by Elizabethon October 11,2011 in Baby_WearingChild DevelopmentFeatured BlogGrowth

front facing

This mama looks far from cruel! Still, forward facing is not ideal.

Dr. Catherine Fowler of Australia, as reported by CBS.com in 2011, made a comment that parents who face their babies out are “cruel and selfish“.  Actually for the record she said they were “inadvertantly cruel”.  I am not here to judge you ladies and gentleman; a walk around the block with your baby in the forward facing position will probably not wreak havoc on your child’s development or health.  I don’t think any parents holding their little ones are cruel.  But when you start to think maybe your baby should change perspectives and face the world head on, here are some reasons to consider for not letting your baby face out:

Carrying your baby facing out…

1. does not support your baby’s legs.

Your baby’s upper legs should be pulled up to at least hip level, if not higher. This is possible only if the fabric in a baby carrier covers the whole back of the thigh to the backside of the knee, or if the carrier has footstraps.  When your baby is facing forward with legs unsupported, it isn’t that his legs are simply dangling – his spine and hips are unsupported too and there is simply nowhere for baby to “sit”.

Check out this medical research by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute and the infant biomechanics of different types of baby carriers.  A baby carrier that supports the upper legs encourages proper hip development.  Front facing carriers do not support little hips.  Those babies already diagnosed with DDH should steer clear of front-facing carriers.

2. makes it tough for the wearer to carry the baby.

It’s much harder to carry something that curves away from your body than something that embraces your body. With a front-facing carrier, the wearer has an awkward load and often ends up arching her back to compensate.  Babies’ bodies are naturally adapted to being carried facing you.

3. places your baby in an arched or hollow back position which places pressure on the spine.

unstable baby

With no leg supoort and facing out this baby is unstable, forcing him to assume a hollow back position (as shown with red line) to compensate.

Extending the back (like arching after waking from a nap), is not injurious or “bad” in and of itself.  The problem arises when you compress a “hollow back” under a load.  Placing an infant in a front-facing carrier stretches the naturally convex rounded curve (see infant spinal development in upright transport paper) of his spine into a hollow back position.   With nothing to cling to, weak abdominal muscles, and retracted shoulders, the infant’s pelvis tilts backwards and is forced to not only carry weight of his own body but also to absorb the force of every step that the carrying individual takes- all on his little compromised spine.

3. places undue pressure on groin and may chafe the inner thighs of your baby.

pressure on infant pelvis

This baby is leaning on his dad for some extra support. Although it stabilizes him, it is less than ideal to spend the day transported in this position.

Chaffing is no fun. Being suspended by their most sensitive parts is not ideal for babies, especially for little boys.

4. may overstimulate your baby.

Babies can face their parents and still experience the world around them while taking it in at their own pace.  It is very easy for a small infant to become overwhelmed.

5. doesn’t support the head or the neck.

Positional asphyxia is possible when babies have no neck control and their chins fall toward their chests.  Little babies should never be placed in a position that can compromise their airways.  The US Consumer Products Safety Commission recently passed a law that the warning labels of forward-facing carriers must state that babies should not face out until adequate head/neck control is acheived. The law does not extend to sleeping infants even though they don’t have control of their necks or heads while snoozing.

6. makes thermoregulation more difficult.

The flexed position a baby assumes on his mother’s chest when facing her is more efficient at conserving heat than when the chest is exposed. Check out kangaroo care and thermoregulation benefits.  The baby also has more fat cells (insulation) on its back side than front.

7. makes it harder to respond to baby’s cues.

With no eye contact it is harder to communicate with your baby, check their airways, see their spit up, see them rooting, practice EC, and know their needs.  There’s a neat study that shows that even front-facing strollers interfere with your ability to interact with and respond to your baby.

Forward facing not a great option

The mom is holding her son’s legs trying to support them for lack of a seat. He is supported by two pieces of fabric over his groin. If it weren’t for the fabric in front of his shoulders he would fall forward. Not very supportive.

8. throws off baby’s center of gravity.

