Carrying a Baby Facing Forwards is “Cruel and Stressful”

Jodi - posted on 08/22/2011 ( 42 moms have responded )




A leading child expert has called parents who carry their baby facing forwards in either pram or baby-carrier are "cruel and selfish".

University of Technology's Catherine Fowler, a professor of child and family health nursing, says babies are scared if they are carried in a sling or pram that faces away from their parents.

"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.

"In not considering our baby's perspective, we are inadvertently quite cruel to children."

Sceptical parents point to the fact that babies get bored and restless if they face their mums beyond a certain age.

Baby Love author Robin Barker says that as long as babies are loved, the direction they face is irrelevant.

"Parents have enough to worry and feel guilty about without considering which way they push their child in a stroller," she said.

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

A 2008 study by the University of Dundee came to the conclusion that babies who couldn't see their parents from the pram suffered "stress and trauma", stunt their development and become "anxious adults".

The same study said babies carried in rear-facing prams were more likely to sleep, laugh and listen to their parents.

Robin Barker also notes that rearward facing prams cost up to $2000 more than those which face outwards.



JL - posted on 08/22/2011




I have to admit I rolled my eyes at this due to the use of the words "cruel and selfish." Please, there are actual children in this world who are in homes where cruel and selfish parenting is a dangerous reality. Children who are abused in sick selfish ways by the adults they trust to take care of them. To use such wording when discussing the pros and cons of using an outward facing carrier or stroller is ridiculous. My children after they out grew their baby carriers were outward facing strollers. Despite by use of outward strollers they are both well adjusted highly intelligent loving and giving children. They are not children suffering from my cruel and selfish parental use of outward facing strollers. Give me a break with the larger more horrific things happening in this world this doesn't even come close to the definition of selfish or cruel.

Mrs. - posted on 08/22/2011




Babies are little people, some or more into seeing the world than others. My daughter loved facing outward in her carrier, once her neck was strong enough to support it, she would squeal with delight at seeing everything. She also prefers looking out of the stroller at trees, dogs and other people more than just watching me.

Other babies, feel more comfortable with their eyes on mommy.

This is so individual, I would think it would be hard to generalize. The study would have to be massive and follow this massive amount of babies to adulthood. To what? Find out that people are all different. Thanks, I'm pretty sure I already know that.

They said that they make for more anxious adults. How do they know it is the carriers that are doing that? Couldn't be that parents who are more anxious like their children to look outwards and those parents just pass on their anxiety through behavioural and genetic means? That sounds a bit more likely to me.

Desiree - posted on 08/23/2011




Not a joke, most pedistiran accidents in my country are caused because of the lack of depth perception caused by the constant carrying of children on the mothers back for the first 5 years of life. If you are constantly looking at your moms back or front from a distance of what 5cm max, what does that do you to your depth perception. This happen across the culture thing because African Nannies carry all their charges and their own children on their backs as it leaves their hands free to do other things.

Lady Heather - posted on 08/22/2011




Tried to find the actual study but couldn't. I did find a better quoted one. I was confused because the suggestion that the babies will become anxious adults seemed to imply that it was a long-term study and they had actual adults on hand. They do not. They are just presuming that stroller time will stress an infant enough to turn them into an anxious adult. That seems like quite the leap to me.

[deleted account]

And this is a published study? Lol! who foot the bill for this?!

My son enjoyed being forward facing in the carrier up until 10 months or so. Hw wanted out. I wanted to force him to stay close to Mommy. It wasn;t working. No harm done!


View replies by

Tanya - posted on 08/23/2011




Personally, I don't like it. With my first, I didn't have good carriers in the beginning, and it felt weird having him in stroller, away from me. Once I got a sling, I rarely used the stroller, and after I got a mei tai, I never used it again.

With my second, he hardly ever goes in the stroller. I can't stand it! I feel like he's cut off from me if he's in the stoller facing away. I recently bought a jogging stroller secondhand so I could start jogging, and I purposely got one that can face out or face me.

I love having him in my carriers, either on my back, on my hip, or on my front facing in. While we're out, I can give him a running commentary (his vocabulary is amazing now!), point things out to him, cuddle with him, or nurse him. Especially since I've been working full-time since he was 6 months old, it's super important for us to have every moment together that we can.

