Say farewell to cumbersome pushchairs and enjoy the benefits of being hands-free with our pick of the best baby carriers and papooses
The best baby carriers are designed to make your baby feel safe and comfortable in their favourite place to be – close to you. Not only has babywearing been proven to strengthen the bond between parent and child, it’s also shown to aid your little one’s cognitive and social development. And, for the parent, there’s also the benefit of having your hands free, carrying your little one in a way that feels both natural and practical.
There are varying types of carriers – from front slings to backpack-like designs, but they all share the same basic idea: allowing you to carry baby closer to your torso. Below is our advice on how to choose the best baby carrier for you, including the difference between structured carriers, wraps, and ring slings. And once you’ve made your choice of the type of baby carrier that’s right for you, check out our list of the best baby carriers currently available to buy.
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Best baby carriers: At a glance
How to choose the best baby carrier for you
Baby carriers largely fall into two main categories: structured carriers and wraps. However, there is a third design, known as a ring sling, for front and hip carries.
“Remember, what works for one person might not work for another, so it’s essential to try out a few options, either while pregnant or once baby has arrived,” suggests babywearing consultant Roamy Hunt of Bambino Baby. “The most important factor, however, is safety. Whichever style of carrier you choose, always ensure you can see baby’s face and their airways are clear, with the top edge of the carrier no higher than the nape of baby’s neck to ensure unobstructed airflow. Baby also needs to be held as tightly as a cuddle in arms to ensure they don’t slump,” she adds.
Which style of baby carrier is best?
The type of baby carrier you choose will depend on a number of factors, including size and fit, whether your baby prefers to be facing you or the outside world, and plenty more. But the first decision you’ll need to make is regarding the style of carrier:
1. Structured baby carriers – Just strap on and go
Structured baby carriers are like backpacks, although usually worn on the front. They’re typically made from breathable, canvas-like materials, and can be adjusted via straps and buckles. While some will come with newborn inserts or additional clips to keep a small baby’s legs in the correct “M” position, they’re often better suited to babies aged three months and over, who can support their own head.
Structured carriers: Pros and cons
|You only have to adjust them once||Less suitable for very young babies|
|Easy to take on and off||Can be expensive|
|Usually offer a number of carrying options||Bewildering array of different designs|
2. Stretchy wraps and slings – Keep baby snuggled up
There are now an increasing number of stretchy cotton baby carriers available on the market, and these kinds of styles are perfect for newborns and smaller babies who can’t yet support their own head. Perhaps the only downside, for some, is that they don’t feel as rigid as structured baby carrier models and can take a little getting used to.
Stretchy wraps: Pros and cons
|Can be more affordable/economical||Can take some practice to master the tying up|
|Supports baby evenly all over the body|
|Versatile and may be better for breastfeeding|
|Usually offer a number of carrying positions|
How do I know a baby carrier is on correctly?
It will generally take around three attempts before you start to feel confident with a baby carrier. Choose a moment when baby is asleep or calm, and practice in front of the mirror. If your baby becomes unsettled at any stage, just give them a cuddle, and try again. When you’re ready to add baby, check their positioning in the mirror and against the TICKS guidelines (below), which have been created by the UK Sling Consortium to help parents babywear safely.
Your baby should be positioned in the standard frog-legged “M” position, with their knees higher than their bottom. The natural C-curvature of the spine should also be supported; never use a baby carrier that forces it into a straight position.
How we test baby carriers
Each of the baby carriers in our roundup was tested by our expert reviewers and their babies. This allows us to rate each of the carriers below honestly and thoroughly while recommending them for a variety of baby-carrying needs – from hiking, to working out, and simply settling them when they’re upset. We rated each on their comfort, ease of use, design and versatility, while also highlighting any special features or fabrics.
Other information we include comprises weight capacity of each carrier and the number of different ways it can be worn.
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The best baby carriers you can buy in 2023
1. BabyBjörn Harmony: Best baby carrier for all ages
Price when reviewed: £209 | Check price at BabyBjörn
As purveyors of babywearing since 1973, BabyBjörn is a brand that knows a thing or two about carriers. The Original carrier took the world by storm when it launched, and over the years, BabyBjörn has fine-tuned its designs to offer the utmost in comfort and practicality for both parent and baby. Its latest launch is the Baby Carrier Harmony, a beautifully made, soft-structured design that, without doubt, feels as luxurious as its £200 price tag. And although it’s one of the more expensive options on our list, you’re paying for a product that will allow you to carry baby up until the age of three.
