From keeping their baby close as they moved around the house, to family walks in the countryside, our parent testers gave loads of slings, wraps and carriers some rigorous real-life testing.
Safety and comfort were key criteria, of course, with a good nod towards style and design, too (neutral colours won the day for some, while others were bowled over by bright patterns). But top of our list, always, were the practical features of each product: was it easy to fit and could it be done singlehandedly? We asked our parent testers whether they found it comfortable to wear their carrier, wrap or sling for a significant period of time, and whether it was possible to breastfeed while wearing it. Were the instructions easy to follow? How secure and longlasting would it be?
And for added measure, we also invited a sling expert, Hannah Wallace, to join the MFM team on judging day to examine each one in detail and cast a critical eye over all the key features.
Carriers, slings and wraps
Baby carrier under £85
Key features we tested/judged – quality, ease of use, effectiveness, comfort for parent and baby, value for money
GOLD – ERGOBABY EMBRACE NEWBORN CARRIER, £79.90
Why it’s a winner: It’s the sheer comfort and simple design of the “light” and “uncomplicated” Ergobaby that stood out for our home testers. Parents told us the silky, soft polymix fabric had just the right amount of stretch, with padding in all the right place. They felt the design comfortably held baby close and secure, without causing them to overheat.
On a par with some of the high-end slings, it’s clear to see that attention has been spent on the quality components and features, with parents finding the 3 quick-release clips easy to use with “a reassuring click”. We also loved the range of colours available.
Tester Zoe, mum of 2 says: “Perfect for a newborn that wants to be close to mum and won’t sleep alone. Supports the baby and gives mum her hands and mobility back is worth every penny.”
SILVER – BOPPY COMFYFIT, £50
Why it’s a winner: The clever ‘best of both’ design of this “brilliant” carrier had our testers and judges excited, with its wrap-style sling format which you put on like a carriers. We think it’s one of the easiest slings to use that we’ve come across – just slip into the ready-made shoulder straps, clip buckle around the waist and tie. Our testers all loved the quality of the fabric, which is super strong and stretchy but has a cotton wool softness that would be gentle on c-section scars. One judge told us she wishes she had a ComfyFit after having her three kids by c-section. The waistband pocket and carry bag are real pluses too.
Tester Neve, mum of 3, says: “Perfect for newborn and younger babies. I like the structured seat, allowing me to sit baby correctly and feel secure. Holds baby snug, very easy to wear and to put baby in.”
BRONZE JOINT – SLEEPYNICO BABY CARRIER, £83
Why it’s a winner: As one of our judges says, the Sleepy Nico is the “statement carrier” – no beige or neutral tones here. We loved the range of vibrant and bold designs, great for parents who don’t want a run-of-the-mill look for their carrier, and it scored extra points for that fact you can customise it. Our testers felt the thick fabric, with its corduroy and cotton combination, was nice and soft, and appreciated the sustainable ethos of the company. On a practical note, the quality features of this newborn carrier didn’t go unnoticed by our testers who agree it’s made to a very high standard.
Tester Luke, dad of 2, says: “Great looks, superb comfort, easy to use, secure feeling and reassuringly well priced. Feels like a better product than the price would suggest. A tough carrier to fault.”
JOINT BRONZE – INFANTINO CUDDLE UP HOODIE CARRIER, £39.99
Why it’s a winner: This carrier won a resounding yes from our judges on value for money. We think the Infantino Cuddle Up Hoodie Carrier is a great option for parents on a budget or needing a carrier for occasional use. Our testers found it “sturdy and robust, easy to use and adjust yet comfortable with padding”. Judges also rated the neutral colour range, suitable for boys and girls, offering longevity with siblings. Our testers also found the little extras, like the super cute teddy bear hood and the pocket for your hands, irresistible, saying the latter “keeps your hands warm and means you always have contact with baby”. A great budget buy.
Tester Tamara, mum of 2, says: “Great sling that doesn’t cost the earth. It’s made well, and you have a peace of mind baby is safe, secure and hips in the M shape. Spot on.”
Finalist: The Red Kite Baby Ara Carrier
Baby carrier over £85
Key features we tested/judged – value for money, quality of the product, ease use, the appeal to parents, effectiveness
GOLD – BABYBJÖRN CARRIER MOVE, £119.99
Why it’s a winner: Amazing, supportive, durable and comfortable are some of the words used by our testers to describe the Bjorn Baby Carrier Move. And it’s no surprise this newborn carrier from award-winning, market leader Bjorn got top marks. Support is a winning factor in judging this carrier. One tester says “it’s great having my hands free to do crafts with my toddler”. The combination of the high, quality mesh fabric and clever, ergonomic design makes the Carrier Move easy to adjust and ultimately comfortable for both mother and baby. Our tester says, “it provides a lot of support especially to me. I don’t get shoulder or back aches after use”.
Tester Sayo, mum of 2, says: “I love the fabric. The carrier looks and feels durable. The straps are so easy to tighten and loosen which really helps if you need to move baby around a little.”
