A baby carrier is a brilliant way to keep your baby securely held against you, whilst allowing you to be hands-free. Not to be confused with baby slings and wraps (which are made of fabric that wraps and ties around the body), baby carriers are more structured and usually fasten with buckles and clips. There are huge variety of different styles that allow you to carry your baby on your front, side or back. Some carriers can be used from the birth of your baby, others have a minimum weight limit. While most parents get the maximum use out of them in the first 18 months or so, many can actually be used to carry children aged three years or even more; in fact, one carrier on our list could be suitable up to the age of four years.

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To compile this list, we tested a range of carriers with our parent testers and their babies, as well as consulting babywearing experts and midwives for their advice. The MadeForMums team also compared the carriers, looking at their fabrication, features, padding and support to come up with a list that caters for all requirements.

Sling and carrier expert Hannah Wallace is the owner of Wear My Baby, one of the UK’s leading baby carrier shops and advice services. Here, she’s outlined everything you need to know before choosing your baby carrier. Below our list, she shares her advice on how to use one safely.

Best baby carriers at a glance:

  • Best compact baby carrier: Integra Baby Carrier, from £95
  • Best for easy fitting: Joie Savvy Baby Carrier, £100
  • Best for newborns: ErgoBaby Embrace Baby Carrier, £79.90
  • Best for parent-facing: Baby Tula Free to Grow Baby Carrier, £119.90
  • Best for back support: BabyBjörn Harmony Baby Carrier, £190
  • Best for parents of different sizes: Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier All-In-One Cool Air Mesh, £164.90
  • Best for toddlers: Tula Pre-school Carrier, £129.95
  • Best for breastfeeding mums: Beco Gemini Baby Carrier, £105
  • Best for simplicity: Kahu Baby Carrier, £109.95
  • Best budget buy: Infantino Flip 4 in 1 Convertible Baby Carrier, £30.82

What to look for when choosing a baby carrier:

Get the right size – choosing a baby carrier is a lot like choosing jeans, shoes or a bra – how it fits depends both on your body shape and your preferences of what feels good on your body. For example, mums who are very petite and/or have large breasts should generally avoid very bulky carriers that have internal harnesses. I spend a lot of time looking parents up and down and assessing which carriers will be perfect for their size and shape! I can almost always find carriers that will fit both mum and dad, so you don’t necessarily need two carriers – but if you get the opportunity to try on a wide range of carriers, you may find that you have different favourites.

Get the right fit – remember that how a carrier is fitted is just as important as which one you choose. If not well fitted, even the fanciest, high-end carrier may not offer optimal safety for your baby and can put a strain on your back and shoulders. It’s worth getting advice from baby carrier experts or your local sling library, where they can help you get the most comfortable fit.

Carrying positions – baby carriers come with a range of positions that will help you and your baby to get a comfortable fit as they grow. From four months (to around 10 months) your baby can be carried facing outwards – make sure they can hold their head up well and that they are big enough for their mouth to be clear of the carrier. It’s not essential to carry your baby facing outwards – letting them ride with their arms out of the carrier is a great alternative – but many babies enjoy facing forwards and discovering the world whilst still being held snugly against the parent. Your baby will feel heavier as their weight will be pulling away from you, so only do so for short periods of time (30-45 minutes is ideal) and never when they are asleep. Many carriers can also be used for hip carrying (from five to six months) and back carrying (from six to nine months).

Ease of cleaning – it’s common for parents to use their baby carriers for several hours a day, several days per week, for a couple of years, so it’ll no doubt get dribbled, chewed and vomited on. It’s worth checking if you can pop it in the washing machine or if it’s suitable for wipe cleaning only.

Cost – Most carriers tend to sit around the £130 to £150 price point, but there are much cheaper ones available. Price isn’t necessarily an indication of quality when it comes to carriers, as some of the lesser-known and more affordable brands performed as well as higher-priced brands in our tests. The most important thing is to find a baby carrier that fits you well and that you can use easily.

What are the alternatives to a baby carrier?

If you’re after a soft, stretchy wrap to wear with your baby rather than a structured carrier, we’ve also tried out 10 excellent wraps and slings with our parent testers. Ideal for smaller newborns, slings differ from baby carriers in that they don’t usually have clips, buckles or buttons, and have to be tied to fit securely, which will take practice.

Backpack carriers are also great for parents who like to head places a buggy would struggle to go, whether this is an epic mountain trek or just the local market. Back carriers are suitable for babies who can sit up and support themselves – generally you’ll see them labelled as being okay for use from six months and they last until your child is three or four years old – if your back can withstand it!

