2017 Baby Carrier Reviews
Posted by Canstar Blue August 16th 2018
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Review baby carriers from Ergobaby, Baby Bjorn, Hug a Bub and Kmart based on their comfort and support, ease of use, flexibility, value for money, fit, durability, fabric and overall parent satisfaction in 2017.
Canstar Blue research finalised in August 2017, published in August 2017.
Ergobaby holds a tight grip on baby carriers award
Being a parent – especially of young kids – usually means little sleep and sore bodies, so mums and dads naturally appreciate any extra help they can get. If you’re a first-time parent, it’s going to be a steep learning curve, no matter what those parenting books may tell you. One of the key skills is learning how to keep your hands free while still looking after little Johnny or Sally, and having a baby carrier can certainly alleviate this common problem. Hands come in handy for things like grabbing baby wipes, reaching for bottles, being able to push a pram or stroller if you’re a two-time parent, or just generally being able to function like a normal human being.
Of course, the difference between a good baby carrier and a bad baby carrier can make all the difference. A baby carrier that is just too fiddly to use can be more of a hindrance than a help. So, which baby carriers are up to the job? For the third time, Canstar Blue has surveyed more than 600 parents across Australia to seek their feedback on the baby carrier they use, and for the third year in a row, Ergobaby has taken top spot, dominating in every research category. No other five-star ratings were awarded to any other brands in the 2017 results, making Ergobaby a standout baby carrier performer.
While it’s tempting to just go out and buy the cheapest baby carrier, cheap doesn’t necessarily equal a happy parent. Ergobaby’s customers were found to have spent an average of $184 on their new baby carriers, which is higher than the $134 average for all brands. With this in mind, a baby carrier clearly isn’t a flippant purchase for a lot of parents:
- 64% of mums and dads bought their baby carrier based on a recommendation, either through word of mouth or an online review
Doing research before buying a baby carrier is a helpful first step before spending nearly $200 in some cases, so first start off by identifying what type of baby carrier is right for you and your little one.
What type of baby carrier should I buy?
There are two main types – carriers (or ‘pouches’) and backpack carriers. Sling carriers are also quite popular and worthy of your consideration. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but it does come down to how old your child is and your personal preferences.
Carriers or Pouches
The most common type of carrier, these are best suited for newborns and babies younger than 18 months. They are usually worn off the chest, with the baby facing inwards, but customisable carriers have also come into vogue recently, with slightly older children able to face outwards.
- Benefits: Keeps baby snug and close, facing inwards for more one-on-one time, allows parents to keep an eye on baby at all times
- Drawbacks: Kids can get heavy fast, and the chest position can cause back pain when your child starts growing. Older babies may get more restless, and facing out can be a solution, but front-facing carriers can feel too snug
Of those surveyed, a massive 83% reported preference towards the front carrier, rather than a backpack-type carrier. Nearly half (46%) reported they get back pain using a baby carrier – no doubt this starts setting in when the little munchkin starts growing up! When your baby starts growing, it may be time to consider a backpack carrier.
Backpack carriers often feature rigid frames, but some front-facing carriers are also able to be customised to fit on the back. Those with rigid frames are best suited to older kids who aren’t exactly babies, but can’t walk longer distances yet. If you’ve ever walked a popular hiking trail, there’s probably no doubt you’ve seen these backpack carriers in action.
- Benefits: Best suited to older infants and toddlers, suitable for longer walks, lets baby see out, weight of baby is able to be distributed across shoulders and back, rather than chest
- Drawbacks: Provides less ‘intimacy’ between parent & child, not so suitable for younger babies and newborns, high position can be awkward at first
To the near half of those surveyed who reported back pain, a backpack carrier may be more suited than a pouch-type. 32% also reported that they are worried about their baby falling out of the carrier – a pouch evidently lets you keep a better eye on your baby.
Sling types are less common and less of a ‘type’ of carrier, but more of a variation of the two above. Like sling bags, sling baby carriers are often worn across the shoulder and the baby sits across your body. They can be made of stretchy supportive fabric, but can also be made with rigid materials as seen in backpack carriers.
