The Myth of the "BAD" Carrier

At least a couple of times a month a parent comes in and says they have a Baby Bjorn or other narrow based baby carrier which they were using, perhaps not comfortably but happily using nonetheless, but now they are worried because they heard that it was "BAD", "Bad for their babies hips" or even worse that it was "dangerous".  Once a parent even dissolved into tears because they thought they'd damaged their baby.  As much as I love the internet, I really wish people would stop using it to scare parents.

It is well past time to bust the myth of the BAD carrier. Time and time again I hear sentences like "I've been told the Baby Bjorn is bad and only the Ergo holds baby correctly".  While there are differences between narrow based carriers and more ergonomically designed wider based carriers (of which the Ergo is just one of a great many!)... the most important thing is baby positioning and NOT the carrier they are in.  It is more than possible to get good positioning in a narrow based carrier if you know what you're looking for, equally if you simply plonk your child in even the most brilliant wide based carrier with no idea what you are looking for it is certainly possible to end up with a suboptimal carry.

So as a picture is worth a thousand words, let's take a look at what I mean!  My models are the wonderful Cat and William, and William is just 8 weeks old in these pictures (albeit he is quite a tall 8 week old).  Looking first at a narrow based carrier - here we have used the Baby Bjorn Original carrier.

The first two pictures (on the left) were taken just plonking poor William in without paying any attention to his positioning.  Note how his legs hang straight down and this in turn pulls his spine straight.  This means he is bearing the weight of his legs and the weight of his body is resting on his upper thighs and crotch.  Developmentally his spine should be curved into a c shape so the carrier is currently artificially straightening him out.  None of this is dangerous, it's just all less comfortable for him.  It's also less comfortable for his Mum as all of his 6kg is resting solely on her shoulders and upper back only.

Now let's compare this to the two pictures on the right.  Here we have thought carefully about William's positioning, and how to achieve a better position for him.  First and foremost we have tucked his pelvis so that his weight is resting on his bottom and not on his inner thighs.  To do this Cat literally reached inside the carrier and swept downwards and toward herself to tilt his pelvis such that his bottom is right in the base of the carrier.  Then, because the carrier isn't wide enough to continue to support him in this position (he could easily re-straighten from this point), we have used a scarf to support his legs in this "spread squat" position (full tutorial on how to do this here).  By supporting his legs so his knees are at least as high as his hips (or higher), he is bearing none of the weight of his own legs and all of his weight is resting quite comfortably on his bottom.  The other knock on effect of this more tucked position is allowing his spine to adopt its natural curved c shape and consequently bringing his head to rest comfortably on his mum's chest.  The addition of the scarf seems like such a tiny change, but you can see from the photos what a massive difference it makes to how William's body is positioned in the sling, and consequently to his comfort levels.  And not only his comfort, the scarf also helps give his Mum support at her waist helping to distribute baby's weight better.

Now let's take a look a wide based more ergonomic carrier.  Here we have used the newest Ergo model - the Ergo Omni 360.

Again the first two pictures (on the left) were taken just plonking William in, and generally putting the carrier on in the manor most parents do if they haven't ever been professionally demonstrated a buckle carrier.  You will note the base of the Ergo Omni is much wider and thus William's legs do not hang down.  But if you zoom in you will see his knees are pointing downward and his weight appears to be resting on his thighs rather than on his bottom.  Likewise, again his back has been artificially straightened out by the carrier.  In this has happened in part because his pelvis is not tilted toward his Mum, and partly because the waistband is too low with respect to Mum - which has ment baby is too low and due to this is straightened out as Mum tightens the straps.

By contrast, the two pictures on the right show optimal positioning.  Again we have performed a pelvic tilt - sweeping William's pelvis toward his Mum so that he sits directly onto his bottom in the base of the carrier.  We have also raised the carrier's waistband so that it sits on Cat's true waist, rather than her hips.  The result is that we can see William's legs are in a beautiful spread squat, weight is firmly on his bottom and not being carried in his hips or thighs and his back is once again in a beautiful c shape with his head resting comfortably on his mothers chest.  So much more comfortable.  And likewise Mum is more comfortable because, by having the carrier tight and on her true waist, William's weight is transferred onto her hips.

Again small changes have made all the difference!

While I have shown just two carriers here, the same applies for literally any carrier on the market.  It matters less WHICH carrier you have versus HOW you are using it.  