Most often the wearer will intuitively stick out her pointer fingers for the baby to grab on to and stabilize himself, or the wearer will try to support baby’s legs by lifting them up in the front. With no seat and nothing to grab on to in front of him it is tough for baby not to arch his back under the weight of his own body.

9. may not be so wonderful on your back either.

Carrying a load with an arched spine will give you an aching lower back.

Carrying your baby facing forward is not the best option.  It’s not “cruel”, but it’s not ideal either.  Embracing your baby, or having them embrace you is what your baby is adapted to do and quite naturally the way to go.

593 comments
7dash
7dash

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honest mama
honest mama

A majority of these nine reasons are relating to the structure of the actual carrier you are using. There are ergonomic forward-facing carriers e.g. the Ergobaby 360. Over-stimulation can most certainly be a factor but once monitored correctly (we all know our own babies best!) and only carry them in the forward-facing position for 5-10 minutes at the start while allowing them to get used to it. If you are happy to hip carry, what's the difference once it's ergonomic for the wearer and baby is in the anatomically correct sitting position for healthy hip and spine development? 


worrying about over-stimulation in a forward-facing baby carrier is like saying you can never lift your child from one place to another (carrier or not) unless they are facing inwards? does this mean we must always hold our babies facing inward? do what is right for your own child and once everything is ergonomic for baby and babywearer that's the main thing. over stimulation doesn't have to be an issue if you use your brain. there's a lot of judgement going on from people, yet how many would listen to similar comments directed at them? 

Andie
Andie

As someone who teaches babywearing, I found this article to be spot on!  For babies who do not like to be facing mama, or who want to see out, a hip carry or a back carry allows baby to see the world, while still having proper support and the ability to turn away from too much stimuli.  There are babywearing groups all over the country!  You can go to Babywearing International and search for the group closest to you.  The group can teach proper carries, let you try different carriers to find something that works with you baby and give you lots of free help and support!

ShantiCoats
ShantiCoats

When my nephew was a baby, all that he wanted to do was look out, he was happiest this way, it was his choice, no one forced it upon him... Dad would have held him in his arms for hours each day. What would you suggest for babies such as him who will not sit in the facing in position, ut ut, no way! You can carry a baby, however you can't force him into the position that you necessarily want to carry him in. I am not saying that I like carrying babies for long periods in a forward facing position with a little seat and legs dangling in front, however what do you think about babies sitting crossed legged in a sling, with no dangling legs, for short periods of time? it would be interesting to hear peoples opinions.

bestmommyever93
bestmommyever93

Its common sense. Thank you for this article. If you dont see how this is dangerous and painful for babies then you probably shouldnt have one.

ames
ames

My baby refuses to face forward in our boba wrap she hates it and actually scoots around to the side which isn't safe at all. She wants to see things. What am I supposed to do?

Bambella Designs
Bambella Designs

I agree with you about wearing a baby forward is not cruel. However, it can have adverse affects on the baby. The baby needs to face you, they need to feel your heartbeat through their cheeks. You have stated many great points in this article, thank you. 

DiegoWeissel
DiegoWeissel

More importznt than this over-sensitive approach is to say that variation on the positions and physical activity for babies make them more adaptable to all kind of ways to carry them, I developed a pro-active way to carry my baby on my bicycle at which she can herself switch from standing to sitting, and it worked out perfectly, she loves to be standing many times and thats why i called it BABY BIKE BOARD! 

Balanced view
Balanced view

This is a better, more helpful article that includes child development (shifting from viewing the parent 1-2 or 3 months to the outer world 3-6 months) and helpful alternative positions other than front-outward facing.

People that start having their babies outward facing are following their child's lead to explore their outer world. All of the babies in the above pictures are at or above 6 months. They should just probably try to carry them on hip or back instead.

http://blog.ergobaby.com/2011/02/facing-in-facing-out-a-science-based-view-on-baby-carrying-positions/

Skeptic Carrier
Skeptic Carrier

Wow. This is almost comical. Where are the cited peer-reviewed studies showing the dangers of front-facing carriers? I have a feeling these parents also don't immunize their children for fear they will develop autism.

