We have tested various baby carriers from manufacturers including BabyBjörn, Ergobaby and Britax. A good baby carrier provides support when you carry your child and balances the child’s weight, evenly distributing it over your body. Older models of baby carrier often only had shoulder straps, while newer models have hip or waist belts that better distribute the load. A baby carrier allows you to be close to the child while simultaneously being able to walk and move in a safe manner. The carrier should be comfortable for both you and your child. If you choose the right baby carrier you hopefully have a carrying aid that will last for many months – perhaps even for several years. To make it easier for you to choose the right product, you can read about the different carriers and our assessments of them in our reviews. You will also find useful tips such as things to think about before buying and how to decide which baby carrier is most suitable depending on your needs.
When you choose a carrier, it’s important to think about what particular features you need. Will it always be the same person using the baby carrier, or should it be easy to adjust for different users? If you want to use the carrier to help the child fall asleep, perhaps you will want to remove the child from the carrier when he or she is asleep. This may make it important to choose a baby carrier that’s easy to undo and remove the child from. If the baby carrier will be used instead of a pram, perhaps space for storage is a priority. And if you're choosing between a baby carrier and a sling, there are carriers that provide very similar support to that of a sling.
For small children, it’s important that the head is properly supported in the baby carrier, both when they're awake and asleep. For optimum seating comfort, the infant should sit in what's known as the “frog position”, which is an ergonomic sitting position. For slightly larger children it can be important for them to have a good view so they can discover the exciting world around them. Different models provide different opportunities for the child to look around at all the exciting things going on. Carriers also enable a range of carrying positions, including carrying the child with its stomach facing the parent, with the stomach facing forwards, on your back or on your hip.
If you know that you're going to want to carry the child in a carrier for a long time, it can be sensible from the start to choose one that can cope with a slightly higher weight. Baby carrier capacities vary considerably between the different models and manufacturers. Baby carriers that also work for children of slightly higher ages often have an infant insert which you can remove as they get older. It can be a good idea to think about how the baby carrier is designed, and if you want to be able to use it during pregnancy or if you will want to carry your child soon after a Caesarean section. In the latter case, a waist belt may be more comfortable than a belt around the hips.
Different baby carriers can also be more suitable for different times of the year as some are warmer than others. Think about when you mainly intend to use it. The material in the baby carrier is also important if you have a child who is often sick. Some carriers are made of mesh, which is a material that’s difficult to wipe clean. Mesh can also create impressions on the child’s bare skin, but it also allows better airflow and may work better in the summer. So a baby carrier in a thicker material can be better in the winter. Some baby carriers have covers that provide additional protection at low temperatures.
You also need to think about the seams and fabric that will be in contact with the child’s skin. Is there any risk of chafing?
There’s also a label that it’s useful to be aware of. Oeko-tex is a testing and certification system for fabrics. The label means that the manufacturer hasn’t used any substances in production which could be considered to constitute a risk to the child or are in any other way harmful. This is always reassuring if the child is going to spend a lot of time in the baby carrier, as the child’s skin will be in contact with the fabric.
When you carry your child in a baby carrier, there are a few useful things to think about. For the security of the child, you should never drink hot drinks while you have the baby resting on your stomach. Also, be sure to always follow the height recommendations for the baby carrier, otherwise you risk the child getting uncomfortable pins and needles in their legs.
In many of the baby carriers, you can turn the child to face forward when it gets a little bigger, but you should never turn the child before they have a strong, stable neck. A good tip if you have a child who often vomits is to fasten a cloth or towel between you and the baby carrier to minimise unexpected accidents.
Baby carriers allow you to carry your child in different positions. One position is called the “frog position”, and this means that the baby sits with the hips angled forwards and with the knees at the same height as the hips. The child’s spine should be slightly bent into a C-shape. Another way for the child to sit is with their legs hanging free. Different baby carriers give you different opportunities to carry the child in the various positions.
You can often resell a baby carrier in good condition when you no longer need it. The amount you receive will depend on the condition and model. It’s usual to get more for a well-known brand. The second-hand value for a baby carrier can be up to about £50.
All baby carriers in our test can be washed in a machine. However, the wash temperature varies. If you know that your child vomits often, it may be useful to be able to wash the carrier at a slightly higher temperature. And of course the fact that the baby carrier can be cleaned completely is also relevant for the second-hand value.
There are a number of different standards for baby carriers, such as ASTM, JPMA, CPSIA and the European standard, EN13209-2:2005. These standardisations indicate that the products fulfil certain safety requirements and have been certified after having undergone safety tests.
