Carrying your child on your back can be truly freeing! Back carries completely free up your hands to get on and get stuff done, and they are generally more comfortable too as most of us load bear better on our backs than our fronts. Plus once your child is tall enough to see over your shoulder they can have an absolutely great view of the world and can chat to you right next to your ear where you can hear them even on a busy street.
There are so many pros! But, actually figuring out how on earth to get them onto your back can be pretty intimidating. There are actually loads of different methods and this is where a trained Sling consultant can be really helpful, they can work with you – with your individual flexibility, coordination and learning type to help ensure you are completely confident moving your baby on and off your back on your own unassisted!
While there are many many methods, the “secure hipscoot” method is the one I teach most often. Or at least this is the starting point I teach most often, I will frequently modify it here or there depending on the individual and depending on the carrier used… but the video below shows my starting point.
Carrier in the video is a Beco Gemini, but this method will work with the vast majority of buckle carriers including Ergo Omni, Adapt, Original and 360 models, Lillebaby, Boba carriers, Manduca, Kahu Baby, Connecta and many many others.
It is my personal favourite method because it feels really secure at all times! It doesn’t rely on cooperation from the child, and in fact can be done with a very active wiggler once your confident. I once used this method to put my then 2.5 year old onto my back on a moving tube train while he was in a full temper tantrum… I simply would not have managed to get off the train with him and our bags and coats and other stuff any other way!
If you are giving this a try at home, do give it a go over a soft surface like a bed or a sofa. I learnt to back carry when my son was about 8 or 9 months old and he absolutely loved a controlled fall when I messed something up and got stuck!! But if your struggling at all do remember that this is by no means the only method! One of the downsides of this method, at least in this form, is that it does rely on a fair degree of shoulder motility, and as such isn’t a great option for those with stiff or injured shoulders. So if this is you or if your struggling at all learning to back carry do contact your local sling consultant who will be able help you find the method that works for you
In many ways the Beco 8 is the Beco Gemini’s big brother. The Beco 8 shares so many of the features that I love about the Gemini. In particular;
Firm thick padding at the waist band combined with soft light padding at the shoulder straps. This combination is rare in the carrier world, but is one that really works for some many people because it gives great support at the waist and weight transference onto the hips without feeling bulky on the shoulders.
Ability to wear the straps either ruck sack style or crossed acrossed the parents back depending on personal preference.
Easy to adjust seat. The seat of the carrier has two settings – narrow and wide that can be easily swapped between using a simple pair of poppers.
4 carrying poisitions. You can carry your baby on your front facing you, on your front facing outward, on your hip and on your back giving you plenty of flexibility to use this carrier in different ways. And the adjustable popper seat means its super easy to quickly switch back and forth between facing in and facing out positions.
But where the Beco 8 differs from the Gemini is that it is bigger. The panel is about 1cm longer on the Beco 8, while the wide setting is about 2cm wider. The narrow setting is actually the same on both carriers. The bigger panel simply means this carrier will last longer. It will take longer for your baby to grow out of it. The taller panels often mean smaller babies don’t fit as well but as the Beco 8 comes with a small infant insert to raise the height of the baby within the carrier this isn’t the case for the Beco 8. This is a carrier that works really well from newborn (or at least a few weeks old) until around 2 years of age, quite possibly longer. In terms of weights, the Beco 8 is weight tested from 3.2 to 20 kg (7 to 40 lb). When you compare this to the Gemini these extra few cm give you about an added 6 months of longevity and 4 kg extra on the weight max.
Beco Gemini (Navy) laid over the Beco 8 (Grey)
The panel isn’t the only thing that is bigger about the Beco 8 – it also has a lot of extra features and stuff! Which contribute to this feeling like a bigger bulkier carrier. In particular it has;
Lumbar Support – a little panel that sits comfortably over your lower spine and helps support your lumbar region and stabilises the waist band. This is fab while carrying a heavier baby on your front, and can be removed if you don’t like it or so that you don’t have a weird pad on the front.
Hood – to cover baby’s head for sleep or if there’s rain and handily hides away inside the head support cushion
Zip down mesh panel – the standard carrier is made from a durable but fairly soft polyester, then in warmer weather the central panel can be unzipped to reveal breathable “3D mesh”. I am not entirely sure what 3D mesh means other than you can’t see through it! Like overlapping layers of mesh, so there is no possibility of little fingers getting stuck or of it getting snagged on anything. This is the same mesh as is on the Gemini Cool but the beauty of the 8 is you don’t need to choose between mesh or solid… you get both in one carrier. (Unless you don’t like the idea of polyester and mesh, and in which case they sell a all cotton version which lacks this zip down panel).
Infant insert – which simply attaches via poppers so easy to remove if you don’t need it or don’t like it. I like that this insert pillow has a narrow and wide setting as this allows different baby’s to be accomodated in different ways as suits them as they grow.
All of which is good stuff! But the downside is that with all these added bits this carrier takes up quite a lot of space when folded! Roughly about twice the size compared to the Gemini. It’s also correspondingly more expensive.
This is a great carrier for those who want a long walk carrier and those who want all the features and bits and bobs. But it doesn’t have the simplicity and sheer magic the Gemini has in being quite a slimmed down non fuss, easy carrier. There are more bits and bobs to faff with and get used to. Some love this, some people really want those extra bits… while for others less is more. Really just depends on personal preference!
All in all the Beco 8 is another great carrier from Beco. The 8 will particularly suit bigger babies, those who are higher up on the centile charts and will benefit from a bigger carrier that will last them longer before they grow out of it. It’s a great sunday hike, wear all day carrier as it doesn’t comprimise on comfort or features! It’s a flexible carrier offering multiple carrying positions and combines a firm supportive waistband with lighter softer shoulder padding. The Beco 8 costs £125 and is available to purchase from Sheen Slings at sling library meets, consults and workshops (or please get in touch for doorstep collection or even postage).