Don't get me wrong here - I am not suggesting we all go out and buy Bjorn Originals! There are big big differences between narrow and wide based carriers, in terms of how easy it is to get a great positioning for your baby and a comfortable carry for you.  And in terms of how long those carriers will last you.  Most narrow based carriers such as the Bjorn Original only really work from around 4-6 weeks until around 5-6 months after which they generally become too heavy and too uncomfortable even with the scarf trick.  Whereas the vast majority of wide based carriers will last well until around 2-3 years of age.  In fact you can just how well they fit a 3 year old here.  These wide based carriers do vary in terms of how well they fit a newborn, with many working best from 4-6 months but there are an increasing number on the market that do fit newborns well such as the Ergo Adapt, Ergo Omni, Izmi, Mamaruga Zen sling and Tula free to grow to name a few.  Hence I would always advise anyone purchasing a new buckle carrier to purchase a wide based carrier.

However, many people are given second hand carriers by friends, and often these are narrow based carriers such as the Bjorn Original (in fact, I would say nearly 50% of the time someone brings a sling that they have been given to one of my sessions its a Baby Bjorn Original!).  While I wouldn't advise spending money on one of these, anyone who is given one shouldn't feel bad using it.  Yes it won't last as long as a wide based carrier, and yes it won't be as comfortable for you as a wide based carrier but it does give you a flavour for carrying your baby!  Following the advice above will make it more comfortable for you and your baby and gives you time to see how carrying your baby works for your family and how it can help you and then you can spend the money on buying your own carrier safe in the knowledge this is something that you'd like to do!  In fact, I have worked with a great many parents who have used a newborn sling such as a stretchy wrap or a Caboo around the home for the fourth trimester period, then used a gifted Bjorn for a couple of months for out and about when their little one is starting to grow out of the stretchy or Caboo developmentally and then move onto a wide based buckle carrier around 5-6 months when baby fits into these better.  Moral of the story - used correctly with a little help from a scarf, a narrow based carrier can have a time and a place.

There is no such thing as a "Bad Carrier", only poor positioning or a carrier that that doesn't fit well.  No matter what carrier you have (or if you haven't bought one yet) the best thing you can do, is go along to a sling library or visit your local consultant and get advice on how best to fit your carrier to you and baby.


If you found this article helpful and would like to help support Sheen Slings in producing content like this and keeping it free and accessable for all please consider contributing here.


Published by sheenslings

Trained and Insured Babywearing Consultant and owner of Sheen Slings Sling Library and Consultancy in South West London. Mother to 2 and former research scientist with a PhD in Immunology.

25 thoughts on “The Myth of the "BAD" Carrier

  1. Sorry, but this is bullshit. I hope you do not teach parents what to use to carry their babies and how to use it...

    1. Hi Milena - Thank you for your opinion, and constructive criticism. Might I ask what qualifications you have to back up your stance, or evidence? I am happy to provide you with evidence behind everything I state in this article and my qualifications as a babywearing consultant. I also have a PhD in Immunology, so I fully believe in the importance of evidence, fact based debate and understanding the reasoning and science behind things - which is what I have tried to do here. Simply sayings something is"bad" or "Bullshit" is not helpful to anyone. No one learns from it. It doesn't help anyone and instead puts a great number of people off carrying and thus all the benefits babywearing provides.

    1. Thank you for your opinion Gina. I sincerely invite both you and Milena to come back to me with what specificly you don't agree with this article. Lets have a open, evidence based debate on this so that new parents can get all the information - pros, cons, benefits and risks and make their OWN choices. Unfortunately single word statements like "Bullshit" or "Bad" are ambiguous and not helpful when it comes to arming people with enough information to navigate the quagmire of conflicting stances can come to their own feelings on what is best for them and their family.

  2. Great post!

    We see so many parents who have been gifted BBs. Although they invariably go on to replace them with something that provides a more optimal fit without adaptations, I agree they can be a very accessible way to start carrying. It's always lovely when we can empower the parents we see with more comfortable ways of using their gifts for a safe and happy carry! And often rebuild their confidence a little when they've been told their carrier is no good...

