Expert advice on what to look for when buying a baby carrier or sling, so you can choose the best for you and your child.

baby carriers and slings

Choosing the right baby carrier, sling or wrap is the key to getting to grips with baby wearing.

It needs to be comfortable, convenient and flexible for your little one, as well as for you and anyone else who’ll be wearing it.

Types of baby carrier and sling

Wrap Sling
wrap sling

A wrap sling is simply a piece of woven or stretchy jersey-type fabric that you wrap and tie around your body so your baby is held securely.

Soft-structured baby carriers

Baby bjorn baby carrier one 477991

 

Soft baby carriers, or buckle carriers, are the most widely available type. Most are either two-way or three-way carriers, which reflects the number of positions you can carry your baby in.

pouch Sling

Pouch sling 477994

A pouch sling is a piece of fabric sewn together at the ends and folded to form a pocket in which your baby nestles. Pouch slings go over one shoulder like a sash, and your baby sits in the pouch on the front or back.

Ring sling

Rockin baby sling 477995

A ring sling is a piece of fabric that threads through two rings, forming a loop. The sling goes over one shoulder, and you fasten it by pulling the fabric through the rings.

Baby Pack backsbaby carriers

Baby backpacks have a rucksack-style appearance and are usually supported by a light metal frame or rigid backpack-type padding. You secure it using padded shoulder straps and a waist belt.

What are the most important features when buying a baby sling or carrier?

When we surveyed 1,032 parents in February 2021 with a child under five who own a sling or carrier, we asked them what their top considerations were.  Here are the top five:

Supportive for the child (40%)

Safe and durable (39%)

Comfortable for the child (38%)

Comfortable for the wearer (33%)

Easy to put on and take off (27%)

Front carrying or back carrying?

When you’re babywearing, you often have the choice of how you want to carry your baby: on your front or on your back.  Front baby carriers are most popular. Some baby carriers and baby slings have the option to hip-carry, too.

Front baby carriers pros and cons

Pros of front baby carriers

You can use it from birth as long as your baby meets the minimum weight requirement. Most of the slings and carriers we’ve tested go up to 35lb (16kg) for front carrying, which is around three or four years. You can see your baby clearly and bond with him or her. You can often breastfeed discreetly using a front carrier.  They’re useful if your baby has reflux and needs to be kept upright after feeding, or just really doesn’t want to be put down.

Cons of front baby carriers

Some front carriers have a minimum weight limit before you can use them. Some may not be suitable if your baby is premature. Older babies might ‘grow out’ of wanting to be carried on your front.

Back baby carriers pros and cons

Pros of back baby carriers

Great for extended carrying – especially older toddlers or children, who may get too big to go on your front.

Cons of back baby carriers

Suitable to be used only once your baby is able to sit upright (from around six months). Some parents find it hard to manoeuvre a child into position. Some back carriers need two people to get a child into place. For the best of both worlds, choose a baby carrier with multiple carrying positions for maximum comfort for you and your baby as they grow.

Which baby carrier is most comfortable?
baby carriers

Baby carrying is quite a personal thing, and how comfortable it is will depend on the wearer, and getting the right type of carrier for you and your baby.

Slings and carriers shouldn’t give you aches and pains, even after prolonged use. Some parents in our tests felt discomfort in the shoulders, lower neck and lower back, but issues like this can be fixed by making some adjustments to the straps or buckles, and making sure the carrier is correctly fitted in the first place.

It can take a little while to get used to wearing a sling if you haven’t used one before. So if you’re new to babywearing, we’d recommend building up gradually before keeping your sling on for a long period of time.

If your baby hasn’t been in a sling before, it’s possible that they may cry when you first put them into it. It’s a new experience for them, and some babies may not like it initially.

This can be quite worrying for a parent but, if your sling is on correctly and your baby is positioned correctly, usually a little walk around or a jig about and some comforting words can help them to settle. Many factors can affect the comfort of a sling.

If your baby has had you up many times overnight, if you feel stiff after sleeping awkwardly, or are achy from an exercise class, for example, this can affect how comfortable you feel when babywearing.

