Whether you buy into the theories about baby carriers making babies cry less, or you’re more into the convenience of using your hands to get stuff done rather than endlessly rocking a grouchy baby, baby carriers are a brilliant invention. The best baby carrier keeps baby close, safely and comfortably for both of you. It’s also easy care and will last 2-3 years. We’ve compiled Australia’s top rated baby carriers, including wraps, from hours of research, including those judged best by real Aussie mums.
How we picked
The first thing we discovered about baby carriers is that there are a lot of types. There are carriers, which are sometimes called pouches. These are usually soft semi-structured carriers that allow baby to face in, and then graduate to other carrying positions including forward facing and on your back. You normally slip your arms into the straps, like a rucksack.
There are slings which is a long fabric strip worn across one shoulder. There are wraps, which is a long fabric strip that’s wrapped and tied around your body. There are also backpack carriers which have a rigid frame and keep little one high on your back. These are most useful for hiking. Our guide includes carriers and wraps. We didn’t find a highly rated sling and we didn’t investigate backpack carriers.
The second thing we discovered is that baby carriers haven’t been independently tested in Australia. So, we turned to the greatest source of information: parents. We began with the Australian Mother & Baby Magazine Awards 2018. Their winners have been tried, tested and judged best by real mums, babies and an expert panel. Testing involved being used for over 6 months in 3 different settings, before being ranked on their quality, value for money, user-friendliness and innovation.
We also looked at Mum Central, an Australian lifestyle website dedicated to women, parenting and more, to see what they recommend.
Armed with our list of mum-approved baby carriers, we turned to ProductReview.com.au. Ideally, we wanted around 100 reviews and 4 stars or more. Which is when we discovered the third thing about baby carriers: we couldn’t find any with 100 or so reviews. Probably because there are so many of them and everyone has a different preference for the carrier that suits them and their baby best.
We swung by Canstar Blue, an Aussie consumer review and comparison website, to see which baby carrier brands are most loved by Australians, although this didn’t give us specific carriers.
Armed with all this information, we looked for features we thought were important. The best baby carrier needs to be comfortable, well-priced and cover a good age range to represent good value for money. Ideally, it doesn’t need a newborn insert because that’s 1 more thing for sleep-deprived parents to lose. It also should be rated highly by real Aussie parents. We didn’t judge a carrier on its user friendliness, because this is so subjective. Although wraps have a steeper learning curve than structured carriers, once you’re used to it, it should be easy to use.
Judging the carriers by these criteria, we came up with Australia’s top baby carriers.
The 9 best baby carriers in Australia
Important features to consider
Whichever type of carrier you choose, here are some features to look out for.
There are no Australian safety standards for baby carriers. Other standards you can look for are the European standard EN 13209-2 or the US standard ASTM F2236.
To keep baby safe in a carrier, avoid pressing baby’s face against the fabric or your body, and avoid positioning them with a curved back with their chin tucked against their chest.
Slings can be a safe way to carry your baby, if used correctly, but they can pose a suffocation risk, especially to babies under 4 months. To use a sling safely, check out Product Safety Australia’s TICKS checklist:
T - Tight: Slings should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you.
I - In view at all times: You should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down.
C - Close enough to kiss: By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head.
K - Keep chin off the chest: A baby should never be curled so that their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing.
S - Supported back: The baby’s back should be supported in a natural position so their tummy and chest are against you.
Another safety consideration is hip dysplasia, which is where the thigh bone misaligns with the hip bone. You might know babies experiencing mild cases. It can be made worse by poor positioning in a baby carrier which lacks enough hip support or if it keeps hips too close together or spread too far apart.
A lot of the carriers we reviewed are certified hip healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute which ‘recognise products that encourage healthy hip development’.
Quickly following safety is comfort. Structured carriers should have thick padded straps and waist bands for support. Ideally, they’re adjustable to fit you, and a range of babywearers, perfectly.
Wraps and slings should use breathable fabric that evenly distributes baby’s weight across your body.
