The only baby gear I bought new and paid full price for (even the carseat–yes, new–was on clearance) was the Boba Combo Box.
It was not cheap. It was an investment and a gamble. Did we really need three baby carriers? And I had my merry visions of a babe snuggled up to my chest, but what if our child hated it? Would we even use them?
Well. I have no philosophical or ideological feelings about babywearing. I’m all for strollers, cribs, swings, the floor…whatever works. But from a purely practical standpoint, I know that I would not have survived winter with a newborn without this stuff. I have used the Boba 4G carrier or the wrap (or both) every single day since the Fustible came home. (We can’t use the third product in the combo box, the Boba Air, until she reaches 15 pounds, but I’m looking forward to using it this summer.)
Since I’ve only been using consistently using Boba products so far, I can’t provide a real cross-brand comparison, but I can tell you how the products in the combo box–at least, the Boba 4G Carrier and the Boba Wrap–stand up to various daily activities. Boba has their own comparison chart, but I find that it doesn’t contain all the…..detail….one might wish for. So, in 12 weeks, here’s what I’ve learned:
Adjustability The wrap is infinitely adjustable, since it’s simply a long stretchy swath of fabric. However, the burden is on the wearer to ensure that the fit is secure and comfortable. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it. I find I’ve gotten used to how long the leftover tail should be when it’s tied securely. If I get it on and the tail is too short, I probably haven’t pulled it tight enough (I take the same approach with my ice skate laces.)
The carrier is adjustable around the waist, under the arms, and behind the neck. However, there are limits. At this point, I have all of these tightened down to as much as possible, and it still doesn’t always feel right. The length of the carrier, too, is fixed. It reaches from hip to chin on me, which works when I’m standing tall, but doesn’t leave much space to spare. In the early weeks, the carrier sometimes felt unwieldy on me….and I am very average-sized. I can’t imagine how it would work on someone much shorter or slighter than me. This is getting better as the baby grows, but for awhile she/we were almost too small to make this work.
Bathroom, using I won’t elaborate on how I know it’s possible to use the bathroom while wearing the baby in either the carrier or the wrap (not pictured). The wrap is easier, as it holds the baby up higher, and it’s easier to tuck the tails safely out of the way. With the carrier, it’s a little tricky to ensure that all dangling straps are safely stowed, and the main support, fastened around the hips, must be lifted up.
Computer, using It’s possible to use the computer with either one, though it’s best if you can touch type, since the baby’s head pretty much blocks your view of the keyboard. So if you’re expecting, you may want to get on that.
Dads Sam has worn the wrap I think once, mostly to humor/appease me. He was pretty wary about getting it secure enough, and never felt very comfortable wearing it. He does wear the carrier frequently…it’s easy and quick to loosen or tighten the straps as needed when switching between people. The only main drawback is that he tends to get very hot while wearing it (this, of course, applies equally to men or women who run warm, but in this house, that is only him). Hoping the Boba Air might be a breathable, lightweight compromise, once we’re able to use it.
Dancing is compatible with either the wrap or the carrier. The wrap provides a little more springy, soothing bouncing action for the baby, plus I find it’s a little more flexible around the body, so I’d probably lean toward that one.
Dishwasher, loading and emptying Tricky in either case due to the required bending and squatting. The wrap has the option to tuck the baby’s head in for support, but on the other hand, it feels less secure around the whole body when bending over. With the carrier, her body feels snug, but her head flops around. This is do-able, but it’s probably best to modify your activity and use one hand to stabilize the baby, regardless.
Dog, walking Either option is 1,000 times better than a stroller! Which way you go may depend on the weather. I found that when she was 2 months and under, in the wrap I could put my coat on over her and even zip it most of the way up, eliminating the need to bundle her up separately. It would not be a good idea to wear the wrap over a coat, because I don’t think you could ever get it tight enough. The carrier, in contrast, can be adjusted to wear over a coat, but then of course you’ll need to bundle up the baby independently. By the way, in case you have reservations about the security of the wrap, this year I slipped on the ice and hit the ground twice while wearing her in the wrap, and both times she stayed perfectly in place and didn’t feel a thing. I am by no means recommending this, and it’s hella lucky I fell sideways/backwards and not forwards. But it did make me feel pretty good about this product.
Ease of putting on..and off..and on…and off The carrier is way easier to get on and off quickly. Learning how to tie the wrap is no big deal, but it does take a couple of minutes to get it on right (at least for me). The carrier is also easy to put on in the car/in a parking lot, while the wrap you really need a little bit of space and a comparatively clean ground beneath you (at least, not covered in mud puddles) because those yards of fabric are probably going to drag, at least a little bit. On the other hand, once you have the wrap on, you can (if you wish) just leave it on and take the baby in and out as needed. I haven’t tried this with the carrier (though Boba does recommend a special way of wearing it to keep it out of the way when the baby is out).
