Baby carriers can be a lifesaver for new parents. Learn how to buy a non-toxic baby carrier free of dyes and flame retardants.
Table of Contents
- Types of baby carriers
- Things to watch out for when buying a baby carrier
- Sling Rings
- Wrap Style Baby Carriers
- Soft-structured carriers
- Beco Gemini Organic Carrier [Staff tried and tested]
- Boba Classic 4G Organic Baby Carrier
- Nuna CUDL Organic Baby Carrier
- LILLEbaby Organi Complete Baby Carrier
- BabyBjorn Mini Carrier [Staff tried and tested]
- BabyBjorn Carrier One
- Final thoughts on baby carriers
Babywearing is a great way to bond with your baby, whether you carried them through pregnancy or not. Finding a safe, comfortable sustainable and non-toxic baby harness or carrier that works for you is also very freeing. It’s hard to be hands-free while supporting a wriggling baby with little neck control!
Our favorite sling ring style baby carrier
Our favorite wrap style baby carrier
Our favorite soft-structured baby carrier [Staff tried and tested]
A great choice for smaller babies! [Staff tried and tested]
Our go-to carrier that’s versatile and machine washable! [Staff tried and tested]
A properly designed baby harness lets you safely snuggle your baby while actually getting things done. It can also be much more comfortable for recovering birth parents whose abdominal muscles are healing from pregnancy and labor.
Types of baby carriers
There’s no shortage of baby carriers out there, with most falling into the following categories:
Sling rings – worn over the shoulder and tightened with two metal rings, these are lightweight, portable, and great for wearing around the house and outdoors. It’s essential to use these properly, though, to avoid suffocation and hip dysplasia, especially with newborns. Read and follow the product manual carefully. Pro-tip – use a rolled up burp cloth tucked into the top roll of the sling for extra head support a newborn.
Wraps – basically just a long piece of fabric (sometimes stretchy) that you tie around your body and your baby. Secure, snug, lightweight, portable, and simple for some. A confusing tangle of material for others. Wraps can be great for the first few months but you may want a more structured carrier for older or bigger babies.
Meh Dai carriers – halfway between a sling or wrap and a soft structured carrier, these have a shell and straps that wrap around your body. Some have a waist buckle. A good carrier for larger babies and those graduating from a wrap but not quite ready for a structured carrier.
Soft-structured carriers – think Ergo or Baby Bjorn. These typically have shoulder/waist straps and a soft structured carrier into which you pop your baby and clip them in. Baby can be front or rear facing, depending on age and temperament. Some have infant inserts while others are adjustable from birth to toddler years. Great for ergonomic babywearing on long walks. Also great for colder weather when your baby is bundled in a snowsuit that wouldn’t be safe in a sling wrap.
A pre-loved baby harness is always the most sustainable option. When getting a hand-me-down, though, check that it is in good condition, hasn’t been recalled, and doesn’t contain toxic chemicals. If you need to buy new, here’s my pick of the best sustainable and non-toxic baby harnesses around.
Things to watch out for when buying a baby carrier
Slings and wraps typically comprise a single piece of cloth and maybe a buckle or ring. The best kinds are made with organic cotton, linen, or hemp that isn’t dyed or treated with toxic chemicals. This means no chlorine bleach, azo dyes, stain repellents, water repellents, or other treatments.
Look for a GOTS certified organic wrap or sling or one certified to Oeko-Tex 100. This offers some assurance that the carrier is free from troublesome substances. Your baby carrier will have to stand up to a lot of slobbering, sucking, and chewing, so you definitely don’t want one made with dyes that will run.
Watch out for homemade wraps. As fun as these seem, they may be made with fabric that doesn’t stand up to a lot of use. The material may also have been bleached with chlorine or treated with azo dyes or other chemicals. Even some natural dyes can be dangerous for babies, including dye from Oregon grape root or other plants.
Ideally, you’ll want to find an undyed carrier. Barring that, look for one that has been colored with low-energy, non-metal, fiber-reactive and low impact dyes which are safe for babies, toddlers and children. These don’t contain toxic chemicals or mordants that fix the dye to the fabric. Fiber reactive dyes bond directly with the fibers, leaving no chemical residue that can transfer to your baby’s skin or mouth.
