So many people come to see me asking for a sling that enables them to forward face their babies, usually when they are between 4 and 6 months old. It is nearly always because their baby isn’t settling whilst being inwards faced and they want them to be able to see the world.
So here is what we think you need to know before you decide whether to forward face your baby;
· Babies should not be faced forward in a carrier until they are at least 5 months old and can hold their heads well, and most manufacturers recommend facing out for no longer than 20-30 minutes.
· Babies can be overstimulated whilst facing out. They cannot filter out irrelevant information like adults can so they can get very tired whist trying to process everything so make sure if you are somewhere busy you give your baby plenty of chances to turn around.
· Carrying a baby facing out can be less comfortable for the wearer than facing in. The weight of the baby is further away from the adult and so can put more pressure through the straps and unbalance the wearer. Just be a little careful when carrying forward facing for the first time until you get your balance.
· Some forward facing carriers do not provide an ergonomic position for the baby. This can exacerbate existing hip conditions and does not provide optimal positioning for the baby’s spine and hips. The baby should be sat in the M position even when facing out.
· When forward facing, a baby cannot see the face of their parent/carer and so cannot pick up social cues from them and may become stressed or upset without their reassurance. It can also be difficult for a parent to see tired cues from their baby and monitor their breathing. If you are with other people it might be nice if they can keep checking in with your baby, and if you are on your own talking to your baby can be a nice way to provide them with comfort when they cannot see you.
· None of the forward facing carriers on the market offer a safe sleeping position, babies must always be turned around to sleep.
Don’t forget many babies go through a transitional stage between about 4-6 months where they may not be happy inward facing. This can be managed by using a hip carry or a back carry if they are old enough. These positions allow the baby to snuggle back in to the wearer if needed and still allow for the baby to see more of the world if they would like. Many babies are happy to inward face again after about 6 months so it’s worth continuing to try it.