Monday, April 26, 2010

Is a Forward-Facing Carrier Any Good?

(The following was first published on August 6, 2009 via our FaceBook notes.)

There is a recent debate about the forward-facing Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier in a parenting forum I am part of. While there are fans who swear by the Baby Bjorn Baby Carriers, under the perception that the baby is happier and can see more of the world facing forward, we at Baby Slings & Carriers beg to differ.

When put in a forward-facing position, a baby can often be over-stimulated. Images can fly quickly past them and this can result in a young baby getting over-excited. This is not unlike being in a roller-coaster. While it is fun being in a roller-coaster ride that lasts 10-15 minutes, will anyone be comfortable being in a ride that lasts any longer? Therefore, such an argument can be flawed.

Sense of insecurity:
Since the parent/ caregiver is not within the baby's sight in a forward-facing carrier, they may often find themselves facing the world all on their own. Young babies often reach a stage where they can suffer from separation anxiety. Having a face familiar to them and in constant sight can help a baby develop a sense of trust and security and enables them to explore in a safe environment, knowing that an adult is always there for them if they need a shoulder to lean on.

Ergonomics & Curved Spines:
When a baby is placed in a forward facing carrier, the baby is leaning forward and placed in an unnatural position as compared to facing the parent. Imagine hugging from the back and hugging face-to-face. Which feels better? Because a baby is leaning forward in a forward-facing carrier, the carrier straps have to "pull the baby in" in order for the baby not to fall forward. By doing this, it is logical to conclude that this is put unnecessary stress on the baby's spine, and we have reasons to believe that long term pulling of the shoulder backwards can result in the baby tending towards having a curved spine. For the parent, a baby leaning forward can create unnecessary stress on his/her back as well, since that is not a natural gravitational position.

Hanging by the Crotch:
Imagine being hung by your underwear for a few hours on end - how will you feel? Apart from comfort, there is also evidence to show that such positions can create spinal stress in an infant (see Apart from this, there has been much speculation about whether hanging by the crotch can lead to a condition called hip dysplasia in babies. When a baby is hung by the crotch, all the baby's weight is borne by the baby's spine (as compared to a natural sitting position which wraps around the baby's entire buttocks and a little of the upper thigh). Although at this point there is no conclusive evidence that all babies hung by the crotch will suffer from this condition, we have strong reasons to believe that every single step you take while putting babies in a forward-facing carrier can impact the spine and may result in the hip & thigh joint being often jolted. This may contribute to the risk of getting post-birth hip dysplasia.

The optimal position for an upward carrier is to have the baby facing the parent. The benefits are endless. Moreover, the baby does not remain motionless when in a baby carrier facing the parent. He or she can choose to turn left or right and this can actually help develop the neck muscles in the longer run. If a baby so chooses to not want to face the parent, then a better position may be to put the baby in a side-carry position which the Pikkolo Baby Carrier effectively does. (Although the Pikkolo can be used for forward-facing in a semi-sitting position, we recommend it not be used for long periods of time.)

Otherwise, a baby can also be put on a back-carry position that can be effectively done with the Pikkolo, Patapum, Beco, baby wraps, Mei Tais or any good soft structured carriers for a safer ride, both for the parent, as well as the child.

Discussions by our fans can be found!/notes.php?id=147007285062

Using the Pikkolo Baby Carrier for a Hip-carry

1 comment:

  1. This blog is really remarkable. Thanks for sharing this great stuff. Keep sharing more useful and conspicuous stuff like this. Thank you so much.
    Face Forward Deborah Alessi