Here's our pick of the best baby carriers to buy in 2022

1. Integra Baby Carrier, from £95

– Best compact baby carrier

Integra baby carrier tested with a baby

Suitable from: birth to 5 years (3.2kg to 24kg) | Carrying positions: 2 – back and front | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Gold – Baby carrier under £100, MadeForMums Awards 2022

Created by mum of three, Sarah Sadler, the Integra Baby Carrier is designed to be compact but supportive for your baby. Sling expert and babywearing consultant Hannah Wallace commented that the Integra has “all the feel of a wrap, but was much easier to use” and praised the lack of bulkiness and thick padding. However, she recommends trying the Integra first to check how well it fits your body shape.

Parent tester Paul, dad of two, said, “The Integra is a great carrier; it’s compact but also felt comfortable for our little one and supportive for my back. It is high quality – the material looks and feels great. We loved the design, which is cheerful for kids but modern for parents too.”

Sling expert and midwife Katy Blundell, who was a judge for the 2022 MadeForMums Awards, also rated this carrier, saying "the apron style is really comfortable on my body type. It's versatile and adjustable using the accessory strap."

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Parent tester Debbie, who tested this with her 11-month-old said: “The material is beautifully soft and lovely on baby’s skin. The instruction manual is amazing – very detailed with proper photos of a mum and baby attaching the carrier on herself with explanations as you go along!”

Made to last your baby up to their toddler years, it comes in three sizes, with Size 1 suitable from birth until around two years, Size 2 from 18 months to around three years and Size 3 from three years up to five (admittedly, for “shorter carrying moments”, as the brand points out).

Pros: Modern prints, great value, supportive, compact
Cons: Doesn’t suit every body shape

Read our full MadeForMums Integra Baby Carrier review

Available from: Integra Baby, Babi Pur and Wear My Baby

2. Joie Savvy Baby Carrier, £100

– Best for easy fitting

Joie Savvy baby carrier tested with a baby

Suitable from: birth to 3 years | Carrying positions: 4 - newborn front facing parent, front facing parent, front facing out, on back facing parent | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Silver – Baby carrier under £100, MadeForMums Awards 2022

This well-priced carrier gives parents plenty of flexibility and room for growth, holding your baby in a great position at each stage from a tiny newborn to a larger toddler. The carrier has been well thought through, offering plenty of comfort for parents thanks to the well-padded straps and a really good lumbar spine cushion. It’s also good for your baby’s development, allowing their spine to be held in a natural C-shape and their hips and legs in the M-position certified by the Hip Dysplasia Institute.

Our home testers found that the bib-style buckles at the front make it easy to get your baby in and out of the carrier. You can put the entire carrier on first and make most of the adjustments, then put your child in by lowering the front 'apron' and doing up the magnetic clips. This also makes switching positions a little easier. Parent tester Helen liked how easy it was to use in different ways, saying: “To swap positions from parent-facing to outward-facing is very simple – just an adjustment of the buttons at the front.”

Parent tester Charlotte, who tested this with their five-month-old said: “The magnetic shoulder buckles are my favourite feature and are really clever. Once you have these clicked in (the click is very satisfying!), you feel secure to be able to do up the remaining buckles and make any adjustments, knowing your baby is safe.”

Pros: Good support for you and baby, magnetic clips, easy to fit
Cons: Buckles and clips may be difficult to negotiate at first

Available from: John Lewis, Boots, Pramworld

3. ErgoBaby Embrace Baby Carrier, £79.90

– Best for newborns

Ergobaby Embrace baby carrier

Suitable from: birth to 1 year | Carrying positions: 2 - front facing parent, front facing out | Machine washable: | Awards: Silver – Baby carrier under £100, MadeForMums Awards 2022

Available in two fabrics – a soft jersey knit or a cool mesh that’s great for warmer weather, the Ergobaby Embrace is made with a simple design that has just three clips to secure your baby in place, and it’s ideal for the fourth trimester when you might wear your baby on a daily basis. If you're intrigued by slings but want something with a little more structure, this is a great halfway house. When you first buy this, take some time to learn how to adjust the carrier to fit both you and your baby and from then on, it will be a breeze to put it on, slip your baby inside and take off again.

Parent tester Lacey said it had already made life easier, describing it as: “very comfortable and lightweight”. Because the fabric is so soft, it moulds to your baby’s shape to keep them comfortable and snug. It is very good quality and many of our testers liked it. It can be used from birth as long as your baby weighs more than 3.2kg and you can continue to use it up to 25lb.

