A Consumer's Guide to Buying a Safe Carrier
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A Consumer's Guide to Buying a Safe Carrier

If you're reading this, you're aware of how important it is to keep your baby close -- it’s essential for their emotional, social, physical, and intellectual development, and using a baby carrier to facilitate this makes your life a whole lot easier, too. Now that you’ve decided to buy one, you face the potentially challenging task of which one(s) to buy. No one can make that decision for you, but we can help you figure out which ones are safely constructed and which you should avoid.

Where to buy:

What you need to know about the laws governing baby carriers:

Types of baby carriers and what to look for:

With all baby carriers, thorough use and care instructions should be included. Printed directions are required, and video may also be included for greater clarity. [more]

A carrier that comes from its manufacturer without instructions is likely made by someone who isn’t fully versed in how to wear it, and will not be able to help if you have questions about using it. In addition, using a carrier without instructions is much more likely to result in injuries or death, since any product, baby carriers included, is only as safe as the person using it. Consider returning a new carrier that arrives without instructions, or if you chose not to, be sure that it was made with the safety considerations below.

Front packs:

The most commonly-available carriers in large retail chains are front packs. Front packs like the Bjorn, Snuggli, and many Infantino carriers, have an ASTM standard to which they are required to conform. [more]

If the product packaging states it is compliant with the standard (number F2236-13a), you can be assured it has been tested and has passed the appropriate standard. However, the standard assumes that you will read and follow all product instructions, so don’t try to use the carrier without reading the directions and being sure you fully understand them.

Soft-structured carriers:

Soft-structured carriers consist of a rectangular body, stiff or formed waistband, and backpack-like straps with buckles for attachment. They are among the easiest to use, but it can take some trial and error to find the one that best fits your body type.

Those sold in large retail and boutique stores will generally be safe for purchase.

Beh dei:

Beh deis (formerly referred to as "mei tais") have a rectangular or hourglass-shaped body, with four straps that tie together; or two straps that tie with a buckle waist. They are simple to use and can be shared by partners of differing body types and sizes.

Beh deis should be constructed similarly to SSCs. Look for:

The ASTM standard for SSCs and beh deis is mandatory. Look for manufacturers who state their compliance and avoid those who say they have not tested their products, since it is illegal to sell them without compliance.

(There is no such thing as "BCIA compliant" or variants thereof; the BCIA is a valuable organization, but does no testing or certification itself. Compliance goes through testing labs and the CPSC alone.)


Wraparound carriers (usually referred to as wraps) can be made from a variety of fabric types and in different lengths, ranging between 2.7 to 5.7 meters long. Multiple carrying positions are possible with each length. The fabric is wrapped around the body in various configurations to form the carrier; thorough understanding of the instructions is vital.

What to look for:

Ring Slings:

Ring slings are made from a length of fabric, shorter than a woven wrap, and adjusted by a pair of rings sewn in to one end. While they are less versatile than a wrap, ring slings are quicker to put on. They can usually be shared by partners of different body types and sizes, and while sizing may be available, slings are fairly forgiving in terms of their lengths.

What to look for:


Pouches are a tube of fabric, generally sewn with a smile-shaped seam where the baby’s bum rests. They are highly portable, often small enough to fold into a diaper bag, but need to be correctly fitted to the wearer and usually cannot be shared between partners.

What to look for:

The ASTM standard for wraps, ring slings, and pouches will be mandatory in early 2018. At that time, look for manufacturers who state their compliance and avoid those who say they have not tested their products, since it will be illegal to sell them at that point.

Other safety considerations:

Finally, be aware that babies are safest when they’re closest to their caregiver. No product can soothe a baby like their caregiver’s touch, and nothing keeps a baby safer than being with their caregiver.