Many soft structured carriers contain padding made with polyurethane, which is basically a gasoline foam product. In 2010 in the US, regulators exempted carriers, nursing pillows and strollers from requirements to meet existing flammability standards. Regulators recognized that the risk of chemical exposure from these frequently used products was greater than the risk of them catching on fire.
Not all manufacturers have removed flame retardants from their production processes, though. As such, it’s good to beware padded carriers in general. Thankfully, some companies, such as BabyBjorn, have a longstanding commitment to not using flame retardant chemicals in their baby products.
When buying a sustainable and non-toxic carrier, don’t get bowled over by organic fabric covers. Check that hardware has also been certified as safe. Hardware on baby carriers can contain heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, as well as phthalates and other chemicals commonly found in plastics. Some certifications apply to all parts of a carrier, zips, clasps, buttons, etc., while others only apply to the cover. Check for sneaky wording in product listings and ask the company if you’re in doubt (or ask us and we can try to find out for you!).
Water- and stain-repellents
Carriers shouldn’t be treated with water repellents or stain repellents. These chemicals are almost always toxic to babies and are based on per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, or forever chemicals) that are known endocrine disruptors.
Some baby carriers have tightly woven polyester covers that offer some stain resistance without PFAS. In contrast, an organic cotton cover is likely to soak up liquids and stain quite easily. It’s a good idea, then, to look for a carrier that is machine washable. If possible, wash the carrier in a mesh laundry bag to prevent straps from getting snagged. Always follow product washing instructions to maintain carrier safety.
Would-be babywearers have a lot of good options for sling rings. These are not always safely constructed, though, so look for proper hardware and a good company record. Many sling rings feature fabrics that claim to be organic but aren’t certified as such. This makes it hard to tell if the sling ring has colorfast dyes or is liable to leach potentially toxic colors when drooled or peed on or when washed.
Nature Baby Organic Cotton Sling Ring
Highlights: Ring sling suitable for use until about 18 months of age made from GOTS-certified organic cotton.
Nature Baby’s Organic Ring Sling is made with GOTS cotton in a GOTS certified factory and has been pre-washed to minimize shrinkage. The smooth, lightweight but sturdy aluminum rings are strength tested and allow the sling to accommodate babies in three different positions. They also make the ring sling easily adjustable for different wearers and offer access to enable nursing while your baby is in the sling.
Instructions are included on how to safely use the sling, which can hold up to 13 kg or about 28 lbs. The sling ring is suitable for use from newborn to about 18 months of age. It is machine washable (put in a laundry bag to prevent the rings snagging on things) and can be dried on low or air dried.
The cotton used to make this sling is grown and processed in India, with crops free from genetically modified seeds. The entire supply chain follows GOTS standards, and no harmful chemicals or heavy metals are used. The company’s employees are paid fairly and work in a safe environment free from discrimination, with no child labor permitted.
Hug-a-Bub Mesh Ring Sling
Highlights: Breathable GOTS-certified organic cotton mesh sling especially suitable for hot weather.
The Hug-a-Bub Ring Sling is made by an Australian company and was designed with the hot Australian climate in mind. It comprises two aluminum rings and GOTS certified organic cotton mesh that is breathable and comfortable for baby and babywearer.
The Ring Sling promotes healthy posture for babies and has been endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and the Reflux Infant Support Association (RISA). It is also certified Hip Healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IDHI).
A great choice for hot weather, the Ring Sling is usable year-round, just layer warm clothes and/or a blanket or jacket over the sling to keep baby warm without covering their face or obstructing breathing.
Hug-a-Bub also offers a reversible Ring Sling (view here) made with two layers of organic cotton. And if ring slings aren’t your thing, the company also offers pocket wraps and carriers made with organic cotton.
Hug-a-Bub is a well-known name in baby gear and has a Plant a Tree program in partnership with Eden Projects. These carriers are made “under Fair Trade conditions”, though I don’t see actual Fair Trade certification.
Mountain Mama Baby Co. Ring Sling
Highlights: Organic linen ring sling option that’s safety tested to 250 lbs.
