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).
There are a number of Toddler carriers on the market, and confusingly they vary HUGELY between brands! In particular, they vary most in terms of size! Both in terms of how old your baby needs to be before they are big enough and in terms of how long they will last for.
We currently have 7 Toddler carriers in the Sling Library collection and to help me compare them on size and longevity I have enlisted the help of both my children. Rachel is 18 months, 80cm tall and 11.5kg and she represents roughly the age I most commonly see parents starting to entertain looking for a toddler sling. Tom by contrast gives an idea of the absolute upper end! He is 5 years old, 116cm tall and just over 20kg. I stopped regularly carrying Tom at around 3.5 years old, and have only really carried him very occasionally on holidays or long trips since then. Many people find carrying naturally peters out sometime between 2 and 4 years old. That said there is a significant number of families for whom carrying may well last a lot longer than this – particularly for a child with additional needs such a developmental delay, low muscle tone, ongoing medical treatment that might cause fatigue etc. Tom helps give an idea of those carriers that are a bit more roomy for those who might want to carry a much older child.
Taking a look at each in turn…
Connecta advertise their toddler size as being “suitable from 12kg to 24kg and giving a supportive and comfortable fit for most children from 18 months until around 3.5 years or older.”
The panel is a fixed size and doesn’t adjust or grow with the child, but despite this I do completely agree with the advertised age range. Rachel is supported all the way knee to knee and all the way upto the back of her neck, so there is plenty of growing room for her and I agree that this carrier wouldn’t have fitted her well much before 18 months. Tom despite being 5 is still supported reasonably well. Yes the carrier is only just about supporting him to mid thigh (and so wouldn’t be as comfortable for him over longer periods), it is supporting him right the way up his back to under his armpits so it’s still a safe secure carry. It is worth noting that Connecta also make a pre-school size so if I were still carrying a child Tom’s size I’d select that carrier over the toddler size. But it is clear this carrier will comfortably manage from 18 months to at least 3.5 years old as advertised.
Compared to others here, the Connecta is the most lightweight and folds up the absolute smallest. I have to say I love how small it folds… Rachel wants to walk everywhere so having a carrier that folds up small enough to slip into the change bag while we are not wearing it is an absolute boon. I also love how comfortable it is – until I tried a Connecta for the first time, I always used to equate padding with comfort. However, it’s simply not the case with this carrier, despite the lack of padding this nifty little carrier makes great contact with your body to give a perfect fit and brilliant weight distribution … even with 20kg of Tom.
This carrier can be worn on the front, back or hip. When worn on the front, straps cross across the parents back. When worn on the back, straps are worn ruck sack style and the accessory strap can be used as a chest strap to hold the two shoulder straps in place. I have to say I never find this strap the most comfortable and am often forgetting it at home anyway so I often don’t bother! But it can be helpful for some shoulder types and to make the carrier feel a little more secure if you have a very wiggly toddler. Cost is between £90 and £110 depending on material. Full review of the Toddler Connecta can be viewed here.
The Isara is so clever in its sizing. Both the width and length of the carrier can be adjusted, allowing this carrier to very smoothly adjust incrementally from around 10 months (minimum of 8 or 9kg) all the way through to 4 years (max of 20kg). It’s just a fab size range and one that works really well… particularly for those who are moving on from one of the smaller carriers on the market (like the Bjorn, Stokke, Izmi baby etc) and are looking for something that will fit now but last as long as possible. The adjustable seat means that it will fit earlier than most other toddler carriers on the market and last longer.
The Isara can be worn on the front, back or hip. When front carrying the straps can be worn crossed over the parents back or worn rucksack style. Padding wise, it has a relatively firm wide waistband and softer well cushioned shoulder straps. Consequently, the Isara doesn’t fold up as small as the Connecta or Izmi, but the increased padding will be more comfortable for some. It’s a good option for those who carry for long periods, where the carrier spends less time folded up in a bag or under a buggy! The material is lovely and soft and there is also very soft light padding at the leg holes to ensure toddler comfort.