In the ERGObaby 360, you can carry your child in four different ergonomic ways. Towards your stomach, facing forwards, on your back or hip. And that’s probably the record for a single baby carrier. The carrier also works for infants if you buy a special insert. The seat the child sits in is shell-shaped and supports an ergonomic C-shaped spine, regardless of how the child is carried. Make sure that the child’s bottom is in the shell and not on the upper edge of the hip belt, which can be uncomfortable. The child has a good view, even when the neck support is in use. The neck support can be folded down and can be fastened out of the way in this position.
You put the baby carrier on by attaching the hip belt with velcro around the hips, and then fastening the safety strap. Then you place the child into the carrier and put on the shoulder straps, then buckle them behind your neck. If you have a stiff neck it can be difficult to reach this buckle. By adjusting the length of the shoulder straps, you can decide how close to your body you want the child, which is a useful feature. Because the child sits in the frog position, it’s easy to sit down without the child’s legs getting in the way. It’s easy to place the child against your chest – a little more difficult to put the baby carrier against your back. We recommend that you watch ERGObaby’s instruction videos online and practice.
The wide velcro band of the hip belt gives the test’s best weight distribution. Because the seat is attached across the whole of the front of the hip belt, the child’s weight is effectively distributed around the hips. The disadvantage with velcro is that it can be difficult to adjust the hip belt with the child in, and it’s very noisy when you take off the belt, which can wake a sleeping child. The velcro can also damage clothes if you aren’t careful. The baby carrier has a sun and nursing hood which also gives some protection so that you don’t spill things on the child, but it doesn’t provide any protection against hot liquid. The hood can be packed away into a neat pocket when it’s not being used, which keeps the baby carrier looking tidy. The ERGObaby 360 can be adjusted well to the height of the person carrying it. However, it’s a little more difficult to adjust the neck buckle height. In summary, this is one of our favourite baby carriers. There are a number of additional accessories you can buy, such as a wind and rain hood, a fleece lining and shoulder strap protection.
The shoulder straps can be attached parallel or crossed. When worn crossed, the straps give good weight distribution. This particularly applies when carrying smaller children, as the crossed shoulder straps give better support and an excellent fit for the baby’s body. And of course the Adapt’s panel is soft enough for the child to sit with the spine in the desired C-shape and to allow the baby’s bottom to sink down so that the body is in an ergonomically correct frog position. The base of the panel can be adapted to the child’s length by attaching velcro at different points. The instructions are very helpful. The width of the panel can also be adjusted with snap fasteners. This means that it's easy to get the Adapt to grow with the child, without a big step between one size position and the next. The clever upper edge can be folded and attached in a number of different ways. This works very well both for letting the child see out and for providing good neck support when the child is sleeping and the neck isn’t yet stable.
Even if you're used to a baby carrier, you may feel that the Adapt needs to be broken in during the initial period. The shoulder straps initially feel a bit stiff and have a tendency to slip. But with use the carrier softens up and with a newborn it also helps when the child gets a little heavier. One tip can be to wash the baby carrier to speed up the process. Once it’s worn in, the Adapt is a fantastic baby carrier which allows you to carry your child for a whole day without feeling it either in your shoulders or back. Compared with the ERGObaby 360, some users may wish it was possible to carry the child facing forward, but if you don’t need that function the ERGObaby Adapt is one of the very best baby carriers, and it’s a purchase that new parents won’t regret.
An updated version of one of our favourites, the BabyBjörn One, was released in autumn 2015, with many of the issues fixed for which the previous One had received criticism – both from us and others. The new One is a little better all round and feels even more well designed. The shoulder straps have reinforced padding, the buckles are angled differently to make it easier to use them when you're inserting the child into the carrier, and the hip belt is more stable. The zips on the BabyBjörn One can now be locked in different positions, so it’s easier to adjust the baby carrier on the basis of the child’s needs and size. The child can sit facing you, facing forwards or on your back in this flexible baby carrier. The carrier is suitable for all conceivable situations – both inside and outside the home. It’s extremely easy to adjust for people of different heights and widths. The waist belt and the padded shoulder straps provide extremely good weight distribution to counteract aches in the shoulders and back. The carrier also has a practical, easily adjusted built-in infant insert for newborns. No fiddling about with removable inserts required – you can quickly get the baby positioned against your body. However, a child who has just outgrown the infant position ends up relatively low down in the carrier, in the normal carrying position. When you remove the child from the carrier, you don’t need to lift them up to open the buckles, which is useful if the child has fallen asleep.
