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When the autumn drizzle subsides and the sun finally decides to show itself, you might fancy a walk outdoors without a bulky pushchair – this is where a baby carrier or sling can come in handy.
To find out which baby carriers and slings are worth your money, we’ve got hands-on with a range of models to see which ones are comfortable for you and your baby, and easy to use.
The best baby carrier we tried has an adjustable seat that supports your baby’s legs in the ‘M’ or frog position (more on this below), and offers great support for the back and head.
But it’s not all good news – another model is let down by confusing instructions and flawed shoulder straps.
Read on for more details on the different types we’ve tested, or head to our Best Buy baby carriers and slings page to find the top performers
What to look for in a baby carrier or sling
When shopping for a new baby carrier or sling, check for soft yet supportive material and effective back support on a baby sling or wrap, and a wide seat base and head support on a baby carrier.
Both slings and carriers should hold your baby so that their knees are higher than their bottom and form an ‘M’ shape or look like they’re squatting like a frog. Their back should be slightly curved – in the shape or a ‘J’, but not so curved that your baby is slumped down in the sling or carrier.
Slings and carriers also need to be comfortable for the wearer, so you’re not left with aches and pains. Waist bands and padded shoulder straps can help with this, as can stretchy material that spreads the weight across your back and shoulders evenly.
If possible, try the product out in store before you part with your money, or see if you can try the model you’re interested in at a local slings and carriers lending library.
For more expert tips, read our guide: Which baby carrier or baby sling should you buy?
The latest baby carriers and slings on test
BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Move 3D Mesh, £129
- Minimum baby weight: 3.2kg
- Maximum baby weight: 11kg
This baby carrier is suitable from birth up to a weight of 11kg, or around 15 months old. The BabyBjorn Move 3D, which is made of a mesh material, has three different carrying positions that you can choose between – newborn (front inward-facing with the head support up), front inward-facing (for older babies) and front outward-facing.
The brand sells a couple of accessories that you might want to take a closer look at, including a water and wind-resistant cover, plus a two-pack of bibs to ensure that the top of the carrier is protected from baby drool.
To see if this structured model is a good fit for your little one, see our BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Move 3D Mesh review.
Ergobaby Embrace carrier, £80
- Minimum baby weight: 3.2kg
- Maximum baby weight: 11.3kg
This Ergobaby carrier weighs just 0.5kg, so is easy to roll up and pack in a rucksack or pushchair basket if needed. The Ergobaby Embrace is suitable for use from birth to around a year old and, like the BabyBjorn above, has three front-carrying positions – newborn (with the waistband rolled up and baby facing inwards), inward-facing and outward-facing.
The shoulder straps on this baby carrier aren’t padded like other baby carriers – find out how this affects wearer comfort by clicking the link below.
Only the best baby carriers are worthy of being a Which? Best Buy. Find out if this one ticks all the right boxes with our Ergobaby Embrace review
Tula Explore baby carrier, £155
- Minimum baby weight: 3.2kg
- Maximum baby weight: 20.4kg
Tula hopes that you’ll be relying on this baby carrier for several years – it’s designed for use with babies up to 20.4kg, or around four years old. The Tula Explore baby carrier is available in a range of vibrant styles and all of them feature a hood for keeping your baby protected from the sun.
It has three carrying positions – front inward-facing (used for newborns), front outward-facing and back carrying.
To find out how well it can support your child, read our full Tula Explore review
Izmi Baby Wrap, £50
- Minimum baby weight: 2.3kg
- Maximum baby weight: 9kg
If you’re aiming to keep costs low, you could try opting for a baby sling over a baby carrier as they tend to be cheaper.
This sling is made up of a long piece of fabric and can be used from birth until your baby weighs 9kg, or around nine months old. Using the Izmi Baby Wrap, you can carry your child in front inward-facing and hip inward-facing positions.
It consists of three layers of material that aim to provide back support for your baby.
We’ve got hands-on to see just how comfortable it is to wear. For more details, see our Izmi Baby Wrap review.
Moby Classic Wrap, £50
- Minimum baby weight: 3.6kg
- Maximum baby weight: 15kg
This baby wrap can be used until your child is 15kg, which is around two years old – quite a long lifespan for a such a sling.
A versatile design means that the wrap, which comes in a range of colours and patterns, can be used in front inward-facing and hip carrying positions.
It’s made from a stretchy material designed to support your baby’s back, while keeping their pelvis and legs in the correct position at the same time.
Find out if it’s comfortable and supportive by reading our Moby Classic Wrap review.
Other recently tested sling and carrier reviews include:
- BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Mini 3D jersey, £80
- Beco 8 Baby Carrier, £87
- Boba X Carrier, £125
- Chicco Boppy ComfyFit, £50
- Close Caboo Lite, £55
- Cybex Yema Tie, £180
- Freerider Co Sling, £50
- Moby Move Carrier, £75
- Nuby Newborn 3 in 1 Baby Carrier, £50
- Nuna Cudl Baby Carrier, £190
Baby carriers and slings in the Which? test lab
Those that reach the Which? test lab are scored on the features that matter the most.
For every model, we consider how safe and durable the product is, how comfortable and supportive it is for parent and child, what the instructions are like, and how easy it is to get on and take off.
The least-impressive baby carrier we’ve tested scores just 47% – the instructions are a nightmare to get your head around and the newborn insert simply isn’t durable enough. At the other end of the scale, we have a table-topping baby carrier (90%) that is a breeze to put on and adjust.
For baby slings, scores range from 62% to 89%. Surprisingly, our worst performer is a popular brand with parents, but we saw the carrier fabric split during our durability testing.
To find out how we decide what scores these products get, read our guide on how we test slings and carriers.
Keep your baby safe when using a sling or carrier
Whether you decide to buy a carrier or a sling, your baby needs to be safe and sound while you’re moving around.
You should follow the TICKS safety rules:
T: Tight Slings should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you.
I: In view at all times You should be able to see your baby’s face when you look down and the fabric shouldn’t close around their face.
C: Close enough to kiss Your baby’s head should be close enough to your chin that you can kiss the top of it.
K: Keep chin off chest A baby should never be carrier in a position that forces their chin on to their chest, as this can restrict breathing.
S: Supported back A newborn baby’s back should be supported, but in a natural, slightly curved position (from the side it will look like a ‘J’ shape).
Make sure your little one is secure by consulting our guide: Are baby carriers and baby slings safe?