* Introduction: “Wearing” Your Baby
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Using a baby carrier is called “babywearing.” Cute, right?. Some people may find babywearing weird, “crunchy,” or whatever. But it’s awesome. It’s just like carrying your baby, but the baby is strapped to you, so your arms don’t get tired and your hands are free. Very cool. If you’re planning to have a baby sometime soon, you really should give it a try.
Here’s a quick overview of the the basic types of carriers -
Baby Bjorn - Very popular and well-known. Baby can be carried front-facing (with his back to you). Some people find this to be a great idea, because it lets the baby get a full view of everything, but not everyone agrees. The baby is essentially suspended in a shell, and this puts pressure on the groin area, which some believe is not good for the baby. Another minus is that they can only be used up to 22 lbs.
Wraps - You wind a stretchy piece of fabric around and around you and the baby. It’s typically used for newborns and younger babies. (The popular Moby wrap can be used for babies up to 35 lbs.) I was intimidated by them - I just kept imagining myself all tangled up in one. But many parents use them, and they do look neat. If I have another baby, I may give these a try.
Slings - As described, these are fabric slings in which the baby is carried. I’m not too familiar with these, because right around the time my baby was a newborn, there was a recall on one brand of slings (the Infantino) which frightened me from considering them. However, many moms do use and like these. They are typically used for newborns.
Soft Structured Carriers - These are made of sturdy padded fabric, with straps that typically go around your waist and shoulders, and can be used up to 40+ lbs.
A Beco Butterfly II is a soft structured carrier, and can be used for 7-15 lbs. with the included infant insert, and up to 45 lbs.
I am very enthusiastic about baby carriers in general, and soft structured carriers in particular. I would highly recommend them to any new parents out there. If you find the right one for you, it seriously makes life your life soooo much easier. I can’t imagine being without mine.
The two most popular types of soft structured carriers are the Ergo and the Beco Butterfly II. I own both, and wanted to share my experience with them.
I initially chose to buy the Beco, because I had read from several reviews online that the Beco is basically the same as the Ergo, but just prettier with more print options. I've found that that is absolutely not true. There are significant differences between them.
* Beco v. Ergo: Simplicity / Ease of Use
(1) The “Pouch” System
First of all, the principle difference between the Beco Butterfly II and other soft structured carriers like the Ergo is that with the Beco, there are two layers - an inner harness, and an outer layer - and the baby essentially sits in a pouch in between the layers. (According to Beco’s website, the original design was inspired by a backpack, and the Beco’s original name was the Becopack. So basically, it’s like a backpack to carry your baby in.)
With the Ergo, there is only one outside layer that secures the baby to your body. My husband described it as looking as if you’ve stuffed the baby down the front of your overalls, which is kind of true.
So what is the advantage of this “pouch” system? The advantage is that you can strap the baby into the carrier first, then put the baby on like a backpack. While this definitely makes things easier when you’re carrying the baby on your back, I’ve found that it doesn’t provide any advantage when carrying the baby in your front. In fact, it makes things needlessly complicated.
There are only two buckles you need to close when using the Ergo - the one buckle around the waist, and then, after putting the baby in, the buckle on your back near your shoulders. The Beco requires four buckles - waist, back, and one on each shoulder. Aside from the two additional buckles, there is an additional strap extending from the front panel from the back panel, and every time you put the baby in, you have to make sure to tuck each baby leg under it.
It isn’t a matter of how difficult this is to learn. I’m sure with practice, anyone can learn to use the Beco just fine. But no matter what, it is just so much easier to pop the baby in, and secure one buckle and be done with it. The speed and ease also matters when you’re taking the baby out of the carrier, especially while he’s sleeping. With the Ergo, you undo one buckle with one hand, and the baby is out.
With the Beco, you have to undo two safety buckles with each requiring both hands. So you basically have to support the baby in the crook of one arm while undoing one buckle using both hands … then switch arms and repeat. (And the buckles do need to be safety buckles, because they are placed right next to the baby’s head. You wouldn’t want the baby reaching up and unbuckling himself while he’s in the carrier!)