Parent tester Jess, who tested this with their three-month-old said: “It’s adjustable to suit all shapes. There is a good length on the straps to suit larger people. I also like that there is elastic on the straps to tuck in and secure the length not being used.”

Pros: Good for very small babies, soft fabric
Cons: Doesn’t have a very long life, only two carrying positions

Available from: Jojo Maman Bebe, Mamas and Papas, John Lewis and Ergobaby

4. Baby Tula Free to Grow Baby Carrier, £119.90

– Best for parent-facing

Tula free to grow carrier tested with a baby

Suitable from: birth to 4 years (3.2kg to 20kg) | Carrying positions: 2 – front facing parent, back facing parent | Machine washable: Yes, on cold | Awards: Joint Gold – Baby carrier over £100, MadeForMums Awards 2022

This carrier has gained lots of praise from our testers who have all commented on how comfortable and supportive it is. It’s easy to use and the carrier distributes your baby’s weight evenly across your torso to help prevent backache. It is well made, with a simple and straightforward design that does not have surplus clips, buckles or pockets but has an adjustable section where your baby sits that grows with them up to toddler years. It comes in lots of different prints and colours in a high quality fabric and can be folded up and popped into a changing bag or under the stroller when not in use.

It's worth noting that this carrier does not have a world-facing option, but instead is optimised for a comfortable parent-facing carry, or (as the child gets old) a back carry position. This does mean fewer options, but the benefit is a really good ergonomically-designed front carry that's likely to keep your child comfortable and content for longer. Parent tester Abigail found it useful for settling her eight-month-old daughter adding: “She gets excited when she sees the carrier as she likes to be in it.”

“I love the fact it’s durable,” said Amy, who tested this with her three-month-old,and it will be long-lasting, and although functionality-wise it ticks all the boxes, it’s also quite stylish with its abstract print.”

Pros: Great for bonding, simple design, lots of prints available
Cons: Only two carrying positions (no world facing option)

Available from: Tula, Babipur and Direct4Baby

5. BabyBjörn Harmony Baby Carrier, £190

– Best for back support

Baby Bjorn harmony carrier tested with a baby

Suitable from: birth to 3 years (3.2kg to 15kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – front newborn position , front facing parent, front facing out, back | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Joint Gold – Baby carrier over £100, MadeForMums Awards 2022

With a wide seat area and adjustable support for young babies, the BabyBjörn Harmony carrier has been carefully designed for hip health, keeping your baby’s hips and legs in the deep M-shape that experts agree is the healthiest position for babywearing. The head support can be adjusted through three positions to keep even tiny newborns’ heads supported and it’s super easy to adjust as they grow, using simple poppers.

As well as being comfortable for babies, it's also great for parents too, with a wide lumbar support in the waist panel. Parent tester Karly, who tested this with their six-month-old said: “The weight distribution and padded back support made this carrier really comfortable to use even over long periods of time.”

Similar to the Joie Savvy, this carrier has an apron design with front clips that help you get your baby in and out easily. It's simple to adjust to the wearer’s body shape (especially when you follow BabyBjörn’s great online video instructions). It has good padding on the shoulder straps, belt and good back support to keep you comfortable even when wearing your baby for long stretches.

Sling expert Katy Blundell was impressed with the quality of the carrier, describing it as: “Well-made with lovely breathable fabric”. It may be more expensive than some but has been designed to be used for three years, so it will grow with your baby and represents good value for money.

Parent tester Alannah, who tested this with their 3 month old (pictured), said "My husband found it really comfortable and supportive. It didn’t hurt his lower back or shoulders which the older carrier did."

Pros: Good back support, premium fabric, grows with baby
Cons: On the pricier side

Available from: BabyBjorn, Mamas and Papas, John Lewis

6. Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier All-In-One Cool Air Mesh, £164.90

– Best for parents of different sizes

Ergobaby Omni 360 cool air mesh baby carrier

Suitable from: birth to 4 years (3.2kg to 20kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – front-facing parent, front-facing out, hip and back | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Bronze – Baby carrier over £100, MadeForMums Awards 2022

In the words of sling expert and babywearing consultant, Hannah Wallace, the Ergobaby Omni 360 is: “Well loved by mums and dads of all shapes and sizes.” This is thanks to its brilliant support when outward facing, breathability, excellent lumbar support and easy adjustability around the head and neck area.

MFM reviewer Georgina, mum of two, shares use of the Ergobaby carrier with her husband and found it adapts well to different body shapes. She explained: “I love that we only had to buy one carrier for the both of us. It is easy to adjust the waistband and straps, so we can swap the carrier between us with ease – and the Ergobaby is comfortable for both of our body types.”

