We review 10 baby slings and carriers, priced from $79 to $200.
A baby carrier or sling is a great way to keep your hands free while enjoying close contact with your child.
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It's important to note that different styles of baby carrier suit different body shapes and sizes, for both parent and baby. Try on a few different ones - ask to try your friends' carriers, or try different models in stores. When choosing one, you really should try a few different models before you buy. Correct fit is vital, not just for baby but for parents too, so both of you are comfortable, safe and secure.
And that means both parents need to try it on – in a recent CHOICE survey 23% of dads reported noticeable discomfort, the baby almost falling out or even injury to the baby, when wearing a carrier or sling. So, if dad is going to wear the carrier or sling too, it needs to be adjustable in order to fit both parents.
We haven’t scored the carriers and slings or recommended any particular models, since our trial was fairly small and selecting one is a personal decision. To help you decide which ones to try, we show how many mums in our trial would consider buying each product, and which products were most preferred by mums (and babies) of different physiques and experiences. We've also included a physiotherapist's assessment of each product.
For more information about transport, see Travel.
- Pouch A padded carrier (pouch) of firm or soft material worn on the body. These allow your baby to snuggle up in the face-in position. Many carriers also allow you to position your baby face out, which allows more freedom of movement and greater visibility for an older baby.
- Sling Offers not just the face-in and face-out positions, but usually also the “peapod” position, where a young baby is carried wrapped around or across your body.
- Wrap or Mei Tai A long cloth strip wrapped and tied off around the body across both shoulders, or a cloth panel with four fabric tying straps.
Safe and supported
A carrier or sling should support a baby sufficiently without overly restricting head, leg and arm movement. The ideal “flexed” posture for a baby is in a “cuddling” position with legs splayed (but not too widely) and supported around the thighs and bottom. Head support is particularly important for younger babies, who have little or no head and neck control.
If you’re considering a sling, remember that babies have suffocated in these. At most risk are premature babies or those under the age of four months, or with low birth weight or breathing difficulties. In these cases a pouch or wrap may be a better option. Avoid positioning your baby with their face pressed against the fabric or your body, or lying with a curved back with chin tucked against their chest.
- Baby First Elite Cruiser
- Babybjorn Miracle 096065
- Breeze Baby Ring Sling
- Britax Safe N Sound K011000-AU
- Ergobaby Performance BCP02500
- Hugabub Pocketless Wrap
- Manduca Classic
- Minimonkey 4-In-1
- Natures Sway Organics
- Phil & Ted Pepe
Previously tested in 2008:
- Australian Breastfeeding Association Meh Tai Baby Sling
- Australian Breastfeeding Association Simplicity Sling
- Baba Sling Standard
- Baby Rock Comfy Carry Sling
- BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Active
- BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Synergy
- Ergo Baby Baby Carrier
- Evenflo Snugli Comfort Vent Soft Carrier 0441638
- Hug-a-Bub Baby Sling
- Kapoochi Classic Carry Pouch
- Love n Care Baby Papoose
- Tetra Comfy Baby Carrier
Brands not tested
We were limited in how many carriers and slings we could include, so other brands such as Chicco, Combi, Mamas and Papas, and Ryco (Target) missed out this time. While we can’t offer specific advice on untested models, the general advice in this report will help you assess them.
How we test
We put out a call via Facebook for interested parents with babies aged 0-12 months, and had more than 100 responses (all from mothers – no dads, unfortunately). We selected 10 mums, covering a range of heights, builds, baby ages and personal carrier/sling preferences. They assessed 10 carriers and slings in the CHOICE office to find out which are most comfortable, secure and easy to use.
Physiotherapist Karen Herbert also joined us to observe the mums and babies using the carriers and slings and gave her expert opinion. Karen is a UK-trained chartered physiotherapist with over 20 years’ experience. She’s currently employed at the Sydney Children’s Hospital as a Senior Physiotherapist specialising in child development and neurology.
The parents all had experience using baby carriers, and their babies ranged from less than three months old to over 10 months old. They assessed each product for ease of use, comfort and security while carrying their babies on their front, with the baby facing inwards and (where possible) outward as well. The trial included walking around the neighbourhood, going up and down stairs and bending over.
The trialists gave each carrier an overall rating after assessing the carriers for ease of use, comfort and security.
Ease of use
- Following the supplied instructions.
- Putting the carrier on and taking it off.
- Fitting the baby into the carrier and taking them out.
- Doing up, undoing and adjusting the straps, belts and buckles.
- Taking the carrier off without disturbing a sleeping baby.
- Overall comfort for the wearer and the baby, when walking up and down stairs and on level ground.
- The comfort of the straps, belts and buckles.
- Overall security of their baby in the carrier.
- While unsupported by both hands.
- While the wearer was bending down.
- The security of the head support.
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