The BabyBjörn One has a number of clever functions, such as silk on the inside of the belt, which makes it easy to rotate the carrier if you want the child on your back instead. It’s safe to move the child to your back because the neck buckle means that you can’t drop the child as you rotate the carrier. Overall the baby carrier is extremely well sewn, with a high quality feel in all details. There is a neck protector which can be folded down when it’s not required. However, it does ride up by itself on occasion, as there’s no way of fastening it down. Buttons for this would have been useful. We would also have liked to see some kind of protection for the plastic buckles on the shoulder straps, as the child’s head can come to rest against them if you sit down while the child is asleep.
You put on the BabyBjörn One baby carrier by climbing into it with one side buckle done up. After this you tighten the hip buckle, place the child in the carrier and then do up the remaining buckles. The hip belt fastens simply behind your back with a hook, and you can easily tighten it by pulling forwards. This is all very quick and makes the BabyBjörn One the first choice when you want to quickly get the child into place close to your body. If the baby carrier gets dirty you can wash it at 40 degrees. A number of accessories are available for the baby carrier, such as a wind and water resistant fleece cover and a bib. This is a fantastic baby carrier which is well worth its price.
The BabyBjörn We is a simplified and lighter version of the BabyBjörn One. The major difference is that the BabyBjörn We doesn’t allow you to carry your baby facing forward, and that you can only open the baby carrier from the right-hand side. If you don’t need these functions, this is a very good and affordable alternative to the BabyBjörn One
You put on the baby carrier by climbing into it and then tightening the hip belt. The child is inserted from the right and you fasten the buckle on the right-hand side, followed by the chest strap. The side buckle can be tricky to find, so better guidance would have been nice. The hip belt is fastened behind your back with a hook, which makes it very easy to both fasten and open. However, the buckle is very safe and also quiet. It’s easy to tighten the hip belt as it requires a forward movement. The belt has silk on the inside, which makes it easy to rotate the carrier if you want the child on your back instead. If you want to use the carrier for an infant, you can easily adjust the size of the bucket seat with a zip. The neck protection can’t be folded down, although this isn’t important as the child can only be carried facing you.
When you take the child out of the baby carrier, you press the child against yourself to open the buckles. This movement is least disruptive if the child has fallen asleep. If you want the child on your back, it’s easy and safe to move the carrier. The back strap ensures that you don’t drop the child during the process. The carrier is pleasant to wear as a result of its broad, soft padded shoulder straps. The back strap can be adjusted both vertically and widthways so the baby carrier is easy to fit for different wearers. The BabyBjörn We is also equipped with loops into which you can insert the straps. The material of the baby carrier is soft and gentle and the carrier is suitable for hot days as the child can sit in it in just a nappy without coming into contact with sharp seams or edges. There are a number of accessories you can buy, such as a wind and water resistant fleece cover and bib.
The BabyBjörn Original is our budget favourite. It’s also the lightest and most compact baby carrier in the test, which makes it perfect if you’re planning a trip. The fabric is soft and gentle on the child’s skin and the baby carrier doesn’t lose its shape even if you squash it up. The child has a very good view of the surrounding world and the neck protection gives good support for sleeping babies. If you have a sleeping child in the baby carrier it’s really easy to lay them down as you can unbutton the entire seating part and lay it down together with the child. In the test, we found that this was actually the best baby carrier for this manoeuvre, which is a lifesaver for many parents of small children.
You put on the baby carrier by putting on the back straps and then tightening it over your stomach. You can insert the child from any direction and then you tighten up the chest straps. You can adjust the seating height against your body using buckles under the armpits. We think that the baby carrier is easy to put on and adjust. However, it hasn’t many different position options. The child sits in the baby carrier with hanging legs, either facing forwards or towards your chest. If you want to sit down with the child in the carrier, you have to fold the child’s legs to the side. The manual with the baby carrier is the best in test with clear images and instructions, which makes it easy to understand how the baby carrier should be used. The baby carrier also has two reflectors on the seat, which is useful if you’re using it in the dark.
There are a number of accessories you can buy, such as a wind and water resistant fleece cover and bib. In summary, the price is low, the quality is high and the baby carrier has been well designed. However, if you’re going to use the baby carrier for long periods we recommend a model with a hip belt. In addition, the BabyBjörn Original is only suitable for children up to 11 kg, which limits how long you can use it. The attractive price and simplicity mean that we think this is absolutely ideal as a travel carrier or extra carrier.