The one real advantage of the Beco is that, true to its backpack-origins, it is definitely superior for carrying the baby on your back (“back-carry”). Because the baby sits in the pouch, you basically strap the baby into the pouch, then put the baby on like a backpack. (To clarify, you don’t actually sling the baby on like a real backpack, obviously - you sit the baby down, and sit in front of the baby with your back to the baby, and put on the carrier.)
With other one-layered soft carriers like the Ergo, you have to essentially hold the baby on your back for a little while by bending forward before putting the carrier on. It is not as easy as using the Beco.
When it comes to back-carrying, there is probably nothing easier than the Beco among soft structured carriers.
(c) Switching from Person-to-Person
The other alleged benefit of carrying the baby in a Beco Butterfly II is so you can easily switch from person-to-person without removing the baby from the carrier - i.e., it's like passing your backpack to another person.
But between different people, you usually need to make other adjustments as well (e.g., waist belt length, back buckle positioning, etc.) - especially because Beco has all those extra straps and buckles. So am I supposed to adjust the straps while the baby is in the carrier? Considering how easy it is to pop the baby in and out of the Ergo, I’ve found that it’s actually much easier to just use that to switch between people. So I don’t see the advantage of transporting the baby like a backpack from person to person, because it doesn’t make things any easier.
(2) Infant Insert
The Beco comes with an infant insert (to be used for babies weighing 7-15 lbs.) While the included infant insert seems like a nice benefit, I prefer the Ergo system of purchasing it separately. The base retail price for the basic Ergo is currently $115. If you want to purchase other accessories, such as an infant insert, you can (for $25). On the other hand, the Beco Butterfly II costs $139 at the time I bought it and costs $149 now, so you have to pay more even if you don’t need an infant insert.
Another thing about the Beco infant insert is that it’s attached with two small buckles that are inside the main panel. Once you remove the infant insert, you still have these two little buckles on the inside of the carrier that you don’t need. Most people will use a soft structured carrier like this far longer without the infant insert (15-45 lbs. - approximately 6 mos. to up to 4 years), if they even use it at all. So it seems silly to have these little useless buckles just hanging there during all that time. It's just more detritus on an already too-complicated carrier.
* Beco v. Ergo: Looks / Material
The Beco comes in very pretty prints on the front panel. I love the way they look. The only thing I find disappointing is that when it comes to the Beco frames, most of them are dark (chocolate or black). The only other frame colors I’ve seen are khaki and lavender. It would be nice if there were more options for frame colors.
My Beco is the Paige pattern which is a pretty slate-gray print with white flowers and a black frame. I really like it.
The basic Ergo is made of a canvas-like cotton material, and mostly come in solid colors - with some variations (prints on the hood, embroidered versions, etc. They do currently have some new printed versions, however.) It also has pockets in the front. Overall, it has a more casual look, which is why it does in fact look sort of like overalls. Another thing about the Ergo is that it has a hood that is not removable. The Beco’s hood is attached with snaps and is removable.
The Ergo doesn’t look bad, and the pockets are very handy. But between the two, the Beco has a prettier, more sleeker look.
Also, all Beco carriers are made with organic fabric. Ergo offers organic versions of their carrier at a higher cost.
* Beco v. Ergo: Neck/Head Support
Yet another nice thing about the Beco, compared to the Ergo, is that the outside panel holding the baby in is higher, and provides more neck support. If you want, you can fold down the panel to make it shorter. The one big complaint I have about the Ergo is that the panel is a bit short. This is not a problem during front-carrying, but some find it worrisome for back-carrying.
*~* My Problem With the Beco *~*
My single biggest problem with the Beco is the shoulder straps in the front. The webbing straps are held aloft (because of the baby's bulk), and taut (because of the baby's weight), and they are right in front of the baby’s face on both sides. In fact, at certain angles, they actually slash at the baby’s face.