- Benefits: Provide arguably the most ‘intimate’ feel for newborns and parents, are extremely cosseting, provide a ‘cot like’ feel for newborns
- Drawbacks: Often don’t provide as much padding or support, leave one arm occupied, unsuitable for older babies or toddlers
Sling carriers are arguably the most rudimentary of carrier designs, and most brands tend to omit this design from their product range. Still, if you have a newborn and wanting an intimate feeling, a sling carrier may still be the best bet.
Things to consider when buying a baby carrier
A baby carrier needs to be more than just cheap. Ergobaby does not make the cheapest baby carriers, but that didn’t deter customers from rating the brand highly on value for money. They clearly see the ‘value’ in spending a little extra. Our research identified the following drivers of parent satisfaction:
- Comfort & support: 29%
- Ease of use: 16%
- Flexibility: 15%
- Value for money: 14%
- Fit (i.e. feels secure): 13%
- Durability: 8%
- Fabric (i.e. easy to clean, breathable): 5%
Comfort & support was evidently the main driver of satisfaction, and having a carrier that’s easy to use is also a huge factor. There’s a bit more involved than plonking baby in a sling and away you go on a 5km walk! Value for money was also an interesting factor, as ‘value’ implies more than just a cheap price. Ergobaby owners felt most satisfied with the value of their carrier, and even though they likely paid a higher price, most likely felt it was worth it. That doesn’t mean other brands aren’t worth consideration, so let’s see what each brand has to offer below.
Baby Carrier Brands
To help you make an informed decision about which brand baby carrier is best for your needs, here is an overview of the brands featured in our review. Many other brands are available, but these are arguably the biggest brands in Australia, and are a good first port of call for your next baby carrier purchase.
In Australia, Ergobaby is distributed by Babes in Arms and offers a huge range of baby carriers, with most being front carrier-centric. Ergobaby features the ‘All-Position Omni 360 Collection’, which is a range designed for all seating positions. It claims to be suitable for babies anywhere from 3.2 to 15kg, which is the size of a toddler. Ergobaby also publishes a guide to help parents decide, with wraps and hip seats also available, making mum or dad the ultimate kid-holding tree. Ergobaby carriers can be found for under $200, but the Omni 360 range is broaching the upper-$200 mark. Ergobaby was a stellar performer in our ratings, with five stars for overall satisfaction and in every other research category.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, BabyBjorn is a Swedish-based company specialising in family and baby products, and has a fairly concise range of baby carriers. Most err towards front carriers, but the dearer models can be customised to suit either front or rear applications. Cheaper models feature more basic functionality but still get the same materials and designs that the dearer ones do. The cheapest models start at around $130, while the dearest ones fetch nearly $300. The ‘Carrier One’ is the flagship model in BabyBjorn’s line-up and is designed to be an ideal carrier for hiking. It is suitable for newborns through to 3 year olds, and features four-way front and back functionality. BabyBjorn was a solid performer in our 2017 review, with four stars for overall satisfaction and in every other research category.
Hug a Bub
As the name might suggest, Hug a Bub is a brand primarily focussed on slings and wraps, rather than carriers. If you really wanted to turn your baby into a ‘babyritto’ then Hug a Bub may be a good bet. Its range includes pocket wraps, lightweight wraps, cotton mesh ring slings and even reversible ring slings. Hug a Bub claims to have ignited the baby wrap and sling craze here in Australia and its ring sling range is said to be ideal for breastfeeding as it’s easy to get on and off and work around. All products feature organic cotton and soft-touch fabrics, and costs range from $100 to $120. For a cheaper alternative, Hug-a-bub may be it, but keep in mind it features no traditional carriers. Hug a bub was rated four-stars overall and in other research categories such as value for money, comfort & support and flexibility.
Kmart is a purveyor of cheap, trendy homewares and clothes, but what you might not know is it also produces a baby carrier – just one. It’s designed to be pretty utilitarian and can be fitted three ways. It’s suitable for babies 3+ months old and has a max load weight of 9kg. It features polyester for the shell and polyurethane foam for the filling to cocoon your little one. It also features adjustable head support for growing babies. It costs about $30, making it a great deal cheaper than most other brands. Price wasn’t the only consideration for parents, however, as Kmart was rated three stars overall and three stars in every other research category including value for money.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have bought a baby carrier, sling or wrap in Australia in the last 3 years – in this case, 513 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.