If there is one topic guaranteed to create a lively debate on any baby wearing forum it has to be that of the front facing baby carrier. Why? Well there have been several ‘reasons’ put forward against the practice but no scientific proof (as far as we are aware!). However – there are certainly many industry experts who are adamant as to the health problems which can be caused.
Let’s take a closer look at the whole subject. Is the forward facing baby carrier good or bad? These are the usual arguments …….
“The front facing baby carrier causes hip problems.”
Is this true? As already mentioned – there is no scientific evidence to support this statement. Which of course doesn’t mean that the statement is untrue – simply unproven.
However – common sense tells us that if baby’s legs are hanging down in an unnatural position this cannot be a good thing. This would apply regardless of the direction your baby is facing. So called ‘crotch danglers’ in which a thin strip supports the crotch but not the legs must be uncomfortable for your baby at the very least. It would seem to be generally accepted that baby is most comfortable when sitting in an ‘M’ position (where the knees are at the ‘tops’ of the ‘M’). This is often known as the ‘froggy’ position.
Which would seem to make the question of hip / leg problems almost academic!
Our opinion – A good quality, well designed carrier such as the Snugli baby carrier range which supports baby and in which he / she seems comfortable is unlikely to cause future hip problems.
“The front facing baby carrier causes baby’s back to arch.”
This statement hardly needs scientific investigation! Yes it can be seen quite obviously that baby’s back is arched uncomfortably – in a poorly designed carrier! This particularly applies when using a simple form of sling.
Our opinion – Our answer here is very similar to the previous one. A parent knows their own child and knows when baby is uncomfortable. A quality product with the correct insert or padding such as an Infantino baby carrier will cause no problem whatsoever.
“The front facing baby carrier is over stimulating.”
In other words – baby can see too much of what is going on! Is this really a problem? For some babies yes it is. For others it is a problem if they can’t see what is happening around them. Babies are people with their own personalities and their own likes and dislikes. For every baby who cries because he / she can’t see mom, there will be another who cries because they can’t see in front!
Our opinion – This would seem a senseless argument which is just bandied around as additional fuel for those who are anti the front facing baby carrier.
“The front facing baby carrier is bad for newborns.”
Again – we need no scientific tests to tell us this! Until baby can support his / her own head then this type of carrier is a definite no-no! It is suggested that the neck muscles are developed enough by 4 months old to hold up the head.
Our opinion – 4 months is simply a bench mark figure. Don’t consider using a front facing baby carrier until at least 6 months old.
“The front facing baby carrier is bad for mom & dad’s back.”
Certainly this is a carrying position which creates a center of gravity which is further from the parent’s body. It also allows baby more freedom to kick or move which in its turn can move that center of gravity. Not enough to make you fall over but enough to put extra pressure on your back.
Take a look at the picture to the right. You can see how mom is having to lean back slightly to account for the weight of baby at the front.
And let’s not even talk about how baby’s legs are hanging straight down! A perfect example of poor design!
Our opinion – it’s your back!
So why and where did this fuss begin????
It’s difficult to say exactly. An eminent German expert – a Doctor Kirkilionis wrote a book in the 1980′s upon the subject which caused quite a stir. In this book she stated unequivocally that the front facing baby carrier caused future health problems in babies. She was probably right at the time she was writing, when a simple home made sling was the norm. Today the research, development and design of the modern baby carrier has corrected any problems which may have once existed.
Added to that is the fact that we are a society that cares very deeply for our children (admittedly – what society doesn’t?). Anything which may be deemed ‘cruel’ or ‘uncaring’ is likely to attract attention and comment. Whether or not the facts are true or totally groundless won’t stop the debate!
And lastly – we have to ask ourselves if it may be in the interest of some parties to support the ‘front facing baby carriers are bad’ theory? For instance – Boba published a blog page a few years ago which fuelled the fire, regarding how ‘bad’ these carriers are. And there are of course no forward facing carriers within the Boba baby carrier or Boba wrap product range. Is this because they refuse to trade in such a ‘bad’ product? Or because they are using an existing rumor to promote the range they already have?
It would appear that the front facing baby carrier isn’t quite as ‘natural’ as other forms of baby wearing. Facing inwards and cuddling up to the parent is reminiscent of the foetal position in the womb. But this most definitely does not mean it is ‘wrong’ or in any way harmful. As mentioned earlier – we are all individuals, and this includes baby as well as you. What is right for one may not be right for another.
This comes down to personal preference. You as the parent know your own baby! Just ensure that it is a good quality baby carrier such as the Pikkolo baby carrier or some form of well known wrap like the Maya Wrap and both you and baby will be fine!