Emergencies When water starts dripping into your living room because of “ponding” on the flat part of the roof above, and you’re home alone with a screamy baby, what do you do? You can pop her in the pack ‘n’ play and know that, screaming and all, she’ll be just fine. Did that for awhile. Or, you can take her with you. Did that too. In a situation where you have to respond quickly, move around, and keep your hands free, strollers and car seats and squirmy worm babies are no good to you. In a zombie apocalypse-type situation, I would grab the baby first, and the Boba carrier second. (I’d probably grab the wrap third, but more for its alternative uses as a blanket, sling, shelter, or tourniquet than anything else).
Feeding (baby) Both carriers supposedly support breastfeeding, though this is not applicable for us. I have found it a little easier to bottle-feed in the wrap just because it’s all a bit more flexible and you have more 360-degree access to the baby’s face. I have found it difficult to feed in the carrier. In either case, you basically have to hold the bottle sort of up against your shoulder, pointing down toward the baby’s mouth. I’ve done it in a crisis, to quell screaming while I make my way to a comfortable place to sit, but in general find it difficult to feed comfortably and effectively while wearing her.
Feeding (self) In the carrier, whatever you’re eating will go straight down the baby’s back. The wrap you’re probably just as likely to spill on, but it’s a little sleeker/more self-contained, and the food is more likely to stay on the outside.
Laundry, doing If you have a top loading washer like I do, it’s a bit tricky to get way down in there to pull things out. And you’ll need a basket that you can balance on your hip or hold way out in front of you. Other than that, either works fine–it is perhaps not unlike doing laundry while pregnant.
Pain points I find that if the straps on the carrier are out of whack, I feel it most around the back of my shoulder/upper back on whichever side is bearing the unbalanced weight. Can be tweaked by trying to make sure the straps are even on both sides, and that the baby’s weight is evenly distributed. Some days I can wear it for hours and feel nothing, other days not so much. Probably the extent to which the babe is leaning nicely on me vs. flinging herself around also has something to do with it. With the wrap, if the fabric is not all spread out as much as possible, I will start to feel a strain in my lower back. But if you stretch it out, it’s remarkable how long this can be worn comfortably, and how really the whole wrap absorbs the weight. I also notice that I have to wear the wrap so tightly that just that gets uncomfortable after too many hours. But again, we’re talking hours, not minutes. On rough days I have worn her for 9 hours (not continuously). Though it is no doubt a relief to take the thing off after a day like that, but I’m not usually actually suffering.
Parties The carrier is perfect for parties, largely because of the easy on and off. You can socialize, baby can be calm and quiet and rest snuggled up with you, or easily come out for a rousing game of pass-the-baby if she’s alert and calm enough for it. And, people can still see your outfit, which would be largely obscured by the wrap!
Shopping I use the carrier all the time for grocery (and other) shopping. I honestly can’t really imagine any other way to do it. She’s too small to sit in the cart, and putting the carseat on top just seems like a disaster waiting to happen! Note, if you’re shopping for clothes (for yourself), babywearing is a deterrent because of the hassle of putting her on and off again to try things on. I suppose you could consider this a pro or a con. I probably wouldn’t use the wrap to shop because of the hassle of putting it on in the car/in the parking lot. The downside to the carrier is that you have to remember to bring it with you, along with the car seat, diaper bag, shopping bags, list, etc. Just one more giant thing to wrangle with. I am especially looking forward to graduating to the Boba Air for this purpose, since it is very compact and can just stay in the diaper bag all the time.
Sitting A little tricky–the baby gets right up under your chin. Works best if you have excellent posture, or even can lean back a little bit. Usually I am most comfortable sitting at the very edge of the chair/couch.
Sleeping (baby) Ideal. In fact, during the day this is often the only way she’ll fall asleep. She falls and stays asleep equally well in the wrap or the carrier, but I find that waking up is more traumatic in the wrap (usually involving panicked screaming) probably because she is pretty much totally immobilized, and maybe a little overheated, after sleeping in there for hours.
Sleeping (self) Nope (alas). Can’t lie down in this thing and keep the baby in a safe or comfortable position, so sleeping while wearing is a no go. I guess you can lean back in a reclining chair and flop your head over to the side and nod off a little bit, if that sort of thing appeals to you, grandpa.
TV, watching Sure, yeah….if you want to stand and bounce while you watch. Again, sitting is tricky. Babywearing is AWESOME for moving around, doing stuff, and freeing up your hands. But if you’re just lazing about anyway (and why not?) it’s probably just easier to hold the baby in your lap/against your chest for snuggling/feeding/resting.
Washability The wrap goes right in the washer and dryer! (On a cold/delicate cycle and low tumble dry). I’ve done this with no problem. The carrier is apparently also machine washable (hang/air dry), though I haven’t tried this yet. Best to spot clean when you can.
Oh, and one final note/bit of advice: despite all temptation to the contrary, Boba is not for cats:
With that, sally forth! Have fun and be merry wearing your baby.