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Best baby carrier 2022: The best baby carriers, wraps and papooses from Ergobaby to BabyBjörn

Victoria Woollaston Thomas McMullan
16 Sep 2022

Say goodbye to unwieldy prams and enjoy bonding with our pick of the best baby carriers and papooses you can buy

The best baby carriers are designed to make your baby feel safe and comfortable in one of their favourite places to be: close to you. For the parent, there’s also the benefit of having your hands free, carrying your little one in a way that feels both natural and practical.

There are different types of carrier, from front slings to backpack-like items, but they all share the same basic idea: helping you to carry your baby close to your torso. Below is our advice on how to choose the best baby carrier for you, including the difference between structured carriers, wraps and ring slings. Further down the page, we list our pick of the best baby carriers currently available to buy.

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    How to choose the best baby carrier for you

    Baby carriers largely fall into two main categories: structured carriers and wraps. There is a third design, known as ring slings, but these are not recommended by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

    1. Structured baby carriers: Just strap on and go

    Structured baby carriers are like backpacks, typically made from canvas materials, and are adjusted with straps and buckles. Even though they often come with newborn inserts or additional clips to keep your baby's legs in the correct position, they’re actually often better suited to babies older than three months, who can support their own heads.

    Structured carriers: Pros and cons

    You only have to adjust them onceLess suitable for very young babies
    Easy to take on and offCan be expensive
    Like a backpack, they’re clearly carriers, not a fashion statementBewildering array of different designs
    Usually offer a number of carrying positionsBaby can be lower in a back carrier than in a stretchy wrap

    2. Stretchy wraps: Keep younger babies snuggled up

    Stretchy baby carriers used to be associated with a certain middle-class stereotype, but that’s no longer the case. There are more stretchy baby carriers on the market than ever as parents are realising how perfect they are for newborns and babies who can't yet support their own head. The downside is they don't feel as secure as the rigid baby carrier models and that can take a little getting used to.

    Stretchy wraps: Pros and cons

    Support baby evenly all over their body and hold them close to yoursIt takes a bit of practice to master the tying up
    Promote closeness and bonding between parent and child
    Keep you warm in cool weather, as your baby acts like a little hot water bottle
    Offers front and back carries

    How do I know a baby carrier is on right?

    It will take at least three attempts before you start to feel confident with a baby carrier. Choose a moment when your baby is calm/asleep, and practice in front of a mirror. When you’re ready to add the baby, check the positioning in the mirror and against the national TICKS guidelines (see below).

    Your baby should be positioned in the standard frog-legged position, with their knees higher than their bottom. The natural C-curvature of the spine should also be supported: never use a baby carrier that forces it into a straight position.

    The best baby carriers to buy

    1. Nuna CUDL: The best baby carrier for all ages

    Price: £150 | Buy now from John Lewis

    The number of straps and buckles can be a little overwhelming when you first unpack the CUDL, but spend some time with Nuna’s premium baby carrier and you’ll quickly find out that this complexity speaks to a wearable that’s both adaptive and supportive to your little one, and to your own body.

    The CUDL is designed with four carry positions in mind: from snug newborn support, through to facing in and out for older babies, all the way to a back-carry mode setup for nine months and up. At the heart of all these modes are four magnetic buckles that snap into place and can be easily unclasped by squeezing on the sides of the lock. In our experience, these make the task of loading and unloading your baby much easier than having to slide the little one in and out whenever you go for a walk.

    Equally fantastic is the adjustable head and neck support flap that, along with the in-built infant booster, turns the CUDL into a cosy carrier for newborns and younger babies. Attach the cotton bib to the flap and it doubles as a handy catch-all for any errant food and drink your older child might spill when facing outwards.

    Nuna says its carrier is designed to be self-adjusted, although we found it helpful to have a second person available to tighten some of the many straps, particularly those on your back. Once they’re all in place, however, and the Velcro waistband has been wrapped around your hips, the CUDL does a great job of spreading out a baby’s weight and avoiding strain on your body.

