Best Budget Baby Carrier 2019
The robust Connecta baby carrier folds up to fit into your changing bag with lots of room to spare – and it doesn't break the bank either. No wonder it’s a firm sling library favourite.
Written by Adele Jarrett-Kerr, published 13 March 2019
Verdict in 10 seconds
- Brilliantly affordable option
- Simple to use with minimal fuss
- Compact for folding – lighter and more flexible than most soft-structured carriers
- Some will love its adaptability while others will prefer a carrier with a bit more padding
- Lightweight cotton makes it an ideal summer sling
- Straightforward design avoids any confusing details like zips and pockets
- Close fit offers exceptional support
- Minimal padding on the shoulder straps makes carries less bulky
- Single-pull shoulder straps mean less to think about when adjusting
- Good value for money as it takes you into your child’s third year
- No newborn insert needed
- Simple back panel makes the style unobtrusive depending on the pattern you choose
- Unique panel options available such as woven wrap fabric
- May trail the floor when putting on and taking off
- No pockets when sleep hood is in use
- Less padding makes getting an ideal fit vital
- Limited to two carries (front inward and back)
What are the key features?
- Offers front inward-facing and back carry positions (although there are hacks for hip carries)
- Suitable for babies weighing 7.5-52.5 lbs, in theory, but designed to give a supportive fit until the age of two or two and a half
- Soft cotton construction (organic for plain colours) and machine washable
- Can be personalised with standard or petite straps
- Crossover straps for added back support
- Accessible sleep hood tucks into carrier in front carry to create a pocket for small soft items, such as toys
- Base can be cinched in for newborns with a small accessory strap
- Available in 10+ colours and patterns
- Contoured, crossable shoulder straps
What are the specs?
- Suitable from birth to approximately two years old
- Panel size: H: 43cm; W: 35.5cm
- RRP: £75+ at time of review
- Estimated resale value: £30-50 at time of review
- Extras you can buy: teething pads (£10.95), replacement accessory strap (£3.75)
How easy is the Connecta to operate?
From unboxing, the Connecta is ready to go. Based on the ancient Chinese Mei Tai carrier design, it’s an uncomplicated cloth panel updated with buckles for speed and ease. Soft-structured carriers don’t get simpler than this.
Its instruction manual is remarkably clear with brief step-by-step instructions, detailed pictures and lots of tips for ensuring your baby is held in a safe and comfortable position. While there aren’t links to official instructional videos, videos made by sling libraries are continuing to spring up on YouTube.
Our testers found no difficulty in getting their babies in and out of the Connecta and only needed to consult the instructions once. However, one of them found it tricky to get really comfortable, so you may have to experiment or visit a sling library to find the positioning that works for you.
How adjustable is it?
Although lacking the bells and whistles of many other soft-structured carriers, the Connecta is surprisingly adaptable to both baby and wearer’s size.
The flexible, unpadded waistband is designed to move more easily to get the closest possible fit. Minimal padding on the shoulder straps also allows for a tighter fit. Combined, they make this carrier a brilliant option for sharing between wearers of different builds.
That said, one of our testers found the straps difficult to tighten once the baby was in the carrier as they can be stiff when when bought new. You could work around this by either spending some time breaking them in or buying second-hand.
Single pull straps make it relatively easy to fit and go without much thought. Once pulled tight, the carrier gives a snug custom fit, but some wearers will find opting for petite straps even more helpful here.
A small accessory strap, included with the carrier, allows you to shorten the width of the seat for younger babies so the sling can be worn from the newborn stage.
“The buckled, but single, pull makes this one of the easiest slings to fit. It’s unpadded nature is also fab for this.”
How comfortable is it?
Made from lightweight cotton, the Connecta is more supportive than you’d assume at first sight. It broadly distributes your baby’s weight in both front and back carry positions and works well for a wide range of body types.
In front carries, the shoulder straps criss-cross the back for added support. One tester’s partner found it the most comfortable of all the baby carriers we trialled.
While reduced padding and lack of a rigid waistband makes the carrier easy to adjust across a range of body shapes, it may take some trial and error to work out how to make it really comfortable for you.
Our tester with a younger baby noted that, while reasonably supportive, the crossed straps pulled on her shoulders and upper back a bit as they tended to slide into her neck.
Light padding on the straps can make long carries less comfortable for some people, which makes getting the fit right really important – you should ensure that the waistband is at an appropriate height. The size of your straps (standard or petite) can also improve your experience.
For added comfort in back carries, the accessory strap becomes a chest strap, which evenly distributes your growing baby’s weight.
“My baby seems comfortable and settles well in it. I do find he gets quite heavy in this carrier, so I don’t really find it comfortable to wear for long periods of time.”
How does it look?
The basic design allows the carrier to blend with diverse clothing styles. Connecta offer a variety of patterns and colours and their main retailer, Koala Slings, normally offers two or three block colours, five or six patterns and three or four limited edition prints.
Wrap conversions (made with a panel of woven wrap material) are also available. The otherwise minimalist carrier can be fun, bold or neutral, depending on the print you choose.
What's it like to use day-to-day?
The Connecta makes multi-tasking simple – this carrier holds a baby firmly in place with no other support needed.
Older babies are most likely to be worn in back carries. It's not bulky, which makes getting into a deep-seated back position easy with the baby unlikely to get caught in any folds, and the body panel flexibly moving with your baby when shifting from hip to back.
Light cotton makes the Connecta cooler than most other soft-structured carriers and an ideal summer sling. Go for the solarweave option if you’re likely to go somewhere hot and always count your sling as a layer of clothing, whatever temperatures you carry in.
A huge selling point of the Connecta is its ability to fold up neatly, making it easy to store and take and out about with you. Once folded, the accessory strap can be attached as a handle.
While breastfeeding is possible in this carrier, Connecta recommend only doing this when your baby has good head control at four months or older.
How safe is the carrier?
Our testers found getting their babies in and out of the carrier simple to get right and that their babies felt secure once buckled in. The Connecta’s long front panel supports the baby’s body well while leaving their head and limbs free to move comfortably.
The carrier is excellently finished and able to take a beating with long straps set below baby level. Its structure allows hips to settle in the 'M' position without difficulty, however you may have to experiment with the accessory strap to make a narrower seat for a younger baby.
If unsettled, a younger baby can throw themselves backward which may make holding them in position with one hand while crossing and buckling the strap in a front carry tricky. With practice, bringing the straps around you to clip at the opposite sides will become second nature for both you and your little one.
How easy is it to clean?
The Connecta is a high performer when it comes to cleaning. It can’t be washed at high temperatures, but spot cleaning by hand or machine washing on a delicate cycle gets the job done. Connecta carriers containing wool can only be spot cleaned or hand washed. In our test, mud washed off well at 30 degrees in the machine and the material remained unfaded.
The bright pattern we tested didn’t show up dirt, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the carrier can trail the ground when being put on and taken off – something to keep an eye on if using it at muddy festivals.
Older babies may suck the shoulder straps, but Connecta suck pads can be bought to remedy this.
All in all, the Connecta performs well as a day-to-day carrier, especially considering its compact size and lower-end price tag. It could be heavy for some after longer stints though. While less padding makes it less bulky, some wearers will prefer more structure for comfort.
It packs value for money as it’s suitable for baby to toddler and the price won’t hurt if buying as a second carrier to follow a stretchy wrap. Our conclusion is that it could a bit Marmite, but, for the money, it’s well worth a look.
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For more information about what to look for when buying a baby carrier, check out our buyer's guide.
All prices correct at time of publication
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