Unfortunately there are baby carriers being sold online that are either irresponsibly made cheap alternatives or illegally faked copies of well respected brands. You’re more at risk of accidentally purchasing one of these when buying from individuals or shops on auction or marketplace sites like eBay and Amazon.
Whenever you are considering buying a new carrier from an online seller, make sure that they are a genuine, approved retailer, and that the website is a genuine one. You can check seller information and contact details and compare to manufacturer stockist lists). You can also get in touch with us for retailer recommendations. It’s also a good idea to check that the carrier you’re buying has been made to high standards using good quality materials. If quality and safety information isn’t available on a carrier or retailer’s website, then try to check independent user reviews very carefully before buying, or pop along to the sling library to see it for yourself!
For second hand carrier or sling purchases (or even hand-downs from friends and family) it’s a great idea to check where a carrier was originally purchased. Consider it’s condition carefully, especially if it’s old and has been well used, and check that you can access instructions on safe use. Again, if you’re in any doubt you can always see us for help!
Buying ‘home-made’ or un-tested carriers:
There are many sellers online and small-scale manufacturers that make and sell their own baby carriers (mostly Mei Tais and wrap carriers, but also SSC/buckle carriers). Many of these are very well regarded and have very high standards of construction and material quality. However, there are some who are less diligent whose carriers may not meet the same level of safety standards.
Many of these lower quality carriers will be much cheaper than other brands, but this generally reflects the lower quality of workmanshop. You should expect to pay at least £30 for a reasonable quality new carrier at the bottom end of the market (though Pouches and Ring Slings may be a bit less, and SSCs should be more). Anything costing less is unlikely to be safe, and is likely to use extremely poor quality materials and manufacturing techniques. This is especially the case with online auction sites like eBay. The Library has an example of a cheap buckle carrier bought from ebay – the first time we used it the body panel fabric tore where the pocket was sewn on! There have also been cases of waist buckles breaking or seams ripping or fraying whilst carriers have been in use.
From our experience with baby carriers, we believe that you really get what you pay for, and would recommend you invest an extra £20, £30 or £50 more to ensure that you’re getting the best quality as this will translate to much better durability, fit and comfort. We can advise on what to look out for in a safe, well constructed baby carrier, and suggest some reputable and reliable retailers for you to buy from.
We would like to emphasise that not all un-tested carriers are unsafe – there are many individuals making excellent quality carriers using strong and durable techniques and fabrics. This especially applies to small-scale professionals who make wrap conversions as they are unable to afford to test each fabric seperately (in the UK safety testing for baby carrier and slings is not currently a legal requirement). A good, diligent and responsbile baby carrier maker will use long established, strong and durable sewing techniques and their professional judgement to ensure that materials used will support a child for 3 or more years of carrying. Most of these carrier makers will be able to give you information on their standards, manufacturing techniques, and any independent test results and we would advise you to stay away from a maker who can’t or won’t do this.
For complete peace of mind, you can buy from a larger scale manufacturer who has had their carriers independently tested to industry recognised safety standards. Possible relevent standards for soft baby carriers include:
European Guidelines for the safety of children’s slings – CEN/TR 16512:2015 Sling Technical Report (available to buy here). This technical report makes recommendations for all soft slings and carriers without enclosed leg openings, where the parent/adult’s body forms part of the supporting structure of the carrier. This includes wraps, ring slings, pouches, mei tais, and many types of multiway soft structured carrier.
British Safety Standard for Baby Carriers EN 13209-2-2005 (available to buy here). This voluntary standard applies to front pack, back pack and multiway carriers that have enclosed leg openings.
Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Sling Carriers ASTM F2907 – 14b (available to buy here). This standard is now a compulsory requirement for slings and carriers sold in the US.
Specific Carrier Brands that are known to be faked include:
Ergo Baby Carrier:
There are many fake Ergos being sold, especially on second hand and auction sites like eBay and Gumtree. The fakes are often listed as ‘brand new in box with instructions’ and some may also mention a DVD (no new genuine Ergos currently come with an instruction DVD). The fakes have not been tested to safety standards, some are very low quality and all are obviously illegally sold so should be avoided if possible.