Choosing a carrier with good features, such as lumbar support or padded straps, can help to reduce discomfort, especially if you plan to carry your child for long periods of time, or regularly when they’re older and larger.

How much do you need to spend to start babywearing?

We’ve found some of the Best Buy baby carriers and slings cost from around £40 upwards, so there’s no need to spend a fortune. Generally, fabric wraps and slings are cheaper than soft-structured carriers, however, the latter tend to last you for longer as they provide plenty of support when carrying older babies.

baby carriers

What are the most popular baby carriers and slings?

.Ergobaby Omni 360, £155

Cybex Maira Click, £130

Je Porte Mon Bebe Basic Wrap, £60

Babybjorn Baby Carrier One, £160

Ergobaby Aura wrap, £50

Five things to look out for when buying a sling or baby carrier

1. Comfort

A comfortable baby carrier or sling will mean you can carry your baby for longer.  Features to look for include thick, padded straps; sturdy fabrics; and good leg and back support for your baby.

As part of our tests, an ergonomics expert assesses each sling and carrier for how supportive it is, for both the wearer and the baby. We also take into account feedback from the parents in our user trials.

To double check how comfortable a carrier or sling is for you, we recommend trying it before you buy.  Head to a sling library, which will have a range of slings and carriers to try out.

You’ll be able to get tailored advice on things such as getting the most comfortable fit for you, and adjusting your sling or carrier safely.

2. Weight

The weight of a baby carrier or sling can vary. A lightweight sling can weigh as little as 400g (that’s less than half a bag of sugar), while a structured baby carrier can be a lot heavier, as well as being big and bulky to carry around.

The slings and carriers we’ve reviewed recently weigh around 0.3-0.7kg.

3. Bulk

You may not be quite as concerned about how bulky the baby carrier is – or how well it packs up – if you’re wearing it only indoors.

But if you want to use your baby carrier when you’re out and about, you may want to go for one that’s light and folds up neatly when not in use.

Also for outdoors, consider a sun canopy to help protect your baby’s head from the sun. Some carriers also come with sleep hoods. Both of these will add bulk, but are handy extra features.

4. Ease of use

If multiple people are going to be using your carrier or sling, it’s definitely worth choosing one that’s adjustable to help get the best fit.  Adjusting your baby carrier properly is vital, so it’s useful to have one that you can get the hang of fairly easily, with good instructions to help.

If you’re willing to invest time in learning how to adjust a sling or carrier, your range of choice is greater.

If you don’t have the time or energy, choose something straightforward with a minimal number of adjustments. For those who don’t feel confident in working out how to carry a baby in a wrap, then a more structured carrier might be the way to go.

When choosing, consider whether you can get it on and off easily – while juggling a crying baby – and whether you can get it on and off on your own.

Our reviews assess these factors based on parent trials and expert assessments, and we also look at the clarity of the instructions that come with each carrier.

Most manufacturers have videos available to help you learn how to put on your sling or carrier. We’d recommend taking a look at these and practicing with a teddy to get to grips with it before your baby arrives.

5. Easy cleaning

A sling or baby carrier is bound to get dribbled on or vomited on at some point. Check whether the one you’ve got your heart set on is machine washable rather than sponge-clean only, or comes with any other handy features such as dribble pads. How long can your baby stay in the carrier?

baby carriers

You can carry your child in a sling or baby carrier for as long as they are content and you’re happy carrying them.  Make sure the sling is adjusted properly and that your baby is comfortable.  Always follow the T.I.C.K.S. advice for the safest way to carry your baby.  T.I.C.K.S is an acronym for: Tight. In view at all times.

Close enough to kiss. Keep chin off the chest. Supported back. We’d advise starting with a short 10-minute carry to let your baby get used to the carrier, and gradually extend this to longer periods.  Always pay close attention to your child’s needs and switch between the baby carrier and, for example, a pushchair or carrycot as needed.

Which baby carrier can you breastfeed in?

Many of the slings and carriers we’ve tested have a position for breastfeeding. Check our reviews, or the instructions, to find out which ones are suitable.

Which baby carrier is best for newborns?

baby carriers

Many slings and carriers are designed to be used with newborns.

