Updated 5th January 2022.
Many expectant parents now see a baby carrier as an essential purchase, alongside the traditional staples like a cot and pushchair. In the US, the baby carrier market is expected to grow by more than 40% in the 4 years to 2025. Whether you want to go shopping, go for a walk or just get some chores done around the house, a baby carrier is an excellent way to be mobile while soothing your baby.
In recent years, as dads, and new dads especially, become much more involved in their babies’ lives, baby carriers have become an extremely useful way for fathers and their babies to bond, enjoying the closeness that is more often associated with mums. And, it gives mum a break, too, particularly in the early months when they may feel like they don’t get a moment to themselves, or when they get a big heavier later in the months post birth.
Whether you’re looking for a carrier that's strong and sturdy for long walks or something to get the baby into quickly to get around the house, we’ve put together this guide to give you everything you need to know about baby carriers alongside our reviews of the best baby carriers for dads.
What makes a good baby carrier?
There are a number of key factors that make for a great baby carrier for dads:
Types of baby carrier
There are four different types of carrier: wrap, sling, soft-structured and frame backpacks, each with different positives and negatives. Open each of the boxes below for a quick rundown on each type.
Baby wraps (which are sometimes referred to as slings, but there is a difference!) are long pieces of stretchy or woven fabric that...you guessed it...wrap around you and your baby. They offer safe positions for your baby and are usually considered the most comfortable option, allowing you to spread the fabric across your back to spread the weight evenly.
There are two big drawbacks, though. First, tying the wrap correctly every time (although you should get to learn it pretty quickly) to ensure your baby is safe. Second is warmth. Yes, with several layers of fabric wrapped around you and your baby, it can get quite warm quite quickly.
Check out this handy video on how to put on a wrap carrier
Perhaps the most common type of baby carrier, and probably the one you’ve seen most on other parents while out and about.
Usually worn on the front, these carriers provide more of a structure than slings, with flexible support and padded straps that are fastened with buckles.
Most are simple to put on, but some can be difficult. Because they rely on buckles and straps for the baby’s safety, most have more limited weight restrictions, so be sure to check before you buy. Some, however, are specifically designed to carry more weight, allowing you to use it from newborn to toddler ages.
The biggest drawback for soft-structured carriers is your comfort. Because the straps sit on the shoulders, they can cause quite a lot of aches and pains, especially after longer periods of use.
There are plenty of variations, but soft-structured carriers broadly follow the same method of putting them on. Here’s a helpful video for you.
There are three types of sling carrier, but importantly, one should be avoided.
1. Bag style - Experts DO NOT recommend bag style slings because of the dangers those pose to your baby. They have deep pockets with little or no adjustability, which can result in your baby being placed in dangerous positions, bringing their chin to their chest and covering their face with the fabric, both causing suffocation.
2. Ring sling - A ring sling consists of pieces of cloth with rings sewn at one end. The fabric loops through the ring to create a pouch for the baby. Here’s a video on how to put one on.
3. Pouch - This type uses one single, folded piece of cloth worn over the body like a sash. Here’s a quick guide for putting one on.
While these generally offer plenty of comfort for the parent, there is a risk that your baby’s weight is not distributed evenly, resulting in discomfort or even harm.
They are typically cooler than wraps for you and your baby with less material used.
Frame backpacks are a popular option with hikers, providing a great alternative to a pushchair or carrying a baby/toddler in your arms.
Strictly for babies that are able to sit up and hold their own weight comfortably and toddlers, they offer greater support and structure usually with a metal frame. The extra structure and support means they can usually be used up to around three years of age, while some can accommodate up to four-five years old (if you can manage a five year old sitting on your back!). They also offer padding and headrests, making it nice and comfy even if they fall asleep.
There are definitely drawbacks, though. Firstly, they’re usually the most expensive type of carrier, with entry models costing at least £100. Secondly, the size (and the fact that you’ll be carrying and older child) can make them heavy and uncomfortable to carry, resulting in some very achy back and shoulders. And finally, that much fabric sitting on your back will result in some very big sweat patches, even if you buy one that uses mesh.
And here’s one more useful video for you!
The 12 best baby carriers for dads
Bearing all of the information above in mind, we’ve put together a list of our favourite baby carriers for dads.
“Arguably the most comfortable baby carrier on the market.”
The Carrier One is industry leader, Baby Björn’s flagship carrier. With four carry positions, its luxurious, soft cotton fabric and well-padded straps are designed to carry your little one from birth right the way through to three years old with ease.
Check out our in-depth review of the Baby Bjorn Carrier One here.
“Not only a great wrap carrier but 5% goes to a charity supporting low income families in Costa Rica"
The Nalakai is an eco-friendly ring-sling that offers flexibility, comfort and safety. The bamboo fabric is ultra strong yet silky smooth and holds your baby in their natural M shape, preventing hip injury. The closeness helps to soothe even collicky babies quickly and easily.
3. Beco 8
“Has just about everything you could wish for.”
The Beco 8 is a premium-tier baby carrier offering five carry positions with ergonomic support. It includes a removable lumbar support, removable infant boost, zip-away hood and good-sized pocket for your phone/keys/wallet etc. The padded waist and shoulder straps offer plenty of support and it comes in a variety of eye-catching designs.
