Why not forward facing?

Are you confused by all the messages regarding forward facing?

We’ve all seen the movie posters with the male lead carrying their child in a carrier facing outwards and all over the internet there are pictures of happy, smiling parents carrying their smiling children in a carrier facing towards the camera.

So why then, do we at The Babywearing Practice, not recommend or sell carriers that allow your child to face forwards?  There are a few reasons.

So often we hear our clients tell us that their child is so happy when they can engage with the world and interact with passers-by.  We definitely agree that social interactions play a large role in your child’s overall development but often, a child will become tired of these interactions after a period of time and will then need a safe place to ‘block out’ those interactions that are tiring.  As Dr Evelin Kirkilionis states in her book, A Baby Wants to be Carried, ‘An oversupply of stimuli is and remains an oversupply, which must ultimately be worked through, often in the evening’.

If your child is able to see your face and read your response to the stimuli, it often helps them to interpret the stimuli as well.  Your child is learning about their world and environment with you as their guide.

Whilst facing inwards, your child can still interact with the world around them by turning their head to the side.  However, they still remain safe in the knowledge that their ‘safe place’ is there should they need to rest their head on your chest or neck and close their eyes when life becomes overwhelming.

Whilst there are a range of carriers on the market promoting comfort for forward facing for both child and carer, there are definitely some points to consider.  Namely, when your child is facing forward, their centre of gravity shifts and, as such, we shift our centre of gravity to compensate, often leaning back and putting pressure on our lower back.  This can lead to problems and pain over time and can sometimes lead to caregivers giving up on babywearing as their child is ‘too heavy’ to be worn.

Whilst facing inwards, your child’s centre of gravity is close to your own and your posture does not need to be compromised to ensure their comfort.

Head and Neck Support…
Whilst being worn in a forward facing position, your child does not have any support for their head and/or neck.  Most carriers recommend that a child should not be carried in a forward facing position until they have good head and neck control.  However, how many babies (or adults for that matter) have good head and neck control when they are asleep.  The instructions usually state to turn your child around when they fall asleep.  It can be difficult to do this and keep your baby asleep at the same time and, as such, there are some who don’t bother to turn their child.  This can be dangerous as it can lead to positional asphyxia which can occur when your child’s chin falls down towards their chest.

These are the main reasons why we at The Babywearing Practice will not sell carriers that allow you to forward face your child.

Whilst we understand that it is a caregiver’s choice to wear their child in any way that they like, we provide our clients with all the information they need to make an informed choice.  We will never decline to work with a client who wants advice regarding a forward facing carrier.  We will always ensure that we work with what you have to meet your babywearing needs and find the babywearing solution that works for you and your family.