One of the best bits of kit any new parent can have in their armoury is the baby carrier.

These come in various carnations – from wraps to slings to actual seats – but essentially, they all strap onto a parent or carer, enabling them a hands free experience while the baby sits tight, snugly and safely.

Carriers also encourage bonding – your bodies are right next to each other and the baby’s head should be close enough to kiss in a front carry position.

Wraps are perhaps initially more intimidating because they have no corresponding clips or zips or straps that provide a sense of intuitiveness. These require a bit of patience but are simple and enduringly popular.

When shopping for a baby carrier we recommend looking for items with endorsement from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI), have plenty of support for the wearer – not just the baby – and consider what the maximum weight it can carry will be.

Here are our ten best baby carriers.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

Infantino go forward carrier: £59.99, Argos

On first encountering the Infantino go foward you’d be forgiven for likening it to a backpack. It’s remarkably sturdy-looking with back and shoulder straps that are wide and puffy – both very good signs – in our experience, since this will go a long way to preventing sore shoulders and other back-related aches and pains.

We spent a good few minutes before we put the carrier on just navigating its rich and varied landscape of clips, buttons, poppers, hooks, a detachable muslin hood and even a rubber teether shaped like two leaves. There’s a lot going on, yes, but it’s easy to put on, tighten or loosen.

We tried all the ergonomic carrying positions available – inward facing, outward facing and back carrying and found all to be comfortable, even when wrapped around a large 2.5-year-old who likes a good wriggle. The carrier has a minimum child weight of 3.5kg and a maximum of 18.1kg.

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Amawrap baby sling: From 39.99, Amawrap​

The story behind Amawrap – of a woman battling post-natal depression and finding that the close contact of baby wearing went a long way to ease her symptoms so much so that she made her own baby wraps and started a business out of it – is nothing short of inspiring.

It comes in its own bag, complete with a long strap so even when not in use it’s self-contained and easy to carry. It is 100 per cent cotton, making it soft and light. It feels less stretchy than some of the other wraps on the market but the benefit of this is that it won’t become saggy and baggy over time. Most reassuring of all, it is used in local hospitals for premature babies.

In terms of using the wrap, it does initially appear daunting as it’s essentially one long strip of fabric. But it does come with a comprehensive instruction manual complete with a step-by-step guide in colour, which we found more than sufficient, especially as there is a tonne of literature included about baby safety. The Amawrap website includes a brilliantly detailed video to help guide new parents on how to use the wrap. However, if you’re still in a muddle (which let’s face it any new parent can be) Amawrap offers a one-on-one service via phone or video call to make sure you can wrap right!

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Moby evolution wrap: £44, Kidly​

Faced with one large swathe of fabric which you know can be fashioned to safely hold your baby is pretty daunting – and many parents balk at the idea of using a wrap in case they do it wrong.

However, most wraps will come with comprehensive instructions. And this one certainly does, as well as diagrams of unsafe wrapping. So, after a couple of attempts, we got the hang of the basic “hug hold” wrap.

The material is heavy and soft with plenty of stretch in it. It is, after all, suitable for newborns right up to toddler age (eight to 30 lbs). We loved how practical this is – it takes up very little room, can easily be machine washed and ironed.

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Caboo lite: £54.99, Jojo Maman Bebe​

This comes in two main parts: the first, a criss-cross of fabric threaded through two sets of rings, then another piece which acts not only as a bag for the first piece, but as an additional support to it once being worn by wrapping around the already secured baby.

If this sounds complex, it kind of is. We have to admit to putting this on incorrectly a few times – there was a bit of head-scratching and huffing but once it’s on (cross in front) and baby in, it feels comfortable and most importantly, secure.

The fabric is light and the rings make it really easy to adjust the tightness, but not the most elegant looking thing on the market.

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i-angel hipseat carrier: £99.99, Argos

The hip seat on the i-angel – for infants between three months and three-years-old – is genius. It looks a little bit cumbersome but who cares when it does such a good job of literally taking the weight off the hips.

