Sunday, October 12, 2014

Boba Carrier 4G Review

The following review was written by guest blogger and fellow"Attached Mama" Kate Burgener.   You can check out Kate's website at

When an opportunity to review a soft structured carrier (SSC) came along, I was pretty excited. At that point, my husband and I had only used a Moby, a ring sling, and a borrowed mei tai with our son Henry.   We loved wearing him, but we were interested in something that would come together a little faster. Having zero experience with a SSC, I envisioned clipping the carrier around my waist, popping Henry into the seat, and away we'd go. I expected the straps to be kind of "set it and forget it," which appealed to me. The ring sling required all kinds of minute adjustments, and I didn't always feel as if I had him seated just right.  What could be easier than a SSC?

I got the Boba 4G model to review because I had a 3 month old. The Boba 4G comes with a nifty infant insert that I was eager to try. A leader from our local babywearing group patiently walked me through the finer points of the carrier.  We clipped the waist belt on me, and she showed off the neat elastic loops for rolling excess straps up and getting them out of the way.  Next came the infant insert.  The infant insert had a moon-shaped little spot for a baby bottom to rest allowing the legs to be supported. After snapping it in and testing Henry in it, however, it became apparent that my long, skinny, cloth-diapered kid was already WAY too tall for it.   You are supposed to have the baby's head within "kissing distance"--however Henry was withing teeth-bashing distance!  So, my local babywearing group leader suggested we try the carrier without the infant insert.

The Boba 4G Carrier Infant Insert:  Instructions for a newborn hold can be found here.

What surprised me most was that after getting into the carrier and arranging Henry, I'd be adjusting the shoulder straps each time. Not what I was expecting from a SSC! (Not a drawback, just not what I had pictured.) A few more tips from my local babywearing group leader, and we were on our way with our brand-spanking-new carrier to test out!
Carrier Adjusted From Front
The first thing I should say about the Boba 4G (and I have no previous models to compare it too, please remember), is that I was surprised at how soft it was. Again, I hadn't explored any other SSC, but I kept expecting them to be kind of like backpack canvas.  The Boba 4G carrier material was downright cozy.  The fabric turned out to be a magnet for cat hair, but a good lint-rolling from time to time would keep you presentable if you cared about that sort of thing.

The second feature I noticed (which ended up being my favorite part and is now non-negotiable for future SSC purchases) was the napping hood. Henry desires to be in arms at all times. (I mean, a little less now, but still isn't happy with more than 15 minutes of alone time.) This started to get super difficult after the various grandparents and relatives were back home and my husband and I were left to the task of figuring out how to get the kid to sleep during the day. Carrier naps became our go-to for mid-day naps, if only to give our arms a break. Plus, let's face it, snugly napping is awesome, even if that means the wearer doesn't get a chance to take a nap themselves. However, as Henry got more aware of the world, it became harder and harder for him to relax and nap in a carrier. The napping hood allowed him to still peek out if he needed to, but provided a much darker and less stimulating environment for him to drift off in. Because he was in front-carries only, his little head was usually leaning against our chests, so the hood was less about support for us. We made sure we could peek in and keep an eye for an open airway, even when the hood was up.

Henry Naps Happily on Dad
Another thing that we loved about the carrier was that Henry just felt super secure in it. When he wriggled in the ring sling, I would get nervous that he'd give an especially mighty kick and knock the seat out. With straps and buckles, I felt confident that he wasn't going anywhere. I picked a little basil from our garden while wearing Henry and I felt much better about bending down to reach things than I do with the sling. My husband and I also both found it faster to use, even with the strap adjusting, and would have made it a go-to style for quick trips if we were keeping it. The way the weight distributed on our shoulders was also great, wearing our son for a few hours was easy, with the padded waist belt providing extra support. 
Baby Henry Helps Mama in the Garden
My husband and I did find a few drawbacks to how the Boba 4G fit, at least for us. We're both pretty tall people, so this could entirely be a torso-length thing, but the backpack-style straps ended up cutting right under our arms from the back. We adjusted and adjusted, moving the chest strap around and the waist belt up and down, and neither of us could get it quite comfortable on our bodies. When I was in a tank top, this was especially irritating, because it meant that one or more buckles was rubbing against my bare arm as I was wearing him. Not ideal. (For what it's worth, knowing that style isn't great for us was super helpful because now we're focused on SSCs with straps that can cross in the back and have since purchased two that work a lot better for us. Again, it's just how it hits your body, I think, because I've read that some people love the Boba 4G and how it fits.) The other problem that I continually had was in adjusting the straps every time I put the carrier on, I found it very easy to accidentally over-tighten the straps. While it didn't seem to make a difference in how Henry fit in the carrier, it would eventually make my shoulders ache from being pulled a bit forward. I usually didn't notice until after 20 minutes of wearing, by which time my kid would be asleep and I'd be reluctant to mess with the straps for fear of jostling him awake. I got more mindful of it, but it was still not second-nature after a few weeks.

Carrier Adjusted From Front
Carrier Adjusted From Back

Overall, we liked our experience testing out the Boba 4G. It was the carrier my husband would grab first, always, and Henry always felt supported well on our bodies. We liked trying a SSC to see how it'd compare to our stretchy-wrap, ring sling and mei tai options. While there were definitely positive things about what was clearly a very well-made carrier, I'm so glad we had a chance to test it out for awhile, because carriers fit each body differently and babies definitely have their own ideas about what they prefer and what's comfortable for them.

NOTE:   Boba donated the Boba 4G Carrier to our local babywearing lending library in exchange for this review.    The views expressed in this review are Kate's own and were not influenced by this donation.   Our community whole-heartedly thanks Boba for their very generous donation.  


Jennifer Lawson said...

Yay! So exciting that Boba generously donated this carrier. <3

Kirsi Jackson said...

I love the new insert! Seems so much easier and better functioning than the 3G that I had. Thanks Boba! And thank you Kate for the review :)


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