    1. Thank you! And thank you for sharing your experience. Like you I have seen many parents who have had their confidence shaken by being stopped in the street or negative comments in response to a photo posted on Facebook. Its nice when you can help restore this confidence and empower families to carry however is comfortable for them. Often that is a new carrier, but if it helps get them started, then it can't be all 'bad' 😀

  3. Hi Madeline, I'm writing a story for MedTruth on carriers & hip dysplasia and would like to add your overall comment about carriers. My deadline is Monday. Could you provide your last name, and let me know if this represents your opinion accurately:
    While some professionals, like Madeline XXX, Slingababy consultant and research scientist, say the position caregivers place their infants in is much more important than the actual carrier, others, like Erika Krumbeck of do not recommend narrow carriers like Baby Bjorn brand, in particular, because it places excessive force on infants’ hip joints.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Kimberly! Thanks for getting in contact - I will email you directly RE your article in a few moments!

      But for those reading here - yes broadly speaking yes it is my opinion based on my training and my experience that positioning is more important than the carrier. It is more that possible to position a baby in a way that puts their weight on their inner thighs and thus pressure on their hip joints in a wide based carrier. I have seen it happen over and over again, and parents are almost always shocked to discover this because they thought having a wide based carrier meant that they didn't have to think about positioning at all and that it was automatic!

      However, it is worth noting that I don't recommend narrow based carriers either. I don't because it is harder to get and maintain a great positioning, compared to a wide based carrier. It is much much easier to get a good seated position with all of baby's weight on their bottom and no pressure on the hip joint in a wide based carrier. So for parents who don't currently have a carrier or who can easily afford to purchase a new carrier I will always recommend a wide based carrier. However, for parents who already have a narrow based carrier I'd rather teach them how to position their baby in a way that protects their hips than suggest they go out and buy something new that they may or may not be able to afford.

  4. Hi Madeline, I just want to say how absolutely mind blown I am by this post and a huge THANK YOU!! For the insightful education ... based on logic and my limited knowledge already, your points make SO much sense. I'm just annoyed with myself for being ignorant of these things (for my child's comfort and health) until now.

    So I cannot thank you enough! Knowledge is power and you've definitely empowered this mumma with your post 😍🙌 I will be sharing this with everyone! A cup of coffee is the least I can do for your hard work hehe thanks again xx

    1. Hi Tanaya!

      Thank you for your kind words and thank you so much for the coffee - so hugely appreciated! I am so glad you found the article helpful and empowering, I am touched as this is exactly what I set out to do. Please don't be annoyed at yourself for not knowing something, none of us can ever know everything and so much of my why is that I knew none of this when I started! We are all learning together.

      Thank you again and best!

  5. Dear Madeleine,

    I have a question. We were gifted a Baby Bjorn carrier before my birth by my midwife friend. I trusted her with the choice and didn’t do my research on the carriers. We have been using it for 2-3 hours/ week since he was born. He is going to be 4 months old next week and i just noticed that sometimes he looks uncomfortable therefore I started to do my research now. I know now that it was a mistake but is it too late to switch to a different kind? I am thinking about buying a cloth that I can tie around me however I see fit but I would like to ask for your opinion which is best for him.

    Thank you in advance!
    Excuse me for any mistakes in grammar ir typos, English is not my first language.


    1. Dear Bernadatte

      It is definitely not too late to change to a different carrier at all. And you haven't made a mistake at all! Using your Bjorn has allowed you and your baby to enjoy the closeness and benefits of babywearing. How could that possibly be a mistake?

      Often Baby Bjorn carriers (depending on model) can actually work quite well for little babies and then they quickly grow out of them and it become less comfortable for both parent and babe... sounds like this is what is starting to happen now. So definitely worth investigating other options that will give you both more support and more flexibility.

      If you would like to explore different options with me, I do offer online consults via Zoom (see the our services tab) and would be able to see you and your little one and make personalised recommendations accordingly as well as showing you different options so you could see how they work in real time.

      Or for a cloth sling I wholeheartedly recommend taking a look at Woven Wraps (rather than Stretchy wraps - at 4 months, stretchy wraps wouldn't give you much more time before he grew out of them). You can see tutorials and much more information about these under the learning zone tab (in tutorials and frequently asked questions).

      I hope that helps!

  6. Hi,
    I recognise myself while reading this article : We have a Baby Bjorn carrier and it's the second time that we received a comment that baby bjorn is not good and can cause damage to hip... When searching more information on internet, I can see that the subject is blurry and and it's difficult to have correct information with facts.



    1. Hi William - I am sorry you have experienced this issue of people commenting in this way. I hope it didn't deter you from carrying your little one and enjoying the benefits of babywearing that you get regardless of what carrier you use. I really hope the article help give you the information you need to carry in whatever way works for you and your family. Yes the subject is a bit blurry but your absolutely not damaging your baby by carrying them in a carrier and meeting their needs for security and closeness.
      If I can help in anyway please do ask!