The Mountain Mama Baby co Organic Ring Sling is one of the best options around as it is made using organic linen grown in Germany and safety tested aluminum SlingRings. This sling can hold babies up to 35 lbs. and is 88 inches long, making for easy adjustment as your baby grows. If there’s excess material this can be tucked into your waistband or wrapped around baby’s body for extra coziness, though the company also offers free length alterations if you need them.
The Ring Sling is made with genuine SlingRings. These are manufactured in the US from anodized aluminum and are safety tested to 250 lbs. The ring making process is RoHS compliant, lead and nickel free, and the rings comply with CPSC and CPSIA regulations.
The Ring Sling should be handwashed and air dried. It is best used for babies over 8 lbs., with extra care taken for babies younger than 3-4 months old, who are premature, or who have respiratory concerns. You can find guidance on the safe use of sling rings at babywearinginternational.org.
Wrap Style Baby Carriers
There are so many baby wraps around that you’d be forgiven for throwing your hands up in frustration when trying to work out which is best. The long and short of it is that there are two basic styles: a long piece of not-so-stretchy fabric you tie around yourself in various ways and a stretchier piece of fabric that you tie around yourself in various ways.
Some carriers have pockets, some are made with reversible fabric in a two-layer design for extra support. Some carriers are made with thinner, breathable fabric, and some with thicker material for added coziness.
Other than that, the main difference comes down to whether or not the fabric is certified organic and whether the company making it has any decent environmental programs or initiatives.
Here are my picks of the best wrap style baby carriers.
Oscha Slings Carriers
Highlights: Wrap carrier made by a zero-waste company that uses or recycles every scrap of yarn and fabric.
Oscha Slings is a carbon neutral company and only uses responsibly sourced and organic yarns, including organic cotton that is also certified by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). The company offers four types of carrier made with fabrics woven in the British Isles and stitched in the company’s solar powered Scottish workshop. The maker even stitches their nametag into the carriers, as does the quality control person, for extra accountability.
As a zero-waste company, Oscha Slings uses or recycles every scrap of yarn and fabric. For every carrier sold, the company adds to its growing grove of trees in the Caledonia forest. This partnership with Trees for Life allows the company to calculate carbon emission offsets and plant trees to help reforest the Scottish Highlands.
The range of carriers includes options with pleated or gathered shoulders, some left or right shoulder configurations, and different material options. These include hemp and organic cotton as well as Tencel, a yarn made from wood pulp using a closed loop system and less water and land than many other fabrics. While Tencel isn’t a natural fiber, requiring chemical processing, the closed loop system does help protect wastewater and the environment, making this a better choice than conventional cotton and virgin synthetic fibers.
The best choice of carrier style and material will depend on how you like to carry your baby, your climate or season in which you’ll be using the carrier, and other factors. Oscha offers a lot of guidance to help you decide.
The Bairn carrier is made with highly breathable, moisture-wicking hemp fabric. This is great for babywearing in hotter climates but equally great in colder weather. The carrier can accommodate babies from 7-45 lbs. and is a full buckle carrier that is quick and easy to put on and clip in your baby or toddler.
The Oscha Slings Nook carrier is a similar full buckle carrier to the Bairn but offers a little extra room, making this a good choice for anyone wanting a plus-size carrier. The Cairis is also great if you’re a plus size and is a half buckle soft structured carrier. It can be adjusted easily and offers more support than a straight-up sling carrier. A waist extender is available for both the Nook and Cairis to add length to the waistband.
The Coorie is a half buckle carrier, with a ring waist and pleated waistband for additional adjustability and support. This is the carrier that feels most similar to a woven wrap style carrier.
Oscha offers free worldwide tracked shipping on all orders over £150, or $8.50 for FedEx shipping to the US on orders less than this amount.
Organic Pocket Wrap Hug-a-Bub
Highlights: Wrap-style carrier that’s considered Hip Healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
The Organic Pocket Hug-a-Bub is a wrap style carrier with a two-layer design that features a pocket in which the sling fabric can be stored. The pocket also offers sturdier support for larger babies and toddlers, making this wrap suitable for up to 14 kg (around 30 lbs.) or up to about two years old.
The Hug-a-Bub organic pocket wrap carrier was designed nearly 20 years ago and is considered Hip Healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. It is also endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and the Reflux Infant Support Association. The carrier was a finalist in 2017 Mother & Baby Magazine Awards and is very popular in Australia.