NewMom99
NewMom99

Good to know. Always good to be aware of the risks, which is why I read this. Nonetheless I have a baby who screams like a banshee whenever I face him towards me in the carrier, but happy when facing outwards. Have checked his hips, no problems there. Have also checked multiple times with my pediatrician, and he gave the all-clear too. My baby didn't want to face inwards from day 1, although we tried repeatedly. While I could try to force him to 'learn to like' facing in, I'm not sure I have the energy to endure the screaming that would be involved. But like I said, it is important to know what risks one is taking.

From the perspective of a concerned and tired mom, I really try my best so my baby is happy and healthy, but sometimes some compromises have to be made, and if Dr. Catherine Fowler thinks that this is 'cruel and selfish' then I would hope that she someday has a child who is as demanding as mine.

Mary hall
Mary hall

Mechanics aside; repeat 4 and 7. Parents are not intentionally cruel, just ignorant of the neuropsychoemotional readiness of a newborn to face the world/process the rapidly incoming data/develop some means to cope with it. Compassion to all.

SimplyMom
SimplyMom

Thanks for the info! My baby likes to lean on me and take cat naps, so we prefer to wear inwards.

sjenkins
sjenkins

I have carried both of my boys facing outwards and they are just fine. I say to mothers everywhere educate yourself on such topics and then decide what's best for your baby. Also do not let anyone judge you or make you feel like a bad mother for not carrying your baby inward. Mothers need to stop judging each other. It does no good for anyone involved. We are our childs best teacher and I believe we teach them it is ok it judge and discriminate when we exhibit such behaviors against other mothers. We should use one another as allis not punching bags. Every child and every parent are different as long as what you are doing is not morally or ethically wrong you are fine. So do what is right by your child and ignore those who judge you.

FunMom
FunMom

One should be able to carry their baby however they want to.  I can see how carrying a baby inwards is better. But I have to say my son HATES being carried inwards.  So instead I chose to have a happy baby and carry him outwards.  His hips are fine, I have had them checked by his ped.  I get judged all the time for carrying my baby out, but unless people want to hear him scream, I am going to do what works best for our family.  My next baby I will start carrying towards me with the hopes he/she gets used to it. 

melissamcgraw1
melissamcgraw1

If it was a hazard they would not make them, simple as that!

James
James

...seems this is more of an advertisement for Boba baby carriers than it is a scientific evaluation of anything. Tell ya what, you hire someone to actually make this believable, as opposed to marketing propaganda, and I'll think about it. In the meantime, I guess it's better than a telemarketer calling you during dinner, but not by much.