  7. I am sure you meant well, but ergonomic baby wearing is not only about the hip joint position. Babies back is very important too. In these expensive and stiff carriers (in some languages these are called "hangers" because the baby hangs in there) their back is not supported properly like in good carriers from a viwen sling material and hence can not achieve a C position. So while puting a scarf around the hips makes it slightly better, the whole wearing is still inappropriate and not advisable. Considering how expensive the innapropriate hangers are, we should be more vocal about the correct carrier brands, who unlike babybjorn are small local brands.
    It is just a matter of time, until they will (hopefully) get regulated and banned from the market. In many countries (Germany for example) you will not see these innapropriate hanging devices anymore. Even big brands started acquiring ergonomic brands - eg Stokke by acquiring Limas Carriers.

    1. Interesting! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! And your very black and white, good verses bad thinking. As the hip and spine are joined actually by considering one you are considering both. And I am not sure if you've ever actually tried any of the brands you have called bad, but actually the newer models of Baby Bjorn and others are made from incrediably soft material.

      But I am glad you brought up the issue of cost. So often parents I see using the older stiffer narrow Bjorns and other narrow based carriers are parents who simply can not afford to purchase a new carrier, nor import from Europe a new carrier. And so often people telling them carriers that they can afford because they've been gifted or purchased cheapily second hand simply shames them. My article was designed to show that positioning is key and snobbery and elitism that some carriers are Good and others are Bad and that you have to spend a certain amount or not spend a certain amount to acheive any of that.

      Seems like my point was lost on you?

      Funnily enough I think the brands you would like to see banned wouldn't be because they updated their carriers and listened to feedback years ago!

      1. Baby Bjorn is not a cheap alternative for parents who can not afford good brands. Babybjorn is an extremely expensive brand compared to ergonomic carriers and slings. They use very cheap plastic materials and sell it for exorbitant prices which is very immoral. There are cheap ergonomic carriers all over the world who cost a fraction of what Baby bjorn does. You misunderstand the concept of seeing in black and white unfortunatelly. There are gray areas (many actually) but Baby Bjorn and other stiff "carriers" are not one of them. A gray area would be the cheap brand Kinderkraft for example. Baby Bjorn knows very well what they are doing and it is purly profit driven. You can not position a baby well in a stiff Baby Bjorn.
        Again I am sure you meant well, but please, look deeper into what ergonomic wearing means.

  8. You misunderstand me. Most parents I see using the older stiffer Bjorns you mention have been given them (as I stated above). Bjorn don't sell these any more (only the softer ones!), so they only times I see them are when parents are gifted them second hand (or more often 3rd or 4th hand) or purchased them for £5 in a charity shop. All carriers are ALOT more expensive than free.

    Are you telling me that if a new parent, who is nervous came to you with carrier that they had received for free you would tell them "You must not wear that, that is BAD, you must go out and spend £100 an independant local sling?". Even though you don't know if that carrier is something that can afford? Or would you treat them with more compasion and meet them where they are right now?

    I have indeed looked deeper into ergonomics and as someone with years spent in biological research I dare say I understand the research on this matter better than you do. And it is really interesting as I don't actually disagree with you in that I know that other carriers make it easier to acheive great positioning. And I do say this in the above article. I have so many articles on this site which look further into positioning and reviews carriers that can offer great positioning and ones where this is harder. Those reviews are available for those who do wish to purchase a new carrier. But I do REALLY REALLY strongly disagree with how perscriptive your comments are. So full of "should", "must"... no room for providing parents with information and allowing them to form their own conclusions.

    I feel you missed the whole point of this article which is to move away from GOOD verses BAD and hard and fast rules and look at the why behind everything. The article goes into quite alot of depth about ergonomics and how to acheive positioning but seems like you didn't really actually read it and didn't get past its a Bjorn and thus must be bad, even if steps have been taken to make it as comfortable as possible.

    And as I've said in the article even a carrier that makes acheiving an ergonomic position really easy can be used in a way that is not ergonomic... but seems like you missed that bit too. So prehaps you could leave off the condescending "I'm sure you meant well comments", learn to read the whole article before you comment and take your hard and fast rules else where.

    1. The current Baby Bjorn are still considered stiff which means that an ergonomic position for the back of the baby is impossible to achieve.

      Not sure why you are comparing the price of used items with new items.