Age and weight range
Baby carriers are most useful when baby is small and immobile. When you’ve got an active toddler, they probably don’t want to be constrained on mum. Choosing a carrier that’s suitable from newborn without requiring a separate insert is helpful. Note the minimum weight limit. Most of the ones we reviewed are from 3-3.5kg. To get the most out of your investment, some baby carriers will handle up to 20kgs, which is around 3 years.
Because babies are messy, it’s important to have an easy-care baby carrier. To us, that means machine washable. Bonus points for being tumble dryable or quick dry, especially as your baby carrier can become a treasured, well-used item that you need. A lot.
What you get if you spend more
The baby carriers we reviewed range in price from under $100 to over $300. Pay more, and you might get more carrying positions and different fabric. But fundamentally it’ll do the same thing, not any safer.
More carrying positions
Most of the baby carriers we reviewed offered 2-3 carrying positions. Usually front facing-in, front facing-out and back. Spend more and you’ll get more carrying positions, usually thanks to ‘hip seats’ which allow baby to perch on a padded seat strapped around your hips. Which is a great feature if you’re planning to use the carrier as baby gets older and heavier.
Some carriers offer upgrades to different fabric. Normally, it’s mesh-like fabric that’s lightweight and breathable. Most carriers are made from cotton, which is renowned for its lightweight, breathable nature anyway. This mesh upgrade could provide extra ventilation on hot summer days.
More structured support
The most affordable baby carriers we reviewed are wraps, coming in under $100. This means they don’t have any shoulder or waist straps or bucket seats for baby. Instead, baby is literally tied to you. If they’re well-designed, they should be as comfortable to use as a structured baby carrier.
Comfort isn’t the only consideration with a structured vs non-structured baby carrier. A structured one can be easier to use – you simply put your arms through the straps, pop baby in, do up the straps and you’re on your way. In comparison, a non-structured one needs you to learn how to correctly and safely wrap baby up in it – no buckles, clips or straps here.
Teething pads and dribble guards
If baby is teething and producing rivers of drools, teething pads and dribble guards can be a useful feature. They’ll protect the carrier and your clothes from mess and should be easily detachable and washable. They’re not essential though.
When you’re wearing a carrier, you might find it hard to reach into your bag or pockets. A storage pocket on the carrier means you can always keep all your essential small items in easy reach . Again, a nice to have but not a must-have.
Covers or hoods
Shading baby from the harsh Aussie sun is a key consideration. Most carriers have a built-in shade that you can pull up and over baby. Others comes with a separate sun cover or hood, which tends to be a more expensive, yet less convenient feature – seriously, who needs something else to not lose?
Best Overall: ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier
There’s a lot to love about the ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier. Let’s start with the fact that you can use it from newborn (if baby weighs more than 3.2kg), with no need for an infant insert. It supports 4 different carrying positions: front facing in, front facing out, hip and back carry. Its bucket seat adapts as baby grows to support baby’s correct hip position. This isn’t a baseless claim; it’s been acknowledged as a "hip healthy" product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
It offers a baby privacy hood with a UPF 50+ rating, crossable shoulder straps for personalised fit, extra lumbar support for comfortable carrying, multiple muted yet modern colour options, plus a detachable pouch for handy storage. It’s also breastfeeding-friendly meaning you can breastfeed in it without taking it off. It’ll take little ones up to 20kg, or around 36 months and you can even machine wash it. Phew.
As if all those features weren’t enough, it’s the Gold Winner Baby Carrier for the Australian Mother & Baby Awards 2018, comes in as Mum Central’s 4th best baby carrier and has a great 4.8-star rating on ProductReview.com.au – although this is from a limited number of reviews. Oh, and ergobaby topped Canstar Blue’s customer satisfaction ratings for baby carriers for the fourth year in a row. It landed five stars for overall satisfaction, comfort and support, fit, durability and flexibility.
A new version of the Omni has been released, the Omni 360 Baby Carrier: Cool Air Mesh. ergobaby claims this Cool Air Mesh is breathable, lightweight and perfectly suited for the Australian climate. It costs $10 more for this version. There are no other differences. Some of the reviews on ProductReview.com.au relate to this version and heap on the praise. Whichever you choose, we love the ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier, as do Aussies mums. We reckon you will too.
Why buy the ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier
Use from newborn – with a front carry – facing in position, you can have your newborn safely cradled against your chest. There’s no need for a newborn insert, but baby must weigh at least 3.2kgs.
4 positions – it supports multiple carrying position which means it grows with your baby, representing good value for money. You can front carry (facing in and out) plus hip and back carry.
Breastfeeding-friendly – we’re all about the convenience and being able to breastfeed without taking the Omni off is super convenient.
Machine washable – babies are messy. You can clean the Omni up quickly and easily by popping it in the washing machine.
Privacy hood – for naps on the go. The hood is also rated UPF 50+, making it perfect for the harsh Aussie sun.
Customisable fit – crossable shoulder straps allow you to personalise the fit, and make the Omni suitable for mum, dad, gran and more.
Supportive – the lumbar support gives extra back comfort.
Hip healthy – acknowledged as a "hip healthy" product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, you can feel confident that baby is safe and comfortable.
Longevity – the Omni carries little ones up to 20kgs, or around 36 months. Which means you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
The not-so-good bits
Price: at RRP $289, the Omni is the second-most expensive baby carrier we reviewed. It’s only topped by the Pognae at RRP $349. But for its flexibility, quality and award wins, we reckon it’s worth the investment.
If you’re after a semi-structured baby carrier that you can use from newborn, look no further than the ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier. It offers great flexibility, thanks to supporting 4 different carrying positions, plus customisable shoulder straps. The lumbar support provides extra comfort. Acknowledged as ‘hip healthy’, baby will be comfortable too. With it being suitable for use for little ones up to 20kgs (or around 36 months), it represents great value for money. Oh, and did we mention it’s award-winning and loved by Aussie mums too?
Also Great: Hug-a-Bub Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier
A less structured option, the Hug-a-Bub Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier allows you to cuddle baby close. It softly and supportively cradles baby from top to toe. It supports 3 positions, but they’re all baby-facing-you. It can be used from birth, with a minimum weight of 3.5kg. It supports up to 14kg, which is around 2 years old.
It’s made from 100% certified organic cotton, in a range of neutral, natural colours, making it good for baby’s delicate skin and the planet. Cotton is also breathable and easy care. Treat it like a good quality t-shirt by machine washing and tumble drying it on low. Its pocket, which offers extra support for bigger or heavier babies, doubles as a self-storage pouch. When you don’t need it, tuck all the fabric into the pocket and it becomes portable and convenient. It claims to be a ‘hip healthy’ baby carrier in numerous places on its website, but we can’t see it listed.
The Hug-a-Bub Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier is a baby carrier with a conscience. Every Hug-a-Bub bought plants 1 tree. Plus, buy the Rainbow wrap and $5 will be donated to Rainbow Families. Hug-a-Bub is a ProductReview.com.au award-winning brand, with 4.5 stars from over 200 reviews. It’s also Canstar Blue’s 5th most popular brand for baby carriers, getting 4 stars overall and in all other categories including value for money, comfort and support and flexibility. With a RRP of $99, the Hug-a-Bub Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier is a popular, brilliantly priced baby carrier that keeps baby comfy and close for up to 2 years.
Why the Hug-a-Bub Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier is worth considering
Baby bonding – Hug-a-Bub is very much about bonding with your baby. The Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier keeps baby snuggled close to your chest, front-facing only as “Hug-a-Bub does not recommend parents face their baby away from them, as it is reduces the opportunity for neural-activating face to face interactions”.
Eco-credentials – Hug-a-Bub plants a tree for every carrier you buy. It also only uses 100% certified organic cotton that’s also Fair Trade.
No buckles or straps – or anything that might catch baby’s sensitive skin.
100% cotton – makes the carrier lightweight and breathable, great for the hot Aussie weather.
Local business – originally designed in beautiful Byron Bay 18 years ago, it’s still a proudly Australian product.
Price – with a RRP of $99, it’s outrageously affordable, especially as you can get up to 2 years of use from it.
Storage pocket – the Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier folds into its own storage pocket, making it easy to carry out and store, when not in use.
Easy care – the carrier can be machine washed and tumble dried on cool.
The not-so-good bits
Shorter lifespan – the carrier is intended for use with younger babies, although it will hold toddlers up to 14kgs or 2 years. Compare this to the 20kg weight limit of the Omni.
Hip healthy – Hug-a-Bub repeatedly claims the wrap carrier is hip healthy. Currently, it’s not listed on the International Hip Dysplasia Institute website as a hip healthy baby carrier.
Not breastfeeding-friendly – you can’t breastfeed while wearing this baby carrier.
User friendliness – because this is an unstructured carrier, you’ll need to tie the carrier onto yourself before popping baby in. Hug-a-Bub likens fitting the carrier to tying a shoelace: with practice, it becomes second nature. You’ll need to invest some time in learning how to use it safely and properly.
If baby carrying is more about bonding than convenience for you, the Hug-a-Bub Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier is an excellent choice. Coming in at just RRP $99, it’ll take you from newborn (3.5kg) to around 14kgs. With some impressive eco-credentials, it’s made of 100% certified organic cotton which is lightweight, breathable and easy care. We like the addition of a tree being planted for each baby carrier bought.
There’s a lot of choice out there when it comes to baby carriers. These are the ones that we liked but didn’t quite make the cut.
BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One
The BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One is a soft, semi-structured baby carrier. It has 4 front and back carrying options (2 for facing in, 1 for facing out, and 1 on your back) and 2 height positions, including an in-built infant insert. You can use it from 3.5kg to 15kg, which BabyBjörn reckons will take you to around 3 years. Interestingly, Hug-a-Bub reckons 14kgs is around 2 years old – maybe Aussie babies are larger than their Swedish counterparts?!
The Baby Carrier One has adjustable size, seat area and head support meaning it grows with baby and can also fit different babywearers. Thick shoulder and waist padding make it comfortable to use. The wide, fully adjustable seat area ensures baby’s hips stay in the right place. This is backed up by its inclusion on the International Hip Dysplasia Institute website’s hip healthy baby carrier list. It’s rated by Mum Central, coming in number 3 on their list of best baby carriers, and has 4.5 stars from almost 90 reviews on ProductReview.com.au. BabyBjörn is popular with Aussies too, coming in 4th in Canstar Blue’s baby carrier survey.
With a RRP of $229.95, you can pay $20 extra to upgrade to the Baby Carrier One Air which features soft and airy mesh rather than this version’s cotton.
Choose this if – you want a soft, semi-structured baby carrier that offers multiple carrying positions, for a lower price than our winner and you’re not bothered by its lack of award-winning status.
MiaMily HIPSTER PLUS 3D
The MiaMily HIPSTER PLUS 3D offers up to 6 carrying positions, a mix of face in, face out and back. The 3D hip seat keeps baby’s hips healthy – this is on the International Hip Dysplasia Institute website’s hip healthy baby carrier list. It can used from newborn, although the infant insert is sold separately, to 4 years old / 20kg.
It features a high waist belt for extra lumbar support, a large storage pocket, a removable front pocket to keep baby cool during summer, and crossable shoulder straps. It includes a head cover / sunshade, 2 teething bags and a foldable tote bag for storing in. It’s also machine washable. The Bronze Winner Baby Carrier for the Australian Mother & Baby Awards 2018, it hasn’t been reviewed on ProductReview.com.au or by Mum Central.
Choose this if – you want an award-winning baby carrier that offers a wide range of carrying positions (its 6 options are the most of any carrier we reviewed), comes in under $200 and you’re ok with needing to buy an infant insert separately.