I wouldn't say, however, that it's "cruel" to have them facing out. Not very good for their spine, and "odd" to me, but I highly doubt that it truly has longterm emotional or developmental effects on children.

Merry - posted on 08/23/2011




Sorry! Thought that was a joke! But I could see it if we are talking years on a moms back.

Desiree - posted on 08/23/2011




Sure and here in South Africa it has been proven that having your child facing you too much damages their depth perception.

Delia - posted on 08/23/2011




They're probably talking about very young babies. They do love Mom's face and scent best when their very young, so turn the baby around to face you until it's 5 mos old or so.

I consider babies fortunate when their Moms are connected enough to be holding them vs sticking them in boxes with wheels - or worse yet, those abominable car seats which serve as veritable prisons with baby being lugged by Daddy into the car, out of the car, through the store, set down on floors of restaurants etc etc. always strapped in, always on it's bottom!

Shea - posted on 08/23/2011




This is ridiculous..smh. Really how do you normally carry your infant? Facing your person, yes? These darn "experts" and their all knowing proclamations annoy me to no end!

Becky - posted on 08/23/2011




If you believe this stuff, I was a very abused child! Never mind the fact that my mother was (and still is) an awesome Mom . . in my eyes she's Superwoman! All the stuff they tell you you can do wrong in raising a child these days is simply nuts! My mom did just fine and I'm sure she didn't heed any of these modern day new age things that are now considered so horrible for your kids! She has 3 wonderful well adjust grown children that did well in school, do well to take care of themselves & now all have kids of their own. Seriously, what was so wrong with the way we were raised? We survived and most adults manage to exit their childhoods ready to take care of themselves & families if they choose . . . . why do they always have to "fix" what's not really broken!

Parenting should be more instinct & reaction to your child, not studies & physiological debates over how feeding your kids the wrong thing will inevitably turn them into a serial killer some day! (I'm exaggerating I know)

[deleted account]

My daughter is definitely happier facing me... If I had known that they had strollers where you could switch which way the baby is facing when I bought a stroller, I would've gotten one of those. It's a lot harder to keep her in her stroller for as long now that she doesn't fit in her car seat that fits in the stroller.

I don't think it's cruel and selfish though to having her face away from me. lol If I had the money to get another stroller, I would. But I don't so we'll just have to deal, I guess. :P

Johnny - posted on 08/22/2011




Oy! Spare me. Cruel & stressful is what this sort of thing is to parents. I had an Ergo which my daughter loved, so she did face inward. But occasionally we used a Snugli (not to often because it isn't that great for their hips) and had her facing out. She loved it.

I waited as long as I could to turn her around in the stroller. I loved walking and talking with her. But I eventually did it and she was much happier. She loved waving and talking to strangers. Poor mommy :-(

Sylvia - posted on 08/22/2011




Whaaa?!! Seriously, what will they think of next?!

Obviously Professor Fowler has never had the experience of wearing a six-month-old baby who tries to twist her head all the way around because heaven forfend she should miss ONE SECOND of whatever exciting thing might be happening out there in the world, even though Mummy would really, really, REALLY like her to take a nap right now :P

I'm not a fan of strollers, but it's not forward-facing prams/strollers that are the problem, it's parents who leave their babies in the pram/stroller/bucket all the time and don't pay any attention to them. A baby who's upset about being in a forward-facing stroller and not seeing its parent will let you know how it feels; the question is what you as the parent do with that information (i.e., leave the howling baby in the pram or take it out and comfort it). And carrying your baby facing forward is certainly a lot better for it than not carrying it at all.

And there are even occasional babies who prefer a pram to a Snugli. You just never know. Babies are people, after all ...

[deleted account]

Gabby hated being carried facing me after 8-9 months She would squirm and she leaned her head really far back so she could look around. I switched her so she could see everything and not get a strained neck. She loved it. This article is bogus.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/22/2011




Oh for crying out loud! Seriously? Just another thing for parents to think they are doing wrong.

Tammy - posted on 08/22/2011




When my baby got too heavy for me to carry her down the stairs from my condo in her car-seat carrier, I switched to a body carrier, where she was strapped to my chest. I wanted to put her facing me, so that she will feel more comfy chest to chest with me, but each time I did that she cried her little head off. So outward she rode, facing the world with her back to me, happy as a lark! When I had her in her stroller she always faced outward so she could see everything. I think somehow she knew I was there pushing her along. She is now 3 years old and still hates sitting backward in a shopping cart, even.