ChristineMartinez
ChristineMartinez

As a mother of six boys, who are now (or almost) 25yrs, 22 yrs, 19 yrs, 16yrs,11yrs and 10yrs old... I have to say this article is poorly written, inaccurate, and prejudicial towards the advertisement of the product which carries this blog.
Point 1: 'poorly written' ...in reason #1 the author states, and I quote: "his spine and hips are unsupported to and there is simply nowhere for baby to sit.", end quote.
This is poor grammar, punctuation, and a false statement. It should read "unsupported too," (or 'also' works instead of 'too', or neither at all)... but of course the baby has someplace to sit. He/she SITS and the sling is passed under their bottom, or buttocks.
Think about when you carry or hold a newborn. Due to their size and weight, not to mention their need for head support, you cup the back of their head with your palm, and allow your forearm to support their spine.  You are facing said newborn, they are approximately a foot away from you, and able to focus on you, which is good for establishing facial-recognition, as well as vocal recognition. Remember, they only SEE objects within a few feet of their face, so guess what... anything else is a blur, and NOT a stimulus that will overstimulate them. Within a few months, their eyesight improves, but they still lack the strengthened neck and abdomen muscles that allow them to hold their heads up unassisted, or to sit unsupported.
As for inaccuracy #2, it comes when the author mentions the health risk of hip-dysplasia. Again, think of the bio-mechanics of holding an older baby (like the ones pictured).  You hold them by placing an arm under their bottom, and their legs "dangle" over your forearm. This is not going to cause your babies' hip(s) to be displaced. Even putting a baby or toddler on your hip, and supporting their back/shoulders with your forearm, will not harm them. Grasping your child by the ankles and suspending them upside down, or swinging them in this position, may definitely cause injury!
Holding babies in the seated position, whether facing you or facing away from you, is a personal choice, and one that should be made based on your activity. If you're vacuuming the floor, or walking the dog, front-facing is fine. Slap a burp cloth over the seam of the material supporting your baby's chest, and rock on. If you're grocery shopping or it's cold, face-to-face may be best.
I mention grocery shopping because in many instances, babies, especially newborns, are attention-getters. That is to say, complete strangers will strike up a conversation with you, or peek into baby seats & strollers, and occasionally, God-forbid, reach in to touch your bundle of joy. A baby that is nestled within his mommy's or daddy's arms, embraced and protected, are less likely to have a human head pop into their little haven of peace.
Inaccuracy #3 is in reason #2: "Makes it tough for the wearer to carry the baby and may not be so wonderful on your back either."
Humans are capable of carrying burdens on the front or back of their bodies while they accomplish tasks, or travel from one location to another. Where the load is placed is, again, mostly a personal preference, but in either case, a body's natural reaction is to lean in the opposite direction of the additional load. It's not just natural, it's a physical requirement to remain standing or walking. It's 'physics'. When you increase the load a body has to carry, it takes greater effort, physically, for that body to move. It causes the bearer to counteract the weight by leaning their body in the opposite direction in order to remain 'balanced'. Therefore, if you carry on the front, either forward-facing or face-to-face, you will lean back to adjust for the additional weight, and vice versa if you carry your baby/child in a piggyback position. It isn't just the leaning that will cause back pain, but also the increased weight. Not so noticeable if your baby is <10 lbs, but as the weight of the baby/child increases, so does the strain. These issues are also true for expecting mothers (gaining weight), and for men and women who are overweight. Think about it. Ask your doctor.
For the sake of brevity, the fourth and last inaccuracy I will note is found in reason #3: "Places your baby in an arched or hollow back position which places pressure on the spine."
For the unfamiliar or uninformed, the term "hollow back" is laymen for excessive lordosis, which is the inward curvature of a portion of the lumbar and cervical vertebral column often-caused by anterior pelvic tilt, when the pelvis tips forward while resting on top of the femurs. This is a physical stress caused to the adult carrying the infant, rather than to the baby him/her-self. A newborn, infant, and baby all lack sufficient strength in their abdominal muscles to support their torsos in sitting positions until they start developing these muscles through activities like rolling over. Prior to this accomplishment, the back is naturally concaved, that is curved inward, because the baby was in that position during the fetal period (ninth week thru birth) of their development in utero, or otherwise, in the womb.
Overall, this article is not even fit for the enjoyment of reading, and if I were a new mom-to-be/mommy, I would be too scared to pick up my baby for fear of hurting him!
Ladies and gentlemen readers, kindly disregard this rubbish and if you're unsure, ask your pediatrician for advice in caring for your infant. - Christine Martinez

maryo
maryo

Wrong! I disagree. I macro-made a front facing baby carrier because in 1970 there was no such thing. I had an infant that would sleep no more than an hour at a time and wanted to be constantly held. Exhausted and in desperation for sleep and in need of time for household duties this invention of mine became a saving grace. My front facing carrier during infant stage lent to support of head along with freeing my hands to do household work. My baby was happiest being able to see all that was happening while being attached to mommy. Not only that, I think it contributed to my babies intellectual development. My baby started speaking quit early forming sentences by 6 months of which my Pediatrician was quit astounded, and was quite verbal at one year of age. At 10 years of age my child was tested at 150-165 range IQ. BTW, breathing was never a problem. My child's lungs were so strong that I felt here's a child who'd do well with vocal lessons and yes indeed, singing came natural and a fond talent. BTW, I only used my carrier while my baby couldn't support head on own.

christianescopywriting
christianescopywriting

I can't believe people are offended by your article! Parents and grandparents are constantly thinking about keeping little ones safe and healthy. Getting some new information to explore is a good thing! Sure we can check out our own sources, but why attack the messenger? You took the time to share your thoughts and you get attacked for that? Lots of bad manners online! 

Thanks for writing this. I used the old Snugli (before Evenflo bought the name). It had a great little seat inside the pouch and it was all cloth. The outer pouch supported the baby's neck. Both pouches were adjustable. 

The same people made a new one called the Weego. I bought one for my daughter and it is almost like the old snugli. I was disappointed by the hard plastic fasteners. I used to put my sleeping babies in the crib in the Snugli (and put them in the car seats wearing it), but you can't do that with the Weego. 

I'm pretty sure both are designed perfect for the little ones' hips! I always found the forward facing position awkward. Once the baby is old enough to face forward, she's old enough to go on your back. Back wearing is always better for your back, especially if you have a pack that's adjustable. 

BrandyE Healthcare
BrandyE Healthcare

This article really bothers me for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the "research" that you are citing from hipdysplasia.org is not actually research at all.  In fact, I have not been able to come up with any peer reviewed scientific research articles that support your claims.  Second of all, how many babies under 6 months of age do you actually see sitting up?  Not many.  The "sitting position" is not a natural position for an infant under 6 months old.  That would mean that cradle holding my baby with legs close together and close to me would be damaging her hips. 

Thermoregulation does occur better when baby is close to mom.  However, dressing your baby appropriately is more important.  Any baby that is old enough to control their head and face forward in a carrier already has thermoregulation down. 

Both of my babies certainly looked disturbed and overstimulated while they were laughing, cooing and having a great time facing forward.  Geez.  It's like any activity you do with your baby.  You have to know when enough is enough. 

As far as moms health goes, don't kid yourself.  Any carrier is going to be bad for your back if you do not use your ab muscles and hold your shoulders back.  The very act of carrying your baby without a carrier throws your back off.  This is true especially when you place your child on your hip.  Baby carriers simply make the act of carrying your baby a little easier because you can have your hands free.

Articles like this make me mad because moms have enough to worry about without reading through information that has no real research behind it and yet is presented as fact. 

Macushlah
Macushlah

Thanks for the article! The couple of times I've tried my tot facing outwards she has hated it, babes often know best :-) 

As for "Motherknowsbest"s  blah blah blah comments lol, I find it interesting that you are preaching about listening when you obviously are not prepared to do it yourself!

Motherknowsbest
Motherknowsbest

Blah blah blah, carry your baby this way, carry your baby that way. Dont hold your baby, never put your baby down. 

There is always someone who comes up with some reason or other why you shouldnt do something or how you have to do things in a certain way. 

Everyone seems to think they are the perfect parent, writing articles telling others what sort of parents they should be. I say put down your pen and spend some time with your kids. Stop talking and start listening, your kids are only little for such a short amount of time CHERISH EVERY SECOND. 

 

M
M

Rarely used wraps or straps of any kind. I did hold babies outward with my hand cupping cute little chins and cheeks, when baby is awake and alert and curious, that's fine. When less alert and tired, cuddle hold works best. But I was hardly ever using a device other than my own arms for holding baby. Tones the arms too! But if I had gone hiking or something. I would clearly have needed something to aid holding. We did more biking and our babies loved their baby seats right behind Mom or Dad. I always found the wraps and stuff awkward and more difficult than simply holding the baby. So did my husband.

LaurenHyatt
LaurenHyatt

There is a carry like that called the Buddha carry and allows the baby to sit cross legged in a sling, but it isn't recommended for miore than 20 min. Yes baby's want to face out but as their parents we know better than they what will be most comfotable and healthier for them. Same concept as baby wants to play with a knife but it's dangerous, so as their parent we avoid letting them play with that. Hip carriies and back carries are recommended for baby's that want to look around and see the world.

jehrupp
jehrupp

Switch to a hip carry, this allows for baby to look out, but still fully supports in a healthy way.

Notacrazymom
Notacrazymom

Are you kidding me??? Let me guess you also believe in co-sleeping and not vaccinating your child? I think you need to change your name to ithinkmywayistheonlyrightwaybutmychildwillliveathomeuntilheisforty

ames
ames

By face forward I mean face me.

jehrupp
jehrupp

Have you tried the hip carry? This allows for baby to face out and look around, but gives the much needed to support to the hips and spine. @NewMom99

Ripdodger
Ripdodger

Thank you for reiterating this point! Parents do what they believe is right for their children. A little kind advise and some helpful facts are more useful then judging. Though the outward facing is not ideal it is okay for larger babies, for short term, in a carrier designed for the position (following the carriers instructions closely). The photos above are not illustrating the correct positioning of the babies at all; not just the fact that the baby is facing outward!!

VivienneHarris
VivienneHarris

I didn't read that as judgement, just helpful information.

bestmommyever93
bestmommyever93

There are so many recalls on things that werent made to be dangerous but later ended up being so.

lynkleaf
lynkleaf

@melissamcgraw1 They still make fluffy nursery bedding and bumpers for cribs, etc. too. Those are hazardous and raise the risk of SIDS. Many manufacturers simply care more about making a buck. There are tons of polyester baby blankets, also, even though only breathable cotton blankets are recommended to reduce the risk of suffocation.

AradiaPaganus
AradiaPaganus

@melissamcgraw1 because never, ever has any company, ever, created a product that is dangerous or continued to sell unhealthy or dangerous products after determining that they were unhealthy. 

Simple as that. 

ashAloop
ashAloop

@melissamcgraw1 That is ridiculous of course things are made that are hazardous. This isnt saying that its hazardous to use either, it is just saying that it can cause harm to your baby.

AradiaPaganus
AradiaPaganus

@James They are not promoting Boba's specifically, nor are they damning particular brands of other baby carriers. They are explaining why people should avoid carrying their baby in a particular position in a baby carrier. 

While this article is written for a general audience-- as opposed to an academic audience--  I can assure you that every point made is supported by peer-reviewed publications. 

AradiaPaganus
AradiaPaganus

@ChristineMartinez 

ad hominen fallacy (and proof-reading your own rebuttal before attempting such a fallacy is advised).

For your consideration: the distinction between writing for a general audience as opposed to an academic audience. Every point made in this article is supported by peer-reviewed publications which focus on ethnopediatric anthropology (my area).  

Harness-style carriers (those with arm and leg holes) and forward-facing carries in other styles of carriers without sufficient support under the infants thighs can and do lead to:
- positional asphyxiation (chin-to-chest, pinching the trachea), compounded by external pressure on diaphragm and chest from tilting forward against the inside of the carrier.  
- decreased or severely restricted circulation to the brachial and femoral arteries.


There is personal choice, yes. People are free to make mistakes and most generally learn from them (obviously, not always). Generations of hairless, bipedal apes have had to carry their infants and learned what is safe, effective for the happiness of adult and baby and most efficient at preserving energy. When it comes to human morphology there are correct and incorrect ways of carrying infants or "loads", as you put it. Babywearing is a universal practice. It is found in every culture and throughout history. Nowhere, save in the west, in the last 50 years, is the front-facing carry seen. This is because it throws the center of gravity off for the adult, straining back and shoulders and making it impossible to breast feeding while wearing the child. It is a pathological way of carrying a child. It is unhealthy for everyone involved-- and this is why so many western parents rarely "wear" or carry their child, opting instead for rigid infant holder with handles.

... but I get the impression that facts don't really get through to some, especially those wallowing in cognitive dissonance. I understand. Some will learn new facts and change their behavior based on new information-- while others will learn new information, consider their own actions and refute the new information to save face. That is fine. The fact is the new information was learned and deeply affected the learner.  

Whether it's padded bumper rails in the crib, or new regulations on rear-facing car seats-- there will always be someone preaching about "parents choice" and "my kids were just fine!".

Good for you. 

ericaboehm1749
ericaboehm1749

@maryo Just because you disagree does not mean that the author is wrong. The article states that these problems CAN happen, not that all children worn front facing  will be a drooling idiot.

BrandyE Healthcare
BrandyE Healthcare

One more thing...you state that parents cannot respond to their babies cues in a forward facing carrier.  However, you show your air carrier placed on the back.  To me, that seems even worse! 

