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Before I became a parent, I had no idea how much conversation - or how much passion - there was involved in the idea of ‘wearing your baby’.
Then I discovered a Facebook group with 40,000 members, entirely dedicated to baby carriers; mobile ‘sling libraries’ such as this one in east London where you can try-before-you-buy; and a whole new language: from ‘ring slings’ to ‘mei tai’ to ‘wraps’ to ‘structured carriers’.
I have friends who never bought a pram, electing to use just a baby carrier; and others who owned an entire wardrobe of different slings for different occasions.
The most important advice seems to be: try one before you spend what can be a considerable amount of money, because what suits one parent-and-baby might not be entirely right for the next.
If you’re at a loss as to where to start, HuffPost readers and staf are here to help by revealing which baby carriers they liked best.
Beco’s carrier offers four comfortable carrying positions – front facing in, facing out, hip and back carry. It features a supportive waistband and wide padded shoulder straps that can be worn backpack-style, or crossed across your back. The padded headrest can flip up for extra neck support or be cuffed down and fastened. Suitable from 7 to 35lbs and adjustable from newborn to toddler.
Review: Samara Mackereth, mum of two
“We love baby carriers and have opted to ‘wear’ both our kids over using a stroller. In fact, we never really used a stroller with our first child until she hit the distracted and slow walking toddler years, and only because we could literally not get anywhere unless we put her on wheels. We had four different carriers but the Beco was our favourite - it’s very functional, because the baby can face out or in; it’s great for infants and toddlers and it has great back support. It’s adjustable and breathable and can be worn on the back, too. Plus, it’s washable.”
The Move is designed to be used for longer baby-wearing sessions. It has built-in back support, a waist belt and padded shoulder straps for pressure relief; and soft, airy 3D mesh fabric to keep you and your baby cool and comfy. It is easy to put on and take off without help as it has minimal settings and a two-part design; with adjustable head support, leg position and length. If your baby falls asleep in the baby carrier, you can unfasten the entire front section to lift them out; while keeping the shoulder straps on like a waistcoat.
Review: Nicola Staines, mum of one
“I loved the Move and thought it was really easy to use and great support for the back. The mesh also meant that it was very breathable. Some baby carriers are geared more towards women, but we found this one was good for men and women and I know a few partners who ended up buying this as well as the original sling they had. Once my son reached one though he was too big for it, so I moved to one of the sturdier types that sit on your back.”
Review: Sarah Williams, mum of one
“The Baby Bjorn was comfortable for both me and the baby - as well as being easy to put on and to adjust. I tried the Ergobaby and a wrap sling, both of which were harder to put on. Our Baby Bjorn is still in use after a year.”
The Omni 360 Carrier from Ergobaby sells itself as “the all-in-one baby carrier for everyone” - and is the most versatile Ergobaby yet. It offers four different carrying positions and can easily adjust from newborn to toddler with a weight range of 7 to 35lbs. You don’t need a separate newborn insert and it also comes with a tuck-away baby sun hood (UPF 50+) that doubles up as a nursing modesty blanket. Recognised as a “hip healthy” carrier by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, it has lumbar support and padded crossable straps. There’s also a detachable storage pouch and it comes with a 10-year guarantee.
Review: Sarah Davidson, mum of two
“I used an Ergobaby which was fantastic as it grew with the children from teeny to toddler and they were quite happy to be in it. I used it frontwards as babies and turned them round when they were bigger."
Canadian brand Aura Leaf ships internationally. It was created by nurse Leah Holmes when her daughter was an infant, and relies on pre-softened fabrics for parents to wear their babies comfortably from the get-go. They’re handmade from linen, and each sling is unique. They can be washed and come in longer fabric versions for heavier babies, too. They come with a full colour instruction booklet.
If you’d rather buy a ring sling from a UK retailer, try this version from Etsy.
Review: Jessica Tran, mum of one
“I personally like ring slings as I find them more secure feeling. I like the closeness of my child to me and it’s so easy to use. I use a Canadian brand sling called Aura Leaf, super soft and fashionable and it’s a godsend when my son is super agitated and wants cuddles.”
