What are baby carriers and baby slings?
The baby carrier or baby sling is a brilliant option for carrying your baby with you, while giving you the freedom to move and do other things.
Many parents (and babies) also prefer the closeness that they offer. Slings and carriers are an easy, hands-free option for getting outside – particularly if you are using public transport in busy towns and cities.
Products range from a simple cloth sling, suitable for newborns, front-facing carriers, to aluminium framed backpack style, suitable for toddlers. Choosing the right style is down to your baby’s age, your lifestyle and your preference.
Slings – Sometimes called wraps, are swatches of material designed to keep baby close to you in comfort. The majority of slings wrap around your body and shoulders, holding your baby towards you. There are outward-facing wrap options, for when your baby gets older.
Baby carriers – Also suitable from birth, these handy carriers often offer more padding than a sling, yet still allow you freedom of movement. Ergonomically designed for maximum back support for you and your little one, they are a sturdier option than a sling. Several models also convert to a back-carrier to accommodate your growing baby. Check the specifications.
How much do baby carriers and slings cost?
Slings and wraps vary from around £30-£40 to around £60-£70. Baby carriers start at around £50 for a basic model, but can reach prices of around £230 for an aluminium framed hiking carrier, with sun-shade and rain cover.
Top tips for buying baby carriers and slings
Baby carriers are perfect where there’s very little space for, or you haven’t got access to, a pushchair.
Some mums find that a baby sling is useful when they are breastfeeding, to help closeness and keep their hands free.
Carriers are fab for dads. We know many dads who love using a baby carrier. It gives you a break and lets them feel closer to their baby.
Safety first – don’t forget the T.I.C.K.S.
When you’re wearing a baby carrier, sling or wrap, there are some important safety rules to keep your baby close and safe.
- Tight – Wear them tight, as loose material may allow baby to slip down
- In view at all times – You should be able to see their face unobstructed by material or angle
- Close enough to kiss – As close to your chin as possible – can you kiss their head easily?
- Keep chin off the chest – At least a finger width of space between their chin and their chest
- Supported back – Hold your baby close, so their back is supported, with tummy and chest against you.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
Advocates products that keep babies upright and allow parents to see their baby and to ensure that the face isn’t restricted.
Ready to buy?
Take a look at some of the popular baby carriers and slings below.
BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One
RRP: £130 - Buy now
BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One features four front and back carrying positions. The waist belt and padded shoulder straps provide ergonomically correct support to relieve pressure on parents' shoulders and back, and the carrier itself is designed to support baby's head, back & hips. It’s designed to grow with your baby, from newborn all the way to 3 years old.
- 4 front and back carrying positions
- Ergonomically correct carrying with hip & waist belt
- Perfect from newborn – no infant insert needed
- Front-facing carrying option
- Grows with your baby, can be used from newborn to 3 years
Age: Birth to 3 years (up to 15kg)
Weight: 3.5kg (53cm) – 15kg (100cm)
Seat recline positions: Multi
Outward facing: minimum age is 5 months, maximum weight 12kg
Material: Certified according to Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, Class I
Why we love the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One....
- The newborn position allows you to carry your newborn baby in an optimal way – high up on your chest and close to your heart
- The generously padded waist belt and the shaped, padded shoulder straps relieve your back and shoulders.
- Your child is carried in an upright position, which keeps airways free and allows you to check on your baby’s breathing.
- From 6 months of age you can place your child forward facing, allowing them to see what’s going on.
- The design allows you to get your toddler (from 1) on your back without help.
- The front opens completely so that you can lift your sleeping baby out without waking him or her.
Britax Baby Carrier
RRP: £79.99 - Buy now
Britax uses its CarryLong system with padded waist belt and shoulder straps to ensure you can carry your little one for as long as you like without an aching back.