The ERGObaby Performance Baby Carrier is a very light baby carrier that can be used for children up to 20 kg. It’s the most compact baby carrier with a waist belt in the test and is only slightly more bulky than the BabyBjörn Original (which doesn’t have a waist belt). The baby carrier is available in different materials, with the mesh version being our favourite as it’s fantastically flexible. The model is extremely well sewn and has reinforced seams and edges that softly follow the anatomy of the child. However, the actual fabric can feel slightly rough if the baby is naked. The material breathes well and the ERGObaby Performance is therefore good for hot days. It’s also very effective in the winter as the carrier’s thin, flexible material works well with thick clothes on both child and parents.
You put on the baby carrier by attaching the hip belt around your hips. You then insert the child into the carrier and put on the shoulder straps, which you then attach around your neck. Unlike the other ERGObaby models in the test, it’s very easy to adjust the neck support vertically, which is very practical if the carriers are different heights. However, it can be difficult to fasten the neck buckle if you are at all stiff. The hip belt is wide and stable. All of the straps have loops so that they can be fastened out of the way when the baby carrier has been adjusted. It’s easy to put the child in the carrier on your chest, but slightly more difficult if the carrier is going on your back. We recommend that you watch the instruction videos online and practice.
The baby carrier has no neck support, which means that you need to support the child’s head, for example if you are moving forwards quickly while bent over. The seat has a clever pocket for keys, your wallet or phone together with a pocket for the sun and nursing hood. You can buy a number of different accessories, for example a wind and rain hood. For small babies, you have to buy an infant insert, but as you can carry children up to 20 kg, this baby carrier is likely to be used for a long time, which is a major plus point.
In this well sewn baby carrier, the child sits with hanging legs. The carrier has a useful backplate that distributes the weight across the back. In many ways, this carrier is similar to the BabyBjörn Original, with the Miracles backplate and waist belt being the major differences. Out of the baby carriers where the child sits with hanging legs, this one has the best distribution of weight despite the fact that it has a waist belt rather than a hip belt. The shoulder straps are broad and thin, which means that you carry the child comfortably without getting too hot. It’s easy to move in the baby carrier without any chafing and the child will be comfortable even if you are active at home or in the garden.
To put on the BabyBjörn Miracle, you put on the back plate and then fasten it across the stomach. The child can then be inserted from any direction. You then fasten up the chest buckles and tighten the straps under the armpits. You can choose whether to have the neck support up or down. If the child falls asleep, you can easily lay them down as the entire seating part can be unfastened and laid down with the child. However, the buckles over the stomach are rather tough and some of our testers found it difficult to open them. If you’re going to sit down with the child, you must always remember to fold the child’s legs out of the way when they are hanging.
A measuring tape shows that you have the right position for the child’s height, which makes it easy and intuitive to get it exactly right. If you are tall, you should adjust the back length so that you have the crossed part of the back further down. It can be awkward to adjust this crossed part with a child in the carrier, so it’s easiest to do this before you insert the child. You can buy a number of accessories, such as a wind and water resistant fleece cover and bib. If you’re going to carry the child for longer periods, we don’t think that the waist belt is enough to distribute the weight comfortably, so we recommend instead a baby carrier with a hip belt, such as the BabyBjörn We.
ERGObaby, which originates in Hawaii, has long been one of the leading manufacturers of baby carriers where the baby sits in the frog position. The Original Bundle Of Joy is the original model and has now been on the market for 10 years. In comparison with ERGObaby’s later models, it’s clear that the original is a few years old, primarily in terms of finish and choice of materials. The shoulder straps feel a little clumsy, but are comfortable when carrying a heavy weight. There is a sun and nursing hood that also protects the child against spills. However, it does not provide protection against hot liquids. The nursing hood can be partially concealed in a simple pocket when it is not in use. However, it doesn’t look as neat as on the ERGObaby Performance or 360, as the pocket has a zip.
To carry small children you need an infant insert, which is the same for all ERGObaby models. However, the baby carrier has a number of intelligent functions like a large pocket for storage and loops on the straps so that they can be fastened out of the way. The fabric is 100% cotton and is gentle and soft on the baby’s skin. The hip belt is wide and comfortable at the front but can be too wide when you bend over or sit down. It would also have been easier to tighten the belt if this was done using a forward movement, instead of a backward movement which requires more strength.
