Forward-Facing Baby Wearing?

There’s been a bunch of discussion online recently about whether or not we should wear our babies forward-facing. The two biggest arguments against forward-facing baby wearing are that it creates over stimulation of the baby’s senses and that it encourages improper hip positioning.

Over Stimulation

Issues have been brought up such as having a baby forward facing might create too much stimuli for a baby. Indeed, it could. Yet, as a contrary point, I should mention that little ones often turn their heads to the side when being carried while facing in to watch the busy world pass by. They are curious about the world, more so than even their mamas. It’s a valid point that we don’t want to force stimulation on our littlest ones, but I don’t think that this is the best reason to refrain from forward-facing baby wearing in a baby carrier.

Hip Positioning

A strong argument that has been brought up is that forward-facing baby wearing doesn’t allow a baby’s hips and legs to grow properly . This reason is strongly supported by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute who says, ““If the hips are forced into a stretched-out position too early, the ball is at risk of permanently deforming the edges of the cup-shaped socket (hip dysplasia) or gradually slipping out of the socket altogether (hip dislocation). Hip dysplasia or dislocation in babies is not painful so this may go undetected until walking age and may also result in painful arthritis during adulthood.” The hips get stretched out when the legs are not separated.  Fantastic diagrams can be found about proper positioning of a baby’s legs here. Even my favorite baby carrier the Moby Wrap won’t “splay” the hips correctly if worn using a forward-facing position. Even still, with so much science to back up the fact that forward-facing, leg-dangling baby wearing is bad for the baby, that’s not the strongest argument either. Maybe as a scientist, specialist or chiropractor it would be.

Being a Natural Mother

I’m none of those things though. I am a mother. I find that instinct is my strongest guidance in the matter. To me, it sincerely does not feel right. Sure, I wore my babies forward facing sometimes, but I would always turn them back in before long because it didn’t feel right. It nagged at me. Perhaps because within me, beneath my social upbringing, beneath my intellect… I am a female primate tending to her young.

Just like she is:

baby wearing forward facing

Just like she is:

File:Crab-eating Macaque nursing.jpg
Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Just like she is:

forward facing baby wearing
Photo by Sage Ross

And this:

… Just never felt quite right to me.

What do you think? How do you feel about forward-facing baby wearing? I’m certainly no expert on this particular aspect, so I’d love to hear your opinions on the matter.

11 Comments

  1. The only carrier where I wore my babies forward facing were my sling and my Snuggli. They just don’t feel comfortable forward facing in anything else. Not safe enough.

    My girls always love to be chest to chest anyway.

  2. Nic

    I’m with you, occasionally I carried my son forward facing in my baby Bjorne carrier but ultimately it nagged me. Even then I wouldn’t leave him long like that and it wasn’t until he was 6 months old that I even carried him forward facing.

  3. Carrie

    I doubt that the amount of time my kids spent forward facing in the ring sling was enough to cause hip problems. I’m sure that one can find reasons not to do anything, if they wanted too. My kids sat in the sling world-facing, mama-facing, and sideways on my hip. Don’t most mamas wear their babies in several different positions? I would think that a variety of positions would minimize the hip issue, and possibly even strengthen his/her muscles.

  4. Amanda

    I carried my babies forward facing on my hip without a sling. My oldest daughter liked that position the best. My left arm got a great workout from carrying her like that! The baby carrier I had (my mom made it for me) wouldn’t work with placing baby forward facing. I agree that a variety of positions are great for baby without causing lasting problems.

  5. Sue

    It totally depends on so many things: Is it close to naptime? How much stimulation has baby had that day? Is your baby interested in seeing things or in just snuggling in? Is it comfortable to Mama? Only the baby’s mother knows the answer to these questions. Trust your instinct and trust that other mamas are trusting their instincts as well because no one knows their baby like they do.

  6. JLH

    “Even still, with so much science to back up the fact that forward-facing, leg-dangling baby wearing is bad for the baby, that’s not the strongest argument either. Maybe as a scientist, specialist or chiropractor it would be.”

    Well, it should be. Instinct and intuition is important–but people’s “intuition” tell them all sorts of things, such as “vaccinations aren’t safe.”

    • Dawn

      There was a link provided for that though, JLH. I’ve read about hip placement for maybe five hours only. There is still value in my opinion though. And while my opinion on this matter mirrors the specialists, etc… It’s not the loudest reason to me for why I chose not to forward-face. I hope that clarifies.

      I wasn’t writing this blog post to point out the science of it, I wrote this blog post to point out that no other primates do the forward-facing hold.

        • Dawn

          No, actually, I didn’t.

          It’s fine that you don’t like the way I wrote that. You’re entitled to that. But you can’t know my intentions behind doing something. You know? I pointed it out because it’s a valid reason. It just wasn’t the point of this post. I fully believe both physiological reasons to not forward-face.

          I will explain the point of this entire post.

          Points A & B are physiological reasons for not carrying a baby forward facing. They are valid. They have substance. Though before i was aware of them, I STILL didn’t want to do he forward hold. I had no real reasoning, except that it did not feel right. When I gave it further thought years ago I also noticed that other primates tend to hold their babies in.

          So. The point of this entire post is to demonstrate an instance when three factors all agree. 1.) Nature 2.) My maternal instincts 3.) Science.

          I feel that that is very regularly the case.

          That was the point of bringing the physiological reasons up.

          That was the point of this post.

  7. I prefer my baby to face inward. I have noticed when gets over stimulated he ducks his head in and cuddles closer to mommy. i only have a short time with him in my arms without chasing him down.. I’m going to enjoy every minute of him in my arms.

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