This dude is pretty stoked that I’ve decided he has strong enough neck control to try short stints of outward facing!
This position is one of the most widely represented in the western mainstream depictions of baby carrying (for example movies and TV shows). It certainly affords baby a unique experience of the world, they take on the same perspective as you. I mean, just check out this kids smile!
I also noticed that when I ate something with Jack in this position, even at this young age before he is yet to try solids, as I put the food up towards my mouth, he instinctively opened his as well. Making me laugh when I considered it from his perspective 😂 it is clear there is rich learning and experience afforded by this position if it is what your baby is keen on.
But there are a few risk factors, which with the best of intentions, have in the past led to many ‘babywearing circles’ deciding this was a ‘bad’ position. There is nothing bad about it, just some factors to consider…
Neck and trunk strength – for a world facing position baby needs to have decent neck control and be developing some strength in their trunk, in other words they need to be able to hold their head up. This is due to airways, this isn’t a good position for your tiny curled up newborn. There is a greater risk of baby achieving that chin to chest posture in this position which we need to avoid to ensure safe breathing.
Jack has really strong neck control, he was actually holding his head up by himself shortly after birth which buzzed out myself and the birth team alike. He is four months today! But compared to my other babes, he is like a month ahead in moving around and trunk development. Like starting solids, I personally think it is better to wait till you are sure they are ready for this position rather than starting early. The sign for me was Jack lifting his head when he is in a semi reclined bouncer and rolling around on the floor. Generally the guidelines for forward facing for most manufacturers will be around the four to five month age that you can begin using this position.
Not for sleeping bubbas – so same thing as above. But it’s not just newborns who have vulnerable airways and we need to ensure they do not have their chin on their chest, same applies to sleeping babies. If your baby falls asleep outward facing you are probably best to turn them to face you in the carrier, this provides a surface for them to rest their head on, your chest. Otherwise you will need to hold their chin up with your hand the whole time they sleep. Monitoring airways when they are not facing you is also obviously a harder task.
Watch for overstimulation – it is a lot to take in for babies when the world is coming full speed at you and you have no way to shut off. When we have them in a hip position or a high back carry, which are commonly suggested as other alternatives for nosey babes, they can nuzzle into us and block the world out when it becomes to much. As noted above, monitoring your baby’s cues when they are facing away from you can be harder so it pays to be attentive.
You are the expert on your child though, you know how much stimulation is appropriate generally for them. This was Jack’s first time facing this way, we went for a walk up and down the deck and made Jai and I a sandwich with him thoroughly & happily taking it all in. It was only about ten minutes or so before I noticed him yawn and rub his eyes a bit and I decided to turn his around, give him a feed and let him nap again. He loved it but he did near the end have the same look in his eyes as my five year old new school entrant does when the bell rings at the end of the day, brain at maximum capacity!
There are heaps of ways you can carry your baby in this position, but don’t be fooled into thinking the few brands of buckle carriers who heavily market them as this being an advantage, is necessarily your only options!
Cross legged in a ring sling, which we are doing here, is one of my favourite ways to achieve this position. I find I can keep the weight higher meaning I don’t arch my back as much to compensate. Being mindful of how your body copes with carrying the weight of your baby is just as important as the rest of it!
As the An’So safety guidelines sums it up as, “whilst carrying your baby you need to remain aware and responsive to your baby’s need for safety and comfort, as well as your own”. (You can see those guidelines here – http://www.babywearingwithjess.com/…/anso-child-carrying-s…/)
Is outward facing a popular position in your house?? Or is it not a position your carrying dyad is keen on?