Thursday, September 17, 2009

Your Beco Becomes You

Who doesn't love babywearing? Since inspiration is still rather thin on the ground around here, I thought I would write a little about my Beco baby carrier.

The Beco is a soft structured carrier based on the design of a mei-tai, with adjustable straps and buckles. The baby sits in a pocket of fabric (so the baby is not in direct contact with the wearer, unlike a mei-tai) and there are shoulder straps, a waist belt and a chest belt. In addition there are two adjustable straps at the top of the pouch that allow you to change the depth of the pocket of fabric that the baby sits in.

When you get the Beco comfortable, it is really comfortable. Cave Baby weighs something like 23lbs now so carrying her is no picnic, but I can wear her for hours on my back in the Beco if I have to. I can certainly feel every one of her 23lbs, but I have never got sore shoulders or back pain from wearing it.

Although soft structured carriers should be among the easiest of slings to use, there is certainly an art to perfecting the weight distribution in the Beco. First of all you have to figure out whether to wear the waist belt on your waist or hips. Then there is the task of getting the baby to fit really snugly against your body: do you make the pouch smaller or tighten the shoulder straps? Or do you leave the shoulder straps looser and tighten the chest strap? It took me a month or so to work out how to get a front carry really comfortable. Then, when CB got too heavy to wear on my front, I had to figure everything out again for the back carry. Perhaps the complexity of the various straps is a blessing in disguise, for whilst it takes a while to get your head around the various different straps, they do mean that the carrier can be adjusted to suit any body type. We are very lucky that Cave Father and I are a very similar size.

Back carries are fairly straightforward. Now I can easily do it on my own, and while I was learning, I only (nearly) dropped my baby on her head in public once. There are several ways to get a baby on your back: you can put the baby in the carrier, sit it in a chair and pull it on like a backpack; you can put the baby in the carrier, rest it on your hip and swing it round to the back; or you can put the carrier on your front, insert the baby, then scoot the whole apparatus round to your back. I do the latter - it takes me a minute at most.

For anyone who has come across this while looking for information about getting a Beco really comfortable, here is my advice. Put the carrier on and put your baby in, making sure that its bottom slightly overhangs the waist strap. Loosen the shoulder straps and get the waist belt really tight, experimenting with moving it from your waist to your hips. When you feel that the waist belt is supporting the baby's weight and is secure, tighten the shoulder straps until you feel them beginning to take some of the weight off the waist belt (it's a bit like finding the biting point of a clutch). When you feel the weight shift, stop tightening. That should be you all set to go.

I don't know how the Beco compares to a really comfy wrap; I can't wrap my baby as tightly as I can get her in the Beco and as a result I find the Beco more comfortable, but I would imagine that a pro wrapper would probably disagree. But I have to say that I am really pleased with how comfortable it continues to be now that my baby is getting heavy.

If you are trying to decide between soft structured carriers, there are a couple more features that attracted me to the Beco. Firstly, it has a fabric panel that comes in loads of designs, so the carrier is actually quite pretty. Secondly, it has a little hood that fastens on to the carrier that can be used to keep the baby's head still when it falls asleep, or as a rain hood.

I gather that Becos are quite popular in the US but there are not many stockists here in the UK. We bought ours from a shop called Slumber-Roo (who are not paying me for a plug!). And now the bad news: if you want one, be prepared to wave goodbye to the best part of £100.

To be fair, I have not used any other SSC so I cannot tell how the US-made Beco would compare to a home-grown, cheaper SSC. But for us it has been a great purchase that has been used most days for the seven months we have had it, has washed well, and continues to be useful now. It is ideal for walking with your baby or toddler for long periods and it can be adjusted to fit any member of the family perfectly.


carol b said...

I really wish I'd had this kind of advice when I was pregnant and that I'd heard of baby-wearing back then.

We used a Baby Bjorn with great success for the first year, I always used it instead of a pushchair, but have since heard they are not supposed to be as good for baby's posture as other 'slings'.

JK said...

I like my Yamo, similar sort of thing - like a mei tai but with buckles. But I'd say it's also worth persevering with a wrap. I can get little man much higher on my back in a wrap, which means he can see more, I can talk to him easier and his head is in a better position when he goes to sleep. I have my nearest slingmeet to thank for showing me how.

