Gear: Boba Wrap carrier
After many soul-destroying hours of research, we gave in and bought a Bugaboo Cameleon stroller. It cost a small fortune to buy in Turkey, but as we didn’t have a nursery to outfit, our car seat was a hand-me-down (and fits conveniently onto the stroller with an adapter), and our awesome expat insurance covered virtually the entire pregnancy and birth, it was our only big purchase for V. In our first tiny apartment in Istanbul, we didn’t have room for a crib, so she slept in the bassinet for the first three months as well, and it will go with her beyond toddlerhood (I’ll likely buy a second, light-weight umbrella stroller when/if we are back in NYC), so I don’t regret the purchase for a second.
However, living in a city like Istanbul with tons of hills and uneven pavement means that a carrier (or two) is a necessity as well. The Boba wrap (formerly known as a Sleepy Wrap, and this was very true when she fell asleep in it immediately as a newborn) was recommended by a friend in the US who said it was the best, and after nearly nine months of constant use, I would agree. We picked ours up in Singapore at an excellent specialty shop, but it’s available in many countries, including Turkey now!
We have a second baby carrier (review TK) and may go for a third as V gets bigger, but this is still my favorite and most useful piece of baby travel gear.
The good (as compared to other infant carriers in particular):
- Comfortable: If I have the baby positioned well (with her eyes at throat level or so), it distributes weight well enough that I can wear it all day comfortably. Other structured carriers I’ve found painful to wear after a few hours, but the wrap doesn’t doesn’t dig into my shoulders or cause strain on my back.
- Simple to use: It took a few times to read the instructions and practice tying it on, but after that, I could do it with my eyes closed. You can tie it on as tight as possible and it will adjust to fit the baby without guesswork or fiddling with straps. I also love that you can stretch the fabric over the baby’s legs (a must in Turkey, where every stranger on the street will stop to tell me she is cold if she has a bit of skin exposed) or over her head while she’s sleeping or nursing. You can also throw it in the laundry when it inevitably gets dirty.
- Easy to wear all day or carry in a purse: Once you tie the wrap on, you can wear it all day and not think about it, it’s just a stretchy bit of fabric that can fit under a jacket or coat. Because of the stretch, you don’t need to readjust if you take baby out and put her back in. If you do take it off, it can be stuffed in a bag as easily as a cardigan, no straps to tangle or bulk to fit in a bag!
- Wear while breastfeeding: While I sometimes have to adjust V a bit to get the right angle, sometimes pulling one side of the wrap down my arm, it’s easy to nurse while wearing her. In theory, you can just stretch a little fabric over her head for modesty, but I usually have a scarf/pashmina with me as well. I’ve been able to nurse her while standing in line at the supermarket, sitting on the subway, or walking down the street!
The not-so-good (and these are really minor):
- Only one position: You can use the wrap from birth up until 35 pounds or so, but only with the baby facing you on front. This is theoretically the best position for baby, but some people like a backpack-style or front-facing carrier, especially as children get older and want a different vantage point.
- It takes over your outfit: In nearly every photo of me and Vera, it looks like I’m wearing a navy blue halter if I’m wearing the wrap. I usually leave it on once I go out (see below), so it covers up whatever I’m wearing on top, and sometimes makes a shirt ride up underneath. It is available in many colors, but in general, I’d say save the good outfit for a stroller day when it won’t be covered up.
- Difficult to put on outside: Because it’s a long piece of fabric, it’s hard not to have the ends drag on the floor when you are putting it on and you need a bit of space to tie it. This makes it tough to put on if you are outside, in a crowded space, or on a less-than-pristine floor (though my apartment floors aren’t always pristine either!), but not impossible. I find it easier to just leave it on all day, but then you have the outfit issue.
- It’s not truly hands-free: When V was still in the floppy head stage, I would always keep one hand on her neck to support her, especially while she slept. I still find myself doing it even though she can hold her head up now. Under ideal circumstances in the right position, you won’t need to hold the baby while in the wrap, but doing things with a baby is rarely in ideal circumstances!
More baby travel gear recs to come, and you can check out more of our favorites on Pinterest.