Check out our in-depth review of the Beco 8 here.
“Great option to get outdoors for long walks without getting too hot.”
The Carrier Move follows the path of Baby Björn’s other carriers with comfortable, padded shoulders and waist belt, ease of use and comfort for your baby. It builds on that blueprint with a soft, airy, 3D mesh fabric, designed to keep your baby cool and comfy. That makes it a great a choice for dads who like to get outdoors in the summer, preventing body heat transferring to baby.
“Not only a brilliant wrap carrier, but also suitable for premature or tiny babies weighing 5lbs, helping to regulate temperature and heartbeat.”
The Amawrap is a great wrap carrier that offers plenty of benefits for a fraction of the price of some other carriers. The 100% natural cotton wrap provides plenty of support that doesn’t sag after long-use while staying comfortable for dad. The wide fabric offers even distribution and support across the back meaning no aching afterwards.
Check out our in-depth review of the Amawrap Baby Sling here.
The Luvdbaby backpack is a lightweight and easy-to-use carrier ideal for your next hike or camping trip. The large zip pocket means you can pack a few drinks and snacks for your little adventure. The 5-point buckle harness provides extra safety as well as a pivoting hip belt. It has a padded headrest for when they fall asleep and the seating position is fully adjustable as your baby grows, as is the backpack system, meaning shorter and taller parents can use it with ease.
7. Ergobaby 360
"Great styling and very comfortable."
The Ergobaby 360 is primarily designed for toddlers, with the ergonomic structured seat for babies sold separately. It offers the full-range of carry positions with lumbar support and thick padded straps for maximum comfort for dad. It has an adjustable head support with 50+ UV protection and a breathable mesh panel that regulates temperature in warmer weather.
Check out our in-depth review of the Ergobaby 360 here.
"The bottle pouch and pocket make this stand out from the crowd."
This carrier from Dwelle is a convertible option that allows you to switch from a traditional soft-structure carrier to a hip seat in no time at all, should you need a little support carrying the baby without the need to wear the full carrier. The hip seat’s waist belt includes a handy pocket and bottle pouch, while it comes with a head cover and three drool bibs.
This is a simple and straightforward carrier from Nuby, with the three basic carry positions and plain design. The ergonomic seat is recognised by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. The extra-wide padded straps and waist strap provide plenty of comfort for dad. And it has a useful, collapsible hood from when you inevitably get caught in the rain.
"Everything you need for an adventure in nature."
The Freedom S4 builds on the pros of LittleLife’s Adenturer S2 and turbocharges them. This model includes a built-in, easy-pull sun shade, mouldable neck support for your little one, foot stirrups and a portable rear-view mirror to help you check on them. At 21 litres, the storage capacity offers roughly the same amount of space as a regular backpack, just make sure you’re strong enough to carry the child and everyone’s things. If you're planning a weekend away, getting this and a great family tent is going to have you set up right.
“Stylish, and full of intricate detail that makes this carrier a stand out in this category.”
One of the original, Je Porte Mon Bébé’s carrier designs, this flagship carrier allows parents to experience the French feel of being strong and supportive but also soft on baby’s skin and keeps airy and cool even in hot summer months.
Check out our in-depth review of the Je Porte Mon Bebe Physiocarrier here.
12. Boba X
“Provides the total coverage of a wrap or sling with the ease of a buckle carrier."
The Boba X is a fairly unique carrier; a sort of hybrid between buckled soft-structure and wrap. The seat and body panels are micro-adjustable, making it easy to expand the carrier as your little one grows, all while providing the necessary support to the back, pelvis and legs that ensures the optimal ‘M’ seating position. It also includes a removable hood and side zip pocket for a little storage.
Baby carrier questions - front or back?
All newborn babies should be placed in a front-worn carrier, facing inwards towards your chest. This should be the case for the first 4-6 months as they require neck support until they are strong enough to hold their head up themselves.
Once they’re capable of holding their head up with ease for a sustained period of time, you can switch them to front-facing and let them see the world. Alternatively, you can also use a back-worn carrier too.
Baby carrier questions - what are TICKS guidelines?
T.I.C.K.S is a set of safety guidelines set out by the UK Sling Consortium to help parents understand what to look for in a carrier as well as how to wear the carrier.
T = Tight - All carriers should keep your baby close to your chest, preventing them from slumping down into the carrier which can impact their ability to breathe as well as cause discomfort for the parent
I = In view at all times - You should always be able to see your baby’s face, just by glancing down. Their face shouldn’t be covered by any part of the carrier so that you have to open it to see them
C = Close enough to kiss - Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as possible, meaning you can easily kiss their forehead or top of their head just by looking down slightly
K = Keep chin off chest - Your carrier should offer enough support so that your baby’s is never curled up so much that chin touches their chest. This can restrict their breathing, so you should always have at least a finger’s width between their chest and chin
S = Supported back - Your baby’s back should always be supported so its in its natural position, with their stomach and chest resting against you. A lack of support can allow them to slump and restrict their airways. If you’re using a sling where your baby is in the cradle position, their bottom should be placed in the deepest part of the sling to avoid the fabric forcing their body to fold in on itself.
Dad & baby carrier stories
There's nothing we love more than seeing dads with their babies in their baby carriers. Here are some of the stories we've loved and been inspired by.