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 “inadvertently cruel”. I am not here to judge you ladies and gentlemen; 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.
However, if you have a little one and you are starting to think that it may be time for the baby to change perspective and face the world head on, here are some reasons, (for your consideration of course), of why it might not be ideal.
1. Harder on you and your back
It’s always much harder to carry something that is curving away form your body rather than something which aligns with you, and this also holds true for babies! 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.
2. Won't 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, if the carrier has an adjustable seat, or if the carrier has foot straps.
When your baby is facing forward it isn't just that their legs are dangling, his hips and spine are unsupported. There just simply isn't somewhere for your 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.
3. May overstimulate your baby
It can be very easy for a small baby to get overwhelmed with the big world around them, in a forward facing position there is little room for your infant to "check out" if they want a break from all the peering faces.
Your baby can still experience the world around them facing inward, but at their own pace.
4. Harder to regulate their temperature
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. The baby also has more fat cells (insulation) on its back side than front. For those who may retort "but I am already warm when wearing my baby", there is a study that shows mother's breasts do actually cool babies down as well!
5. Harder to respond to cues and "feel" your baby's mood
Eye contact and facial cue are the best ways to read your baby's mood. Being able to see their face will help you communicate, check their airways, practice Elimination Communication (worth googling) and know their needs. There's a study showing that forward facing strollers interfere with your ability to interact and respond to your baby.
Carrying your baby facing forward is not the best option.
Embracing your baby, or having them embrace you is what your baby is adapted to do and quite naturally the way to go.
Check out our baby waist carrier, an innovative new way to carry your baby effortlessly and conveniently.