We walked for miles with a one-year-old in this and our body barely noticed: no raw shoulders or a sore back or buckling knee for us.

We found the design to be a real talking point, with strangers stopping us to ask questions about the seat – “it looks like a little saddle!” – on more than three occasions over the course of a week.

The top part of the carrier can be removed thanks to a zip, leaving just the hip carrier around a parent or carer’s waist. We found this to be slightly pointless because it meant we had to use our arms to support the infant when we could have just been using the straps.

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ErgoBaby omni 360: £154, Ergobaby

Boasting no fewer than four different positions for little ones from newborn to toddler, this carrier is certainly in it for the long haul and gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

Developed with doctors, the omni 360 is safe for a baby’s hips and suitable for use while breastfeeding while in two of the positions. The seat is designed with Velcro so that it adapts to the infant’s growth incrementally, meaning you won’t need to put any insert in – unlike many other carriers on the market.

We found it easy to navigate, despite all the bells and whistles: corresponding buttons, Velcro tabs and the like. We tried both the “H” strap configuration and the cross-strap configuration but saw no real different in how the three-month-old baby was being held.

There are a whole range of lovely designs to choose from and while we know that there’s more to it than good looks, these carriers are really beautiful.

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Baby Bjorn mini carrier: £79.99, John Lewis & Partners

The first thing we noticed about this was the jersey fabric – soft, light and squashy to the touch. It is also light and small – the ideal first carrier, suitable for babies up to a year old. This couldn’t be easier to assemble and use, with easily adjustable waistband and shoulder straps so that it can be used by different carers without much fuss.

When facing inwards, the baby’s head is supported by the main body of the carrier, but, should you want him or her to face outwards this part folds down so as to not obstruct the view! We loved the flatness of the straps on the back because it makes it easy to wear underneath coats or jackets.

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Stokke my carrier: £79, Stokke​

When we first opened the box to this carrier we were temporarily overwhelmed by the number of clips, straps, poppers and zips there are. However, once you’ve got the back section in place, the rest is fairly intuitive. Taking the time to ensure “set up” means that you’re good to go each subsequent time you want to use it.

We really appreciated the large lower back panel as we really felt the benefits from this support. We loved the option this gave for back carrying infants of nine months upwards – or when they can sit upright unaided. This added a facet that many carriers don’t have. It comes in a palette of muted tones but we like it best in red. Made from 100 per cent organically grown cotton and breathable mesh.

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Izmi baby carrier: £80, Izmi​

This struck us as a perfect meeting of a wrap and a carrier. The fabric is sturdy but not bulky, but it is thin and lightweight and works on the basis that rather than the baby fitting into it, it fits around the baby.

Suitable for use from birth, right up until a child can walk, little bottoms and heads are carefully and fully supported. It boasts a host of different carrying positions – including back carry – but without much fanfare. We were really impressed by how much this could do with such a seemingly simple design, and, crucially, so little bulk. This is superb value for money.

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Artipoppe zeitgeist baby leopard classic: £300, Artipoppe​

This is definitely one for the fashion-conscious parent – a gorgeous leopard print piece that just so happens to be an ergonomic, safe carrier for babies of about 44lbs. It is also 100 per cent vegan and cotton.

Even the box it comes in oozes luxury in the manner of a designer handbag – a sturdy matt black affair with gold embossing on the lid, and a little dust case for the carrier itself, which boast gold studs and an embroidered peacock feather.

Little ones can be carried facing in or out depending on their mood or sleepiness. We found this super easy to put on. You won’t even need the instructions, it’s completely intuitive. The baby felt secure with weight evenly distributed and the straps, both around the waist and over the shoulders, are padded so even after hours of wear there’s no digging in. A pleasure to behold.

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The verdict: Baby carriers

In terms of value for money the Infantino go forward is going to serve you best in terms of longevity and ease of use. If you are dead set on having a wrap carrier the amawrap has so many ethical credentials to recommend it and a low price point. The most comfortable? The i-angel, without a doubt.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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