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It makes me sad to admit it, but I seem to have graduated out of my baby-wrapping stage, at least for now. I wish I could get more into wearing my babies in wraps. Wraps look so much cooler than any other carrier, and they make me look like a super-awesome, natural, hippie mama. Wearing a baby in a wrap is kind of like using flat diapers in public. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing. You don’t need anything fancy or special to take care of your baby; just a simple piece of cloth will do, just like moms use all over the world. You don’t have to spend lots of money on a wrap (although you certainly can!), and you have to know how to do it. Wearing my baby in a wrap makes me impressed with myself.

With Anastasia, I never got into wrapping because she didn’t like to be held upright–she preferred the cradle hold–so I used a ring sling instead. Which at least is a traditional carrier, so I still felt pretty cool. But with Teddy, I’ve already switched to the soft structured carrier. Which is such a western, modern, un-traditional carrier. It makes me feel like a yuppie.

However, it also makes me feel super comfortable while wearing my baby, and it doesn’t strain my back, and it’s really easy to get him in and out of (important for EC), and it works. So I’ve swallowed my hippie pride and accepted my love of plastic buckles. Maybe at some point I’ll fall in love with another carrier (mei tai, maybe?), but for now, here’s why I love my Beco.

1. It’s fast to put on and take off. With Anastasia, it really didn’t matter how quickly I could put a carrier on or take it off, because I could never take it off. I could never take her off either. But Teddy doesn’t have to be in the carrier all the time. In fact, he actually asks to spend some time on the floor (who knew that babies like to play on the floor sometimes?), and he enjoys sitting in the bouncy seat sometimes, too. And there are times when he naps better in the swing. So it is possible for me to take the carrier off during the day, but generally when I want to put it back on, I need to do so fast, because he’s fussing. So attaching two quick buckles works a lot better than tying a long piece of cloth around me.

2. It’s gorgeous. Should I really put this at number 2 in my list? Probably. I originally bought the Beco purely for aesthetic reason (I pretended to have other reasons why I “needed” it, but the real reason was how it looked). I saw the carnival print at a babywearing meeting and I had to have it. I’m a sucker for brown and pink. But there are so many options for prints. I think the Beco has more different–and prettier–prints than any other structured carrier.

3. You can transfer it from one adult to another. The Beco butterfly has a unique design–there’s an inside panel between you and the baby, so the baby sits in a sort of pocket–which makes it possible to take the carrier off and keep the baby inside. We tried this for the first time this weekend, and it worked. The picture at the top of this post is my husband wearing Teddy after I had taken the carrier off and passed it to him. Teddy didn’t even wake up.

4. The Beco taught me back carries. That inside panel made them so easy. I had tried to put Anastasia on my back in a lot of different carriers, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. But the Beco made it easy. I literally took it out out of the shipping box and immediately put Anastasia on my back. And after that I could put her on my back with any carrier.

5. It’s comfortable for an infant and a toddler. My version of the Beco, the Butterfly II, has a sewn-in infant insert. The newer version made the insert removable, which is nice once your baby has outgrown it, but to be honest I’m glad mine is sewn in, because otherwise I’m sure I would have lost it by now (like I lost the hood, which unfortunately is removable in my version). Teddy has already outgrown the infant insert, even though he hasn’t reached the weight limit, because he’s so tall. But it was nice to be able to use this carrier so early. He’s still too small for my Ergo, but he’s been in the Beco for a couple of weeks now. And I used it with Anastasia from around 12 through 18 months (I could have used it longer, but I decided I liked the Ergo better at that point).

6. The body is narrower than other structured carriers. This also means you can use it earlier, and it’s the reason why I was able to stop using the infant insert already. You can use a structured carrier with a newborn by froggying their legs inside the carrier, but it’s more comfortable for baby and mom once the baby’s legs can hang out on the sides. You can do this sooner with the Beco because of the narrower body (but it’s still plenty wide to support the legs up to the knee so the baby is sitting on his bum, not hanging on his crotch).

7. It’s extremely adjustable. This is both good and bad, to be honest–I’m not sure I’ve entirely figured out the logistics of adjusting it properly, even now. But I still consider this an advantage. In addition to the waist buckle, chest/back buckle, and shoulder straps (all of which the Ergo has as well), the Beco Butterfly has straps for adjusting the size of the inside panel. This helps you adjust how close your baby is held to your body and how his weight is distributed. It also helps you adjust how high he sits against your body (you can lower him to breastfeed, for example). I’m not sure I’ve quite figured out the perfect adjustment yet. The carrier is very comfortable for me, but I always wonder if I couldn’t make it a little more comfortable. But it’s nice to be able to experiment and tweak this.

8. It’s easy to breastfeed in. Not everyone feels this way; many moms think that the inside panel makes it harder to breastfeed, because it’s a layer of cloth between you and your baby. I actually found that the panel made breastfeeding easier, and it taught me a trick for breastfeeding and babywearing. The inside panel has sort of neckline that loops down (like a neckline, only lower). When I first started wearing Anastasia in this carrier, I wore her pretty high up, so her mouth was quite a bit higher than my boob. I solved this problem by pulling my boob up through the “neckline” of the panel. The inside panel then supported my boob, holding it up at the right level. Now I wear Teddy a little lower (I don’t know why; that’s just more comfortable), so instead of pulling my boob up, I just pull the panel to the side to nurse. However, the panel trick taught me a method that I’ve used ever since: I never unhook my nursing bra. I just pull my boob up over the top of the bra, so the bra supports my boob and holds it a little higher, at the level of the baby’s mouth. If I had smaller boobs, I probably wouldn’t need to do this, but for most of us who are breastfeeding, this trick makes breastfeeding and babywearing a lot easier. It prevents the problem of sagging boobs–which kind of ruins the whole hands-free nursing thing, since you have to hold your boob up to get it to the baby’s mouth.

9. It’s easy to take baby in and out quickly. I mentioned that in the introduction, but it bears repeating. Because getting baby out fast is essential for EC, and it’s one of my biggest problems with non-stretchy wraps–I just can’t get him out in time to catch a pee. With the Beco, all I have to do is unbuckle the two straps and pop him out.

10. It covers stuff up. This is actually true in general of babywearing–it covers up your belly, which is nice. But the Beco, along with other structured carriers, does a better job than a wrap or a similar simpler carrier of covering up things like wet spots and protruding bellies. It does a horrible job of showing off your back fat, though. But I guess you can’t have everything.

I usually think of structured carriers are better for toddlers than newborns, but then, Teddy is a pretty big newborn. What are your favorite soft structured carriers, and why?