    Key specs Weight capacity: 3.5-16kg (8-35lb); Positions: 4 (newborn, facing in, facing out, back carry)

    Buy now from John Lewis

    2. Ergobaby Omni360: The best lightweight baby carrier

    Price: £165 | Buy now from John Lewis

    Ergobaby's carriers have won numerous industry awards, and this lightweight model, the Ergobaby Omni 360, is made of breathable synthetic mesh, with a stiff structure that will stand up to sporty hikes. You can choose from four carrying positions, including the front facing inwards or outwards, or your baby can be carried on your hip or back, depending on their age.

    The Ergobaby Omni 360 is rated for children weighing up to 20kg or as light as 3.2kg. The previous Ergobaby 360 required a newborn insert to be bought separately to support babies under 5.5kg, but this feature is now built in.

    As a result, the Omni 360 supports newborns as standard, and it has a detachable pouch for dummies, keys, or your phone. The Omni does have a slightly more complicated array of buttons, belts and straps than its former bestselling carrier, but these simply add to its versatility.

    Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.5–20kg (7-45lb) with infant insert; Positions: 4 (facing in, facing out, back carry and hip)

    3. Ergobaby Embrace: The best baby carrier for newborns

    Price: £80 | Buy now from John Lewis

    If you want the build quality of the Ergobaby Omni 360 without all the buckles and buttons, the brand also makes a soft baby carrier called the Ergobaby Embrace. It's cheaper than the 360 range, but that's because it won't last you as long – only being suitable for babies from birth (or 3.2kg/7lb) up to 11.3kg (24lbs).

    For your little one, the carrier is made with a super soft, lightweight jersey fabric that is open-sided to allow good air circulation. It also supports the safe frog-leg position.

    For you, it comes with thick, soft and wide shoulder straps that distribute the baby’s weight evenly, as well as a wide waistbelt. The Ergobaby Embrace has been designed to fit like an elastic baby wrap but offers the support of a structured carrier. It's much more comfortable to wear than the BabyBjörn Mini and it looks better.

    Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.5–11.3kg (7-24lb) with infant insert; Positions: 3 (facing in, facing out, newborn position)

    Buy now from John Lewis

    4. BabyBjörn Original, BabyBjörn One and BabyBjörn One Air: The best baby carriers for newborn to toddler

    Price: £90, BabyBjörn Original, Buy now from Amazon | £160, BabyBjörn One, Buy now from Amazon | £175, BabyBjörn One Air, Buy now from Amazon

    Launched in 1961, BabyBjörn carriers remain the best baby carriers on the market and for good reason. They're comfortable, stylish and easy to use.

    The BabyBjörn Original is perfect for your baby's first few months. As they grow, the BabyBjörn One baby carrier adds an outward-facing option, with quick-release buckles and mesh fabric panels to help keep everybody cool. The BabyBjörn One Air baby carrier is an even lighter model made almost entirely from mesh fabric – making it the perfect option for summer. More recently, the company added a BabyBjörn Mini to this lineup, which is perfect for newborns.

    If you don't want to buy multiple baby carriers, and want one that will suit all ages, opt for the BabyBjörn One.

    On first use, the larger BabyBjörn carriers may feel a little like you're strapping your baby into a climbing harness but once you're all set it hardly feels like you're carrying your baby at all. Weight is evenly distributed to save your back and to make your little one feel as snug as possible. We used the BabyBjörn Carrier One with our chunky baby and often went on hour-long walks with him. And without fail, the carrier was so comfortable that he would be asleep within minutes and stay asleep – this often saved us from an overtired, screaming child at bedtime!

    Until he outgrew it, we also used the BabyBjörn Carrier Mini, which can neatly be stored in a changing bag, is lightweight and fits comfortably. It's not suitable for heavier babies as you don't get the same weight distribution as on the larger models but it was the ideal size, shape and style for carrying our baby around the house when cooking dinner or washing up.

    Read our full Babybjörn Original, One and One Air baby review for details

    Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.5-15kg (8-33lb); Positions: Original has three positions (front facing in, back facing in, hip carry), One and One Air have four (optimal newborn, front facing in, front facing out, back carry).

    5. Hippychick Hipseat: The best baby carrier for your posture

    Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

    Occasionally you use a product that's so simple and effective, you wonder why you haven't used it before. That's what we found with the Hippychick Hipseat.