The Beco Gemini is a little bit magic. It’s a carrier that has really grown on me. When I first got this carrier 2.5 years ago I didn’t have a child who fitted it (Tom was too big and Rachel hadn’t even been conceived yet). Trying with a doll I simply thought “yeah, its fine”… but over the years seeing this carrier on other parents and then later wearing it myself with Rachel I have come to realize why this carrier is fantastic… simply put it’s because the shoulder straps and waist band don’t match.
That probably sounds a bit odd, but let me explain… Almost all buckle carriers can be divided into 2 groups based on the thickness of the padding of the straps – a) carriers with light, soft or even no padding and b) carriers with relatively thick, firm padding. Likewise, for virtually all of these carriers the padding level is similar on both the shoulder straps and the waist band. I.e. carriers like the Ergo and Lillebaby carriers have thickly padded shoulder straps and firm thickly padded waist bands, while light weight carriers like the Izmi or Connecta have no padding or only very light soft padding across both the shoulders and the waist band. The Gemini, however, defies classification into one of these two groups because it has firm, thick padding at the waist band but soft light padding at the shoulder straps.
This padding ‘mismatch’ is just magic! And works for so many parents. Usually when helping parents find the right carrier for them I start by getting them to try first a thickly padded carrier and then try a very lightly padded carrier. Some parents then decide they love the supportiveness of firm padding and we try more thickly padded carriers. Others decide they like lighter weight more form fitting carriers and we instead try more of that type. Then there is a significant subset of parents who tell me they like the firm waist band of the carriers with thick padding but they find it too much on their shoulders, but then when they try a lighter weight carrier they like the feeling on their shoulders but don’t like the more flimsy waist. For this subset of parents the Gemini is almost always just perfect. A true Goldilocks carrier – firm enough on the waistband to feel supportive for hours, while still being soft and light on the shoulders and not feeling at all bulky.
Another reason its so often a winner, is that the Gemini is a very easy, very unfussy carrier. It doesn’t have loads of bits and bobs to adjust and fiddle with. No features, no pointless pockets, no hood, no multiple points of adjustment to faff around with. Just click, click and go.
What it does have, however, is 4 carrying positions. You can carry baby on your front facing you, on your front facing outward, on your hip and on your back. This carrier is weight tested from 3.2 to 16 kg (7 to 35 lb) and is one that realistically works well with a newborn all the way through till around 18 months to 2 years. A lot of this flexibility comes from the fact the ‘seat’ of the carrier has two settings – a narrow seat and a wider seat. The wider seat does inward positions (front, hip and back) from about 4 months onward (depending on the size of the baby), while the narrow seat accommodates younger babies while parent facing and allows older babies to face outwards comfortably. Adjusting between the two seat settings is ultra simple it simply fastens into either position using poppers. This makes the Gemini one of the few adjustable carriers that can be switched from facing in to facing out (or visa versa) with just one hand if need be! The poppers also do up independently on either side so I’ve even used this carrier in additional needs situations, including once with a baby who was in a leg cast – the poppers meant we could use the wide seat on one side to support the uninjured leg, but reduce the width on the side with the cast to ensure the carrier didn’t put pressure on the cast itself. Which makes this an incredibly flexible carrier that will grow with your child and adapt to their needs whatever they maybe.
Its also flexible for the parent – offering both ruck sack style straps and the ability to cross across the parents back. Most people usually have a strong preference for one or the other and often one parent will prefer crossed, while the other prefers ruck sack. So its great the Gemini offers both!
It is worth noting that compared to other similar carriers – like the Ergo Omni 360 and the Lillebaby Complete – the Gemini doesn’t last as long. While those will take to 2.5 years ish, the Gemini will often only last till around 18 months to maybe 2 years depending on the size of your child. It’s certainly not the best when it comes to longevity. This isn’t really a criticism as part of the appeal of this carrier is that it is smaller and the reason it works really well for newborns (or babies in the 2-3 month age range who are often between settings in a lot of other carriers) is because it is a smaller carrier. And many parents find themselves carrying less around then anyway or are very happy to move onto a toddler carrier that stage. But it is worth noting if you have a child who is tracking the upper percentiles on height and weight. However, if that is the case… the Beco 8 can be a great option, as the 8 is in many ways the Gemini’s big brother – a very similar but bigger carrier.
It also comes in a really lightweight mesh – “the Cool” option instead of the cotton, which can be brilliant choice for a summer baby or if you want a sling you can fold up easily as it folds to around half of the size of the normal cotton canvas version. You can see both compared in the video at the bottom of this review.
I have just one gripe with this carrier. The safety buckles. Or rather I did…. this is an example of where Beco has listened to parents… and these have been fazed out over the course of 2018 and now in 2019 all new Beco Geminis come with a new standard buckles. I am so glad, because the safety buckles were a bit of a pain to undo, especially the ones on the shoulder straps. Many people would get used to them after a few goes, while others would just find them infuriating. It’s still worth knowing though, particularly if your purchasing a second hand carrier rather than a new one because its worth checking which buckles and if you can undo them easily!
You can see this carrier in action and hear my verbal review here
So all in all, the Beco Gemini is a fantastic carrier, offering multiple carrying positions and super flexibility of use combined with a firm supportive waistband with light soft shoulder padding. It comes in two main finishes – a standard cotton version and a lighter cooler mesh version called the Gemini Cool, which cost £99.50 and £105 respectively. Both are available to purchase from Sheen Slings onlineor in person at sling library meets, consults and workshops.