Thanks to Nam Taan and Orlando for their thoughts on the Beco 8.
We love the Beco 8 because:
• All season carrier. When it gets hot just zip down the front panel to reveal the mesh airflow section which conveniently folds into a small pocket so it doesn’t dangle anywhere.
• Has a really convenient zippered pouch at waist panel where I stored my phone. Handy to reach for and safe too. I guess you can keep whatever you like there…keys, lip balm, money you name it.
• Padded and comfy straps meant I could carry for longperiods. I walked the sandy beaches, padded into the sea to catch a glimpse of some baby sharks ( a fair distance to see them with water just below the waist).
• Good fit at the waist and strap which meant both my husband (6ft 2) and me (5ft 1 and a bit ) could use.
• Fits infant to toddler which meant that my toddler could be back carried.
What we weren’t so keen on…
• It only comes in grey so no patterns or colour choices
• The side closing clasps take a bit of getting use to as it’s a 3 way lock – requires two hands to open.
Selecting a buckle carrier is rather like choosing a pair of jeans- they all look much the same, but they have small features that make them unique. In the same way as the small features in a pair of jeans make one pair perfect and another a no-go for us, so it is with carriers.
When I shop for jeans I decide which features are important to me and this helps me narrow down my options. I then try on the items from the short list to find my perfect fit. Now I have all the features I want and the perfect fit, I turn my attention to colour and fabric and fingers crossed all these come together in one garment for me.
I would suggest following this approach when buying a buckle carrier.
So first things first. You will need to think about who is going to use the carrier, what you are going to use it for, how long you want to be able to carry, how big is your baby when you are starting to use the carrier ,and what is your budget, before moving on to the finer details.
Small things that then make a difference:
- Newborn Usage
Carriers are usually made to last up to 45lbs. They have a wide front panel so that the baby is held in an M position, and supported from knee to knee. This distance is going to be considerably different for a 2 month baby and a two year one.
The panel in all ergonomic carriers will be be too wide for younger babies and different brands will have different ways of dealing with this. Some carriers can be used from 7.7lbs by the panel being narrowed or the baby being raised within the carrier. Others don’t have this feature and they will need an insert to be used for the first few months. Adding an insert can be an additional expense.It will make the carrier more bulky and warmer, which could be a disadvantage in the Summer.
Do you want a structured or unstructured waistband?
Some parents find a structured waistband can dig in to hip bones if they are a small build. Some who are short bodied find a substantial waistband difficult to accommodate. On the flip side an unstructured waistband can feel as if it doesn’t give enough support for the wearer and may be less good if you suffer from back problems.
Without going into the pros and cons of this here- is having a carrier where babe can face outwards important to you?
Facing out is a feature of a limited number of carriers so if this is a deal breaker for you then you need to know which ones you can use in this way.
It is worth noting that many parents who come to me and short list this feature as essential actually rarely use it. Perhaps it is worth reading more about forward facing in carriers to enable you to decide if it really is important to you.
Do you want straps that can cross or are you happy with straps that have to be worn ruck sack style?
I find for smaller babies crossing can get a better fit. If you have narrow shoulders or shoulders that slope down then crossing can be more comfortable.
When you tighten your carrier some have straps that pull forward and others straps that pull backwards. Some have 2 way adjustable straps. It is worth noting that many find pulling the straps backwards less easy than pulling them forwards. AND the direction of pull will of course change according to whether you are doing front or back carries- so if you find the pulling forwards works well for front carries will it then mean you have to do a backward pull when you move on to back carries.
Are the straps made of webbing or fabric? You may find one more comfortable and easier to adjust than the other.
Consider the positioning of the buckles.
Some waist bands have a central buckle and others a side buckle. A side buckle enables you to add a support pad if needed. A central buckle means you don’t have a long dangling tail.
Buckles on the straps can need more of a consideration. If they are behind your back can you easily reach them to loosen the carrier? If they are on the body of the carrier does it mean the straps pull up uncomfortably into your armpits when you tighten them.
Some buckles need two hands to open- do you find that easy to do?
- Warm weather Usage
If it is warm when you are babywearing you may want to have a carrier made of fabrics that enable more airflow. So if you live in a hot climate or frequently travel to hot places the fabric may be an important one of those small features to consider.
Armed with these answers, prioritise your requirements and begin to shortlist. Visit a sling library or consultant and try on the carriers that you think will suit your needs and requirements- BUT be prepared for a compromise, sometimes something has to give!