TNT
TNT

Our dd has SPD. When she was born she hated being worn in a wrap/carrier except for facing out. If I tried to position her any other way with her stomach against my body... Front carry or back carry, she would arch her back and scream. She also screamed in the car seat and stroller. I think carrying her facing out was a better alternative to not carrying her at all or letting her scream. There are safe positions and carriers for facing out but the ones shown are bad examples. Beco Gemini is a better carrier for facing out as well as crossed leg position in a wrap or sling. I'm pregnant with #6 and I've always followed my instincts when it comes to parenting as most moms do. I think this article should focus more on the correct way to face baby out rather than shaming mothers for wanting to be closer to their babies.

BrandyE Healthcare
BrandyE Healthcare

When I said that dressing your baby appropriately was more important, I was referring to when they are in devices such as carriers, car seats or stroller.  I'm sure someone will attack me on that one

jehrupp
jehrupp

Carry in a hip carry, this allows baby to look out but still fully supports the legs and back.@ames

JennYoung
JennYoung

@AradiaPaganus: This article did not mention anything about breathing or restricted circulation.  You aren't supposed to carry your baby forward-facing until they can hold their head and shoulders up on their own because of the breathing issue. Whether or not decreased or severely restricted circulation to the brachial and femoral arteries is caused is going to be dependent on the design of the carrier.


In the article linked to in one of the other comments (http://blog.ergobaby.com/2011/02/facing-in-facing-out-a-science-based-view-on-baby-carrying-positions/), someone wrote a well-written response to carrying forward facing. It is well thought out and not just a reflexive response and most people's on these articles are. Here is the response written by Milsey who is apparently from England due to spelling and vocabulary:


"Front-facing carriers

Most of the mums we talked to mentioned that as their baby got older she became more interested in the world around her and wanted to be able to see and interact with other people. We received lots of feedback that the babies in our trial liked a carrier that gives them the opportunity to face the direction that the parent is walking.

Some slings and carriers can be used like backpacks so that your baby faces forward, but there is some discussion on internet forums over whether front carriers with forward-facing positions offer correct leg and spine support for a growing baby.

We were unable to find any published medical studies that suggest that front-facing baby carrying causes hip and spinal problems. The only types of baby carrier that have been shown to cause hip and back damage are Native American papooses and Inuit cradle boards. Incorrect swaddling is also emerging as a cause of hip dysplasia. In all three cases the infant's legs are forced straight down and kept immobile for long periods of time.

Well-designed front-facing carriers can provide adequate support for older babies.

We contacted the Royal College of Midwives to ask if this was an issue that they were investigating and were told that they were aware of no evidence to support the view that front-facing baby carriers cause hip and/or spine problems. They did, however, emphasise that proper support is most vital when the baby is unable to support the weight of his head - they recommended that you do not use the forward-facing position before your baby can hold his head and shoulders up on his own. Otherwise you should allow your baby to move his arms and legs freely and make sure the baby is not held in any stationary position for too long.

We also discussed this issue with children's product experts from other consumer organisations. Our Scandinavian colleagues were surprised that this was an issue, as it is not something that has come up in their countries, despite the fact that forward-facing babywearing has been common for 30 years. Scandinavians are enthusiastic babywearers and carriers with the front-facing position are common. The only issue our colleagues were aware of as a topic for debate was 'how tight is tight enough?' to wear your baby.

Most of the comments against forward-facing baby wearing seem to stem from a German book by Dr. E. Kirkilionis about baby-wearing, in which the author says that she saw a front-facing carrier with the baby's legs hanging down and didn't like the look of it, mostly because babies could become over stimulated, but also because of lack of support for the legs. That book is based on research carried out in the 1980s, which Dr. Kirkilionis used in her thesis 'Unfounded fear of postural damage by carrying'.

Baby-carrier design has moved on since the 1980s - partly because of the concerns raised about correct support. Some manufacturers who offer forward-facing carriers are aware that this is an issue of concern for parents. They seek to calm their worries by working on product development with physicians who vouch that a forward-facing position is not detrimental to development once a baby is old enough to support the weight of her head and shoulders."