An avid babywearer, I took a babywearing safety class several years ago. A heated topic of discussion back then was the act of wearing your baby in a sling or carrier in a forward-facing position. Moms would say “baby loves it!” but safety experts argue that it can be overstimulating for the child, and it also throws off the caregiver’s center of balance. Carrying your baby or child like they are in your arms, facing you, is considered to be the preferred and safest method of babywearing. And one professor is even going so far as to say parents are cruel if they carry babies or push them in strollers facing forward, that it even causes trauma lasting into adulthood.
I think it makes some sense that a baby would fare better to look at mama’s face rather than the big scary world outside until they are old enough and interested in all the exciting things around them. And I know from experience that I don’t find forward-facing babies all that comfortable for me nor can I “wear” them with such ease as I am extra-cautious at how much easier it is for them to fall out when forward facing.
But, I have, however, changed my tune over the years. There was definitely a time when I couldn’t see past my die-hard seasoned babywearing agenda, I would poo poo Baby Bjorn-type carriers or anything that encouraged forward-facing only or didn’t look “traditional”. In the past, those baby carriers weren’t necessarily the best for mom and baby in overall comfort and safety, but, it was still a way to keep baby close and that is what is most important. And I must add that in recent years, most baby carrier manufacturers (including Baby Bjorn) continue to update their designs to be more comfortable for the baby and the wearer.
I’ve long sang the song that babywearing shouldn’t be done only to keep your hands free- it’s a beautiful way to bond, soothe, comfort, and nurture your baby as well as – for some- the only way their child will nap or stop crying, ever. It’s okay to wear your baby and do nothing else but enjoy that moment. And it’s also okay to get a ton of other things done while you’re doing it, too. Oh, and PS it’s totally okay if you don’t wear your baby at all.
If you’re holding your child close- in a carrier or not- you’ll know if they are becoming overstimulated. An observing mom can usually tell the signs and adjust activities accordingly. If you feel the best way to wear your baby is facing out, rock on with your babywearing self.
How do you wear or tote your baby?
For additional babywearing tips, questions, and finding the right carrier for you, check out Stephanie’s blog Adventures In Babywearing 2.0.
*title edited for clarity/tongue in cheek!