards 2020 winning Gold in the Best Baby Carrier/Sling category (The Eucalyptus design is currently out of stock, but we love this sling hex design which packs the same qualities)
This is the ideal baby carrier wrap that offers you hands-free movement throughout the day and during the night. Made from sustainable materials, the wrap is silky soft, breathable and eco-friendly. The FreeRider encourages parents to be active while bringing the mother and baby close together.
Our tester Lindsey says: “I would highly recommend the FreeRider as it has been impeccably designed, from the beautiful pattern on the sling right down to the (sustainably sourced) packaging it comes in, which is a gift box in itself. The material is incredibly soft and strong which gives me confidence that my baby will be not only comfortable in it but safe too. It even comes with a little pouch to keep it clean and safe; it folds up perfectly to fit into my nappy changing bag.”
This smart baby carrier and has a lot to offer with a built-in headrest, and superior strap and leg padding to provide the support and comfort needed for you and your growing baby. As the carrier also has four ergonomic carry positions and straps that you can easily adjust and personalise, the versatility of the Beco Gemini Baby Carrier completes the baby carrier package.
Mum Louisa wrote on Amazon: “Excellent baby carrier, incredibly comfortable and a lot less structured than some other bigger brands. Very easy to use, but do read the instructions. Our 9 month old daughter, who previously hated any kind of carrier, absolutely loves it. We especially like the multi-ways of using the carrier. Very soft material and easy to wash too. Overall great value for money.”
Age suitability: Newborn – Toddler
Number of carrying positions: 4
Material: 3D breathable mesh and micro-fibre fabric
Fasten type: Waist belt
Weight range: 7-35 lbs
Extra features: Machine washable and waist belt pocket included
Best for longevity
Shortlisted for Best Baby Carrier/Sling 2016
Suitable from birth to three years so it will truly last you well, with the Baby Carrier One you can carry your little one facing-in, facing-out and on your back. Crafted in a soft cotton blend, the sturdy waist belt and padded shoulder straps of this wrap will relieve pressure on your back and shoulders.
Tested by mum AK Templer for the M&B Awards 2016: “I love the fact that Baby Bjorn brought out an ergonomical Baby Carrier and, like many mothers before me, started my baby-wearing journey with my first child with an old-style BB. I like the buckle fastening because it feels very secure although it does involve a bit of practice at first. It’s great to see that you have different options regarding carrying babies/toddlers. The Newborn Zip helps you to have your baby in a higher position and the supportive neck straps and flap makes sure the head is supported too. For toddlers you can put them into a lower seat.”
Fasten type: Shoulder straps with sturdy waist belt
Weight range: 3.5kg – 15kg
Extra features: Machine washable. available in a range of colours
The best carrier in our opinion is the NUNA CUDL. Although it’s on the pricier side of carriers, it offers parents and babies a choice of four carrying positions and is suitable for newborns up to infants three years of age. It’s brilliant for bonding, allowing baby to sleep while you get on with your day, hands-free and in comfort. It also comes with a hood to provide shade in the summer and shelter from the rain.
Safety tips for wearing a baby carrier
We spoke to NCT’s senior policy adviser, Rosie Dodds, for her babywearing safety tips to ensure your baby stays safe, supported and comfortable at all times.
Follow ‘TICKS’ checklist
The British Association of Babywearing Instructors offer guidelines for safe babywearing and recommend following this handy checklist developed by the Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers. ‘TICKS’ stands for:
TICKS used with permission of the UK Sling Consortium
“Your baby should be in a position where they are close enough to kiss by tipping your head forward, and they should never be curled so their chin is pressed onto their chest as this can restrict breathing,” explains Rosie.
With this checklist in mind, you should make sure you:
Don’t use loose fabrics: While you might think that loose fabric on a sling would be comfortable for your baby, it can “allow your baby to slump down which can hinder his breathing,” says Rosie. Instead, make sure you can always see your baby’s face when you glance down but that the sling is tight enough to hug them close.
Check the weight guidelines: Double-check the weight guidelines on each sling you consider buying as it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all. Then adjust it every time you wear it, especially if other people are wearing the sling too.
Don’t zip up your coat over your baby: Even when it’s cold out, refrain from zipping up your coat to cover your baby as it can put them at risk of suffocating. Providing they’re wearing enough clothing, they’ll be cosy enough – and your own body heat will keep them warm.
Wear your baby high up: The higher up on the body your baby is, the easier the sling will be on your back. Similarly, the closer they are to your face, the better you can monitor their behaviour and wellbeing.
Don’t forget their head: A newborn baby’s head always needs support. Whether you’re carrying them or wearing your baby in a sling, make sure to support the head and keep an eye on it. Don’t let your baby slump. While babies will naturally gravitate towards a slight C shape in a sling, try and keep their spine as straight as possible. “Carrying them upright with their hips and legs in the ‘M’ position is likely to be safest and is most suitable for their developing hips and spine,” Rosie from NCT explains.
Make sure baby is wearing the right kind of clothes: Could your baby be too hot? Think about the sort of clothes your baby is wearing as the weather gets warmer. You wouldn’t like being stuffed up and swaddled inside excess fabrics either. If you’re hot, chances are your baby is too.
Find the right one for you: If your baby is resisting the one you’ve bought, it might just mean that you’ll need to try a different type. Thankfully there are plenty of options.
Find the correct position: Safety experts recommend that the baby is facing the parents in a carrier from newborn to six months. When your baby can hold their head up, they can then be moved to the forward-facing position as this position is great for development, allowing baby to explore the world and be stimulated by their surroundings.
Don’t keep a newborn in a carrier too long: Just as you wouldn’t like to be stuck in the same position for hours, newborns should have their positions changed often. Regularly check that your baby’s hips, head, neck, and back are well-supported and that their arms and legs can move freely.
Avoid bag style slings: Bag slings are unsafe for small babies as they can put your baby in a dangerous position (chin-to-chest) and could risk asphyxiation with fabric covering their face. Make sure to choose alternatives like those on this list.