You may have to put a special insert into the carrier, which helps to raise your newborn so that he or she sits higher on your chest.  The top of your newborn’s head should be close enough to kiss.  Check the product specs or instructions to find out if the sling or carrier is suitable from birth.

Some carriers are suitable to use with much older babies and toddlers, too. If you’re planning on babywearing for a long time, look for one that will last.

Which baby carrier is best for toddlers? Some parents find it less comfortable using a baby carrier as their child gets heavier, and toddlers might not want to be carried once they become more active.  This depends on personal experience, though.

Other parents don’t tend to notice the weight of older babies if they’ve been carrying them since they were little, as their body gets used to it.

Generally, the best baby carriers for toddlers are those that are comfortable and provide good support for parents – soft-structured carriers. They have padded straps and waistbands that will help to support your baby’s weight. If you’re walking or hiking, you should go for a baby backpack.

Where to try baby carriers

Given the importance of practising babywearing, finding out what’s most comfortable for you and adjusting your sling or carrier safely, it can be really helpful to visit a sling library or consultant to try any slings you’re considering before you buy.

BabyBjorn, Ergobaby, or Mamas & Papas?

There’s an enormous range of baby carrier and sling brands out there. Some are very well known and established, such as BabyBjorn and Mamas & Papas, while others are much smaller companies, often selling slings.

Babybjorn and Ergobaby are specialists in making soft-structured baby carriers with buckles and waistbands, although Ergobaby has also created a fabric sling.

They sit at the top end of the price bracket. Other well-known brands and names, such as Chicco, Mamas & Papas and Mothercare, make structured baby carriers, at lower prices.

less well-known names, but equally popular with some parents, are brands such as Close Parent, Moby, Connecta and We Made Me. These brands make a mix of slings, structured carriers and hybrid carrier slings, which have and buckles and straps, but may have less padding or lack a waistband.

  How to spot a fake baby carrier

Buyers beware: there’s a large counterfeit market for certain carrier brands, such as Ergobaby and Moby Wrap. You’ll need to be discerning when looking for a deal, otherwise you risk buying an unsafe product. Read our guide to How to spot a fake baby carrier or sling so you know what to watch out for.

Baby carriers with dribble bibs

Babies love to chew on the straps or fabric of baby carriers, so it’s wise to have a dribble bib or bit of muslin to hand. They can also help you to protect your clothing and tidy up more quickly if your baby is sick while in the carrier. Some carriers come with dribble bibs, while others brands offer them as an additional extra. Overall, we haven’t seen much advantage in buying a carrier simply because it includes a dribble bib.

What should I do with an old baby carrier or sling?

The secondhand market for baby carriers and slings is massive, and if yours is in good condition, you may be able to sell it via an online marketplace such as eBay or Facebook, or via an NCT ‘nearly new’ sale.

If that’s not possible, so long as the carrier or sling is clean and in good condition, charity shops or women’s shelters would probably be happy to accept any baby items such as this.

If the carrier or sling is in poor condition (frayed straps or missing parts) then it might be best to dispose of it. It can be placed in household waste, or alternatively, you can purchase a Terracycle Zero Waste Box to put old baby items including carriers in.

Ergobaby 360 All Positions review

Test scoreShow Context

70%

Key features

  • Buckles
  • Front facing in and front facing out
  • Back carry
Compare

verdict: A popular carrier that’s easy to use but it’s bulky

The Ergobaby 360 All Positions is easy to get to grips with. It offers a range of carrying options for your baby and is adjustable to help get the best fit for you, but the clip at the back can be fiddly to get to and it could provide a little more support for your baby.

Pros
  • Good padding
  • Can be adjusted to get a better fit
  • Different carrying options
Cons
  • Clip at the back can be fiddly to reach

    tokke MyCarrier review

    £99.00Typical price

    Test scoreShow Context

    70%

    Key features

    • Buckles
    • Front facing in and front facing out
    • Back carry
    Compare

    Which? verdict: A comfy carrier, but tricky to assemble

    The Stokke MyCarrier is comfortable to wear, it’s versatile and it looks good. It’s not cheap, though, and it’s fiddly to set up, not helped by the incredibly long instruction manual.