It fits Rachel absolutely beautifully and is an option I am starting to use a lot for her. At 18 months old she is roughly at the halfway point sizing wise – in the photo above I have both the velcro adjustment on the waist and the buckle that adjusts the height set at the roughly halfway point. So this carrier will go considerably smaller than her. I do think 10 months to a year is realistic. For the photo with Tom the carrier is on its biggest setting. And you can see that even though he is beyond the upper age range and weight, he still fits reasonably well – he is supported to at least mid thigh with his bottom lower than his knees. The back panel is a little too short for him as it doesn’t quite reach to under his armpits, but it would have definitely still fitted him well at 4 so this is not really a criticism! The Toddler Isara costs between £124 and £150 depending on material and print.
The Izmi Toddler carrier is also adjustable and also covers a huge age range from 9 months/1 year ish (or 8kg) through to roughly 4 years old. It’s weight tested to a staggering 27kg (or 60lb)!!
Unlike the Isara the adjustment isn’t smooth/incremental but stepped. There is a narrower seat setting and a wider seat setting. The narrower setting works from 9 months and will take you through till about 18/20 months. Rachel is shown on the narrower setting and its supporting her to a little past mid thigh and still giving a lovely M shape. She is close to being able to move to the wider setting – she’ll be ready when she can sit in it without the material passing the backs of her knees. Tom is shown in the wider setting and on this wider setting he is supported to at least mid-thigh and again has a great seated position with his bottom lower than his knees.
The height of back panel on this carrier doesn’t adjust. For Rachel it supports all the way up to the top of her shoulders/base of her neck. Which does mean she struggles to get her arms out, which is always a bit of a source of frustration for her! For Tom the panel is a bit short for him… similar to the Isara … but this would have been plenty long enough when he was 4.
The Izmi is another lightweight option. Like the Connecta it folds up relatively small and doesn’t weigh much and so is a good option for independent toddlers who are up and down alot and thus you end up carrying the sling empty as much as you actually use it! The Izmi toddler has a very softly padded waistband which is shaped so that its very wide in the centre and then quickly tapers. I find this shape really comfortable – gives support where you need it without bulk and as its so soft it moulds perfectly. At the shoulders there is no padding at all but instead has spreadable fabric straps. The Izmi toddler can be worn on the front, hip or back. When I am wearing it on the front or hip I find spreading the straps make this carrier superior on comfort – it really works well for me and I don’t miss padding at all. For the back carry however, its more difficult to spread and use the chest strap and while I am still comfortable enough on shorter journeys… I start to miss the padding if I am carrying for more like an hour or so! Cost is £80, which makes the Izmi the lowest cost toddler carrier on our list (and that I know of) and certainly makes it amazing value for money!
Not technically a toddler carrier the KiBi is the most adjustable carrier I’ve ever come across. It smoothly adjusts to accommodate children anywhere from 6 months old all they way to beyond 5 years of age.
The offers front, hip and back carrying positions and its possible to wear the straps either crossed on in rucksack configuration when carrying on the front. It has a relatively firm but thin padding at the waist and wide but softly padded shoulder straps. Its superbly adjustable – not only for the child but also for the parent with 3 points of adjustment for the shoulder straps ensuring a great fit for a really wide range of adults. For the child, the flexibility comes from the ability to adjust both the width and the height of the carrier. The width has 4 poppered settings and a drawstring to give fine tuning between each of the poppered settings. Rachel is shown on the third popper, Tom on the forth. The height of the panel then adjusts in two ways – there’s a ladder lock buckle that adjusts at the leg openings, and then the top half of the panel can be pulled up or scrunched down as needed. I love that the two adjustments are separate – you can really get a great supportive fit on a wide range of different sized children as a result. It means that Rachel is just as well supported as Tom. And the fact I can squash down the back panel means Rachel can have her arms out if she wants and then I can work it upwards once she is ready to sleep.