Lady Heather - posted on 08/22/2011




Freja hated being carried facing inwards past about 8 months. I'm thinking if she screamed while she was facing me and didn't scream when she faced away from me, she probably didn't find facing outward to be too traumatic, on the maybe two times that we had access to a carrier that would do it as well as the need to do it.

I did buy a reversible stroller because I felt like I wanted to be able to see her. And then I selfishly kept her facing me for way longer than I should have because I liked being able to see her while all she wanted to do was get a better view of the world. Ha. So she was finally turned in that a few months ago.

Lisa - I don't know if the stroller thing and the car seat thing work the same. Freja definitely prefers facing forward in the stroller because she doesn't want to stare at my boring old face the whole time when there are animals and trees and cars and stuff to see the other way. The car works differently. From her rear facing seat she can see out the very entertaining back window. Quite different from having her view blocked by me. Ha.

If anybody is looking for a cheap way to not stress the bejebus out of your baby, my reversible stroller is selling for $100. You can get deals on those things if you want to. Mine was only $300 brand new.

Charlie - posted on 08/22/2011




Cooper hated the one where you carry the on the front of your chest !

Stifler's - posted on 08/22/2011




Both my kids hate slings lol I tried the side one and the backpackish one but they cried the whole time.

Charlie - posted on 08/22/2011




I wouldnt call it cruel but I can understand how a newborn may be more comfortable snuggled into the chest in a position that more resembles the womb but then not all babies are the same , My eldest would fall asleep instantly in the sling and had no outside stimulation but my youngest wanted to see everything .

Stifler's - posted on 08/22/2011




My kids both LOVE the pram and it's a double so it's facing away from me. When I only had one kid I flipped the handle over depending which way the sun would not be in his face. I think this is all going a bit far *cruel and stressful* at least you're holding your baby!

Ez - posted on 08/22/2011




Yeah this is stupid. We shouldn't need recommendations on how to carry our babies! FFS!! How about we just figure out what they like and go from there?

[deleted account]

Some kids like being carried so that they can see everything. Some don't. Care for THEM the way that fits THEM best. ;)

[deleted account]

I brought a travel system for Ethan, which had a carrycot attachment for young babies, because Ethan was small he used the carrycot until he was nearly six months old so could always see me whilst he was in it. When he outgrew the carrycot he went into the forward facing buggy, I never used my car seat with the buggy because I didn't like leaving him in it any longer than necessary. I never had any issues with him facing outwards in fact he loved being able to see the world around him and he still interacted with me, we sang and talked about what we could see.

With Poppy I have just brought a sling because she wants to be near me more than Ethan did, at the moment she is loving being carried facing inwards and snuggles into my chest (but she is only 3 months old), I'll see what she wants in a couple of months when she can forward face in it but if she's happy I'll leave her inward facing. She is currently still in the carrycot for the buggy but she'll outgrow it soon as she is tall and then she'll go forward facing because I don't like chldren in car seats for longer than neccesary and she hates it and screams every time she's put into it.

I think as parents we need to consider what our children want when it comes to things like this as all children are different.

Jenn - posted on 08/22/2011




That's an hilariously extreme view. obviously, a parent should have an infant stroller to carry an infant seat that would face the parent. Once a baby outgrows the carrier, they generally can handle the interactment of the world around them. As for carrying baby, my oldest wanted to face out. She loved it! My youngest was happiest to snuggle into my chest. As with anything else, decisions parents make concerning their children should be made according to each child's needs and age. All babies love to hear their parents...not all babies require eye contact as well to be content.

Rosie - posted on 08/22/2011




i'm with joy. cruel and stressful? pah-lease!! gah, with all the crap to worry about, why this?especially when no parent i know doesn't listen to their childs cues if they can tell they are stressed they try to hold them and calm them down. ridiculous!