    Pros
    • Lots of adjustment options available
    • Suits most users
    • Supportive and comfortable
    Cons
    • Instruction manual is not clear
    • Rear carrying mode is fiddly to assemble
    • Lots of clips to do up

    Beco 8 review

    £87.00Typical price

    Test scoreShow Context

    68%

    Key features

    • Back carry

    Compare

     verdict: Fell short in our lab safety tests

    The support and comfort of this carrier are overshadowed by the potential safety issues we found in our lab tests. While this carrier boasts a lot of carrying positions and can be comfortable to use, these issues mean it doesn’t score highly.

    Pros
    • Supportive for your baby
    • Useful infant insert
    • Lots of carrying positions
    • Easy to put on
    Cons
    • Safety issues
    • Back strap hard to reach
    • Not tight enough for small users

    Boba X Carrier review

    Test scoreShow Context

    66%

    Key features

    • Back carry

    Compare

     verdict: Issues detract from child comfort

    The Boba X provides good support for your baby or child. Comfort for wearers seems to vary – some of the smallest and larger wearers seemed to find it less comfortable than others. This combined with a couple of safety issues in our lab tests means it doesn’t score as highly as many models.

    Pros
    • Child is well supported
    • Good padding
    • Easy to take off
    • Thoughtful features
    • Weight distribution good for mid-sized wearers
    Cons
    • Waist strap can dig a little
    • Weight distribution isn’t great in back-carry mode
    • Hard to reach back strap
    • Safety issues
    • May be uncomfortable for petite wearers

      Ergobaby Omni 360 review

      Test scoreShow Context

      87%

      Key features

      • Buckles
      • Front facing in and front facing out
      • Back carry

      Compare

      verdict: A top-notch baby carrier

      The Ergobaby Omni 360 is a worthy Best Buy carrier. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to providing an ergonomic, hip-healthy seat for your baby, it’s comfortable for the user and it’s got a great shelf-life, lasting from birth well into toddlerhood.

      Pros
      • Four positions to hold your baby
      • Suitable from birth to three years
      • Comfortable to wear
      • Ergonomic
      Cons
      • Clip at the back can be fiddly to reach without a second person to help
      • Some buckles are a bit stiff.

        Ergobaby Embrace review

        Test scoreShow Context

        87%

        Key features

        Compare

         verdict: A simple and effective Best Buy

        The Best Buy Ergobaby Embrace is a compact, lightweight carrier that’s simply designed and comfortable to wear. It lacks some of the fine adjustments of more expensive carriers, but it supports your baby well and is quick to put on and take off.

        Pros
        • Comfortable design for baby and wearer
        • Good weight distribution
        • Easy to adjust straps
        • Compact
        Cons
        • Head support not adjustable
        • Lumbar support is not padded
        • Instructions are a bit complicated

    Cybex Maira Click review

    Test scoreShow Context

    85%

    Key features

    • Buckles
    • Front facing in
    • Back carry

    Compare

    Which? verdict: A supportive, Best Buy carrier

    This carrier is easy to put on and adjust, and it’s very comfortable in the various different positions that you can carry your baby in. Coupled with good head support and an ergonomic seat base for your baby and you’ve got a great Best Buy carrier.

    Pros
    • Easy to put on and adjust
    • Comfy hip carry mode
    • Good head support
    • Straps are easy to access
    Cons
    • Quite expensive
    • Buckles can be a bit stiff
    • Drawstring bag that carrier comes in is dangerous.

    BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Move 3D Mesh review

    Test scoreShow Context

    84%

    Key features

    Compare

    Which? verdict: This Best Buy is comfy for baby and wearer

    This Best Buy structured baby carrier provides good back support for an adult wearing it and is supportive for your baby. It’s generally comfortable to wear and the baby’s weight is well distributed.

    Pros
    • Newborn head support works well
    • Soft material
    • Easy to put on
    • Good adjustability
    • Good lumbar support
    • Weight evenly distributed
    Cons
    • Padding could be thicker and better positioned

    Je Porte Mon Bebe Basic wrap review

    £47.00Typical price

    Test scoreShow Context

    84%

    Key features

    • Wrap
    • Front facing in only

    Compare

     verdict: An excellent baby sling

    If you’re looking for a fabric sling to carry your baby, this is a great option. It’s our highest scoring sling and a Best Buy. The material is very soft and comfortable, and many of the babies that were carried in it by our panel of parent testers fell asleep – as good a sign as any that it’s comfortable for your baby!