Tula is loved by mums worldwide, partly for its Instagram-friendly design. It offers back and front carry options, but not front carry - facing out. Three width settings and 2 height settings mean it grows with your child, from 3.2 - 20kgs. It can be used from birth, with no infant insert needed. It has padded shoulder straps and a wide padded waistband that even includes a large storage pocket. Extra leg padding keeps baby comfortable for longer wearing. It comes with a removable hood for sun protection and privacy while breastfeeding. It’s made of soft 100% cotton that’s breathable and lightweight.
Hip healthy, it’s loved by mums on Mum Central, has a 5-star ProductReview.com.au rating (from a very small number of reviews!) and is Canstar Blue’s 2nd favourite baby carrier brand.
Choose this if – you’re into looks – this is one stylish, Insta-worthy baby carrier, are keen on comfort and want to use a carrier from birth without an infant insert. You’ll need to be happy not to carry baby in a front carry – facing out position.
Pognae No.5 Plus All-in-One
The Pognae No.5 Plus All-in-One is touted as a ‘luxury’ baby carrier, which probably explains the price. With a RRP of $349, it’s the most expensive baby carrier we reviewed. You can use it from newborn up to 20kgs (around 3 years). It works as a baby carrier, hip seat and hip seat carrier, offering you multiple carrying positions: facing front, facing in and back. The outside fabric is water and wind resistant, with an organic cotton lining. It comes with 2 sleeping hoods (1 is made of mesh making it ideal for the hot Aussie climate), teething pads and a drool bib. It has adjustable shoulder straps and a breathable mesh back panel. Another big selling point is its quiet zipper – no noisy baby-waking Velcro here.
It made the #1 spot on Mum Central and is certified hip healthy. The downside? We can’t find any independent customer reviews.
Choose this if – you’re happy spending the very top end for a ‘luxury’ baby carrier that will last you around 3 years, thanks to its multiple carrying positions.
Boba Wrap Carrier
Our second unstructured wrap carrier, the Boba Wrap Carrier is the most affordable baby carrier we reviewed, with a RRP of $79.95. It suits babies from 3.5-15kgs and offers 2 front-facing carrying positions. It’s made of soft comfortable cotton, along with Spandex to keep its shape. It’s 1-size fits all, certified hip healthy, rated by Mum Central, and has 4.7 stars on ProductReview.com.au. It’s even machine washable and low tumble dryable.
It was hard to choose between the Boba Wrap and our runner-up, the Hug-a-Bub Original Organic Pocket Wrap Carrier. The Hug-a-Bub won out because of its eco-credentials, its greater number of Aussie customer reviews and its award-winning ProductReview status.
Choose this if – you’re after a super affordable, soft, unstructured baby carrier that’s healthy for baby’s hips and easy care.
The Beco Gemini Baby Carrier offers 4 carrying positions: front carry facing in and out, back carry and hip carry. It works from newborn, with no insert required, and holds up to 15kgs. The padded shoulder straps can be used criss-crossed on your back or straight like a backpack, so you can choose which is most comfortable for you. It’s breast-feeding friendly, machine washable and comes in a range of modern designs and colours.
Mum Central loves it, it’s hip healthy and it has 4.6 stars from limited reviews on ProductReview.com.au.
Choose this if – you’d like a mid-range structured carrier that offers 4 carry options and can work from newborn, without an insert.
The Manduca Classic is a structured carrier that’s suitable from newborn, no insert required, up to 20kgs. It offers 3 carry positions – front facing in, hip and back carry. It has wide waist support and cross-over padded straps for comfortable wearing. Made of cotton and hemp, it’s soft, breathable and comfortable for baby too.
Manduca is Canstar Blue’s 3rd most popular baby carrier brand with Aussies and racks up an impressive 4.9 stars on ProductReview.com.au.
Choose this if – you’re after a simple soft structured baby carrier that’s breathable for baby and offers wide padded comfortable straps for you, for less than $200.