    It's technically a baby carrier, but not as you know it. At first glance, it resembles a bumbag (stay with us), but it's made up of a band you wear around your waist and a padded, detachable seat with a non-slip pad. You secure the band and put the seat on your hip. When you next carry your baby, the baby sits on the padded seat and you secure them with your arm. Yes, you still need to use your arm for support, so it's not hands-free, but it takes the weight away from your hip and onto the seat. This prevents you having to twist your back to support their weight, as well as trying to carry them with your arm.

    As a result, it's recommended by osteopaths and chiropractors. The band is a little snug (designed for waists between 26in and 42in), but you can buy an extension panel, and the cover is wipe-clean. It's available in black, grey, navy, pink, purple, coffee and teal.

    6. Baby K'tan Cotton Baby Carrier: The best stretchy wrap carrier

    Price: £48 | Buy now from Amazon

    This baby carrier has all the benefits of a full wrap with the convenience of a structured baby carrier. The Baby K'Tan is perfect for tiny newborns because the position and fit moulds to your, and their, body size and shape. This offers a snug yet natural fit, even as the baby grows. For additional support, the Baby K'Tan's bag doubles up as a belt that ties around your waist.

    The Baby K'Tan comes in small, medium and large in black, white, grey, purple and denim. It offers five carrying positions and supports babies from 8lb up to 35lb. Our only complaint about the Baby K'Tan baby carrier is that, because of the natural, elasticated support, you'll struggle to bend down or lean forward with the baby in the wrap without feeling like they may fall. That's one of the real benefits of structured baby carriers.

    Key specs – Weight capacity: 3.6–16kg (7.5–35lb); Positions: 6 (kangaroo position for newborns to support their neck, hug position with the baby facing upright and inwards, explore position so the baby can look around with one arm out, adventure position facing outwards and hip position)

    7. Osprey Poco: The best hiking baby carrier

    Price: £251 | Buy now from Amazon

    When you want to take your baby out on longer trips where the terrain won’t be suitable for a buggy, the Osprey Poco is the carrier you want. It comes equipped with many of the same features as Osprey’s excellent rucksacks, including padded straps, a hip belt and a suspended mesh back system that keeps you from getting too sweaty, making it the most comfortable way to carry your kid over long distances. That’s something to which we can testify after several long walks in the woods and a day at the zoo where the Poco was in constant use.

    Your child will also be comfortable, thanks to the adjustable seat and stirrups that mean the carrier can be configured to suit their size and weight. We found that our baby even dropped off regularly in the Poco despite the lofty position giving her an excellent, stimulating view of the world.

    The carrier is equipped for both wet and sunny weather, with an integrated rain cover and a built-in sunshade that has a UPF 50+ rating. The kickstand means you can use the Poco as a handy seat for your child when there aren’t other options, and there are easy access mesh pockets on the hip belt for essentials like crackers and a dummy. There’s not much storage overall, though, so if you want more room then the Poco Plus, which has a larger main compartment, is the better choice.

    Key specs – Weight capacity: Including child, gear and pack (3.49kg) combined is 22kg. For children able to support their own head. Built-in sunshade with UPF 50+ rating.

    8. Dreamgenii Snuggleroo Baby carrier: The best carrier for travelling

    Price: £45 | Buy now from Amazon

    This is a great option if you like the softness of a wrap but would prefer something which offers a little more support. Suitable for babies from birth to 12 months, the Snuggleroo’s wide, comfy, adjustable straps allow it to adapt as your baby grows, providing four different carrying positions.

    It’s a great option for those early days when you want to keep baby close but is also supportive enough to carry bigger babies comfortably. The support band also cleverly doubles up as a storage bag so you can pop it neatly under the pram or in a bag when it’s not in use; great for travelling and holidays.

    The design of this cotton carrier complies with the International Hip Dysplasia Institute’s guidelines, so it allows baby’s hips to fall or move apart on each side, while supporting their thighs and leaving the knees bent. Our only complaint is that we found the straps a bit tricky to work out initially, so make sure you give yourself time to practice before you head out for the day.

    Key specs – Weight capacity: Newborn to 15kg; Positions: 4

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