Merry - posted on 08/22/2011




Rebecca, you described my son and daughter perfectly! Lol they are two years apart in ages but my son is always shy with strangers, as a baby he never smiled at people, he hated others holding him, he loved being held facing me, he rarely got bored just being held.
Now Fia is so social! She was smiling so much at the dr at her 2 month visit, the dr said shewas the friendliest 2 month old she knows. She loves looking around and smiles at anyone who looks at her! she so young still but I think she will be quite fun as she gets older if she keeps up being a social butterfly!

[deleted account]

I think blanket statements regarding human beings, even little ones, are ridiculous. How the baby reacts to being outward facing depends on the age of the child and the child's disposition. I have four month old twins - a boy and a girl. My girl LOVES seeing faces and looking around. She would be perfectly happy looking around. My son is just starting into his stranger anxiety phase and would be terrified in a forward-facing carrier. In fact, just last night, we went out to dinner at a restaurant. I was burping my son over my shoulder and the family at the table directly behind me starting talking to him over my shoulder. He started screaming and became hysterical to the point I had to take him out to calm him down. My daughter, looking at the same family, was happy and laughing. Ancedotal evidence, yes, but it illustrates the point.

Merry - posted on 08/22/2011




Well if I put Fierna facing me in my moby wrap she rubs her face on me, and fights and arches her back until I take her out. Yes she *can* swivel her head to look out but she DOESNT! She would rather pitch a huge fit and make me take her out.

So if she's sleepy, I put her facing me and she sleeps beautifully in the moby, but if she's awake I have to either not use the wrap or put her facing out. Now, I do worry about strain on her chest or hips or spine so I don't use it long times, and I often have a hand under her butt to support her so her back isn't stressed. But I'm seriously, this 3 month old knows what she likes and doesn't like and will tell me very loudly if I do something she doesn't want.

Once she's a bit bigger I'll use my hip carrier, holds her on my hip with an across the shoulder strap, but for now we manage.

We were at a farmers market at our state capital last Saturday, she was in the moby facing forwards, she chewed on my thumb, then her own thumb, she kicked and flailed and laughed, literally laughed at nothing I could figure out. She loved it! There were people everywhere total over stimulation I would think but she soaked it all up. And then after about 30 minutes of wandering around she started getting fussy and hungry so i repositioned her in the moby so I could walk and feed her and she ate and slept.

No way was that cruel. She had a blast :)

I have heard that boys facing out in a sling can cause tension on thee I never did that with Eric, but then again I also didn't have a moby with him.

Oh and strollers? Until I'm comfortable with Fierna sitting up in the stroller I use the car seat in it and yes she faces me. But when she is older and goes in the normal strollerseat she will face out and if she gets stressed or overwhelmed she will fuss or cry. And I'll respond!

Ps, Eric has ridden facing forward in a stroller since 4 months old yet he's still happily rearfacing in the car now at 2.5 years.

Sarah - posted on 08/22/2011




Oh good god. What next? Parents are already made to feel guilty enough.

Anna - posted on 08/22/2011




I read something like this years ago when pregnant with my first. I got an ergo carrier which doesn't allow for forward face carry. I also got a travel system, so that my baby could face me in his stroller while sitting in his car seat. Turns out though, you're a bad parent if you let your child spend any extra time in the car seat for pretty much any reason (part of my husband's job is to review CPS cases, and no joke, this comes up from time to time). Reminds me of an article I read a few years back about sippy cups, and how they are bad for mouth development and cause, among other things, delayed speech and poor pronunciation. Better to use the straw cups. Well, that may be, but does it really make me such a horrible parent if I just, well don't care really? I had just, in response to new BPA findings, switched to aluminum sippys.

I know that last bit is off topic, sorry. But my point is there are people who choose to be all about research and studies. But personally, I can't be 'everything mom.' I'm too busy raising kids to research every little thing this thoroughly, over and over again because findings always change. I concern myself with what I see as 'big' issues, child birth, vaccines, nutrition, etc. but when it comes to things like this, I just can't keep up and I don't try. I don't think that makes me "cruel and selfish." Just my opinion. Kids are generally sturdier then people give them credit for.

Amanda - posted on 08/22/2011




This is a bit much, but with my children they were much happier facing me in a stroller their first year. I have always spent a bit more on my strollers to make sure my children can face me until they were ready to face outwards (around 12 months), but that is just me. I also agree that strollers that can face both ways are much more costly and harder to find. I dont think it makes a parent bad if all they can afford is a forward facing stroller, or if they decide that is what is best for their child.