      Used second hand ergonomic carriers and slings are as well very cheap and almost free, sometimes actually free. There are also sling libraries in many places.

      It is simply a lie that you can position a baby well in a Babybjorn and simmilar. You are not helping parents who can not afford a normal sling, but a rutheless brand selling overpriced plastic things.

      The truth is that most parents buy expensive Babybjorns because they have been sold by marketing and lack of education / regulation. So let us not do a further disservice by supporting this. There are very few things you actually need for a baby and most are super cheap. Just like with a car seat let us be honest that those 2 things should be a safety priprity. Saving 20 EUR/USD/GBP is really not worth it....

      1. For anyone reading this and feeling "oh this lady says the newer bjorns are still stiff, Madeleine says they are not... what do I beleive"... my review of the Harmony (newest Bjorn) is here you can see me move the fabric and judge for yourself. Its quite clear the lady responding here has never felt one her self or likely watched any unbiased reviews either

        For Jane Andy; Again it seems despite me reexplaining it the whole point of this article has been lost on you. But thank you for pointing out to me about Sling Libraries. Clearly you don't realise I run one! I run 3 monthly drop in sessions in Children's Centres that are entirely free to attend and parents come for unbiased help. Just on Monday we had 18 families come, and tried a whole range of different slings carriers including stretchy wraps, wovens, half buckles, soft buckle carriers such as the Kahu Baby and the Embrace, we even had some twins and we explored options for twins. A few people did bring along gifted Ergos and Bjorns and some other narrow based carriers. And they each received advice based on their individual circumstances, with out judgement and without condemnation. So thank you for pointing out Sling Libraries to me and making it clear to everyone here that you didn't both to read further into this website or into me before attacking me and accusing me of selling Baby Bjorns. I do have a webshop on this site... and anyone wanting to check the truthfulness of this claim can click the "shop" button above and will see quite clearly under Buy that I really don't sell Bjorns. Not because they are bad, or unsafe but because there are more user friendly, more size inclusive, more supportive brands out there.

        So thank you for highlighting your own ignorance and own falsehoods. I won't be responding further to you on my platform, where I provide non judgemental, fact based advice free of charge. Any further comments that contain judgement or falsehoods will be deleted. Best!, Madeleine

  9. But if you need a scarf to correct the position of the baby in the carrier, then how is the carrier not bad? I've never seen a baby in a BB who's positioned right. I don't want a carrier I need to "fix". So in this sense, there are much better carriers.

    1. Hello! Thank you for your comment! Did you miss the paragraph where I say "Don't get me wrong here - I am not suggesting we all go out and buy Bjorn Originals! There are big big differences between narrow and wide based carriers, in terms of how easy it is to get a great positioning for your baby and a comfortable carry for you.  And in terms of how long those carriers will last you.  Most narrow based carriers such as the Bjorn Original only really work from around 4-6 weeks until around 5-6 months after which they generally become too heavy and too uncomfortable even with the scarf trick." ??

      Clearly I agree with you, I don't recommend anyone buys a carrier that needs a fix. But what if you already bought it before you knew this? What if you were gifted this carrier? What if purchasing a new carrier is outside your budget right now? What if you actually just need it to work? I wrote this article because I had so many parents who were in the position of already owning this carrier and wanting to understand how to use it. And because sometimes these parents were chased down in the street and told that their carrier was bad and wrong. Many of these parents did then go onto buy something else but they did so feeling empowered. Empowered with knowledge and understanding, rather than shame.

      So yes I agree with you there are much better carriers, but also if you read the article you will see that it is very possible to use a much better carrier in a way that isn't ergonomical too. I feel this is a really important point too. And one that is often missed!!!! You can own a wider based carrier and still be unaware about the importance of doing a pelvic tuck to check positioning!

    2. Even if we fix the issue with the lwgs and get them into an M position, the back still will not achieve a correct C position due to the stiff structuring of the carrier as pictured in the photo. It is indeed a very bad carrier. And too many people get hypnotized by Babybjorns abd Ergo Babys omnipresent massive advertising 😢.
      It is really difficult to find online info about correct ergonomic brands 🙁.

      So here are some of the brands (there are many more)
      Limas (this one was purchased by Stokke and will hopefully help against the overadvertising of bad carriers)
      Little Frog

      1. Yes! And there are reviews of many of these brands here on this site and on my youtube channel detailing all the wonderful things about these carriers. Others available in the UK where I am based include KahuBaby, Mamaruga, Neko, Oscha Ciaris... and so many more.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: