From stretchy wraps and ring slings to buckle carriers, there are a lot of options available for parents considering babywearing. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, it can be tricky to know what to look for, but there is a good reason why there is so much variety on offer. “What works for one person won’t work for another,” says Zoe Woodman, carrying consultant and founder of The Sling Consultancy. “It is very individual and personal, as people have different body shapes and sizes — and, of course, these are typically changing if you gave birth and as your baby grows and develops. As well as different needs, some people are more focused on practical aspects while some are more led by fashion. All of which is totally fine. There is a sling or carrier out there for you — whatever the age and size of your child or your budget and needs.”
Before you make your decision, Sarah Claridge, babywearing consultant and owner of South London Sling Library, advises you think about “when you’d like to use your sling or carrier (just to get you through the fourth trimester — the first 12 weeks after you have your baby — or for longer-term use), what the weather may be like (some slings and carriers have multiple layers and may feel quite warm in spring and summer), and whether you are sharing the carrying with any other adults (some slings and carriers need to be adjusted between users).”
There is also, of course, your baby’s safety to consider. “Any carrier can be used unsafely,” cautions Woodman. “So getting to know how to use your carrier is key.” The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers advises parents using slings or carriers to follow the T.I.C.K.S. safe-carrying guidelines. It is important to get a carrier that holds your baby in the hip-healthy “M-position,” according to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI). Mel Pinet, a babywearing consultant who runs Wrap a Hug sling library, adds, “You need to take into account whether you have back problems, and, if the baby is premature or has any medical conditions, you’ll need to be very careful with what you use. There is so much to consider. You can’t just grab anything.” Which is why it can help to visit a babywearing consultant or sling library before making your purchase.
“Working with a consultant means you get access to their knowledge and an opportunity to try on a large variety of carriers,” says Woodman. “Many hire carriers out so you can try them or hire long term if you don’t want to buy.” (Visit Sling Pages for details of your local consultants and libraries.) Additionally, if you find your carrier difficult to use, “you just won’t reach for it,” says Claridge.
To help make your search easier, we’ve spoken to 11 people with a range of babywearing experience — including qualified babywearing consultants, hikers who carry their kids on expeditions, and parents who have put their carriers through their paces over the years. Read on for the best slings for newborns, the best baby backpacks for hiking, a good carrier to pack in your suitcase when travelling, and a great option for twins.
Best overall baby carrier
Claridge is among five of our experts to recommend Ergobaby carriers. This structured-buckle model is designed to last from newborn to toddler — 3.2 kg to 20 kg (7 lbs to 45 lbs). Deemed “hip-healthy” by the IHDI, it can be worn in four positions: front facing inward, front facing forward, hip carry, or back carry. Dr. Katy O’Neill Gutierrez, founding director at UK parent-and-baby walking network Blaze Trails, says it is “easy to change mid-walk if the baby falls asleep or either of you needs a change of position. You can adjust or lower the carrier straps easily to be able to breastfeed while on the move, and the hip belt is excellent for lumbar support. It is well-padded and takes much of the weight off your shoulders — meaning you can wear your baby comfortably for much longer.”
Jess Jones (mum of four, author, motivational comedian, and Instagrammer The Fat Funny One) commends this carrier’s durability, as she was gifted one four years ago and has used it with three children. “It’s still in great condition and is a fab carrier,” she says. “My husband loves it, and it’s comfortable. It has travelled with us too.”
Best baby carriers for hot weather
O’Neill Gutierrez and Nicole Dellipiani, mum of two and founder of Bump to Bambino, recommend this carrier, as it is made from a mesh fabric designed to allow more airflow. “For warmer days, I found the mesh ensures the temperature remained cool so the baby did not overheat,” says Dellipiani. “The carrier is easy to put on once you’ve mastered it (I could easily do this one-handed), and it is so comfortable to wear. It has padded straps, so it does not cut into your shoulders. It is so easy to wash: No silly instructions. Just pop in the wash with your regular load, and it’s as good as new again.” Suitable for babies measuring at least 20 inches (50.8 cm) and weighing 3.2 kg to 20.4 kg (7 lbs to 45 lbs), this carrier has been deemed hip-healthy by the IHDI and can be worn in four positions: front facing inward, front facing forward, hip carry, or back carry.
