How we test baby carriers and baby slings
By Anna Studman
Don't waste money on a baby carrier or sling that's uncomfortable and tricky to get on and off. Our tests reveal the Best Buys for safe trips.
Forty-eight mothers and their babies took part in our assessment of baby slings and carriers. Each sling or carrier was used by 12 mothers and their babies, at least five times in one week. Each parent tested either slings or baby carriers, not a mixture of both.
All the babies were six months old or younger at the start of the user trial, and half were under four months old. They weighed between 4kg and 8.6kg (9-19lbs) to start with.
The mothers were asked to complete an initial questionnaire with nine questions about their first impressions of the sling or carrier. These were followed up with 32 more questions when they were more familiar with the carrier, to give us more details about the fit, comfort, design and their overall opinion of the products.
Our reviews answer common questions, such as:
- How comfortable is the carrier or sling to use? Will I experience aches and pains?
- How clear are the instructions?
- Is it a pain to clean?
- Should I buy it?
Go straight to our baby carriers and slings reviews to discover the best and worst models, or read on to find out more about our testing.
Will I get aches and pains?
An uncomfortable baby carrier or baby sling can cause bad aches and pains and ongoing issues. You might be put off using it all together. It's hard to get a real sense of how a sling or carrier will hold up to prolonged use just by testing it for a short while in store. To help you get a real sense of how comfortable or not these carriers and slings are we got parents to use them over a longer period of time, and tell us how they felt.
Parents were asked to complete a discomfort chart indicating any areas on their bodies where they experienced aches or pains from using each carrier for half an hour. They also told us what was causing their discomfort and how severe it felt.
How clear are the instructions?
A good set of instructions is the key to being able to use a baby carrier easily and safely. So as well as asking parents to rate them, we got an expert in ergonomics (how well products are designed for people to use them) to look at how easy each of the carriers and their instructions are to get to grips with. The ergonomist looked at several factors:
- clarity and accuracy of the instructions
- how often you need to consult the instructions until you can confidently fit the product without them
- features of the carrier that make it easy to use
- how intuitive it is to use the sling or carrier.
Should I buy it?
To help you decide, we give each sling or carrier a total test score, so you can easily see which are the best and worst, and directly compare models with each other.
The score we give each sling or carrier is made up of a combination of the elements of our tough parent tests, excluding price, and is broken down as follows:
- 30% - Parent’s comfort when wearing the baby in a sling or carrier
- 20% - Baby’s comfort, including level of support and contentment
- 25% - Design and ease of use when familiar with the carrier
- 10% - Getting started (the ease of using the carrier out of the box including the assessment of the instructions)
- 10% - ‘Word of mouth’ factor – would parents recommend this carrier to their friends?
- 5% - Washing tests