Earth Mama Times

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Against Forward Facing Babywearing

Babies and children carried in slings and carriers, should face in towards their parents, not face out and away.

Why do people want to wear their babies facing out and away? 

So many sling manufacturers and shops use photographs of this position that, unless you have been informed otherwise, you might think this is perfectly normal and fine for both baby and you. I rather suspect that the manufacturers in question use such photos because they think they get more of the cute, smiling baby faces showing and that will sell more carriers for them.  Maybe they think their carriers will sell more with their perceived versatility.  Maybe they genuinely think it is ok for babies to face out!

So often I’ve heard parents say that their baby or child wants to see out when being carried, but really, facing in towards your body does not mean they cannot turn their neck and head around, and a back carry gives the baby a most excellent view.  Being strapped, forward facing, to the front of a parent’s body is not good for babies and it’s not good for parents.

Firstly, consider the emotional well-being of the baby.  Without being able to make immediate eye-contact with mum or dad, and check their face for a reaction, the baby is at risk of being overwhelmed by new or potentially scary situations.  Sure, they can close their eyes, but they cannot physically turn away or do anything to snuggle into mum or dad for comfort and reassurance.  Imagine the equivalent situation for an adult – being pushed around to look at everyone and everything, constantly at risk of seeing something you don’t like and of being approached and even touched by people you don’t know or like, without any means of withdrawing from this, and all whilst dangling uncomfortably several feet above the ground.

The physical support that babies need in slings is not provided by a forward facing position.  They need their knees to be higher than their bottoms, in a sitting position.  (If you can’t quite picture that, think about how you would carry your baby on your hip.  That’s the position you need to recreate in a sling or carrier.)  It’s important that the hips and pelvis are correctly positioned, not only for their own sake, to avoid the risk of hip dysplasia, but in order to set up correct positioning of the spine.  New born babies have completely curved spines, and whilst the shape of the curve changes gradually when they develop their ability to hold their own head up, to sit, and to walk, it will remain curved and needs to be supported as such.  Leaning forwards into the fabric of a carrier, away from the parent’s body, does not allow the correct shape to be maintained.

Furthermore, whilst there are undoubtedly a few parents who swear that their forward facing babywearing is supremely comfortable, it is not an ergonomic way to distribute the baby’s weight at all, and particularly with a new mum’s post-natal body to consider, stresses and strains in all the wrong places are likely to cause or exacerbate back-ache and other physical problems.

So much has already been written about why not to wear babies and children  facing forwards, out and away.  I recommend this as a starting point.  http://www.slingguide.co.uk/safety-advice-links/about-baby-facing-out/  I also encourage readers to contact shops and manufacturers who promote forward facing babywearing, and ask them to reconsider.

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One comment on “Against Forward Facing Babywearing

  1. katesurfs
    January 30, 2013

    I see lots of baby’s dangling around in those baby bjorns! Luckily those things can’t support an older baby and it is supremely uncomfortable for the baby wearer, so I suspect it doesn’t last long!

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This entry was posted on January 28, 2013 by in babywearing and tagged .
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