The Omni 360 has four different carrying positions, including on the hip. Hannah notes: “It’s a bit tricky to work out how to get an ideal fit right away,” but colour-coded Velcro and simple clips help to make this easier. Home tester Amanda, mum of one, called this carrier a “game-changer” and even found it a suitable for her premature baby. “My baby was premature, so on the smaller size for her age but I instantly felt very comfortable carrying her in this,” she said. “But it also feels like there is plenty of room for baby to grow and still be comfy and secure!”

Lauren, who tested this with her three-month-old said: “The quality is great and the padding is plush, it feels like it’s durable enough to last.”

Pros: Adjustable head support, suitable for all body types, four carrying positions, breathable
Cons: High price point, tricky to fit at first

Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe, John Lewis, Amazon and Ergobaby

7. Tula Pre-school Carrier, £129.95

– Best for toddlers

Tula Preschool carrier tested with a toddler

Suitable from: 4 to 7 years (16kg to 31.8kg) | Carrying positions: 2 – back and front | Machine washable: Yes | Awards: Gold – back, shoulder, hip and hiking carrier, MadeForMums Awards 2022

With reinforced construction and an extra-large carrier panel, the Tula Pre-school carrier allows parents to comfortably carry older kids from a toddler years and beyond. Babywearing expert, Hannah Wallace explained: “This is really good value for extended carrying and offers something new and important to the market. It is ideal if your child is in age three to four years clothes and you’ve outgrown your baby/toddler carrier.”

MFM tester Rachel, mum of one, found it to be a great fit for her child and said:” I haven’t used my stroller since I’ve had it on test. My pre-schooler loves it, says he’s super comfy and calls it the ‘carry cuddle’!”

While our home testers found the padded shoulder straps comfortable, they warned that this carrier is not necessarily suitable for someone with back problems. “Initially comfortable and felt very supportive but after about five minutes my back was very strained when used front-facing. I have a bad back (thanks kids!) and found that I wouldn’t be able to use the carrier for very long,” said home tester Lucy, mum of two.

Janet, who tested this with her 4-year-old said: "This carrier is perfect for packing in your bag when you’re going out for the day. It is very versatile and made from a high-quality material that can be used in all weathers. It has become a staple that we take with us on every trip out as a family."

Pros: Offers extended carrying, extra supportive carrier panel
Cons: Not suitable for people with back problems

Available from: Natural Baby Shower, Wear My Baby and Tula

8. Beco Gemini Baby Carrier, £105

– Best for breastfeeding mums

Beco Gemini baby carrier

Suitable from: birth to 3 years (3.5 to 15kg) | Carrying positions: 4 – front facing parent, front facing out, back facing parent, hip | Machine washable: Yes, cool

This lightweight carrier is made from cool mesh fabric that's breathable yet durable. It can be used from birth up to three years and you can wear your baby facing you in the early months, then facing the world once they can hold their head up, and finally on your back as they head towards toddler years. It has good padding on the waist belt to avoid back strain and an adjustable chest strap to evenly distribute your baby’s weight. There’s even a handy pocket on the waistband for a packet of wipes or a muslin. Parent tester Sami tested it with her baby and said: "One of the best things I bought for my baby. We've used it so much! Perfect for dog walking too, as you have two free hands and great for beach walking and forests."

As there's no fabric between the baby and the wearer's body, it's easy to use for breastfeeding mothers too, as all you need to do when your baby is facing you is to loosen the side buckle, allowing your baby to lean sideways to reach your breast. Always remember to return your child to the upright position and do up the buckle again when you have finished nursing.

Parent tester Hayley tested this with her two sons and said: "It’s amazing, as it’s so easy to put on and can be quickly adjusted between me and my much taller and wider partner. It’s less than £100 and has lasted really well with both of my boys. It’s super simple to buckle and very easy to adjust. They have lots of different designs, too."

Pros: Simple to use, good support, breastfeeding-friendly
Cons: May not be as comfortable with an older baby

Available from: Amazon

9. Kahu Baby Carrier £109.95

– Best for simplicity

Kahu Baby carrier

Suitable from: birth to 2.5/3 years (3.5 to 16) | Carrying positions: 4 – front facing parent, front facing out, back facing parent, hip | Machine washable: Yes | Awards:

This simple carrier has been designed by a sling consultant to be the only carrier you need from birth to toddler years. It’s quick and simple to adjust the width of the base to fit your baby comfortably, using the narrowest setting for a newborn and widening it as your child grows. It holds your baby in a comfortable and ergonomic position, with their hips and spine in the best M-shape for growth and development. It’s made from quality fabric and there are lots of print and plain choices to choose from, and even a naturally water repellent Herdwick Tweed.

