Carrying a baby facing forward is 'cruel, stressful and terrifying'

Charlie - posted on 10/19/2011 ( 13 moms have responded )




Carrying a baby facing forward, in either a sling or a pram, is cruel and selfish says a leading Australian health care expert.

Cathrine Fowler, a professor of child and family health nursing at Sydney's University of Technology said that facing a baby away from its parents is creating a very stressful situation and is "inadvertently quite cruel to children."

"Imagine if you were strapped to someone’s chest with your legs and arms flailing, heading with no control into a busy shopping centre — it would be terrifying," said Professor Fowler.

"Outward-facing baby carriers and prams give babies a bombardment of stimulus, creating a very stressful situation."

But author of Baby Love, Robin Barker has spoken out about the controversial claims, saying that as long as the baby is loved and fed, it didn't matter which way the pram was facing.

"What babies need is parents who love them and feed them and if that's in place then I'm afraid which way the pram faces is irrelevant," she said.

"I don't think there is an issue with letting children experience the world before they are 12 months old."

Thoughts ? Agree, disagree ?


Becky - posted on 10/19/2011




I think the words "cruel, stressful, and terrifying" are a little harsh. Especially "cruel." I agree that most very young babies prefer to be snuggled in towards their caregiver and seeing a familiar face, hearing a familiar voice, etc. I can see being facing outward being overstimulating for a very small baby. Not to mention that if you have them in a carrier, facing them outward before they have adequate neck control is just unsafe. However, a lot of older babies will resist being carried inwards. They want to see what's going on around them. If you carry them even in your arms facing you, they will be turning their heads to look around, peering over your shoulder, etc.
I think that what is "cruel, stressful, and terrifying" is not reading your baby's cues and responding to them. If your baby is easily overstimulated, protect him from overstimulation. If he is curious and sociable and fusses when he can't see what's going on around him, then by all means, let him see what's going on around him!

Katie - posted on 10/19/2011




I think this is silly. My son is nearly 4 months old and I just had him forward facing in his snuggly for the first time at the park the other day. He seemed fine with it. I think that babies are pretty good at letting you know when they are unhappy. If you have your kid facing out and they are screaming then they are probably overwhelmed and you should turn them around or find a different method of transport until they are ok with it. Saying that it is cruel and selfish seems pretty extreme and in my opinion might make some mothers ignore their intuition and common sense.


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Karla - posted on 10/22/2011




I think it depends on the baby's personality. One of mine loved seeing things, loved movement and excitement and another was just the opposite. As a parent we could see their body language and expression and know what they were comfortable with.
As a mom, When I carried them in a sling I didn't want them facing out when they were very little though.

Hope - posted on 10/19/2011




For goodness there anything else there want to put out there in the media to make us parents feel even more incompetent. Get real people. How about we stop trusting everyone else's so called "expert opinion" and start trusting our own natural motherly instinct. How many mothers are now going to be so overwhelmed with this information. If my husband and I live by this when our newest baby was now 4months was little we would have had nervse brake downs in the first 3 months. The only way we could get our little one to stop crying was to walk around the house with him in the sitting position facing outwards. Why?? I'm not sure but it worked and he still feels the love that we have for him.

Stifler's - posted on 10/19/2011




My pram had a reversible handle with Logan so whichever way the sun was not in his face he was turned and now I have a double pram I have no choice but both of them facing forward. The reality for most mothers.

Stifler's - posted on 10/19/2011




Dramatic! I agree that the whole carrying them facing out in a sling might be scary for some babies but which way the pram is facing? My kids both always went to sleep in the pram as soon as I started walking.

Krista - posted on 10/19/2011




I could see it being a bit overstimulating, and possibly scary for a very young baby, especially in a crowded situation like a mall.

But once the baby is old enough that he or she is reaching that curious stage and wanting to take in everything, then I think a walk outside, with the baby taking in the world, wouldn't do any harm. I think, like all things, the key is to take the cue from the baby. If he seems fussy when facing forward, then just turn him around so that he can cuddle into you and tune out the stimulus. If he's facing you and he's peering and craning his neck trying to see things, then flip him around so that he can see.

Seems simple enough.

[deleted account]

For young babies, I totally agree.

Even for older babies, some places like shopping malls may be too much. I wish I had a stroller with a handle bar that reversed, so I could switch to facing me when the situation was stressful.

Sarah - posted on 10/19/2011




Depends how old the baby is, my two girls were in pushchairs that faced me until 5-6 months I guess.....but it was more a case of me wanting to see them that I chose to do it.....I was always a bit paranoid they'd be sick or something and I wouldn't notice!!

I don't think having them forward facing is going to permanently damage your child though...........

Tracey - posted on 10/19/2011




Surely a baby that is strapped to your chest is feeling your warmth and heartbeat and will find comfort in that no matter which way they are facing?

Lady - posted on 10/19/2011




I do think very young babies need to be facing their parent or carer - I think about 5 or 6 months old is fine to turn them round. They are aware of the world and their place in it by then. But I do agree that to a very young baby who has no concept that they are just part of something much larger and that everything is not just part of them to be bombareded with so much stimulous would be quite stressful!

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