Vicki - posted on 08/22/2011




I think the claims are over the top. My boy was (and still is a bit) worn. I only bought a stroller when he was 6 months. I never carried him facing out, partly for this reason (although I'd never go as far to say 'cruel and selfish') but mostly because the weight would be off and the ergonomics for bub as mentioned above. Mostly I think the forward facing carriers look awkward and a bit silly with the legs dangling out in front. Once my son reached an age where he wanted to see more I often wore him in a high back carry, where he would always wriggle his way to peer over my left shoulder. For short trips I usually had him in a hip carry and he could look out or at me.

When I did buy a stroller it was a cheapy forward facing umbrella stroller. He never had a problem with it, still loves it now.

Kate CP - posted on 08/22/2011




I wanted to use my carrier and sling for my son a lot longer than I did...but he got so heavy so fast that I had to start using a stroller. :/

Krista - posted on 08/22/2011




I agree completely with Lisa. It is more ergonomically sound for the baby to face inwards, either in a front carry or a back carry.

But as far as stress goes? I think you just need to watch your baby's cues. Some babies LOVE being in a front-facing stroller and taking in all the sights. Others are more overwhelmed by that much stimulus. Children have different temperaments, even when young. So the thoughtful parent will notice if her baby seems fussy and averts her gaze when front-facing, or if the baby is constantly craning her neck and trying to see more, when facing Mom.

Minnie - posted on 08/22/2011




I'm back because I'm bored lol.

Anyways- I don't think it cruel or stressful to forward face a baby in a carrier, however, it's not biologically ergonomic.

Forward facing in a carrier causes a baby's back to be held in an unnaturally sway-backed position. They also hang from the crotch that puts stress on the hips and lower spine- it can actually lead to spinal problems.

It's more physically sound to carry a baby in a carrier facing inwards- either on the back facing the parent or on the front facing the parent, with the baby in a seated position, butt lower than the knees.

Many of the newer soft structured baby carriers allow for forward facing- but it's a little cumbersome with the baby in a seated position and legs sticking straight out.

I don't like the argument that babies get bored facing the mother past a certain age- it's the same one parents give for turning their children forward facing in the carseat at the minimum age. Adelaide never faced out in the carrier, still doesn't, and is still rear-facing in the car. It's what she's used to.

When she got older and wanted to see more we switched to a back carry. Babies CAN swivel their heads to look around.

[deleted account]

I don't give it much merit--what did they base the evidence of "stress and trauma" and stunted development on? Did they track these kids though out their childhood and into adulthood, that would be the only way to determine those things.

J's pram was rear facing until he was almost 1, then it flipped around. In the carrier, J NEVER liked the rear facing position. Once he was big enough to turn around in it, he loved it.

Every baby is different and I think it is ignorant to assume that all babies prefer the rear facing position--some may, even most, but not all. I think in saying that all babies prefer one direction she is doing exactly what she is advocating against--not considering the child's perspective.

I think J felt securely attached to me and safe in the forward facing carrier, I think he got motion sickness facing me because he constantly threw up and cried. In that position, he knew he was moving, but not only did he have no control over the motion (which is true for both positions) he couldn't see where he was going either--even scarier, right?

Lindsey - posted on 08/22/2011




Absolutely ridiculous! As Robin Barker pointed out, and as I can personally attest to, most parents are overwhelmed by feelings of guilt... am now we have to feel guilty about taking our child for a walk in a forward facing stroller?

By that logic, we should never allow our babys in the car unless a parent is sitting right next to them in the backseat, after all they can't see their parents in the front seat from a rear facing car seat.

From about four months on, my son hated being in his snugglie, unless he was facing away from me. He wanted to see what was happening around him. Same goes for the stroller, he was always looking around, taking in his surroundings. Even when I held him in my arms, he preferred to face away from me. I don't think he ever felt insecure or unsafe, he knew if he needed me I would be there.

I say do what you are comfortable with, and stop worrying about what the experts say. After all, in three months there will be a new study showing that using a rear facing stroller, or carrying your child in a snugglie facing you, will cause them to grow up to be overly-dependent and have low self-esteem... :)

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