The appeal of this carrier is in its simplicity: if all the buckles, pockets and extra features on some carriers confuse you, this will be a breath of fresh air as it does away with all the fuss without sacrificing performance. MFM Consumer & Commerce Editor Gemma, who used this with her toddler son, said: "I had a number of different carriers and most were quite complicated, with all kinds of straps, flaps and pockets. When I first saw this, I thought it was too simple, was going to dig in and provide no support but it really is a case of ‘less is more’."

She went on to say, "It's easy to use, simple to adjust and really amazing for back carrying in particular. My son always seems comfortable in it and I love that it folds up small for travel too. As a bonus, the brand makes loads of great patterns and colours so there's one to suit every parent."

The carrier is also breastfeeding-friendly, and when your child outgrows it (at 16kg) you can upgrade to the toddler carrier from the same brand.

Pros: Simple to use, no fiddly clips or buckles
Cons: A little on the pricier side, especially the tweed option

Available from: Kahu, Amazon

10. Infantino Flip 4 in 1 Convertible Baby Carrier £30.82

– Best budget buy

Infantino Flip 4-in-1 baby carrier

Suitable from: birth to 2.5 years (3.6 to 14.5) | Carrying positions: 4 – front facing newborn, front facing parent, front facing out, back facing parent | Machine washable: Yes

If you're interested in babywearing but on a tight budget, this is a great price for a carrier that our parent testers really rate. It can be used in four positions, including a position for newborns. It is adjustable so that it can fit different parents or carers and it will also continue to fit your baby as they grow. It has a good and supportive waist belt that helps to distribute your baby’s weight across your torso and pelvis and thus avoid back strain and there’s a bib to protect the fabric from drool and dribble and keep the carrier looking better for longer.

Parent tester Ama, mum of two said: "I used the Infantino Flip 4 in 1 carrier for both my kids and it’s still going strong. It is good quality and is easy on the back too."

Parent tester Megan said: "We love it. It’s easy to use and to adjust sizes between me and my partner when each of us is using it."

Pros: Good price, good range of carrying positions
Cons: May not be as comfortable and durable as other models, may not be good for very small babies

Available from: Amazon, Smyths Toys

How did we choose our 10 of the Best?

All the carriers in this list have been tried by parent testers. During the testing process we considered comfort, ease of fit, adaptability for different body types, number of carrying positions, fabrics used, design and appearance, and extra features. We also asked testers if they felt the product was worth the money.

Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations. 

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.

How to wear a baby carrier safely

Babies should always be carried upright – This so that their airways are open and clear. Babies should never be carried in a laying down, ‘cradle’ position.

Make sure it's well-tightened – Ensure your baby cannot slump inside the carrier. If it is too big or too loose, your baby’s chin can drop down onto their chest which could compromise their airways.

Make sure it's adjusted correctly – If your carrier is adjustable, make sure the width and height of the carrier is set to the correct size for your baby’s age and stage. There’s usually a guide to this one inside of the carrier’s waistband; if not then refer to the instruction manual.

Make sure you can see your baby’s face – Babies should be positioned high up on your chest and be close enough for you to easily kiss the top of their head without craning your neck.

Make sure their legs are positioned correctly – The IHDI (International Hip Dysplasia Institute) recommends carrying with baby’s hips in a natural "M" position during their first 6 months, with the hips bent a little more than a right angle – 90°+ (see image below). The IHDI also has a list of approved "hip healthy" baby carriers if you want more reassurance.

Be sure not to overheat your baby – As a rough rule of thumb when carrying, your body counts as one layer of clothing, the baby carrier is at least one more, and if you’re in a warm place that’s a third – so make sure they’re not overdressed.

Remember the T.I.C.K.S guide to babywearing safety – This is a handy reminder of what to check for when using a baby carrier (Tight, In view at all times, Close enough to kiss, Keep chin off the chest, Supported back).

About the author

Georgina Probert lives in the Kent countryside with her husband, two daughters and cat Molly. Georgina used both slings and wraps around the house when her children were newborn, and regularly take her kids on off-road walks using baby carriers. 

She has been a journalist for more than 14 years, working on a wide range of magazines including Family First, Homes & Gardens, Good Homes and Cage & Aviary Birds.

Additional reporting and product updates for this article were provided by Sally J. Hall

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