Claridge and Mallory Reynolds-Trout, show manager at The Baby Show (taking place May 13–15 at the Birmingham NEC), both mentioned this design, which is made from lightweight SoftFlex mesh and has foam cutouts in the waist belt and lumbar support for breathability. “As I’m a petite mum, some carriers can feel bulky, but I found this incredibly comfy and supportive,” says Reynolds-Trout. “The soft mesh fabric is super-breathable, so you can wear it without fear of sweating in the warmer months.” Suitable for babies weighing 3.2 kg to 20.4 kg (7 lbs to 45 lbs) and with a minimum height of 20 inches (50.8 cm), this carrier has been deemed hip-healthy by the IHDI and can be worn in four positions: front facing inward, front facing forward, hip carry, or back carry.
Best stretchy wrap for newborns
“Newborns love the closeness, snugness, and security of stretchy wraps, as they are entirely supported by the fabric,” says Woodman. “Stretchy wraps can seem a bit of a faff to get to know how to use, but they are worth getting to grips with. Once a wrap is tied on, you can leave it on all day and take baby in and out as needed. You can also easily feed in it without taking baby fully out.” Both Woodman and Claridge advise choosing a wrap with two-way stretch (meaning it stretches both widthways and lengthways), as it’s easier to use. They recommend Izmi Baby Wraps, which are made from moisture-wicking soft bamboo fabric to help to keep your baby cool. Woodman adds that the “different stitching on top and bottom is a great feature, as it helps you learn if the wrap has twisted when tying it.” It can be used in front inward-facing and hip-carry positions and is suitable for babies weighing 2.3 kg to 9 kg (5 lbs to 20 lbs).
Best less expensive stretchy wrap
Claridge and Woodman say Calin Bleu is a good brand to look out for. Woodman notes these slings are “very budget-friendly and thinner than many,” which is useful in summer for preventing your baby overheating. Suitable for babies weighing 3.5 kg to 12 kg (8 lbs to 27 lbs) and designed to be worn in a front inward-facing position, this wrap comes in two lengths: medium is 4 meters long (and fits most people up to UK women’s size 16) and long is 5 meters.
Best fabric wrap for petite parents
This wrap comes in regular and “short” versions designed to fit wearers under a UK women’s size 14, which Woodman says “is handy if you’re petite, so you don’t have lots of fabric left over once tied.” She and Pinet both mentioned that these wraps are easy to use and have “more stretch than others — so are good to learn with.” Designed to be worn in a front-carry inward-facing position, this wrap is suitable for babies weighing 2.8 kg to 9 kg (6.1 lbs to 19.8 lbs).
Most stylish baby wrap
“It’s beautiful and locally made — I love this carrier and still use it for my 5-month-old,” says Jones. “I can’t recommend it enough for newborns. The fabric comes in the most beautiful prints, and you can reach out to the business directly for support on babywearing and watch tutorials on how to wrap correctly.” Made from 100 percent cotton, this wrap comes with instructions about how to position your baby to breastfeed on the go and put twins into a baby wrap. It has been deemed hip-healthy by the IHDI and is suitable for babies weighing 2.3 kg to 15 kg (5 lbs to 33 lbs).
Best ring wrap for newborns
“If learning to tie a stretchy wrap feels overwhelming, the Close Caboo is a fabulous alternative for the fourth trimester (and sometimes a little longer),” says Claridge. Reynolds-Trout adds, “It’s got all the soft stretch of a sling, but it’s super easy to use. Just pop over your head like a T-shirt and no need for fiddly tying. It has great head support, and baby is really snuggly.” O’Neill Gutierrez comments, “The unstructured nature of this carrier makes it really comfortable when you’re in postpartum recovery and you need to be kind on your body. It fits comfortably under cardigans and coats for getting outside, and your baby is very snug and close to you, which keeps your centre of balance close — good if you’re just starting to walk and explore outside. You’ll feel less wobbly.” Made from organic cotton, this carrier is suitable for babies weighing 2.3 kg to 14.5 kg (5 lbs to 32 lbs) in inward facing-front-carry and hip-carry positions and has been deemed hip-healthy by the IHDI.
