Best baby carriers: Which baby carrier is best?

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  • Wondering what the best baby carriers are so you can ditch the pushchair once in a while? We’re here to help make that all important purchase much easier!

    This baby essential is a great buy as the best baby carriers will keep your hands free and your baby close to your chest – and hopefully the warmth which means they’ll dose off easier! A handy baby sleep aid for those first few months!

    If you’re looking to buy a baby carrier, whether for yourself or as a practical baby shower gift, we’ve rounded up some of the best baby carriers for sale in the UK at the moment. You’ll also find answers to any questions you may have about baby carriers below, courtesy Emily Williamson, a professional Carrying Consultant, award-winning entrepreneur, mum of two and founder of South London Slings.

    Are baby carriers safe for newborns?

    “Yes baby carriers are safe for newborns. Research has proven that babies who are close to their parent’s chest cry less, especially during the evening hours so don’t just use your carrier during the daytime, use it at home and when out and about,” explains Emily.

    “The more you wear your baby, the happier little one will be. They will also spend more time in a quiet alert state, which is the state in which a baby learns the most.

    “When babies spend less time crying, they spend more time learning and interacting with the environment around them.

    “Babies who are worn in a baby carrier are also able to see everything their parents see, hear and say and become more involved in your everyday life.

    “Having your baby close to you also allows you to respond to their cues much more quickly and easily. All of this can help to develop your babies cognitive and social skills and improve their overall wellbeing.”

    Are baby carriers safe for older babies?

    “Babywearing is generally very safe (hooray!), but as a parent you may wonder which slings are the most safe for your baby.”

    What can you do to ensure you baby is safe whilst in a carrier?

    To keep our babies safe in any wrap or carrier we need to make sure that they are protected from falling and from suffocation.

    The industry standard T.I.C.K.S. guidelines give you a clear checklist to follow to ensure that your baby is held safely in any sling, wrap or carrier.

    safety guidelines for the best baby carriers

    What makes a sling safe?

    A safe sling or carrier is one which secures a baby so that they cannot fall, and supports their body to ensure that their airways are protected.

    A good quality wrap or carrier will be made from materials and techniques that have been tested to hold the weight of a baby.  Used correctly, your baby will not fall.

    But to support your baby’s body safely, preventing any flopping or slumping which could compromise a baby’s airways, a carrier needs to fit snugly around both you and your baby.  Your baby’s spine and head should be fully stabilised against the movements of your body, and their face and nose should always be uncovered.

    Baby carrier safety

    Whatever sling, wrap or carrier you use, here’s what you need to check to keep your baby safe and secure:

    Ensure there is no risk of your baby falling

    • Make sure that the carrier and carrying position you are using is appropriate for your child’s age or stage.
    • Ensure that all buckles are fully clicked closed and fastened in the correct places.
    • In a wrap, ensure that the fabric is fully supporting your babies back and bum.
    • Your wrap or carrier is adjusted to tightly hold your baby high and snug against your chest.
    • Follow manufacturer’s instructions or seek advice from a professional carrying consultant.

    Support your baby’s head and airways

    • Check your baby’s head is supported in line with their spine, and will stay stable as you move around.
    • Never cover your baby’s face, nose or mouth with fabric – make sure you can always see that your baby’s face and nose are clear from obstruction.
    • Make sure your baby is held high and snug on your body, with their head close enough for you to kiss the top of it.
    • Fasten or tie your carrier tightly to support your baby close against your body and prevent them from dropping or slumping.

    Are baby carriers necessary?

    Are you thinking, ‘Can’t I just hold my baby?’ Or, ‘What about a pushchair?’

    Well Emily, who has over 10 years’ experience with baby-wearing is passionate about the benefits of using baby carriers for both the baby and the wearer! And it’s not just about your arms getting tired!

    “Every baby loves to be close to their mum and dad and every new parent knows the struggle of constantly carrying a baby in your arms and trying to get anything else done. But there is an easy solution that allows you to keep your baby close but leave your hands free… try using a baby carrier or wrap!

    “Baby carriers and wraps have been used for centuries to allow parents to get stuff done without leaving their baby alone, it is basic human survival, how else did parents work the land or fetch water and take their baby with them? This is a lesson from the past that fits perfectly into our busy modern lives.”

    father with son in baby carrier doing laundry

    Benefits of the best baby carriers

    Emily has summarised her top 5 reasons to use a baby carrier:

    1. Go anywhere

    Going off the beaten track? Navigating busy city streets? Exploring new horizons? Leave the buggy at home and use a baby carrier for complete flexibility. If you can walk it then your baby can go with you, no worrying if the buggy suspension can handle the terrain, or trying to push your baby through busy crowds.

    2. Your baby will cry less!

    A popular reason for baby wearing parents is that babies tend to cry less when carried. A baby will be more contented if they are close to you, being soothed by the rocking motion of your movements.

    3. It is great for baby’s health and development

    The upright position of baby carriers aids healthy digestion and prevents flat head syndrome which can effect babies that lie down flat for extended periods. Plus, a properly fitted carrier is also beneficial for hip health and helps to strengthen babies neck.

    Baby carriers also help improve social and cognitive development. Your baby can interact with the world and learn about the environment around them from the comfort and safety of staying close to you.

    4. It releases happy hormones!

    Possibly the best reason to carry your baby, it helps to beat the baby blues and fights post-natal depression. This is the result of the hormone Oxytocin, commonly known as the happy hormone. Oxytocin gets released when you hold your baby close to you. This helps you bond and benefits both you and your baby.

    5. Share the love

    A baby carrier or wrap can help dad and other family members to share the load and bond with baby. This gives mum a much needed break and a chance to relax and recuperate in peace too!

    Father with baby son in sling at home

    Forward facing or inward facing baby carries – which is best?

    “For the first several months, your baby will be more than content with being carried facing inward towards you. From a developmental point of view, the baby’s primary tasks are related initially to adaptation to life outside the womb. So it certainly does not need excessive stimulation of facing forwards.

    “At around 2-3 months, the baby’s main interest will be the human face. So the inward facing position is ideal for this. This is because they will have a clear view of the caregiver’s hopefully exciting and stimulating face. The baby can also observe the caregiver’s face when she/he is communicating with others, providing the baby with learning experiences.

    “The age that you can switch your baby to front facing outwards is around 6 months old. This is roughly when they have good head and neck control. However, some babies will clearly signal through protests earlier on that the front inward facing position is no longer suitable to provide adequate visual stimulation!”

    Where to buy the best baby carriers

    There are so many different choices to choose from when it comes to buying a carrier – from style to colour. So, below we’ve listed some of the most popular buys online at the moment!

    Before buying a sling, wrap or baby carrier, Emily advises that you check for these basic essentials first:

    • Check the carrier has comfortable support for the baby’s spine, head and safe with clear airways at all times.
    • Good fit for comfortable weight distribution. A sling or carrier will only be comfortable if it fits your shape.  Wraps or less padded/structured options which contour to your body can offer excellent weight distribution
    • If you don’t find your carrier easy to use, you won’t use it. Everyone finds different things easy so check you can get your carrier on safely and fitting comfortably by yourself. Get expert help if you need it.