- CarryLong design for maximum comfort and no backache
- Inward and outward facing
- Adjustable head support
- Removable infant insert
- Easy over-the-head design
- One-handed adjustment
Age: Birth to 14.5kg
Product Weight: 1.8kg
Dimensions: D11cm x W25cm x H37.5cm
Why we love the Britax Baby Carrier....
- Britax has obviously gone to an awful lot of trouble to make this sling as comfortable as it can possibly be – the sturdy padded straps distribute baby’s weight evenly across shoulders back and hips so you can even carry a toddler (should you be brave enough to try).
- Mums love the little details like the padded leg openings – which ensure no chafing of delicate dimply thighs.
- It comes with a removable, machine washable cotton bib – perfect for drooly days (for that, read all days).
- Design is unisex enough for dads to love carrying their babies too
Tomy Freestyle Classic Carrier
RRP: £39.99 - Buy now
Developed by chiropractors, this is a soft, comfortable carrier that’s good value.
- Design offers lumbar support and harness padding
- Developed by back and posture experts at the AECC (Anglo European Chiropractic College)
- Inward and outward facing
- Includes dribble bib and soother holder
- Adjusts as baby grows
Age: 3.5kg to 12kg
Product weight: 0.85kg
Dimensions: D12.7cm x W29cm x H32.7cm
Why we love the Tomy Freestyle Classic Carrier....
- Not everyone’s sure they’re going to get on with carrying their baby in a sling, but this one is cheap enough so you can take a chance. Great value for such quality.
- Our mums found it really comfortable to wear, and loved the softness of it.
- It’s lovely and light and easy to pack away.
- As it’s one of the cheapest on the market, it’s perfect for parents who only plan to use a carrier occasionally.
Ergo Baby Carrier
RRP: £89.90 - Buy now
Ergonomically designed carrier with signature boxy shape, padded shoulder straps and waistband, which provide maximum comfort for parent and baby.
- Wide, deep seat for a natural sitting position for baby
- Integrated sleeping hood which protects and supports
- Zipped pocket holds keys, wallet and phone
- Three positions: inward on your front, plus hip and back
- Adjustable as baby grows
Age: Birth (with infant insert, buy separately) to 20kg
Product weight: 0.7kg
Why we love the Ergo Baby Carrier....
- It may be on the pricey side, but mums who swear by it, really swear by it: it keeps baby in the ergonomically correct seated position rather than having them dangling with all their weight on their crotch.
- Even mums with back problems who think they’ll have trouble with carriers find this one comfortable.
- Yes, it’s expensive, but the back carrying option means you can use it until they are about four (or maybe that’s Dad’s job).
- It’s massively adjustable so tall dads and short mums can both use it happily. The hip position is brilliant when you want to eat as well as hold your baby!
Mamas and Papas Morph Baby Carrier
RRP: £80 - Buy now
Award-winning carrying system which is great for young babies as it’s minutely adjustable, and you can put baby down without waking them.
- Harness is worn like a jacket; easy to put on
- Lumbar support and thick padding with wide straps
- Leg and waist sections grow with baby
- One-handed adjustment
- Unique hand sleeve at the front to provide feeling of security
- Inward and outward facing (from 4 months)
Age:Birth (3.5kg) to 12kg
Product weight: 1.1kg
Why we love the Mamas and Papas Morph Baby Carrier....
- If you know you’re going to love carrying your baby around right from birth, this carrier could be the one for you: it’s best suited to younger ones as you can get a really snug fit and – the Holy Grail of carriers – if baby is asleep, simply detach their pod and lie them down
- Lots of buttons and clips for tiny adjustments, which might put some people off, but it does mean a perfect fit for your baby.
- No more desperately trying to pull your coat around the carrier in the rain – we love the brilliant rain cover that you can buy for this.
- You know how you convince yourself your baby is going to fall out of a carrier, even though you’ve carefully done up every catch? Well, this one has a ‘sleeve’ at the front which you can slip your hand into and feel like you’re supporting them. Clever.