Best buckle carrier for newborns
Buckled carriers are secured by a waistband and shoulder straps that clip together to hold the child close to the carer’s body, so there’s no tying or knotting involved. Many aren’t suitable for newborns, who can’t yet support their own heads, but this one can fit babies as small as 3 kg. Woodman says, “It has a lot of adjustability, which means it can be tweaked to get a good and safe fit, and it has good longevity.” Pinet adds that Mamaruga slings have proven to be more popular than big-name brands with parents at her sling library. “Everybody loves them,” she says. “People either hire them for a long time or end up buying them.” This carrier is suitable for babies weighing 3 kg to 20 kg (6.6 lbs to 44 lbs) and can be used in front- and back-carrying positions.
Best buckle carrier for travel with a newborn
This baby carrier proves the point about there being no one-size-fits-all product. Some of the babywearing consultants we spoke to are not fans, as they say a lot of their clients struggle to feel confident using it, but we spoke to parents who loved this carrier and have had many years of use out of it. Two of the parents we spoke to said this carrier was a holiday essential, as it folds up small and is easy to put on and take off (useful for frequent, short babywearing sessions). Alex Stedman, editor of The Frugality, used this carrier with both of her children and has just donated it to a local baby bank. “We found it easy to use for both myself and my husband — it was easy to clip on (I could even do so myself) and felt really sturdy,” she says. “On our first holiday abroad in Spain, we would take our 3-month-old out asleep in the carrier and eat tapas standing at the bar.” Rebekah Killigrew, a mum of two and editor, says her BabyBjörn carrier has been used with four babies: “I originally inherited it from a friend who used it with her little boy. I then used it with my daughter (who is now 4), passed it on to one of my friends who used it with her little boy, and now I have it back and am using it again with my little boy. I think that is a testament to its quality and longevity. It was so useful when we travelled on a plane. It’s really easy to adjust and comfortable to wear.” This carrier is designed to be worn in front facing-in and facing-out positions and suitable for babies weighing 3.2 kg to 11 kg (7 lbs to 24 lbs).
Best buckle carrier for older toddlers
Older toddlers can be impulsive — wanting to walk one second, then refusing the next. O’Neill Gutierrez says this carrier is a good option when “you just need something to take with you for when they’ve had enough of walking themselves. It has amazingly thick padding on the hip belt and shoulder straps — making it seriously comfortable — and it folds into a backpack so is perfect for any urban or rural adventure.” This carrier can be worn on your front or back and is suitable for children weighing 11 kg to 27 kg (25 lbs to 60 lbs).
Best buckle carrier for plus-size parents
Claridge says this is an “amazing option. It fits practically every adult body size and shape and grows with your baby until around 3 years of age.” The adjustable, padded shoulder straps can be worn crosswise or rucksack-style, and it has a waist belt that can be expanded up to 140 cm without need for an extension — making it suitable for carers up to a UK women’s size 24. Deemed hip-healthy by the IHDI, it can be worn in front inward-facing, backpack, and hip-seat positions and is suitable for babies weighing 3.2 kg to 20 kg (7 lbs to 44 lbs).
Best buckle carrier for twins
“Finding a baby carrier when you have two sets of twins and a singleton is tough, but we loved the TwinGo,” says Amber Wilde, an LGBTQ+ influencer, mum of five, and ChannelMum contributor. “It’s balanced and comfortable (with one baby on the front and another behind) and offers babywearing flexibility by dividing into two separate baby carriers as well. Ours was super durable and survived all five children.” Deemed hip-healthy by the IHDI, the TwinGo Twin Baby Carrier with infant insert can be worn as two separate front carriers — each carrying one baby from 3.6 kg to 20 kg (8 lbs to 45 lbs) — or as a tandem carrier (with one baby on your front and the other on your back) up to a combined weight of 31.7 kg (70 lbs).
Best stylish buckle carrier
Sydney Piercey, author of Sustainable Play, says she uses this carrier “every day without fail. It has seen us through all three girls. It’s super comfortable and sturdy to wear — but not so sturdy that it feels rigid or not gentle for baby. The soft cotton material means you can be carrying your baby against you from day one — which makes such a difference. It is very easily adjustable so can be passed back and forth between me and my husband throughout the day. I wear it during the day when out with all three girls; he wears it every night, as that’s how he puts our youngest to sleep (rocking her while wearing her). It’s also beautiful — so makes an outfit look instantly chic.” Deemed hip-healthy by the IHDI, this carrier is suitable for babies weighing 3.2 kg to 20 kg (7 lbs to 45 lbs) and can be worn front facing in, front facing out, or on your back.
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