While it’s only weight tested to 20kg this carrier is perfectly capable of carrying a much larger child. As can be seen with Tom – he’s legs are supported to at least mid thigh, in a good M shape and his back is supported all the way to the top of his shoulders. The KiBi is a great choice for anyone looking for a carrier that will last a long time. In particular, this would be a fab choice for close in age siblings where both are still regularly carried – because this is a carrier that can easily be used to carry either. Giving you the flexibility to carry either while the other walks or is in the pram as needed. This carrier is also a great option for anyone looking for a carrier that will last longer in order to continue carrying a child with additional needs. While many of the carriers on this list will carry an older child, the KiBi is a great choice for a child with low muscle tone and/or a developmental delay because the back panel is so high – this means even if they are tired and now struggling to support their upper torso etc the carrier will fully support them. With many other toddler carriers, it’s often that lack of upper back support that can prove difficult in additional needs situations (depending on the individual need of the child). Cost is £99 and full review of this carrier, including photos with a 6 month old can be viewed here.
Lillebaby Carry On
Of all the toddler carriers I’ve tried the Lillebaby CarryOn has the smallest range in terms of ages/sizes it can be used for. As can be seen on the photos above its too wide for Rachel at 18 months. The material is rouching at her knees and her legs are close to being over extended (the one on the right side in particular is not able to bend to give completely free range of motion). It’s also too wide at the top which means she is able to lean back and her weight is pulling away from me (making it heavier for me).
In reality most children won’t fit the Lillebaby Complete until they are 2 years old. Or as a general guide until they can fit into size 2-3 trousers. Then because this carrier doesn’t adjust at all and is fairly fixed (i.e less flexible that the Connecta) it doesn’t last as long either. We can see that for Tom his legs are right on the border of still being supported upto mid thigh and the panel is only reaching to his mid back… its way way below the safe region of right under the arms pits. So really he doesn’t still fit in this… if he wasn’t fairly compliant when it comes to being carried, this could potentially be dangerous.
Lillebaby market this carrier as “a roomy carrier made specifically for growing toddlers from 20-60 lbs (9-27kg)” and a “versatile, ergonomic and comfortable way to carry your child for many years”. However, I think more realistically this carrier only really works from aged 2 through to 3.5 maybe 4 but certainly no older. And 27 kg seems honestly optimistic!!! Good option for those on the upper centile lines, but for Tom who is on the 50th centile and weighs 21kg… there’s absolutely no way he could be safely carried in this carrier when he reaches 27kg!!
In terms of parent comfort this carrier is one of the bulkiest I’ve looked at here, with pretty pretty wide firm shoulder padding and a wide firm waist band. Consequently it’s a fairly large bundle when folded up and is a bit warmer for the parent to wear. This particular model is their airflow mesh so it is pretty breezy for the child at least. And surprisingly bouncy… the mesh is pretty springy so gives the carrier a little bit of “bounce” for the child as you walk! Cost is around £125 to £150 depending on material and print.
Neko Switch Toddler
Of all the carriers compared here the Neko Switch is the biggest! Or at least has the capacity to become the biggest. Like the Isara and KiBi both the height and width of this carrier can be adjusted. Where it differs from these two is it’s a bigger carrier to start with.
Rachel is shown on the absolute smallest setting. The width alters via a series of poppers, while the height can be adjusted via a drawstring. Widthwise she is near knee to knee on this setting (but slightly over extended on the next setting up), while the absolute smallest height setting barely allows her to get one arm out!! So this is definitely a carrier that won’t fit before roughly 18 months.