I had my daughter in 2015. I had never really heard of baby wearing, but as a solo mum I thought it might be something that could help. I went to my first Sling meet and never looked back! Baby wearing became a vital and wonderful tool in my parenting tool kit.
I went back to teaching when Eadie was 9 months old but decided it didn’t work for my family. I left teaching and set up Naturally Learning Childcare. As I childminder, I offer teacher-led, home-based, small-group childcare. I have always worked with children: for nearly 20 years I’ve worked with children as a teacher and nursery manager, in schools and nurseries, but I have never used baby wearing at work. Having experienced the positive effect it can have, baby wearing quickly became a key aspect of my care.
During settling I found out whether children were used to being worn. If they were, this was something I could continue. I found that this really helped form a strong attachment and helped to quickly reassure and calm the children.
How do I use it?
It’s a very individual approach. One child I care for is frequently carried at home by both parents. When he started, the Lillebaby was an essential part of his settling in. It gave him a safe space to fall asleep in, it reassured him and also gave him an opportunity to watch what was going on from a distance.
Another child is used to being wrapped at home. When she started, her mum bought some of her wraps with her. I set up a little space on the sofa with the wraps, so she could snuggle when she needed a bit of reassurance. When she needed a cuddle she would give me the wrap, to show she wanted to be wrapped. This would really calm her down. She would often only stay in for a while and it seemed to give her a little boost.
I care for a maximum of three children so, from a practical point of view, I use a Lillebaby or a ringsling, to carry the third child, with the other two in a double buggy.
When I started childminding Eadie was nearly 2 years old. She found it hard to ‘share’ me, which was very understandable. I went back to a Sling Meet and talked to Carol about a Toddler carrier. We borrowed a Toddler Beco, but I didn’t get on with it. The following month we borrowed a Lillebaby Carry On and loved it. I then bought a new one from Carol. The Lillebaby Carry On gave me the opportunity to reassure Eadie. When we went on walks, the babies could go in the buggy and she could have some special time in the carrier.
I use it regularly now when it’s just the two of us too. I love how baby wearing has become a journey – different slings and carriers suit you and your family at different times! That’s why, for me, the Sling Library has been invaluable. I am always in awe that it’s run totally on a voluntary basis. Carol and the peer supporters give up so much of their time to share the baby wearing love! I will always be grateful for their help. I love the role that baby wearing has played in my family and at work.
Now being a big fan of Mamaruga, my latest hire was the new release from Mamaruga called the Zebulo. It’s called the Zebulo because it combines features from their zensling and buckle carriers. My hire was in beautiful ‘glittering sky’ design.
It’s really easy to put on and there are lots of key areas that are adjustable;
– adjustable bottom section with no padded band to create a narrow or wide base for baby/toddler,
– body section also adjustable to suit short/taller babies and also to find a comfy fit for the wearer,
– the padded straps also added comfort and can be crossed,
– hood which is easy to attach or create a neck support,
– folds up small.
For me though, the Zebulo didn’t make me love it like I do it sister carrier the Zensling. I found the straps harder to adjust as they all had elastic bands holding the straps together so as not to create extra slack, but this in turn made it harder for me to make changes. Then again it could have also been that the carrier was so new, it just needed wearing in. I realise that you can probably remove these bands. I also found that the material wasn’t soft or stretchy like the Zensling but I can see how this would be a good thing as it wouldn’t slouch as baby gets bigger. I however, prefer the stretchy material from the Zensling because it’s like giving my baby a big hug at the same time, as she seems moulded to me. The straps on the Zebulo do not extend outwards like the Zensling, and for me I really like the extended straps, as it distributes the weight better for me and my petite frame.
I really wanted to love this but it didn’t do it for me. I’m sure it will benefit others though. I would love to hear what other people think.
Thank you Nam Taan Mestre for sharing your thoughts with us.
Having started your babywearing journey carrying one baby what do you do when along comes number two? The answer is we have a carrier for that!
Carrying two has many benefits. The firstborn doesn’t need to think their place has been usurped. They can still have the close cuddles and contact they have thrived on throughout babyhood. It means you aren’t juggling two children’s needs and can get on with chores as needed. Trips out and about can be simpler- there is no need to invest in a second pushchair initially so you have time to work out if one is needed and what features it would need to have.
