baby carrier buying guide

Now that baby's arrived, it can be hard to put them down (after all, you've just transported them around for a whole nine months!). Many newborns find the gentle movement of being carried and cradled soothing,[1] since it's everything they've known so far. However, if your arms are full with baby in your arms, how on earth do you get stuff done?

Pop your little one in a sling or carrier to free up your hands. This way you can do everything from shopping or walking the dog to a few household tasks. With baby snoozing happily in their carrier, you'll have two hands free to make a cup of tea after the housework.

baby in a baby carrier
baby in a wrap sling carrier

baby slings and wrap carriers

Babywearing is a much-loved way of bonding with your little one through physical closeness. To hold them in place – and keep your hands free – pick a cosy baby sling. The soft fabric wraps around baby to strap them in the right position and crosses over your back for ample support. With a little adjustment of the stretchy fabric you can also sit baby in the right position for breastfeeding.

When your little one becomes a slightly bigger one, look out for hip seats. These are perfect for parents who want to keep on carrying their babies but need something a bit sturdier to support them.

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inward facing baby carrier

lightweight baby carriers

With a growing baby onboard, you already have enough to carry around. Especially if you're wearing baby throughout the day, a lightweight carrier like a fabric sling can make all the difference.

If you’re going on your first holiday with baby, a lightweight baby carrier is the perfect travel companion. They're easy to pack and are comfy to wear in warmer climes, thanks to breathable fabric blends. That being said, it can still get pretty warm inside a carrier on a hot day.

Make sure you're both in cool clothing, and regularly check baby's neck for overheating.

baby in moby baby carrier
moby fit front facing baby carrier

moby fit carrier

ergobaby 360 baby carrier

ergobaby 360 carrier

front facing baby carriers

Many parents start off with a soft inward-facing wrap carrier, which helps support baby's tiny back and neck. At around five months – when baby can hold up their own head – they're ready for a front facing baby carrier.

Facing outwards is so exciting for your inquisitive passenger, as they'll get a great view of the world, plus little arms and legs are freer to wave and wiggle. If they get a bit sleepy, simply face them inwards again for a reassuring snuggle. Adjustable straps and padding take care of your own comfort, making sure the weight is spread evenly across your back.

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baby in a back carrier

baby carrier age suitability

With an inward-facing design, your baby should be able to snuggle in their carrier from day one, or very soon after. The minimum weight varies between brands and models, so check yours before popping in a newborn. When your baby's about five months old, they can face forwards (until they’re about 16lbs).

For hands-free adventures, try a back carrier. Baby back packs usually suit children from six months to three years old, and are ideal for curious toddlers who like a good view. A baby backpack is heavier than a wrap carrier, but padded straps and waist belts give you plenty of support.

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baby in a baby bjorn carrier

key considerations

Before choosing a carrier, think about when you'll use it. Do you need a babywearing carrier to keep your baby close, or is it simply a mode of transport? If you’re babywearing, a wrap-style carrier is cosy and good for breastfeeding. If you want one that grows with your child, consider a three-way carrier. Equally, look for designs that give you plenty of back support and are easy to clip and unclip.

Whether you opt for a sling or carrier, it needs to hold baby's legs in the right place (think 'frog' and you've got the idea). Choose a design that supports baby's thigh up to the knee joint, and allows their hips to sit in the natural spread position. This will help benefit healthy, natural hip development.

If you're not sure, you can look for a carrier that has been approved by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

newborn baby body suit

buying a baby carrier

While your main priority might be to keep baby safe and cosy, you need to be comfy too. You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without checking the fit’s right, and it's the same when picking a carrier.

To try out different shapes, sizes and fits of carriers, come into your local mothercare store – book an appointment with a personal shopper today. A personal shopper can help you find the right type for your little one, and make sure it's easy to use.

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[1]. Study finds gently stroking babies can relieve their pain, Emma's Diary, [Accessed May 2019]