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Friday, May 4, 2012

Babywearing Safely - Front Facing, Front Carry?

*This is Part 3 of  series.

I was quite surprised to read how long term front facing front carry position is also discouraged.  As I previously mentioned, we used to carry N in a Baby Bjorn that way. According to Hosanna Camacho, PT, the front facing and front carry position is not advisable for young babies at it puts stress and pressure on their undeveloped spine.  It is only an advisable carry when your baby can crawl as by then, the spine has already developed.
Hosanna Camacho, PT, also doesn't recommend the lotus or kangaroo position.  According to Hosanna, only young babies [with undeveloped spines] will let you put them in an "indian-sit" position.  Bigger babies will refuse to be in this position as it is uncomfortable - their entire weight will be sitting on their legs/feet.

Over-stimulation is also another reason why Western babywearing advocates advise against the front facing front carry position.  French wrap maker je porte mon bebe emphasizes that front facing front carry should only be at home in quiet moments, never for transport and not for long periods of time.  For German wrap maker Storchenwiege, it is the inability of the baby to turn inward toward a parent's body and block out surrounding stimuli, that makes this position unfavorable.

Meanwhile, although The Portable Baby does not buy the argument on over-stimulation, she also has her own list of disadvantages against the front facing, front carry position:
Please also note that the facing out position is not optimal for the baby's spine.  While the Gemini allows for a slightly seated position (as opposed to dangling suspended by the crotch as with the BabyBjorn and other carriers), the ideal ergonomic position for a baby's spine is to sit with knees spread at the level of the seat.  Prolonged use of the facing out position is not recommended, but it is fine for short periods.
You might also hear from Ergo and other carrier manufacturers that babies cannot stand to be facing out, as they become easily overwhelmed and overstimulated. Frankly, each baby is different. Some babies LOVE to face out, and practically insist on it. Other babies might prefer to face in. Your own baby will let you know what he/she prefers at various stages of development.
The only downsides to facing out that I have found are a) a baby that falls asleep facing out has no head support, b) facing out position is hardest on the wearer's back and c) facing out is not optimal ergonomically for the baby's spine, but is not harmful or damaging for short periods.
Photo from Parent Link
As I discussed in my previous post, the proper position for a baby, whatever the carrier, is the spread squat position - for the baby's bum to be supporting the weight, the knees be higher than the bum and for the seat fabric to be spread from the hollow of one knee to another.  So if you do want to carry your baby in a front facing, front carry position, try to look for a carrier that will help you meet those guidelines.

If your baby prefers being in the front carry, front facing position in your arms without a carrier, please note that there are differences between being carried in a carrier vs. in the parent's or caregiver's arms.  As this post explains, without a carrier, a baby carried in his/her parent's arms will get shifted about A LOT.  Baby will not be in the same position for a long time.  If you do go for a front carry, front facing position, don't keep baby in that position for a long time, make sure you change positions and more importantly, watch your baby if s/he gets bothered or uncomfortable.
Babywearing Safely: Introduction
Why Cradle Carry is discouraged
Front Facing, Front Carry?
Legs Out Position


Helene said...

Hi Jenny! We also have a baby bjorn, and my husband used to carry our firstborn front-facing frequently, though he started doing this when Mari was 6 months and up. I think I'll definitely avoid the front-facing carry for Haley right now, since she's only 4 months and I noticed that it hurt my back more in that position. Thank you for this very informative post! :)

Jenny said...

thanks for dropping by and sharing Helene!

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