Using a baby carrier can help you feel closer to your baby and may be easier than navigating busy areas with a bulky pushchair. But there are so many to choose from that it can be difficult to know where to start. Do you go for a sling or a carrier? Will you carry your baby on your front or your back? And what should you check before you decide which one to buy? We asked mums what they found most important when choosing their baby carrier.
Can the carrier be worn by both mum and dad?
“Get an adjustable carrier. If you’ll be sharing the carrying duties with your partner, you’ll need one that can fit both your frames. We have a Mamas & Papas Morph that’s perfect because it comes with two sets of straps – one for him and one for me.”
Fiona Smith, 28, from Motherwell, mum to James, 9 months
Baby carrier or sling?
“The two are quite different and I bought a sling at first, which was fine at home. Slings are fabric and keep your baby closer to your body, but I found mine didn’t give my baby the protection I wanted in busier places in the early months.”
Helen Moore, 30, from Manchester, mum to Ollie, 1
How will you use it?
“If you’re going to be in and out of the shops, get one that’s not too bulky. And look out for ones you can store your keys or purse in for easy access without disturbing your little one. If you live in the country or will just use the carrier for leisurely walks, you don’t need to worry about squeezing onto buses or through doorways.”
Heather Railey, 28, from Maidenhead, mum to Ally, 2
Front or back?
“I felt that I wanted my daughter in front of me so I knew she wasn’t getting bumped, so we went for a BabyBjörn Active Carrier. But I can see the appeal of back carriers that give you more freedom to use your hands when you’re multi-tasking.”
Sally Davis, 26, from Staines, mum to Tom, 6 months
- Buyer’s guide to slings
- Baby slings – how to wear one safely
- Practical Parenting Awards – best sling or carrier 2011/2012
Do you need it from birth or for an older baby?
“If you want to use the carrier straight away, check that it’s suitable for a newborn. Some can only be used from 3 months and it’s important to keep your baby supported properly in the early weeks. Check how long it’ll last, too, as your baby might soon grow out of it and you’ll need a new one.”
Victoria Scanlon, 27, from Solihull, mum to Amelie, 8 months
Can you put it on without help?
“Mums who are going on solo trips need to make sure their carrier’s easy to put on and take off without needing someone else to help. We were given a secondhand one that I couldn’t get on with, so we got a Bushbaby Cocoon that I could quickly shrug off while keeping my baby supported.”
Serena Wilder, 34, from Hereford, mum to Natalie, 18 months
Sole means of transport?
“If you’ve decided to use a sling or carrier instead of a buggy all the time, you might want to consider using the money you’ve saved to get a more expensive carrier that has extra comfort built in for you as well as your baby.”
Hayley Rowsell, from Plymouth, 32, mum to Isabelle, 1