Hug-a-Bub also offers a Lightweight carrier (view here) that is a little thinner and cooler in warmer climates. This wrap works for babies up to 10 kg or 22 lbs., or up to 8 months old for most babies. There’s even a mesh pocket wrap carrier (view here) for more air flow for hot climates or if you want to babywear but run very hot.
These carriers are made with GOTS certified organic cotton and “under Fair Trade conditions”. I don’t see actual Fair Trade certification though.
Organic Boba Wrap
Highlights: Wrap option made with 95% GOTS-certified organic cotton and 5% spandex to give it a bit of stretch for comfortable periods of babywearing.
The Organic Boba Wrap is made with 95% GOTS certified cotton and 5% Spandex. It is a little stretchier than straight-up cotton wraps and is basically a long piece of fabric that you tie around your shoulders and hips to create a pocket for your baby.
For those who love a good wrap, the Organic Boba Wrap seems to be super comfortable even for longer periods of babywearing. It’s great for skin-to-skin contact and some folks even manage to nurse while baby is in the wrap. More power to them!
The Organic Boba Wrap offers two positions for holding baby, one for newborns (feet inside the wrap) and one for older babies (feet spread either side of your abdomen). You can’t use this wrap to carry your baby facing forward, though. So, if you have a curious baby, the Boba wrap is liable to cause frustration once they reach a certain age.
The Boba wrap is certified Hip Healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute and is one-size-fits-all. This makes the Boba a great option if folks of different shapes and sizes will be carrying your baby. You can machine wash and dry the wrap (on low).
I find this kind of wrap a real challenge to use, especially while trying to soothe a screaming newborn who just wants to be held RIGHT NOW! If you’re more adept with this kind of thing though, the Organic Boba Wrap is a great choice for a sustainable, non-toxic baby harness.
Organic Baby K’tan baby carrier
Highlights: Hassle-free wrap option free from many of the typical hurdles encountered with tying loops on traditional wraps.
If you like the idea of a wrap but can’t handle the time or effort it takes to tie all those loops and swoops, the Baby K’tan might be for you. This hassle-free baby carrier has two loops of fabric that go over your shoulders and a third piece that you pull up over your baby’s back to hold them tight to your body.
You can use the Baby K’tan in at least six positions from premie to preschool. These include having your baby facing in or forward, once they’re a certain size or weight and can hold their head up well. The wrap is a little stretchy but is sized to the wearer (size up if in doubt). You may need more than one Baby K’tan if you’re co-parenting with anyone of a significantly different build. Sizes are available in XX-Small to X-Large.
The Baby K’tan works for babies 8-35 lbs. and is 100% made of GOTS certified cotton. It is machine washable and dryer safe too. Baby K’tan donates to the American Heart Association and the National Down Syndrome Society.
Beco Gemini Organic Carrier [Staff tried and tested]
Highlights: Carrier option made from GOTS-certified organic cotton that allows for a variety of different holding positions.
The Beco Gemini is rated for babies 7-35 lbs. and has a GOTS certified organic cotton outer cover. It is super simple to use, and offers front facing-in, front facing-out, back and hip carry, with no infant insert needed. The Beco is currently in use by at least one team member at Leaf Score and gets a big thumbs up, especially for making it easy to transfer a sleeping baby out of the carrier and into a crib.
One downside we’ve noticed is that the Beco Gemini in black attracts a lot of lint, making it look rather messy. That said, it is machine washable, which is a major bonus.
You can wear the Beco as a backpack or cross the straps for extra comfort. The recently redesigned carrier also has a new safety catch for extra security, sturdiness, and better ergonomics.
The Gemini has a wide, supportive waist belt and an adjustable seat for infants from 7 lbs. up. There’s a large pocket on the waist belt that works perfectly for carrying keys, though I wouldn’t use it to carry a phone as this puts the phone very close to your baby (unless your phone emits almost no radiation).
The smart design features a built-in headrest for baby, a breastfeeding release buckle under the arm, and a sternum strap on an adjustable rail. There are also safety catches on the shoulder strap buckles.
