We pushed the Beco Gemini to it's limit - and it was fun! I've seen this in action a LOT at baby wearing meets - often Dads are drawn to the simple utilitarian design and like the idea that they can get a carrier with buckles RIGHT NOW for the squishy small person they've just been entrusted with.
Specs go a little something like this: 7lbs/3.5kgs - 35lbs/15.9kgs. The body of the carrier is 28 cms tall (can be extended up to 37 cms with the headrest fastened up), and the seat is 17cms (can be extended to 33cms with snaps, as worn with the long-legged, 15kg 2.75yo Audrey). As far as OSFM... Yep. Like the Soleil, the waist cinches to a snug 28 inches, and will expand to 60 inches. Shoulder straps are similarly adjustable; they'll cinch to 23 inches and let out to 42 inches.
Because of the relatively narrow seat and short body, this is that rare thing - a soft structured carrier that doesn't require an infant insert. The price you pay is that it maxes out earlier, with a lower weight limit than the Soleil model, and a maximum seat width of 33 cms. However, as I said, we put it to the test, and while Audrey and I were both comfortable and well-supported by the Gemini, it wouldn't be my first choice for a hike in the woods, but a great hey, gotta run through the supermarket, must contain the child option.
This is marketed as a 4-in-1: front outward facing, front inward facing, hip carry and back carry.
I don't love outward facing, but for some kids (over the age of 4-5 months, with healthy hips and with good head control, for short periods of time) it works. You know your child better than I do, so please keep the necessary safety issues in mind and proceed as best suits you. Snapping the seat to its narrowest setting is obviously necessary.
Front inward facing is totally my thing and this carrier does it well. Hip carry - not so much. We tried it on the way to a back carry. I can make it work, but it feels a bit awkward and I don't know where to put my arm. Back carry - Far out. Maybe we just hit the sweet spot, but this was great. (Please remember that your child needs to be sitting independently before moving to a back carry in any soft structured carrier.) We actually DID go for a walk to the shops like this and Audrey fell asleep, so I guess she was comfortable. I was.
Verdict? This is a fantastic ergonomic option for people who really want the security of buckles and are a bit scared of baby falling out of a wrap or ring sling.
I prefer to recommend soft structured carriers once kyphosis has straightened a little and baby has good head control, but if you want one carrier from birth - 12/18 months this is great. You could certainly keep using it past that point, but bear in mind that it might not be quite as fabulous as a Soleil with a wider base and a taller body.
If you'd like to know what I think of Beco's ethics, go have a quick read. Also, thanks to http://www.becoaustralia.com.au I have one to give away at my facebook page!
Love these safety buckles; you need to use two hands to manipulate the centre button and both sides of the clip, making an accidental release impossible.
With press-studs fastened outwards, the seat can be broadened to 33 cms.
Seat adjusted inward for forward facing or smaller babies with a narrower span knee-to-knee: 17 cms
With headrest panel clipped down, the body of the Gemini is quite petite.
Chest strap keeps shoulders pulled in nicely for a back carry.
Guess how she fell asleep... Yup. Just like that.
I'm not sure I can manage to BF a child THIS tall, but a baby would be a distinct possibility.
Love those safety clips.
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