The ergonomic design is made from breathable, super-soft mesh and comes in six colours – including cream, pink and black. The pressure-relieving waist belt and padded back support and shoulder straps offer supreme comfort – a godsend for long walks – while being straightforward to put on and tighten. In fact, the whole carrier manages to feel incredibly lightweight yet sturdy enough to support baby and keep them close. It’s also flexible for a structured carrier, so you can fold it up neatly and slip it into your changing bag.
The Harmony is suitable from the newborn stage, featuring head and neck support in three different positions, adjustable using the poppers. It also offers two height positions – one for newborns and one for older babies. As your child grows, you can move the belt down to your hips, so baby is at just the right height and their weight is better distributed for extra comfort. It comes with a detailed instruction manual of how to use – but, without doubt, we found the Harmony to be one of the easiest carriers to grasp.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.2-18kg (7-40lb); Positions: 4 (newborn, facing in, facing out, back carry)
2. Carifit+: Best baby carrier for exercise
Price when reviewed: £225 | Check price at John Lewis
Carifit started life as a babywearing workout concept. Created by postnatal fitness expert Vern Hill, the face-to-face classes originally began in London before the brand launched a digital membership that had new mothers engaging in babywearing exercises all over the world. This year, Carifit launched its one-of-a-kind Carifit+ carrier – a revolutionary lightweight design constructed with sports-tech fabric using Vern’s biomechanics expertise, which will make your baby feel lighter than they are.
And it really delivers on all fronts. Our tester loved the breathable 3D knit fabric (made from recycled bottles) that seems to move and stretch seamlessly with the contours of your own body – whether or not you’re exercising – while being gentle against baby’s skin. It’s comfortable, and an excellent choice for newborns, without any need for an infant insert. The stretch and compression keep little ones snugly in place, with a head and neck support that can be folded accordingly, allowing you to always see baby’s face. It also offers helpful guides to help you fit the carrier properly according to your posture.
The Carifit+ isn’t just for fitness enthusiasts, either. You certainly don’t need to use this while working out to appreciate how practical it is. That said, it does come with a 12-month subscription to the Carifit fitness app for when you’re feeling up to exercising again, which includes access to on-demand workouts, new-mum support, and advice from a range of postnatal health and mental wellbeing experts. The first 12 months is included in the initial purchase price.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.2-20kg (7-45lb); Positions: 3 (newborn, facing in, facing out)
3. Infantino Hug & Cuddle Wrap: Best baby wrap/carrier hybrid
Price when reviewed: £70 | Check price at Argos
The Hug & Cuddle Wrap from top US baby brand Infantino sits somewhere between a structured carrier and a more traditional wrap. So, if you love the look, natural movement, and closeness that the latter offers, but you want something that’s easier to master, this pre-formed design could be perfect for you since it doesn’t require any folding, tucking, or tying.
It’s made from a breathable mesh fabric that offers softness and stretch for both parent and baby, with a continuous seat and padded head support to keep your little one safe in that all-important frog-legged “M” position. Like a structured carrier, it does come with a few straps, buckles, and buttons, but our tester found these straightforward to adjust; swapping carrying duties between mum and dad couldn’t have been easier.
The lumbar support and shoulder straps are thickly padded for comfort, while the wrap-style folds at the front were also a hit – they offer a natural elasticity that helps baby to feel supported, and are thick enough to work as additional head and neck support for your little one when they’re sleeping on your chest.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.2-11.8kg (7-26lb); Positions: 1 (facing in)
4. Joie Savvy Lite 3-in-1: Best lightweight baby carrier
Price when reviewed: £85 | Check price at John Lewis
Joie is a brand known for its quality baby kit, from car seats and pushchairs to cribs and carriers, so it happens to know a thing or two about what parents want. The Savvy Lite is a slightly less-expensive version of the bestselling Savvy 4-in-1. The ergonomic design is just as effective as its pricier counterpart, although it offers just three carrying modes instead of four, holds babies only up to 14kg (as opposed to 16kg), and comes in a single colourway.
The Savvy Lite’s price point is excellent when you compare it to some of the other structured carriers out there. It feels slightly overwhelming when you first unpack it, with all its straps and buckles, but our tester found it straightforward to put on and adjust when they got the hang of it. Getting baby in is even simpler – even when you’re on your own – thanks to the magnetic buckles on the shoulder straps. The well-padded back support is also easy to adjust – simply pull the straps to tighten and push back through the buckle to loosen – helping you to distribute baby’s weight evenly.
There are many other helpful features, too. The straps have an elasticated loop at the end, which means you can roll them up and neatly tuck them away without having any bits trailing behind you, and there’s a removable (and rather absorbent) infant bib that snaps off for easy cleaning. The material is also of excellent quality – highly durable, but soft and gentle on baby’s skin.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.5-14kg (7.7-30.8lb); Positions: 3 (newborn, facing in, facing out)
5. Ergobaby Embrace: Best soft carrier for newborns
Price when reviewed: From £90 | Check price at John Lewis
If you’ve ever been tempted by Ergobaby’s other carrier designs – including the Omni 360 with all its buckles and buttons – then you’ll love the Embrace, our top pick for newborns. It’s less expensive than Ergobaby’s other carriers, but that’s because it won’t last you as long: it’s only suitable from birth (or 3.2kg) to 11.3kg (24lb).
For your little one, the carrier is made from a super-soft, lightweight jersey fabric that’s open-sided to allow good air circulation. It also supports the safe frog-leg position. For you, it comes with thick, soft, and wide shoulder straps that distribute baby’s weight evenly, as well as a wide waist belt.
The Ergobaby Embrace has been designed to fit like an elastic baby wrap, but offers the support of a structured carrier. It’s more comfortable to wear than many other newborn designs we’ve tested, and it looks great, too.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.5-11.3kg (7-24lb); Positions: 3 (newborn, facing in, facing out)
6. Dreamgenii Snuggleroo: Best budget baby carrier
Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Amazon
This is a great option if you love the softness of a wrap but would prefer something that offers a bit more support. Suitable for babies from birth to 12 months, the Snuggleroo’s wide, comfy and adjustable straps allow it to adapt as your baby grows, providing four different carrying positions.
It’s great for those early days, when you want to keep baby close. However, it’s also supportive enough to carry bigger babies comfortably. Rather cleverly, the support band also doubles as a storage bag, so you can pop it neatly in your bag or underneath the pushchair when it isn’t in use – great for travelling and holidays.
The design of this cotton carrier complies with the International Hip Dysplasia Institute’s guidelines, allowing baby’s hips to naturally fall or move apart on each side while supporting their thighs and leaving knees bent. Our only complaint is that we found the straps a bit tricky to work out initially, so you’ll likely need some time to familiarise yourself before you head out.
Key specs – Weight capacity: Newborn to 15kg; Positions: 4 (newborn, facing in, facing out, hip hold)
7. LittleLife Cross Country S4: Best baby carrier for hiking
Price when reviewed: £190 | Check price at John Lewis
For the adventurers out there, LittleLife offers a world of possibility with its array of child carrier backpacks. One such product is the hardy Cross Country S4, which comes equipped with foot stirrups, sunshade and viewing mirror to ensure maximum comfort and practicality.
The lightweight airflow shoulder straps, pivoting hip belt and updated breathable fabrics on the back system meant that our tester was able to enjoy long strolls without getting sweaty or uncomfortable. Baby proved to be more than happy, too, frequently babbling away and then dozing off, despite their elevated position offering a rather wonderful, stimulating view of the world.
Unlike other carriers, where the parent puts it on first then adds baby, here baby goes in first. Little ones are more than safe, thanks to the adjustable, anatomically shaped child seat and safety harness. And for those who might feel a little unnerved about not being able to see their child the first time they wear it, the viewing mirror is a welcome addition.
The Cross Country S4 is a great option for longer walks and trips where perhaps the terrain isn’t suitable for a pushchair, but it’s also just as great for wandering around town, doing the school run, and for family trips to the zoo. Weighing in at 2.5kg, it’s obviously much larger than a typical carrier, but we found it stowed away nicely in the boot of the car when not in use. You can also ensure you’re equipped for all weathers and eventualities, with items such as rain covers and travel pillows available to purchase separately.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 8-20kg (17.5-45lb); Positions: 1 (back carry)
8. Stokke Limas: Best baby carrier for comfort
Price when reviewed: £115 | Check price at John Lewis
The Stokke Limas is up there as one of the more expensive, no-frills (if you like) carriers, but there’s no denying that this feels like a premium product the moment you open the box. The design comes in a wide range of beautiful prints, and the quality of the fabric (which is 55% organic cotton and 45% linen) is superbly soft, while being breathable yet cosy and naturally moisture-wicking. This makes it ideal for younger babies who are unable to regulate their own temperature. In fact, this carrier is suitable from birth, without the need for an infant insert.
As well as feeling gentle on the skin, it’s also lightweight on the body, while still delivering a snug fit that keeps baby close. Unlike many other baby carriers, this multifunctional design also allows parents to hip carry, depending on the need and size of your child, and works using a combination of buckles and ties. You’ll spot a guide on how to use the carrier in the box, but since it features just pictures, no words, our tester found it easier to get on single-handedly after looking up a YouTube video. The adjustments aren’t at all complicated once you’ve got the knack, and since there are no rigid parts, it moulds comfortably with the wearer’s body.
The comfort and ease of use make this a great option for when you’re pottering around the house and need to be hands-free, as well as on walks and trips to the shops.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 0.8-15kg (1.8-33lb); Positions: 3 (facing in, facing out, hip carry)
9. Nuna CUDL: Best baby carrier for premium support
Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at John Lewis
You might well feel somewhat overwhelmed by the number of straps and buckles you see when you first unpack the CUDL. However, spend some time with this carrier and you’ll quickly find out that this complexity speaks to a wearable that’s adaptive and supportive to your little one, and your own body.
The CUDL is designed with four carry positions in mind: from newborn support to facing in and out for older babies, all the way to a back-carry mode for those aged nine months and older. At the heart of these modes are four magnetic buckles that snap into place and can easily be unclasped by squeezing on the sides of the lock. In our experience, these make the task of loading and unloading baby much easier than having to slide the little one in and out whenever you go for a walk.
Equally great is the adjustable head and neck support that, along with the built-in infant booster, turns the CUDL into a cosy carrier for newborns. Attach the cotton bib to the support flap and it doubles as a handy catch-all for any errant food and drink your older child might spill when facing outwards.
Nuna says its carrier is designed to be self-adjusted, although we found it helpful to have a second person available to tighten some of the straps, particularly those on your back. Once they’re all in place, however, and the Velcro waistband has been wrapped around your hips, the CUDL does a great job of spreading out baby’s weight and avoiding strain on your body.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.5-16kg (8-35lb); Positions: 4 (newborn, facing in, facing out, back carry)
10. Polarn O. Pyret Baby Carrier: Best eco-friendly sling/Best sling for breastfeeding
Price when reviewed: £45 | Check price at Polarn O. Pyret
Made from 100% super-soft organic cotton, and featuring Polarn O. Pyret’s classic stripe print, this gentle carrier is perfect for baby skin and offers a snug and natural fit that can be adapted as your little one grows.
The tying does take some mastering, but for anyone who wants to try a natural cotton sling this is an ideal choice and comes in at a great price point. The elasticity in the fabric is good, but perhaps not so good that it can be pre-tied, and it has the advantage of being super-easy to fold up when not in use – there’s even a self-stowing pocket.
Our parent tester said baby felt well supported, was seated in just the right position, and especially loved that she was able to breastfeed while wearing this sling. It might take some slight adjusting, but the wide shoulder straps make it easy to do so discreetly. It was also large enough for her partner to use. Overall, a stylish, ethical and highly practical choice for all body types.
Key specs – Weight capacity: Newborn to 15kg; Positions: 2 (facing in, facing out)
11. Moby Wrap Classic: Best baby carrier for newborns
Price when reviewed: £45 | Check price at BootsBaby carriers don’t really get much simpler than the Moby Wrap Classic. A piece of fabric measuring over 5m long, the Wrap Classic will fit almost any parent and baby size combination, plus the simplicity of its design makes it incredibly portable.
There’s a learning curve to putting it on correctly, but once you’ve overcome that hurdle, hands-free cuddles are moments away. The wrap is made from 100% hypo-allergenic cotton and has been designed with just the right amount of stretch.
You can choose from front or hip positions, and although it can be used for children weighing over 15kg, we found it best for use at the newborn stage. The thin fabric ensures snuggles are super close, and ideal for skin-to-skin contact, allowing your baby to be comforted by the sound and feel of your heartbeat.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.6-15.8kg (8-35lb); Positions: 2 (front or hip)
12. Close Caboo: Best portable wrap/carrier hybrid
Price when reviewed: From £72 | Check price at CloseMuch like the Infantino Hug & Cuddle, the Close Caboo is a hybrid wrap and carrier option, offering the stability of a modern carrier with clips, but the closeness and comfort of a fabric wrap.
The clever design means the only giveaway that this isn’t just a simple piece of fabric such as the Moby Wrap is a set of metal rings. The “X”-shape design combined with the rings makes it quick and easy to put on and adjust.
You only need to tie a simple knot once the baby is in and then the carry bag cleverly transforms into an extra layer for stability, security and warmth. The Caboo is available in cotton blend or organic fabrics in a range of colours, and is suitable for babies from just 2.3kg.
Key specs – Weight capacity: 2.3-14.5kg (5-32lb); Positions: 2 (front or hip)