We tested the Beco Gemini
Our founder John, and his wife Popra, have a Beco Gemini at home and have been using it with their newborn. Overall, this is a very useful, and well made, item for parents. See their full review here.
Leigh also recently acquired a secondhand Beco Gemini and it’s proved absolutely amazing for her wife. She uses this to back-carry their baby when doing yardwork, recycling, kitchen tasks, and all the other things that benefit from having two free hands! It’s also worked well as a way to soothe their baby to sleep, largely replacing front-carrying in the Baby Bjorn.
- Quality craftsmanship
- Easy to use
- Versatile positions: our baby preferred the snuggle style carry early on, but now prefers front facing so she can explore and watch the world
- Can be used by all body types
- The black model picks up lots of lint, which means the Gemini requires regular cleaning to look its best
Boba Classic 4G Organic Baby Carrier
Highlights: Simple organic cotton carrier that is machine washable and easy to use and adjust.
The Boba 4G Organic Carrier is made with GOTS certified organic cotton and is machine washable. This simple baby harness offers three positions: newborn, front facing-in, and back carry. The carrier does not offer a safe facing-out position (and the company doesn’t support this position for babywearing anyway).
The carrier can accommodate babies and toddlers from 7 to 45 lbs. in the three positions offered. There’s also an infant insert included as standard (no need to buy it separately). Without the insert, the carrier is best suited for babies 4-24 months. Boba also offers an organic version of its Boba X (view here), which has an infant insert and toddler seat extenders, making this a great option for long-term babywearing up to 36 months.
This carrier is certified Hip Healthy and has a sturdy waistband and contoured straps for a comfortable fit for babywearers. The sliding back strap design is adjustable for people of most shapes and sizes. You can also buy a waistband extender. There are no fiddly features, but there is a handy nursing buckle to allow easy access and adjustment. This carrier also has a detachable hood to cover your baby’s head, and a zippered pocket for your essentials.
The 4G Organic and Boba X are made of 100% organic cotton canvas and are machine washable.
Nuna CUDL Organic Baby Carrier
Highlights: Oeko-Tex 100 certified carrier free from harmful chemicals with padded shoulder straps and an adjustable yoke.
The Nuna CUDL Organic Baby Carrier is made with a GOTS certified organic jersey cotton cover and polyester and polyurethane padding inside. It took quite a bit of back and forth with Nuna to establish this as they don’t list the synthetic materials online.
The carrier is Oeko-Tex 100 certified and free from BPA, BPS, PVC, banned phthalates, PFAS, and flame retardants (confirmed with Nuna). The Dutch company, founded in 2007, uses non-toxic dyes and inks, and the plastic, metal, fabric, fiberfill, and foam in the carrier meets CPSIA standards in the USA and REACH regulations and EN71 standards in Europe.
The CUDL carrier has adjustable padded shoulder straps connected by an adjustable yoke. You can adjust the padded waist belt from 24 to 57 inches for a safe and snug fit. The waist belt has a zippered pocket for essentials. There are four magnetic buckles that make it super easy to use, so you can put it on and get baby in without needing help!
I confirmed materials with Raeanne from Nuna customer service: “The soft material on the head support and leg area [of the CUDL] are organic jersey knit fabric. The body of the carrier has the 3-D mesh which is polyester. The additional bibs that come with the Cudl have the GOTS certified organic cotton on the outside and the inner material is polyester. The entire Cudl unit is certified Oeko-Tex.”
An in-built infant booster seat makes the CUDL a great choice for newborns up to around 4 months old. The insert has covered, locking zippers for comfort and safety. You can easily remove the insert once your baby outgrows it. There’s also a leg opening button adjustment for smaller babies to prevent them slipping.
This carrier can be used with baby facing in or out, and also has a backpack position for toddlers. There’s even an attached, customizable hood to provide shade, and removable head- and neck-support. The CUDL is approved as Hip Healthy by the IHDI and works from newborn to around 3 years old (8-35 lbs.).
The CUDL carrier includes two GOTS certified organic cotton bibs that you can attach across the front of the carrier. These can be removed for easy washing. Given how much babies like to suck and drool on the tops of these carriers, this is a really smart feature!
Nuna also wins points for abiding by the international ISO 14000 family of standards that cover a company’s environmental responsibilities. This includes standards for using renewable energy, establishing recycling programs for plastic waste and packaging, and wastewater treatment.
