Ever wonder why your Ergo, wrap, or mei tai carrier doesn’t make it easy to wear your baby facing outward like the Baby Bjorn does? Babywearing seems like such an anything goes kind of activity – sling ‘em on your hip, toss ‘em on your back, or whatever feels most comfortable for you. But it’s important to remember that there’s a second anatomy there. Babies might not be able to articulate their babywearing preferences in words but you better believe they have them! The number one preference almost all babies will have is to face mama or papa – whether they’re riding in front or in back. Here are a bunch of reasons your babywearing motto should be ‘better in than out’:
- For the littlest babies, facing in offers the most head and neck support. This is super important for breathing since a little kink in the windpipe can mean silent suffocation. When your newborn is facing you, you’re able to see their color and their breathing. Facing out isn’t super risky but it’s definitely more risky.
- An outward carry does not support a baby’s legs, which should be at or even above hip level. Think of a little froggy! In carriers designed to let you wear baby chest-to-chest or chest-to-back a baby’s legs will almost always end up in the correct position. Dangling legs mean your baby’s hips and spine are actually unsupported.
- It’s actually less comfortable for most adults to wear babies facing outward. That’s because in an out-facing front carry the baby is actually curving away from you, becoming an awkward load. Think about it: how often do you carry your baby facing outward, anyway?
- It puts your baby in the “hollow back position.” Boba explains it like this: Placing an infant in a front-facing carrier stretches the naturally convex rounded curve of his spine into a hollow back position. With nothing to cling to, weak abdominal muscles, and retracted shoulders, the infant’s pelvis tilts backwards and is forced to not only carry weight of his own body but also to absorb the force of every step that the carrying individual takes.
- Proper hip development requires proper hip placement – something most moms and dads and babies naturally do when there’s no gear involved. With our arms, we carry babies the way that’s safest. An in-facing carry is closest to being held by mama or papa.
- They can see just fine. An older baby riding chest-to-chest in a carrier or wrap will have a great view but still feel secure.
- Babywearing in the outward facing position can lead to thigh chafe (ouch) and discomfort of the genitals – especially in baby boys due to pressure on the groin (double ouch). An in-facing carry puts pressure on the bum where it belongs.
- When your baby faces you, they get to decide how much stimulation they want. Staring out at the world is great until it’s not, and an inward-facing baby can choose to nuzzle into your chest for a little dose of comfort. An out-facing carry doesn’t offer babies the opportunity to self-soothe.
- You can look your baby in the eye when you’re chest-to-chest, which means you know if they’ve spit up or look uncomfortable or are turning kind of purple. Being able to read their cues is great for bonding!
Babywearing is such a privilege and a pleasure but it’s best when it’s comfortable for everyone involved. If you’ve had baby looking out during most of your babywearing time, why not see how chest-to-chest works for both of you. You might just find you love it!
Are you an expert babywearer? We’d love to have you blog for us as a guest! Contact christa @ mommeetmom dot com for more info. Curious about the wrap in the pic? It’s a Calin Bleu!