But once it does fit… my does it have growing room! It will grow and grow and grow… all the way to a carrier that will carry Tom with absolute ease. Tom is supported way past mid thigh in a lovely deep squat, and then all the way up his back to his shoulders. He shows no sign of growing out this carrier for sometime to come. I could see this still working for a 7 or 8 year old, possibly even more. It’s weight tested to 27kg (60lb) so certainly has the strength to carry a 7 or 8 year old too. Making the Neko switch a great option for anyone who wants a carrier that will last as long as possible. In particular this is a fantastic option for a child with additional needs – for any child over about 18 months/2 years where there is a reason they might need to be carried for longer, i.e. developmental delay, on-going medical conditions or low muscle tone. As discussed for the KiBi, this is a great carrier for a child with low muscle tone because the back panel is so high. There is also a detachable hood that can be used to support sleeping heads!
The Switch is made from Neko’s really lovely woven wrap material, which makes this carrier very soft and also really pretty! It comes in a huge range of gorgeous designs. In terms of positions the Neko offers a front carry and a back carry (unlike each of the others, a hip position is not easily possible). Straps can be worn rucksack style only (they don’t cross), which means while this carrier works a treat on my back, neither me or my husband like wearing it on our fronts – we find our daughter too heavy without the ability to cross the straps across our back. However, on the back its really comfy with fairly firm padding at the waist and shoulders. Cost is £135 and the Neko Toddler Switch can be purchased from Slumber Roo.
Beco Toddler Carrier
The Beco Toddler carrier is another one with a fixed panel (it doesn’t adjust) and it’s relatively large. So large that Rachel – aged 21 months and 84cm tall only *just* fits. The material is reaching all the way into her knee pits and possibly a little further, but its soft and light enough she can squish it down and still move her legs freely so that she isn’t over extended. The panel reaches all the way to the top of her neck, which does mean she can’t get her arms out which she doesn’t love but does mean she could sleep very comfortably without needing to put the hood up. It’s worth noting that Rachel is tall for her age… most babies won’t fit well before 2. And Rachel certainly wouldn’t have fitted prior to 21 months old – she has had a huge growth spurt over the summer jumping from 80cm to 84 in just 3 months and this has made all the difference in terms of fitting the Beco Toddler.
So while this carrier is unlikely to fit much before 2 years of age… it will last and last. The shape of the seat means that Tom aged 5.5 years still has beautiful support well past his mid thigh – giving a great M shape – and the back panel reaches all the way upto right under his armpits. In fact he could get his arms in too but he choose not to as he said arms out is more comfy mummy! Plus there is a detachable hood that can be added to support his head while he slept if needed. So he is still held very safely and securely and is still way below the very generous weight limit of 27kg (60lb).
In terms of parent comfort, like all Beco carriers this carrier has a relatively firmly padded waist band that feels very secure and supportive. While the shoulder straps are relatively wide but very softly padded which means the shoulder straps do not feel overly bulky and fit very comfortably over the shoulders. Additionally there are perfect fit adjusters on the shoulder straps which allow more petite parents to get a nice snug fit while back carrying. The Beco toddler offers front, hip and back carrying positions and it is possible to wear the straps either crossed or in rucksack configuration when carrying on the front. The main strap pulls in one direction only, which does mean that while its easy to tighten this carrier when back carrying, its a little harder when wearing on your front.
Adjustability and longevity – if I had to describe this carrier in just two words they would be it, because this carrier has both in spades. Many carriers on the market advertise birth till 4, but few actually really cover that whole range. The Boba X is probably one of the very few that really will take you from birth (or a few weeks old) until as long as you would like to carry for.
So what’s their secret? The panel adjusts, both the height and width of the panel can be fine-tuned to fit the baby and then can be let out bit by bit as they grow to grow with them and adapt to their needs as they develop and change with time. The panel material is also really soft and light, which means when it is cinched down on the smallest settings it’s not too bulky. If is of course a little more bulky than when it isn’t cinched down but it’s not overly so… which allows a really form hugging fit to be achieved on littler babies (without them feeling lost in oodles of carrier) as well as still having all that growing room for the future.