LILLEbaby Organi Complete Baby Carrier
Highlights: A very versatile carrier that features an organic cotton cover and offers six carrying positions.
The LILLEbaby Organi Complete Baby Carrier is a great all-round soft structured carrier you can use from newborn to toddler (up to 45 lbs.). The Organi option features an organic cotton cover but seems otherwise the same as the standard Complete Baby Carrier.
You don’t need a separate newborn insert for this carrier as there’s one in-built. The Complete Carrier is also very flexible and suits a range of body shapes and sizes. The waistband on these carriers goes up to 52 inches as standard and you can also purchase the waistband extender that provides another 9 inches. If you’re pregnant and babywearing, this is a really good choice of carrier, particularly because you can also purchase an inexpensive tummy pad that adds cushioning to the waistband.
This carrier can be a little confusing at first as it allows for six different carrying positions, including front facing-out, front infant, hip, and back, front-fetal, and front-toddler, making it super versatile and ergonomic.
The carrier is made with organic cotton that is tested for heavy metals, dyes, formaldehyde and more. LILLEbaby claims that all products contain no lead, toxic dyes, phthalates, or flame retardants and are CPSIA compliant and ASTM safety-certified. It’s highly likely that the carriers contain some sort of synthetic padding material, such as polyurethane, polyester, or polyethylene, though LILLEbaby isn’t transparent about what this is and hasn’t responded to email inquiries.
LILLEbaby also offers an organic bib and teething cover that wraps around the shoulders straps and front. Frankly, though, I’ve just wrapped a simple organic cotton burp cloth around the straps and front and that works fine. It also means you have a handy burp cloth available at all times!
BabyBjorn Mini Carrier [Staff tried and tested]
Highlights: Very easy to use and super comfortable, though not very eco-friendly (it is Oeko-Tex certified), unless you get a second hand one.
I wouldn’t typically include the BabyBjorn carriers in this round-up because they aren’t made with organic fabric. However, all BabyBjorn carriers are certified to Oeko-Tex Standard 100. This means they are tested for azo dyes, formaldehyde, cadmium, lead, phthalates, and more than 100 potentially hazardous chemicals. With BabyBjorn, all parts of the carrier that can come into contact with your baby’s skin are certified Oeko-Tex 100.
The other reason I’m including this carrier is that we received both a mini and a full-size hand-me-down BabyBjorn carrier and have used these extensively with great success.
The Baby Carrier Mini is available in jersey (polyester, cotton, and elastane), 3D mesh (polyester) and 100% cotton. The mesh is great if you have a summer baby or live somewhere hot and humid. The jersey is also easily washable and quick drying, while the cotton is the most natural of the three, though not organic. You can machine wash all three Baby Carrier Minis on warm (put it in a laundry bag to avoid straps getting snagged). Don’t tumble dry though, and avoid using fabric softener as this will affect the fabrics’ performance.
The Mini Carrier is rated for babies 7-24 lbs., or from birth to 12 months. We found it a little tricky to use the carrier until our wee one was about 8 or 9 lbs.
You can use the mini carrier with baby facing in or out, and the double clips let you fold the top part of the carrier up or down to offer more or less head and neck support. Two additional elasticated loops can be fastened to make the leg holes smaller and prevent slipping. The carrier is certified Hip Healthy, as are all BabyBjorn carriers.
The high position this carrier provides can be comforting to younger babies, but it also becomes somewhat impractical with taller babies as you soon stop being able to hold your own head forward and have to crane it off to the side instead. At this point, you might want to consider switching to a larger style carrier.
You can easily adjust the BabyBjorn by pulling the straps taught once you’re clipped in. I usually adjust when I first put on the carrier and after I’ve put baby in the carrier. This makes the Mini Carrier a great choice for families where multiple caregivers will be babywearing.
We received a secondhand Mini Carrier in advance of our baby’s arrival and we were super glad to have it! Our little one was on the smaller side, so it actually took a month or so before this carrier worked for us (the ring sling was great for those first few weeks). Once we reached that magic 8 lbs. though, this carrier was my go-to for neighborhood walks. It is easy to use, versatile, and feels very secure and robust. The color coordinated clips are handy (it’s amazing how tangled you can get with baby carriers!), and the top part can be folded over and clipped in backwards for extra neck support or greater freedom depending on your baby’s age and neck strength.
