If you’ve spent any amount of time using a soft-structured carrier, you’ve probably at least tried to do a back carry by yourself. I admit, it takes practice to master it.
Despite four years of baby- and toddlerwearing under my belt, I always choose to have Big B or my mom (or even a stranger at times) simply put whichever child I’m carrying directly on my back. But sometimes, you have no choice but to do it yourself.
I remember the first time I tried, back in 2009, with The K Man who was perhaps eight or nine months old. I was watching an instructional DVD that came with my first carrier. At the time, the idea of putting the carrier on half-way and feeding a baby leg through one side of the carrier first was not yet born. The DVD wisely suggested that I try what I called the “back carry shuffle” over a soft couch.
Taking the straps in my hand, with The K Man in the carrier, I (very ungracefully) started bouncing and shuffling him from my front to my side to my back. He bit his tongue and wailed and that was that. I never really got very good at putting him in the back carry position by myself, so was really only able to do it when I had help.
Now, years later – even though the carriers themselves haven’t really changed – there’s a much easier way to get your baby on your back with a traditional soft-structured carrier like the ergobaby, BOBA 3G or Manduca. Check out any number of videos and it’ll only take you a few tries to get it right, especially with an older toddler who can help you out by tucking her head under your armpit on the way to your back.
For the fourth installment of my toddlerwearing series, however, I’m going to focus on the Beco Butterfly 2, provided by the very nice people at Beco. It’s still in the soft-structured carrier category, but has a distinct design that differentiates it from it’s cousins, and should be a real contender for you if you don’t need to nurse a toddler in a carrier and/or prefer to back carry 95 per cent of the time.
I’ll remind you as you read this review that since this is a toddlerwearing series, I’m really focusing on the pros and cons for parents carrying larger babies and preschool-age children – those in the 25- to 45-pound range.
The waist belt on the Butterfly 2 is, singlehandedly, the most comfortable one I’ve tried to date. It’s got the right amount of curve, and its height feels good in both the front and back carries with Miss Q’s full weight on me. There’s also plenty of strap regardless of how thick you are around the waist – up to 57 inches.
There’s no need to do the back carry shuffle anymore! If you’re not comfortable with manoeuvering your child onto your back solo, and you do a lot of back carrying, then the Beco Butterfly 2 is for you. This is where it really shines. Because of an internal “pouch” that your child sits in – essentially putting an extra layer of fabric between the two of you – you can put your baby into the carrier while sitting on a big chair or couch and, literally, put the carrier on like a backpack. Just throw the straps over your shoulder, do up the waist belt and stand up. Make whatever adjustments you need to and you’re off. Now, there’s a video to show you an alternative – closer to the “shuffle” – for toddlers, but I tried doing it the “baby” way and it worked just fine.
Next to the ease of the back carry, Beco has really nailed pattern choice. By far, these are some of the prettiest of any carrier company I’ve come across, and help win the Butterfly 2 the Slick Award. It’s one good-looking carrier.
The straps on either side of the Butterfly 2, near your waist, are probably the easiest to adjust of any soft-structured carrier on the market.
This carrier comes with an infant support seat, like the Manduca, but it’s actually removable, which is a nice feature. (Even if the buckles that hold it in place are not.)
What’s also removable is the hood.
There are these extra straps at the waist belt, on the inside, that are there to roll up the body of the carrier that allow you to create a “seat” on your hip on which your child can perch. They also, very smartly, allow you to roll your Butterfly 2 into itself and stay put. Oh, they’re called “stay-put straps,” appropriately enough.
The seat back is nice and high, and curves like the BOBA 3G, which is something I really like because it gives the impression that your toddler isn’t going to just backflip himself right out.
The shell is 100 per cent organic, but…
The filling is 100 per cent polyester. To me, if you’re going to invest in an organic carrier (and this one’s about $140 to $150), you’d be best to invest in one that’s truly organic, including its innards. Polyester is a synthetic fibre and because of the way it’s processed (with petrochemicals), it releases nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas that’s 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide – into the environment.
There’s no storage. Not even a wee pocket for a ratty old folded-up fiver. And there’s currently no Beco-branded pouch to buy for the waist belt, so you have to buy something generic. Sigh.
The pouch that makes that back carry position so easy and fabulous? Well, it does something weird to your kid’s weight distribution. I found it put more pressure on my shoulders than any other soft-structured carrier. This is most noticeable in the front carry.
And although the straps on the sides are super-simple to adjust, the ones that are up near your shoulders are not. You’d better hope you find the right spot and don’t need to adjust it again for months. The buckles attached to these straps also mean that you have to take your sucking/teething/drooling pads on and off every time you put your baby in or take her out of the carrier. So annoying. These exist to support that inner pouch.
Speaking of the extra set of buckles near your shoulders, they have the same fail-safe mechanism that the Manduca has on the waist belt. You need to press a third button to release the buckle. Except here, there are TWO to contend with, so any hope of a swift, one-handed exit is lost because of them.
Though the waist belt is extremely comfortable, the buckle on it pales in comparison to those on the ergo, BOBA and Manduca; it just doesn’t feel nearly as substantial. Do I think it’s unsafe? Not remotely. I never felt like it was going to disengage. But I got used to the strength of the others, and prefer them.
At just 13 inches wide, the Beco’s seat back is among the narrowest of any soft-structured carrier. If you have a leggy child, as I do, this means his legs won’t be as well-supported as they would be with a wider seat. Even still, I will say that the desirable “M” position is absolutely achievable – as long as you’re not ginormous. Big B found this carrier much more challenging than the others – it was smaller on him overall and meant that Miss Q wasn’t as comfortable, especially in the back carry.
The hood is really too small (or placed too low?) for a toddler or preschooler. I couldn’t even get it to cover Miss Q’s head entirely.
If you consistently nurse your toddler in a carrier, you probably don’t want the Butterfly 2. Between the extra panel that creates the pouch, the additional buckles at your shoulder and the difficult adjustability of the shoulder straps, breastfeeding just gets way more complicated than it needs to be. If you’re not nursing, then this is a non-issue.
For me: 3.5/5
For Big B: 3.5/5