Woven wraps are the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas, the unicorn’s belly hair. They’re also not for everyone. That is where Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs) come in. For some people, babywearing is something where their needs and their comfort means that a SSC is going to work best for them, and sometimes people just like to use a range of slings, wraps and carriers.
We bought a Beco Soleil last winter, when Little Juniper was eight months old. He is now sixteen months old and 28 pounds. (Where has the time gone?!) What follows is how we came to buy the Beco and how it has worked for us over the past eight months.
There were two reasons for buying the Beco: first, I wanted something that would be a little simpler in the midst of winter when we had umpteen layers on and needed something quick for the school run; the second was that, well, I wanted to try something different to woven wraps, mei tais, and ring slings.
There are a lot of SSCs on the market and it was mind boggling at first to figure out what was going to work for us. I was aware I wanted something that was flexible in terms of adult and child size. The Beco has one of the biggest adult waist sizes on the market (up to 59 inches) and has a child size range (up to 45lbs) to take us through to toddlerhood. What made our decision an easy one in the end, was that the Beco was the only SSC we could find that had safety buckles. This means that two hands are required to undo the buckles, unlike an ordinary buckle that a determined toddler could undo. And Little Juniper is that child. If there is something that can be fiddled with and undone, he will fiddle with it and undo it.
When it arrived, I felt a little overwhelmed. All these buckles! All these bits and pieces! I wanted to run to my wrap and do a nice easy carry. I was determined to try, though, and thankfully YouTube was a great help — there were lots of videos with advice for figuring out a carry. From the start, I did find the Beco very handy for when I felt tired and stretched, and just wanted to get out of the house quickly. Especially in the midst of winter when Little Juniper and I really did have a lot of layers on. I did find, however, that I would fiddle with the straps whilst we were out, trying to get the carry just right.
Early on, I found the Beco more comfortable for back carries than for front carries. I haven’t given the Beco a thorough test for hip carries, however (I love a ring sling for hip carries). For front carries, the Beco has the advantage that not all SSCs have: the straps can be crossed across the back, rather than straight, like a rucksack. For a back carry however, it is simplest to use the straps rucksack style. There is also a chest belt that can be used for added comfort and security. I can’t say I’ve used the chest belt much, but that is just personal preference.
With back carries, I’ve found the Beco excellent as a “kitchen carrier.” Because the straps aren’t all over the place, I can have Little Juniper on my back and not worry about getting the carrier mucky whilst I prepare meals or do the washing up. The Beco is also easy to “spot clean” if needed, making it ideal again for the kitchen, where there’s bound to be a bit of muck.
Washing the whole carrier, however? We did this recently and it was a little frustrating how long it took to dry, but any SSC is going to take time to dry. Once the Beco had dried (it had a little holiday hanging up in the bathroom), it was clear to see that it had washed up beautifully.
The Beco also has accessories. Some come with it, some can be bought separately. The accessories are: suck pads, snap-on sleep hood, infant insert, and snap-on bag. The suck pads aren’t something we bought, but I can see how they’re handy; they go around the shoulder straps so that teething babies have something to chew on without chewing the carrier. The sleep hood snaps onto the back of the carrier and can then be attached to the shoulder straps; it’s so that if little one falls asleep, their head can be kept from lolling around. The infant insert is needed for tiny babies, so that they have the right support; this isn’t something we needed due to Little Juniper being that bit older. The bag is a nifty accessory that can be snapped and buckled onto the back of the carrier so that the carrier takes not only baby, but your wallet and keys; the bag can also be used separately as an ordinary bag, too. It’s also worth noting that the Beco has a built in pouch on the waistband.
The sleep hood is, in theory, really useful. Little Juniper is one of those children who simply doesn’t like hoods. There is a hood on one of our mei tais and he doesn’t like that, either. The construction of the hood is great though, and I can definitely see how it would be great for a child that liked to snuggle in that way. The bag has very much been of use. Both snapped on to the Beco and used separately for various bits and pieces. I found the bag especially useful in the winter when I wanted to keep things as simple as possible when going out in horrid weather to pick up Juniper Junior from school.
Now, onto Little Juniper and the Beco. Little Juniper is a sizeable little one who is used to being carried in a whole range of slings, wraps and carriers. He will often choose what he wants to be carried in. Usually this isn’t the Beco. Little Juniper tends to prefer having his naps in a wrap. He does enjoy the Beco when I’m pottering around in the kitchen. He gets a comfy no-fuss carry and can comfortably have his arms out (to do the important things like grabbing magnets off the fridge). And, on the odd occasion, he does nap in the Beco. We’re both comfortable during these times, too. The Beco has a padded head rest, that now Little Juniper is bigger, supports his shoulders and is comfortable under his arms when he dozes off.
The Beco is one of the more affordable SSCs available and most importantly, that lower cost doesn’t mean a compromise in comfort or safety. The Beco is also available in plain colours and in lovely patterns; it’s a carrier that can very easily be neutral for those wanting to keep things simple.
So, to bring this to a conclusion: I’m really glad we took the plunge and bought the Beco Soleil Baby Carrier. It’s been a very useful addition to our stash of slings and so very handy in particular for getting things done in the kitchen when Little Juniper has been feeling grouchy. Definitely a carrier I’d recommend to those looking for a SSC.