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Forward Facing in Baby Carriers: Prioritizing Safety & Development

Choosing the right baby carrier is a crucial decision for parents, as it directly impacts the well-being and development of their little ones. One commonly discussed aspect of babywearing is the forward-facing position. 

While this feature is requested repeatedly, we have intentionally decided not to have a forward-facing option in our carriers. At hope&plum, our number one priority is safety and comfort! 

Here are some key reasons forward-facing baby carriers might not be the best option for your child's safety and development: 

1. Spinal Alignment and Hip Dysplasia:

One of the primary concerns with forward-facing baby carriers is the potential impact on the baby's spine and hip development. When a baby faces outward, their spine is forced into an unnatural position, as their back is not adequately supported. This can lead to issues with spinal alignment and may contribute to discomfort for the baby.… but they’re not the only one! 

Carrying a baby in a forward-facing position can shift the baby's weight away from the caregiver's center of gravity, leading to increased strain on the back and shoulders. This can result in discomfort and even contribute to long-term physical issues for the caregiver. 

2. Overstimulation and Stress:

Babies are naturally curious and enjoy observing their surroundings. However, exposing them to the world in a forward-facing carrier position may lead to overstimulation. The constant flow of new sights, sounds, and stimuli can be overwhelming for a baby, potentially causing stress and anxiety. Babies are more comfortable and secure when facing towards their caregiver, allowing them to maintain a sense of security and connection. 

3. Lack of Head and Neck Support:

When a baby is in a forward facing baby carrier, their head and neck lack the necessary support. When facing inward, babies can rest their heads on their caretaker, naturally resting their head on your chest. Also, did you know facing inward counts as tummy time in early development? Read our interview with Dr Bonnie, a pediatric physical therapist, here. 

4. Limited Interaction and Bonding:

One of our favorite parts of babywearing is the close physical and emotional bond formed between the caregiver and the baby. When a baby faces outward, this interaction is limited. Not to mention, The baby misses out on the opportunity to make eye contact, share facial expressions, and engage in verbal and non-verbal communication with their caregiver, which is crucial for emotional development. 

Having your baby face away from you also makes it harder to respond to basic cues like spit up, hunger, fussiness, and, most importantly, checking their airways.

Three Alternatives to Forward-Facing Baby Carriers:

There are several babywearing alternatives to forward-facing positions that prioritize safety, comfort, and healthy development for your baby. Here are some popular alternatives and carriers we recommend trying for each: 

1. Chest to Chest / Facing Caregiver:

This position allows your baby to face towards your chest. It gives them a sense of security, allows for easy eye contact, and promotes bonding between caregiver and baby. Additionally, if you are nursing your baby, you can do so in most front-facing positions! See how our co-founder,  Skye, shares more on how to nurse in a carrier. 

All four of our hope&plum baby carriers support this position. We recommend trying the LarkMeh Dai, Soft Wrap, or Ring Sling for front-facing positions. Compare all of our options here!

2. Hip Carry:

In a hip carry, your baby is positioned on your hip, facing either forward or slightly to the side. This allows your baby to observe the surroundings while still maintaining a close connection with you. Hip carries are suitable for babies with good neck control, especially for kiddos who don’t want to miss out on seeing the world. Ring slings are great for hip carry! 

3. Back Carry:

Back carries are ideal for babies who have good head and neck control. This position distributes the weight evenly across your back and shoulders. It provides a comfortable and ergonomic option for both the caregiver and the baby. We recommend a Lark or Meh Dai for back carrying. Psst… back carry works great with toddlers too - up to 45 lbs! 

Can't decide what baby carrier is best for you? Compare hope&plum carriers here! 

While the allure of forward-facing baby carriers may be tempting, it's important to prioritize the safety and well-being of your child. Opting for a carrier that supports proper spinal alignment and hip development and fosters a strong bond between caregiver and baby is essential. 

Before using any baby carrier, it's crucial to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines. Always ensure that your baby's hips and spine are well-supported and their airways remain clear. Additionally, pay attention to your baby's cues and comfort level in different positions, adjusting as needed to ensure a positive babywearing experience for both of you. If you decide forward facing is something you'd like to try, here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Your baby must have sufficient neck and head control. They should be able to hold their head completely on their own, without breaks. Forward-facing is not recommend for babies under 3 months.
  2. Making sure your baby is taller than the front panel is critical. With any carrier position, you want to make sure your baby's airways are completely opened and nothing is in the way. Your baby's chin should sit above top of the baby carrier panel.
  3. It is recommended to only wear your baby in the forward-facing position for up to 20 minutes.

See more tutorials on using our carriers here, or book a one-on-one consultation with our babywearing experts.