Steph! Clara! I'm so glad you asked.
By the time Adriana was four months old, the one-shouldered baby carriers that I'd loved were causing me a lot of pain, and I'd never really gotten the hang of the Moby, so I was down to just one carrier--my meitai. I was considering purchasing another one in a different color, because really, how can you have only one baby carrier to choose from, but I was sometimes frustrated by the readjusting I had to do with the meitai, so I started looking at other carriers. In the fall, we ended up with two new ones.
At a Bay Area Babywearers (formerly NINO) meeting, I tried on an assortment of "soft structured carriers"--an Ergo, a Beco, a Sutemi, and a Patypum, and maybe another one. I didn't completely fall in love with the fit of any one of them over the others--they all seemed pretty similar to me--so I went with the Beco because it was the prettiest, and I am a sucker for a pretty baby carrier (I have the "cocoa butterfly" pattern--approved by me for being pretty but not too loud, and approved by Brian for being not so girly that he won't wear it, although I actually think it's more girly than the green dragonflies of the meitai that he objects to, but what do I know?). That carrier has become my default. The Beco is more bulky than a meitai, so I can't shove it into a diaper bag as easily and it somehow doesn't feel as snuggly. The bulkiness is partly because of the big waist strap, which I think helps distribute more of the baby's weight to my hips. I like that I don't have to tighten the straps up after I've had it on for a while, and in the wetter weather, I don't have to worry about long straps dragging on the ground when I'm putting it on outdoors.
At first I used the Beco just as I had the meitai, with Adriana strapped to my front. I found quickly that the sternum strap, which goes across the back for a front carry, doesn't shorten quite enough to make this comfortable for a long haul; the shoulder straps would start to slip relatively quickly. Still, it was good for getting the baby and groceries up to the apartment, and for longer carries, I could lengthen the shoulder straps and wear them crossed over my back. That gave me more support, and made the shoulder straps unable to slip. (If you do this carry with it, take the sternum strap off and place it in the pocket so you don't lose it!) Where this carrier has been invaluable, though, is in getting Adriana onto my back. Someone at the Babywearers meeting had helped me figure out a way to do a back carry in the meitai, but I was never sure that I had Adriana securely in there. The Beco, with its clip closures, made me more confident that I had things right. Now I rarely carry her on my front, and she travels around town on my back and often spends time there in the evenings while I am fixing dinner.
Deuter KidComfort II
Shortly after the Beco arrived, Brian decided that he really wanted a frame backpack carrier for hiking with Adriana. We went to REI and tried out everyone they had, which included the Deuter, a couple of Kelty carriers, and the REI one. It figures that the most expensive one is the one we both liked the best. It seemed easiest to adjust, which is important when there is a 10-inch height difference between you and your spouse, and the seat seemed the most comfortable for Adriana. I also liked that it had a good-sized pocket/backpack underneath the seat.
Adriana loves riding in this carrier. We use it for the farmer's market every weekend, and she really seems to enjoy being up high and able to see what's going on. (In the Beco, she can see to the sides but not over my shoulder, as she rides so low that sometimes people don't notice at first that it's not just a backpack that I've got on.) Brian is the one who carries her in it, and he seems fine with the fit. I did carry her home in it once, and it didn't feel quite right, but I don't think I'd really taken the time to adjust it properly. We've only used it on a couple real hikes so far, although I am hoping to use it more this spring. He was able to do a fair amount of maneuvering in it. I was worried at first about whether Adriana would be able to fall asleep in the backpack, but although it takes her longer (for a while we were taking the stroller to the farmer's market, and we would time the walk there with her morning nap, which was perfect), she does manage; it doesn't seem as though her head is quite as comfy as in the Beco when she sleeps because she's not pressed right against us, but she can just lean her head forward slightly and rest it on the padding. After our failed attempt to see Body Worlds, Brian and I both wished that we'd had this carrier with us. Perhaps if she'd been up high and able to see everything, she wouldn't have objected so strenuously to the fact that we weren't letting her run around.
I'll try to update this post with pictures later, but naptime is ending soon, and I need a snack. A nursing mother needs her calories, you know.
*Original review of carriers here.