Types and what to look for
Parents who tried out the carriers told us a lot about their likes and dislikes and what they found easy and difficult. Carrier types have pros and cons, summarised below along with features to look for.
First, here are some general points that apply to all carriers.
Try before you buy
Try any carrier that you are considering to see if it suits you. Ask friends if you can borrow theirs. Check with shops and mail order companies that you will be able to return the carrier (undamaged, unstained and in its original packaging) if it turns out to be uncomfortable. See the Summaries for information on exchange policies of suppliers of the carriers we tested.
Fittings, fastenings and comfort
The position of the carrier and baby affects both your comfort and balance. A single strap across the shoulder made many parents feel lopsided. Low weight puts a strain on your back. If the baby is held centrally and fairly close to your body, so he or she does not move much the effect on your balance should be less.
- a carrier that holds the baby in a comfortable position
- a carrier that will fit all those who will regularly carry the baby
- soft padded shoulder and waist straps that are fairly wide and don't twist. Unpadded straps tended to cut in, making shoulders, necks and backs ache
- fastenings that you can do up and undo easily, on your front or side where you can reach them easily. See fastenings
- straps that can be easily adjusted, if necessary with the baby in the carrier
- a waist strap to take some of the weight from your shoulders and neck
- good length straps, but not so long that they trail on the floor
- carriers adjustable to babies' growth
- a washable carrier - preferably by machine
- colours that don't need washing too often. Beware dark colours show up dribble
- a light and foldable carrier if you plan to pack it for journeys
- a design you are all happy to be seen in
'I would feel self conscious using it out, especially with an older baby'
What types to look for
Next Page: Front carriers
Next Section: Buying guide