We stopped using our Mini once our petite poppet was about eight months old and got too tall for us to comfortably use without straining our necks. For most babies, you’re probably looking at even less time, so the specialized infant carrier may not be worth the environmental cost. Instead, consider an adjustable carrier with an infant insert. If, however, you’re expecting a smaller baby, the Mini Carrier is a great choice, especially if you can find one secondhand.
BabyBjorn Carrier One
Highlights: Oeko-Tex 100 certified, the BabyBjorn Carrier One is an ergonomic baby harness that is free from azo dyes, formaldehyde, heavy metals, phthalates, and most other potentially hazardous chemicals.
The BabyBjorn Carrier One is certified Hip Healthy and offers four carrying positions. The Carrier One can be used for babies 8 lbs. and up and offers more support for heavier babies. (In contrast, the BabyBjorn Mini is only meant for babies up to 24 lbs.)
You don’t need a newborn insert with this one (it’s in-built). You can also adjust the carrier easily, making it good through to toddlerhood. This is also an advantage if the carrier will be used by multiple caregivers. The carrier is available in four colors and has a padded belt and straps.
The Carrier One cover comprises 60% cotton and 40% polyester. The Beige/Leopard options are made of 100% cotton though, and the carrier’s all have a 100% cotton lining. The padding is a mixture of polyester (sadly not recycled) and polyurethane (unfortunately). Fortunately, BabyBjorn has a strong commitment to not using flame retardants in carriers, hence the Oeko-Tex certification.
There’s also a mesh option, made with polyester, called the Carrier One Air. This carrier is more breathable and therefore a good choice if you live somewhere warm. Many gestational parents, especially if nursing, tend to run hot too, so a breathable carrier is a great idea! Nobody needs extra insulation when those hormones are raging. Don’t wash this with fabric softener as it will affect the material’s performance.
We were gifted two secondhand Mini Carriers (one in black and gray and one in orange and black) and this is what we’ve mostly been using since our baby graduated from the Mini Baby Bjorn. We’ve also used the Beco Gemini, a ring sling, and, more recently, a Tula Baby harness (which is great!!). Of all these, the Carrier One is by far the most structured, which I prefer. It feels really robust and reliable, is easy to use, quick to adjust for multiple caregivers, and works for six-foot-two grandfathers and five-foot-not-much nannies.
The Carrier One is padded but not overly so, which means it does soak up rain but also dries pretty fast. We’ve machine washed it a few times (the black fabric really shows up banana mush and snots!) and machine dried it in a laundry bag after an intense downpour (though not recommended, this worked out well, thankfully!).
As a structured, adjustable baby harness, the Carrier One works great. It’s versatile enough for back-carrying, front-carry, and inward-facing carrying. With some practice, it’s possible to nurse while wearing it, and then get a sleeping baby back into the carrier in less than 30 seconds (seriously, if you use transit a lot or love hikes, this is a great feature!).
Final thoughts on baby carriers
My wife and I had very different experiences with baby carriers. She was instantly a fan of the ring sling, finding it comfortable and intuitive to wear. I struggled to make it work for my body shape, especially during recovery. I was very happy once our baby reached the right weight for the hand-me-down BabyBjorn Mini.
Six months in and we still have both the sling and the more structured carrier in daily rotation. I have my eye on an Oscha Slings carrier or Boba X for long-term babywearing though! In my experience, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to all types of carriers. The one we choose depends heavily on if we’re in the house, on a walk in the rain, snow, or sunshine, and if our baby is sleepy or not.
After a few failed attempts with the soft-structured carrier, I wrapped a burp cloth across and around the shoulder straps at the front. This covered the plastic clips, protected the straps from slobber, and created a soft place for baby’s head to rest. Success!
My biggest takeaway from babywearing so far is to give different carriers a trial run in advance, if you can, and don’t be shy about switching things up if one style just doesn’t seem to work for you and your baby. Your baby will also have preferences, sometimes right from birth, about the kind of carrier or baby harness they like. And if your baby is anything like ours, they’ll let you know!