You put on the baby carrier by tightening the hip belt, inserting the child into the seat and then putting on the shoulder straps, which are fastened around the neck. You can adapt the baby carrier to the wearer’s height, but the neck buckle is a little bit tough to adjust vertically. It can also be difficult to get at the neck buckle if you have stiff shoulders. It’s very easy to put the child on your chest. The child has a good view once in the carrier. However, remember that the carrier has no neck support, so if for example you are moving fast you must support the child’s head with a hand. If you intend to put the carrier on your back, we recommend that you look at the instruction films online. You can use the baby carrier for a long time because it can cope with a weight of up to 20 kg. A number of accessories are available, such as a wind and rain hood, fleece lining and shoulder strap protectors.
Cool Air is the cool summer version of Ergobaby's popular Omni 360 baby carrier. With the Omni 360 Cool Air, you can carry your child on your chest both facing towards and away from you, as well as on your hip and on your back. You can use the baby carrier straight from birth without having to use any extra infant insert. The width of the carrying panel can be altered with Velcro attachments, so the baby carrier is always just the right size to give support to the child from one knee to the other. And if you want to turn the child to face outwards, you can quickly reduce the width of the carrying panel by moving sliding attachments. These are stable, so there's no risk of them moving about between different positions, and they make an impressively neat solution. As usual with Ergobaby's carriers, sitting comfort for the child is very good, and the Omni 360 Cool Air is also comfortable for the parent doing the carrying.
The idea with a summer version of a harness is that it should be a cooler alternative. The Omni 360 Cool Air Mesh has lots of mesh, including on large areas of the carrying straps. The netting does allow in the air and helps sweat and moisture from the carrier's body to escape, but has the biggest effect on the child. The majority of the carrying panel consists of mesh, which means that the air and wind can enter and cool the child's back, which makes it less hot when the child is being carried. But it's difficult to avoid sweat occurring between the child's and parent's bodies. Other than the ventilation, the baby carrier has good sun protection in the form of a piece of fabric that can be attached to the carrying straps with press studs. It's clear that both parent and child will be less hot with the Omni 360 Cool Air Mesh than with a normal baby carrier without mesh. For use in the summer and for the active family, the Omni 360 Cool Air Mesh is highly recommended as a baby carrier.
Despite the almost identical name, the Ergobaby Omni 360 shouldn't be confused with the slightly older Ergobaby 360 model - which doesn't offer the possibility of carrying the child facing outwards. The carrier is available in a wide range of colours and patterns, which don't affect the function but is a positive point, as for anyone who carries it a lot the carrier is almost like a garment, which it's nice to match with the other things you're wearing. With the Omni 360, you can carry your child on your chest both facing towards and away from you, on your hip and on your back. You can use the baby carrier straight from birth without having to use any extra infant insert, making it very easy to get started carrying your child.
The Omni 360 is easy to adapt. The width of the carrying panel is altered with Velcro attachments. There are clear markings showing the width suitable for particular ages and lengths of children, which helps make sure the sitting support is right. If you want to turn the child to face outwards, you can make the carrying panel narrower so that the child can sit with their bottom in a kind of shell, their back against the parent's chest and their legs forwards and outwards. You change the carrying panel from the inwards to outwards position with buttons. As usual with Ergobaby's carriers, sitting comfort for the child is very good. The child's knees are higher than its bottom, exactly as they should be, and the carrier permits a C-shaped curve in the back - which is important in making the baby carrier ergonomic. The neck support can be attached folded inwards for extra support for an infant's neck, outwards for a larger child, or upwards, for example to give extra support for a sleeping child's head. There is also a sunshade folded into a zipped pocket.
The Omni 360's shoulder straps can be crossed over the back or run parallel. With a small baby in the carrier, crossed is the best position, as it means that the carrier holds the child a little more tightly, bringing them closer to the parent. The baby carrier has a substantial hip belt, which can be fastened at different heights so the child is always at the right position on the parent's body. The hip belt can be tightened from either direction and has a support plate on the back for good weight distribution. Set correctly, you can carry a 1-2 year old comfortably with the Omni 360. On the front of the hip belt is a practical, removable zipped storage pouch. The Ergobaby Omni 360 baby carrier is as comfortable as it is practical, and essentially covers all your needs when you want to carry your child, while keeping the child in just the right position. The baby carrier may feel a little bit technical, but it's easy to learn to use, and once you've done that the Omni 360 is a real lifesaver during the child's first year.