In particular for infants I like that the hood, rolled up inside the carrier, can be used to support the neck and that this can be moved using the panel height adjusters to ensure it is in exactly the right position. There is also a small lip of very light flexible fabric that then cradles the head… ensuring that the neck is well supported but baby still has freedom to move their head. There is also lovely padding at the baby’s legs. All in all this is a carrier that can work really well for a new baby. Maybe not right in the first days – the first days and weeks I always think it’s very hard to beat the snuggliness of a stretchy wrap or Caboo. But from around a month or so old, around the time you are starting to think about getting out and about more… this carrier would work perfectly.
And then grow with baby! Simple velcro tabs adjust the waist band… and combined with the height adjusting buckle the panel with grow smoothly with your baby right into toddlerhood. Offering 3 carrying positions along the way – front, hip and back. Then, and this is the real magic… it comes supplied with a pair of zip on panel extenders which convert the carrier from a standard sized carrier into a toddler/preschool sized carrier. These extenders are nicely padded so really comfortable for the child and the zips are all hidden internally where they can’t rub. Which means the Boba X will still happily carry a 3 or even a 4 year old. In fact you can see my son, aged 5 still just about squeezes in. So the Boba X should last you as long as you need to carry. And its so well made I am sure it would last through siblings… in fact I can see this being a great option for anyone with siblings that are quite close in age, because this carrier could be easily used with either.
But what about the parent? Again the Boba X is really adjustable – you can wear the straps crossed or in ruck sack (H) style, and the chest strap is on a slider and so easily adjusted to fit a range of different shapes and sizes. Likewise there are perfect fit adjusters allowing more petite or shorter parents to get a really snug fit, even when back carrying. The straps are really easy to tighten thanks to the “pulley” system or dual adjust that allows the same strap to be tightened either from the panel end or from the strap end depending on which direction is easier. This feature is really good for anyone who suffers from weak wrists or limited mobility through their arms or shoulders.
Boba have also thought about how you might carry your stuff! There is a little zippered pocket on the waistband that is just big enough to house a phone, keys and a credit card. And for those who can’t pack that light… there are bag clips on the shoulder straps – little flaps on poppers that allow you keep a bag strap on the padded shoulder strap allowing you to comfortably carry a bag at the same time as wearing your baby.
The one thing I don’t like about this carrier is how the straps cross across the parents back. The straps are slightly curving – and as a result they work brilliantly in the rucksack/H configuration. But this curve means that when you attempt to cross them… the curve is going the wrong way resulting in the straps sitting awkwardly on your back. Ultimately, if I was to use this carrier I’d always choose to use it with rucksack straps and never to cross. The thing is though, many people prefer crossed… and what I am finding is those who like crossed straps don’t find this carrier as comfortable as others where the straps don’t curve away while those who prefer rucksack style or don’t have a strong preference really love it and find it incredibly comfortable.
Another thing to be aware of is that when folded up the Boba X isn’t the smallest carrier. If your looking for something that folds up small and fits in the change bag, something for more occasional use – this is not the carrier for you. Instead the Boba X makes a good choice for anyone who wants to use their carrier for hours on end, and to work flexibly in lots of different situations. Also with all this adjustability comes more bits and pieces. The beauty of the older Boba’s (i.e the Boba 4G or the 3G) was they were very simple… just one strap to tighten or adjust. I would get them out whenever I had a client who wanted something really easy or were confused by having too many things to adjust. So while a big part of me rejoices at a super adjustable Boba, a very small part of me will miss the beautifully simple does less Boba’s … mainly for this subset of clients who find to many straps confusing or too much faff!
All in all the Boba X is a hugely adjustable carrier that will last you as long as you want to. It comes with oodles of features to ensure comfort of both parent and babe and is a really good choice for anyone looking for a very flexible carrier and one that will fit parents of different sizes and children of different sizes. Cost is £125 and can be ordered through Sheen Slings or from Slumber Roo.