Indeed you don’t need to give up carrying when pregnant as there are safe ways to do this. If you are in good health and there is no reason to not lift heavy loads then it is perfectly alright to go on carrying throughout your pregnancy. If you already carry your body has adapted to using your carrier already. You may need to consider positioning of straps and knots as your pregnancy advances but in the main to start with you should be able to do more of the same.
You may find in the first trimester that with either low blood pressure, fatigue or nausea that you feel less able to use your carrier. Very much listen to your body and respond to what it is telling you. Some women experience period like pain and aches, and uncomfortable breasts and it is probably then better to avoid carrying until you feel fit and well. When it does feel right for you to carry then there is no need to use your present carrier any differently. The new baby will be tucked away inside your pelvis and your carrier straps or passes will not put undue pressure on the uterus.
During the second trimester when your body and shape is changing you might find it better to move from front carries to hip and back carries. Investing in a ring sling and learning to use this for supported cuddles could be useful, as the skills will come in useful again when you want to carry two together. Do switch the side you carry on and do not hip carry for long periods. Your ligaments are beginning to soften so it is important not to put your pelvis under stress. As with all carrying when pregnant , if you experience any discomfort then stop doing it and seek advice.
Back carrying is the preferred option for many mothers when their bump begins to show, it enables you to maintain the contact with your child without putting any extra pressure on the growing bump. Our pregnant bodies are often better able to balance the front and back loads better when there is a more equal load front and back. Your carrier needs to fit well and hold the child snugly and as close as possible so that the child on your back is well supported. Don’t be tempted to trade up to a bigger carrier at this stage. Your body is going to have to work harder when you are carrying, so again be guided by how you feel and what your body is telling you.
As your bump grows the position of the waist belt of a buckle carrier needs to be considered, or even the type of waist band your carrier has may need thinking about. Some mother’s find moving to a softer waist banded carrier is more comfortable, others find using a carrier with no waist band is better for them. You can also position the band above the bump under the bust to increase your comfort.
This picture shows a soft Connecta carrier with waistband over the bump.
Wrap carriers such as woven wraps ,which can be tied in an assortment of ways, Mei Dais, Onbuhimos and Podaegis that bind your baby close to your body can be very useful at this stage. These can be tied gently above the bump, or spread around the chest and shoulders, taking the weight much more on your upper body.
Using a Yaro woven wrap in a size 4 for a snug, high carry.
It is however, probably not the best time to get used to a new carrier, so don’t ditch your existing one and take it gently- indeed starting to learn to use different carriers before you become pregnant can be a good idea
In the third trimester your body is getting ready for the birth. Your levels of relaxin increase significantly, and this hormone enables your pelvis and ligaments to soften and stretch. The intercostal muscles and ligaments between your ribs become more elastic to allow expansion of the chest to accomodate your growing baby. These changes will affect load-bearing , stability and balance so the amount of carrying you do are able to do comfortably may be reduced. For each individual what is right is a personal thing. High, supportive back carries with soft slings often work best, so woven wraps in multiple layer carries are useful for those who have mastered the skills. For others adding a tummy pad to the waistband of a buckle carrier and positioning it under the bump can be a supportive solution. For others a switch of carrier may be best.
Using an ssc with waistband under the bump at 8 months- this is a Connecta. Baby is much lower and it felt the least comfortable of the options.
At any stage of pregnancy do come along to a library session to discuss carrying and look at available options. We have a carrier that will suit you I am sure!
At SSL we believe that carrying new babies for their first three months has amazing benefits for both the babe and their family. The Fourth Trimester is concerned with providing a safe nurturing environment, close to the responsive caregiver. Carrying your new baby enables caregivers to respond to their baby’s needs and build secure attachment.
In order to support families we have introduced a dedicated session to our Old Sarum meet each month to enable you to find out more about the benefits of holding your new baby. At this session we discuss the benefits of babywearing and the different carriers that can be used. There is then an opportunity to try using one of our Boba 2 way stretch wraps. All participants are then able to borrow one of the library Boba wraps for 12 weeks for just £15.
The session is for a maximum of 6 people and we welcome pregnant and new parents. In order to book a place please message us or comment on our FB group.
With thanks to our peer supporter, Susie Cooke for this infograph.
Forward facing carriers are often asked for at library sessions and we have a number that have this option.
Do read this helpful blog from Sheffield Slings if you want to know more about why this method of carrying often provokes an animated discussion and is viewed as a controversial subject.