Not to mention, babies love to chew on things. So you’ve got the baby constantly chewing on taut webbing straps. Imagine putting a tight webbing strap in your mouth sideways - it will rip at the corners of your mouth. It was really awful. There is no way to avoid this. In fact, if you watch the instructional videos on Beco’s site, the demo baby does it, too.
The only solution I’ve found to this problem is to buy strap covers. But the strap covers have to be removed every time you take the baby out of the carrier. The Beco is already difficult enough to remove, and now you have to deal with removing strap covers every time? Ugh. No.
* Caring for the Beco
From their website:
[ Care Instructions:
Wash on DELICATE/WARM cycle with a mild detergent. Hang dry in well ventilated area or tumble dry on low and remove when seams are still damp. Spot clean when needed. Do not wash frequently. ]
This is pretty much the same washing instructions for the Ergo as well. I’ve washed both carriers a few times, with no problems.
The Beco Butterfly II is a well-made carrier with some very pretty prints available. The overall look of the Beco is sleeker and more attractive. I like the high panel that provides more support to the baby’s neck/head area. I also like that it has a removable hood. And when it comes to back carrying, there is probably nothing easier than the Beco among soft structured carriers.
But unless you plan to do more back-carrying than front-carrying, I would not recommend this carrier. It is much too complicated and fussy for front-carrying. Other carriers do the job simpler, better, and for less money. (And you can also do back carrying with other carriers, too, although it requires more practice.)
I still have my Beco Butterfly II, and I keep trying to use it from time to time. And each time I’m just annoyed by it. All the extra buckles, the extra straps on the side that I have to tuck her legs under … they just all seem so unnecessary. There are so many things about it that doesn’t make sense when used for front-carrying.
But aside from being unnecessarily complicated, my single biggest problem with the Beco is the taut webbing straps that would cut into the baby’s face. And I don’t know how any baby about 6-12 months old wouldn’t try to chew on the straps of a carrier like this. Some parents may not mind, but I really hated the webbing straps ripping into the corners of her little mouth. With other carriers like the Ergo, the baby is either chewing on soft padded straps that aren’t hurting her - or better yet, chewing on a removable strap cover. And on the Ergo, the strap covers do not have to be removed every time you take the baby out of the carrier, so it’s the perfect solution to this common problem.
(Ergo sells strap covers that are called “sucking pads.” Beco now sells strap covers called “drooling pads.” Obviously, they’re basically the same thing. I do recommend getting them for your carrier, even if your baby doesn’t chew on the straps, because they provide a nice, clean surface for the baby to lean his face on.)
Eventually babies do get older, and stop chewing on everything in sight, so this shouldn’t be a concern for older babies. But after having used another carrier with a much simpler, more intuitive design, I find the Beco Butterfly II to be inferior when it comes to front-carrying the baby.
Beco does make another style of carrier, called Gemini. (It wasn’t available when I purchased my Butterfly II.) It’s a single-layered carrier that’s more similar to the Ergo, but it does offer another feature - the ability to carry the baby front-facing like the Bjorn - that is unique among soft structured carriers.
So that’s one thing to know about the Beco brand. They offer soft structured carriers, but their carriers do something extra that you don’t get with other carriers. The Butterfly II offers a harness/pouch system, and the Gemini offers a front-facing option. In the end, it’s about how important the extra options are to you. In my experience, the Beco Butterfly II offers a great feature (easier for back-carry), but it is at the expense of a basic, important function (front-carry).
For me personally, I like to front-carry the baby with the baby facing in. It is how I most often use a soft structured carrier. And for that, the Beco Butterfly II is needlessly complicated and difficult, so it didn’t fit my needs. However, it is a well-made, attractive carrier, so if back-carrying is a feature that is important to you, it could be the right carrier for you. However, it is not just a prettier version of the Ergo carrier, despite what many others say. It is a very different type of carrier.
(Click here for my review of the Ergo Original Carrier.)
[Thanks to smiles33 for adding this product to the database.]
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Amount Paid (US$): 139.00
Age Range of Child: 12 to 36 Months