This eco-friendly and sustainable baby wrap is made from 100% Tencel (the pulp of eucalyptus trees) and helps regulate baby’s temperature. It’s soft against skin - three times softer than cotton - and is breathable and lightweight. It’s ideal for an active lifestyle and is machine-washable. Suitable for babies weighing between 8 and 30lbs. It comes with a one-year warranty.
Review: Rachel, mum of one
“I used a FreeRider wrap and loved its super soft fabric. I’ve also used a Moby wrap which was great but with thicker fabric not quite as comfortable (especially in summer). I used a Caboo too but didn’t quite get on with it. Wraps are slightly harder to master initially but way more comfy/ stays in place once you’ve got it.”
The Caboo+ baby carrier is made of a soft, supportive organic fabric to ensure it’s as comfortable for parent as it is for baby, making it easy to use with no tying or buckles. It has soft, comfortable wide straps to distribute weight evenly. This carrier allows discreet breastfeeding. It is easy to adjust, by pulling the fabric through the rings to tighten; and there’s an anchored cross to reduce strain on the shoulders and back. Made from soft 100% organic cotton, it is suitable from birth to 25lbs.
Review: Louise Quayle, mum of two
“My votes are for the Caboo (soft, fabric) for newborn and young baby, and LILLEbaby structured sling for when they get a bit heavier as it offers more support, putting weight onto mumma’s hips. I loved the snuggles, not to mention being able to get on with things.”
If you’re looking for style and substance, look no further than the ‘cool’ baby carriers available from Rose and Rebellion. They come in a range of prints such as this cute and quirky ‘Bring Me Your Love’ design. Suitable from 6 weeks to 12 months. They can be machine-washed, hand-washed or spot cleaned and are suitable from 7 to 40lbs. The carriers are designed to be used with babies who are facing inward towards the chest. There is a hood to support the child’s head while sleeping.
Review: Niamh Neville, mum of one
“Baby carriers are so personal, so it can be tricky to recommend one. I loved different ones for different stages - I had a bespoke ring sling, a Mei Tai, a LILLEbaby toddler carrier and a Rose and Rebellion soft structured carrier, which I liked because it was comfortable and made in Britain. They even made it shorter for me!”
LILLEbaby CarryOn Airflow, LILLEbaby, £112.48
Specifically designed for toddlers and growing children, the CarryOn allows you to comfortably carry children from the age of 6 months up to a weight of 60lbs in three different positions: on your hip, at the front or on your back; with straps crossed or parallel. It’s made of soft, breathable 3D mesh fabric and has signature lumbar support to protect your back and posture while wearing. It also has a roomy zip cargo storage pocket and a removable sleeping hood.
Review: Nicola Jarratt, mum of one
“I used several carriers - when my son was a newborn I used a Moby soft one, then an Ergobaby until my son was three; before switching to a LILLEbaby Carry On Airflow. Designed for preschoolers, it is an absolute godsend when travelling on your own with hand baggage - especially at 11pm in the passport control queues. It was a sad day when my son reached the weight limit and I sold it on. He slept like a dream in it too!”
The Connecta is a supportive, structured baby carrier with quick-release buckles, padded straps, and a flexible, unpadded waist to conform to the wearer’s body - this promises to enhance lumbar support. It has a fit that is close to the body, meaning it is comfortable to carry both infants or heavy toddlers, and is made from solarweave fabric - a sun-protective fabric which blocks 95 to 99% of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. It is highly breathable and suitable for sensitive skin. It is designed to keep your baby cool and to dry quickly, making it an ideal hot-weather carrier.
Review: Claire Taylor, mum of two
“I loved the Connecta sling. It’s semi-structured and so much better than the Ergo in my opinion, which I used with my first baby. I used Connecta from newborn and still carry my nearly two-year-old in it now. It’s much better for a small frame than the Ergo which just slid off my shoulders. It’s much less bulky and so easier to wear under coats and cardigans and much easier to put under a buggy or in a bag. And really comfy too. The only downside is that it’s tricky to do a back carry.”
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