    Pros
    • Soft material
    • Carrying baby close to you is soothing
    • Folds up small
    • Comprehensive instructions
    Cons
    • Can be tricky to learn how to tie at first
    • You need to adjust as sling will get looser over time
    • Bottom of sling will trail on floor when you start to wrap it round you

    Cybex Yema Tie review

    £180.00Typical price

    Test scoreShow Context

    84%

    Key features

    • Back carry

    Compare

     verdict: A soft and supportive Best Buy

    The Best Buy Cybex Yema Tie provides good support for your newborn and fits a range of body shapes and sizes. Several parents in our user trial commented on how comfortable and easy to use it is. Just be mindful that it’s only usable until your baby is around two years old, and it becomes less comfortable as their weight reaches the upper limit.

    Pros
    • Supportive
    • Soft and sturdy construction
    • Fits a wide range of wearers
    • Good weight distribution
    • Easy to use
    Cons
    • Shoulder straps could have more padding
    • Straps are quite long
    • No front outward-facing position

      Moby Classic Wrap review

      Test scoreShow Context

      83%

      Key features

      Compare

      verdict: This Best Buy is simple, supportive and comfortable for young babies

      This Best Buy sling offers a good amount of support for your newborn and keeps them cosy and close. It’s comfortable to wear in the front carrying position and unlike some slings it can be washed and tumble dried for quick cleaning.

      Pros
      • Supportive for young babies
      • Comfortable for most in front-carrying position
      • Simple design that’s easy to put on
      • Good weight distribution in front-carrying position
      • Can be washed and tumble dried
      Cons
      • Fabric may bunch up
      • Knot position may be uncomfortable for larger wearers
      • Lower weight limit than some carriers

      BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One Cotton review

      Test scoreShow Context

      82%

      Key features

      • Buckles
      • Front facing in and front facing out
      • Back carry

      Compare

       verdict: A versatile, comfortable Best Buy

      The BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One Cotton is a Best Buy because it’s supportive and comfortable for your baby. It’s fully adjustable and it’s easy to use once you’ve got the hang of it.

      Pros
      • Good support
      • Excellent weight distribution
      • Easy to get on and off
      • Holds baby in ergonomic position
      Cons
      • It’s a bit bulky
      • Head support could be improved
      • Quite expensive

      Izmi Baby Wrap review

      Test scoreShow Context

      81%

      Key features

      Compare

       verdict: Worth considering for its light weight and good support

      This sling works well to keep your baby close and supported, but the simplicity of the design means the onus is on you to position your child correctly and get the tension right. It’s light, compact and the baby’s weight is well distributed to make it comfortable to wear, but you’ll probably need to practise fitting it a few times to get it right.

      Pros
      • Comfortable
      • Light
      • Good weight distribution
      • Supports baby well
      • Closeness with your baby
      Cons
      • Takes practice to get the right fit for you and baby
      • Length of fabric can be difficult to handle
      • Fabric can bunch up to be uncomfortable to wear

      Ergobaby Aura Baby Wrap review

      Test scoreShow Context

      78%

      Key features

      • Wrap
      • Front facing in only

      Compare

      verdict: A comfortable Best Buy sling

      Ergobaby is right when saying this is a sling for beginners. Anyone with an older baby may find it’s just not supportive or secure enough. Go for the Aura if you have a newborn baby as it’s a good one to start with if you’re new to babywearing. It’s comfortable and holds your baby in an ergonomic position.

      Pros
      • Soft
      • Lightweight material
      • Folds down small
      • Comfortable for babies
      • Good weight distribution
      Cons
      • Not very suitable for older babies
      • Hard to get the sling tight
      • Ends of the material may dangle on floor when tying
      • Quite expensive

      Infantino Upscale Customizable Baby Carrier review

      Test scoreShow Context

      78%

      Key features

      • Buckles
      • Front facing in and front facing out
      • Back carry

      Compare

       verdict: Good-value carrier

      The Infantino Upscale is not a Best Buy, but it’s a high-scoring baby carrier that’s good value, so definitely worth a look.

      Pros
      • Comfortable
      • Easy to put on
      • Lots of carrying options
      • Good value
      • Hip-healthy
      Cons
      • Confusing instructions
      • Buckles can be stiff
      • You need a second person to use the back-carry mode

      Izmi Baby Carrier review

      Test scoreShow Context

      75%

      Key features

      • Buckles
      • Front facing in and front facing out
      • Back carry

      Compare

       verdict: Lightweight and comfortable for baby

      This is a decent baby carrier that is comfortable for your baby and easy to put on and adjust. Comfort for the parent split our panel of testers – some found the straps dug in while others felt it distributed weight well.

      Pros
      • Lightweight
      • Adaptable and easy to put on
      Cons
      • Straps dig in
      • Not comfortable in the hip carry mode

      BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Mini 3D Jersey review

      Test scoreShow Context

      75%

      Key features

      Compare

       verdict: Not comfortable enough to be worthwhile

      This carrier is designed specifically for use with newborns. While it’s very light, and parents remarked on the beautifully soft fabrics, almost all of them found it a little uncomfortable to wear and not quite as supportive as you’d expect for a newborn carrier.

      Pros
      • Soft material for baby’s comfort
      • Easy to use
      • Doesn’t restrict movement
      • Light
      • Intuitive clips
      Cons
      • Doesn’t always maintain perfect baby position
      • Newborn head support could be better
      • Uncomfortable to wear for long periods
      • Poor weight distribution
      • No lumbar support

      Chicco Boppy ComfyFit review

      Test scoreShow Context

      73%

      Key features

      Compare

       verdict: Restrictive for some

      It’s compact and the material is soft, but there were a few minor annoyances with this carrier in our tests – some users found the armholes restrictive, the stretchy fabric resulted in a lot of movement during activity, and it doesn’t hold baby’s position as well as some other carriers we’ve tested.

      Pros
      • Easy to put on
      • Good adjustability
      • Comfortable material
      Cons
      • Armholes can be restrictive
      • Poor weight distribution
      • No lumbar support
      • Bouncy when walking

        Moby Evolution Wrap review

        Test scoreShow Context

        73%

        Key features

        • Wrap
        • Front facing in and front facing out
        Compare

        Which? verdict: A comfy Best Buy wrap

        The Best Buy Moby Evolution wrap is easy to use once you’ve got the hang of it. It’s durable and can easily fit a wide range of wearers, plus it can be folded down so it’s quite compact, so a good choice for travelling about.

        Pros
        • Simple basic wrap
        • Suitable for different body shapes and sizes
        • Multiple carry options
        Cons
        • Needs practise to get the wrap in the perfect position

      Lille Baby Original review

      £55.00Typical price

      Test scoreShow Context

      73%

      Key features

      • Buckles
      • Front facing in and front facing out
      • Back carry
      Compare

       verdict: Versatile and comfortable, but bulky, carrier

      The Lille Baby Complete Original scored highly for comfort, it looks great and it’s really versatile. It’s not quite a Best Buy, but it’s not far off.

      Pros
      • Versatile carrier
      • Easy to put on and take off
      Cons
      • It’s quite big
      • There’s no small baby insert so you’ll need to use a blanket

      Close Caboo Lite review

      Test scoreShow Context

      71%

      Key features

      Compare

      Which? verdict: Hit and miss for comfort

      There’s nothing bad about this sling, but it doesn’t excel either. It’s fairly easy to adjust to fit the wearer, but there are quite a few steps to getting it on and properly fitted for your baby. Comfort for our user panel was varied – some found the lack of back support and position of the rings uncomfortable over time. It also seems better suited to newborns than older babies.

      Pros
      • Comfortable for little ones
      • Easy to adjust for different users
      • Light
      • Low cost
      Cons
      • Lacks support for older babies
      • Can take a bit of practice to put on correctly
      • Rings tend to dig in for the largest and smallest adults
      • No lumbar support