You should expect to pay at least £85 for a genuine new ErgoBaby carrier and it might help in justifying that to know that my daughter’s childminder still uses her Ergo Original Carrier to carry her nearly 4 year old home from nursery when she’s tired, so if it’s the soft carrier that fits you best, then it’s definitely a great investment that will last!
Please be very wary of any ‘new’ Ergos being sold at less than around £85, and we would very strongly recommend that you purchase your Ergo new from a recognised Ergo distributor. No approved Ergo retailers sell on eBay so be very wary when buying from there. There is a list of UK retailers on the Ergo website here, and many of the shops listed have an online store that you can purchase from: http://www.ergobaby.eu/en/ergo_baby_stores.html?country=United+Kingdom.
Here is a page from the official Ergo website about spotting a fake: http://www.ergobaby.eu/en/blog_31-as-seen-on-bbc-one-fake-britain.html
If you’re worried that you may have purchased a fake Ergo, this site is very helpful, with what to look out for and what steps to take: http://www.borndirect.com/blog/2011/10/04/help-i-think-ive-bought-a-fake-ergo/ similar information is also here: http://www.first-signs.com/fake.html
For more information and detailed descriptions of some fake Ergos, see this great forum thread: http://naturalmamas.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=127891 and it’s also worth reading the notice on the Ergo Baby website here: http://store.ergobaby.com/Content/AboutUs_Counterfeits#
The following sites are known to be fake or to sell fake Ergos (these do get closed down regularly and so the names change – look out for ‘too good to be true’ discounts, discounts across the whole range available or colours not available on genuine sites): http://www.ergobabycarriers.co.uk, http://www.ergobaby2013.co.uk
Freehand Mei Tai:
There are Mei Tais being sold online as Freehand Mei Tais (and some which are not named as such, but that are copies of Freehand Mei Tai designs), but which do not meet the same standards for materials or construction. The fakes seem to be mainly a brown design with a ‘Nest’ embroidery pattern, but there are also some that are brown with different coloured flowers (a copy of the ‘Theresa’ design).
The Library holds an example of a very cheaply made, ‘Minizone’ Mei Tai, as well as a genuine Freehand Mei Tai. These Minizone Mei Tais are often seen on eBay, and sold second hand as Freehand Mei Tais, but they are actually very poor quality fakes. We were mis-sold this Mei Tai, but have kept it so that you can compare the quality of materials and constructions techniques between carriers that do/do not meet European Safety Standards for baby carriers, and be able to recognise carriers that are potentially un-tested and/or un-safe fakes.
More information about the Minizone Faked Freehand Mei Tais can be found here: http://malaysianbabywearers.lefora.com/2011/03/29/minizone-mei-tai-vs-freehand-mei-tai/
Moby Baby Wrap:
Counterfaiet Moby Wraps are widely available online, especially from auction and marketplace sites like eBay and Amazon. They are not made to the same quality or ethical standards as genuine Moby Wraps, and may contain dyes not suitable for an item that babies will suck on. A real Moby Wrap should cost around £35-£45 depending on the model (some, such as the Moby D cost more).
More information about counterfeit Moby Wraps, including comparison photos and various ways to spot the difference between a real Moby Wrap and a fake may be found here: http://tinytapir.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/beware-of-fake-moby-wraps/, here: http://www.naturalmamas.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?p=1915534#post1915534 and also here: http://www.precious-bundle.co.uk/fake-moby-wrap-ebay-amazon/
Beco Baby Carriers (Gemini and Butterfly):
There is an important counterfeit notice on the Beco website here: http://www.becobabycarrier.com/faq.asp
And more information about how to spot a faked Beco (and other carriers): http://paxbaby.com/category/babywearers_unite/counterfeit-carrier-info/
The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance has the following warning regarding faked carriers: http://babycarrierindustryalliance.memberlodge.org/fakes