SILVER – BABY TULA EXPLORE BABY CARRIER, £154.90
Why it’s a winner: The Baby Tula Explore carrier has style and eye-catching appeal. And with the range of patterns and choice of colours in this range our testers found there is a style to suit everyone. All our testers agreed the high-end finishing and soft but strong fabric makes this carrier a keeper. “The look and feel is high quality,” one told us, while another said it “would make a lovely present”. And it’s extras like the tidies for excess straps, incorporated newborn hood and handy waistband pocket perfect for carrying your phone and keys is why the Baby Tula Explore works in style and function.
Tester Karen, mum of 1, says: “Really stylish. You would definitely like being seen with it. Does what it says and feels great to boot!”
JOINT BRONZE – SLEEPY NICO TODDLER CARRIER, £93
Why it’s a winner: Our testers found it hard to fault the Sleepy Nico Toddler. One tester went as far to say, ‘”there’s nothing I would change about the carrier”. Made to carry toddlers and bold designs with limited edition fabric designs, this carrier is a light alternative to the heavy metal-framed back variety. Our testers found walks and shopping trips a breeze, even for longer periods. Fitted with a thick, strong, washable fabric, this uniquely structured carrier wonderfully distributes the weight equally of a child weighing up to 20kg. It’s brilliant. No complaints of strain or pain from our testers. And thanks to detailed instructions, this good value carrier is straightforward to use. And equally impressive, parents who want fabrics to appeal to their little one, can even get their Sleepy Nico made to order. Might not see the same.
Tester Luke, dad of 2, says: “Superb comfort, look, ease of use and overall secure feeling. Absolutely worth the money.”
JOINT BRONZE – BEABA NAJELL ORIGINAL CARRIER, £150
Why it’s a winner: The Beaba Najell Original Carrier is the cool carrier with a masculine look and feel. Our judges feel even reluctant carrier-wearing dads will want to wear this. Jersey fabrics, dark colours, leatherette and high-strength magnet buckles, are just some of the features that appealed to judges. Plus the fact it’s a great fit for dads – or mums – of all sizes, thanks to its impressive size adjustability. It’s a carrier that “allows you to alter everything. Robust and practical,” one tester told us, adding “it feels safe for my baby”. And with amply, padded straps, a deep waistband and storage pockets to load up, we found it to be wonderfully practical.
Tester Emma, mum of 3, says: “My baby loves the closeness of the carrier. She really seems to like the position as she sleeps a lot in it too. It is great for all shapes and sizes. I like the fact that my baby doesn’t seem to get so hot in it as other carriers make her sweat a lot.”
Read our full review of the Beaba Najell carrier
Finalist: Love Radius Hoodie Carrier
Key features we tested/judged – value for money, quality of material, effectiveness, clarity of instructions, ease of use and appeal to parents
GOLD – IZMI BABY WRAP, £45
Why it’s a winner: Comfy, cosy, and safe, was the overall verdict from our judges testing this suitable-from-birth wrap, even when worn all day. They found the bamboo material lived up to its soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking promises, and really rated the ‘good quality’ fabric. The two-way stretch was also a standout feature, with testers saying it made it super-stretchy and helped keep their babies feeling very secure. Our parents also say it was easier to use compared to other slings they’ve tried. They loved the tapered ends – meaning there wasn’t much loose fabric dangling – and the excellent instructions that came with the sling.
Tester Julia, mum of 1 says: “Loved using the Izmi wrap, baby felt really secure in it and once on, could put baby in and out without retying as it was so stretchy.”
Read our full review of the Izmi baby wrap
SILVER – LIFFT STRETCHY WRAP, £39.95
Why it’s a winner: As with our Gold winner, the two-way stretch of the Lifft sling helped make it really easy to use, taking “seconds to create” once you get used to it – even for a first-time sling user. Parents testing it at home were really impressed by the quality of the fabric, which washed well and keeps its colour even after several spins in the machine. They also found it very comfortably to wear and back-friendly. The material length is generous, but the range of sizes mean both our smaller and plus-sized testers were confident of getting the right fit. Bonus points for being designed by a Babywearing Consultant and ethically manufactured in Yorkshire.
Tester Leyla, mum of 3 says: “I have found the Lifft Stretchy Wrap to be very comfortable and kind to my back, even after carrying Ayla for a few hours at a time.”
BRONZE – AMAWRAP, £39.99
Why it’s a winner: Unlike the majority of slings, the Amawraps are 100% cotton and knitted in a way that the “give” in the fabric comes from the knit process rather than any elastane – meaning we found there was no sag and it remained sturdy.
Our parents loved the high quality fabric, saying it’s “much nicer” than other slings they’d seen. The sling has one-way stretch only, but judges found it was still comfortable to wear.
They also loved the range of print patterns, adding some pizazz to everyday life.
Tester Louise, mum of 1 says: “I first saw this product at the baby show when I was pregnant and it appealed to me straight away, particularly the different patterns on offer.”
Read our full review of the Amawrap
The MadeForMums Awards team is led by Reviews Editor Christy McGhee and Editorial Director Susie Boone and comprises Janet Martin, Melanie Grant, Sonali Hindmarch, Anna Richardson Taylor, Jenny Yu, Sabrina Sahota, Natalie Brown, Tara Breathnach and Helen Brown, who have created, written and edited these pages after rigorous testing and judging.