Cave Mother said...

JK- Yeah, maybe I should try harder with a wrap. Problem is, it's too much like hard work. I wish someone could wave a magic wand and instantly give me the skills to do a really good back carry in a wrap. I do it occasionally but the weight is always on my shoulders and chest rather than my hips, and I find that uncomfortable.

JK said...

I practised at home in front of the mirror a lot before I could get it high enough and tight enough. You can try different carries too, I go for the rucksack cos it's easiest, but back cross carry is quite comfy if you can master it.

Joe said...

I know a lot of people who swear by the BECO, or it's similar cousin the ERGO! I tried them myself, but didn't find them quite comfortable - I guess it was the whole strap business ;-)

I had done a trial from my local shop, and ended up choosing the Pikkolo, which is made by the same company as the Mei Tai. Basically, it's a Mei Tai with buckles instead of straps, so it's a bit easier to put on with a bigger baby (I found, anyway. Obviously if you,re used to the Mei Tai, than it's not very difficult.)

I found that it's very adjustable and easy to use, and quite comfortable too - my baby is also 23 lbs :D

Joe said...

The thing that I've heard about the Baby Bjorn is that it puts the pressure on the coccyx, therefore compressing the spine some, which is why it's not as good. Never tried it myself, though.

Lyndsey said...

Is a Beco similar to an Ergo? I just got one of those and Love it!

Jessica said...

Due to my fat baby and my crappy back he quickly out grew the Baby Bjorn and even the Moby (that elaborate wrap-around sling) wasn't right for us. I finally found the ErgoBaby, which, incidentally, looks exactly like the Beco!

Riding low on your hips is essential if you've got a big, burly blob :)

Joe said...

Beco/Ergo - yep they are similar! I've only actually tried the Beco, but I have friends who have the Ergo. They probably have some minor stylistic and functionality differences, but generally they are the same idea (fabric pocket that snaps on shoulders, multiple straps, chest strap and shape). I think the Ergo has more side accessories, although I suppose some could be used with the Beco as well.

I have the Moby too - it was great when DD was younger, but it doesn't work as well as they get holder/heavier I find. Plus, she doesn't have the patience anymore for me to, elaborately is a good word, wrap it around! ;-)

Cave Mother said...

I looked at the Ergo too. Basically, they look they would do a job, but they just aren't as pretty as the Beco! And I am obviously all about looks. I don't know if it's just my impression, but I get the feeling that SSCs are more popular in the US than over here, where serious babywearers are more into wraps.

Cave Mother said...

JK - I can do a decent rucksack back carry in my wrap. For some reason I only use it for vacuuming. But I find the straps dig in under my arms so I always end up using the carrier when I'm going out. I don't know if there's a way of solving that problem (aside from crossing the straps over my chest, which I'm not a fan of).

Lisa - edenwild said...

I'm with you, the Ergo is NOT pretty. Even my husband thinks it's too ugly. If we got a SSC, it would be something like the Beco, and I'm thinking of getting one, because sometimes the long straps of our mei tai just aren't practical (though very comfy). Wraps are fussy, too, but they are so worth it. By far the most comfortable type of carrier I have tried--it literally takes pounds off the weight of your baby. But I will say that the Moby wraps are not the best ones out there--they are too stretchy. It seems that they require readjusting after the baby has been in there a while.

Joe said...

AGreed about the Moby - after about 20 min in there, I had to readjust the whole thing. No small feat!

Hobo Mama said...

"I only (nearly) dropped my baby on her head in public once."

Ha ha! I've just had to learn how to put Mikko on my back in the Ergo by myself, and it scared him more than it scared me! :) Before now, Sam had always been around to help me, but we've been trying to do more errands by ourselves to give each other time to write or work, so I've had to learn right quick!

I'm glad to see this review, because I am a babywearing addict and would love to add a Beco or similar to my collection in the future but was not sure how similar it was to an Ergo, both of which, as you point out, are quite pricey. My Ergo was a gift, and my husband likes it because it's so backpacky-neutral looking. I must admit pretty appeals to me, though!

I also need to learn how to manage a woven wrap. I figured out a stretchy one, but the woven just...I don't know, boggled me. Like calculus in high school! Eep. I guess I should try again next time around.