Caring for a new-born baby is a tough job and at some point, parents will want to get some fresh air outside with their baby. Depending on the nature of the trip, carrying the baby in a baby carrier or sling may be more convenient than in a stroller. It is important to make sure that the baby carrier is safe and comfortable, especially given how long the hours may be and how delicate the baby is in the early months. For these reasons, a forward-facing baby carrier may not be a good choice, let’s find out why.
Reason #1 – Too much strain on baby’s back
The baby’s spine undergoes significant development in the first year – from a rounded C shape to a S shape. The issue with a forward facing carrier is that it doesn’t support the whole length of the spine and often, prematurely forces the baby’s spine away from its natural C shape. This ‘hollow back’ position may hurt the baby particularly if the spine has to absorb the force of each step and the spine is not well supported. Parents can check that the baby carrier is adequately supporting the head and neck if the support feels like there’s an adult hand supporting the baby.
Reason #2 – Too much strain on parent’s back
Although this depends on the design of the baby carrier and the fit with the parent’s body, forward facing carrier may put additional strain on the parent’s back if it constantly has to compensate for a weight that is pulling away from it, especially if the weight is too close to the lower back. Consider different baby carriers or slings, or opt to use a stroller more often. When purchasing a baby carrier, check that the back will not be forced into an unnatural position.
Reason #3 – Strain on the baby’s hips
Forward-facing carriers are generally not recommended for babies below the age of 4 to 6 months due to the risk of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a medical condition for baby in the first year of life, where the top of the thighbone does not fit well into the baby’s hip socket. One possible cause is improper swaddling in the early months. During the first few months, if the baby is forced into a stretched out position (or dangling leg position) too early, there is risk of deformation of the edge of the hip socket. Parents should ensure that the baby has a ‘seat’ when being carried.
Reason #4 – Too much stimulation
Babies need interaction but not over-stimulation. Forward-facing carrier can be overwhelming for a newborn baby with the lights, movement (especially in a crowded mall), and without the comfort of cuddling up in a position facing the parent. The forward facing carrier forces the baby to absorb all the sights without the possibility of shielding the baby.
Reason #5 – Less interaction with parent
The forward facing carrier causes a situation whereby the parent cannot see the baby and read the baby’s cues and the baby cannot see the parent. It can be unsettling for the baby to lose sight of the adult he trusts. The parent, not seeing the distress signals from the baby, may unintentionally leave the baby feeling alone and fearful.
Reason #6 – Insufficient blood flow
It is important to check that the baby carrier does not unnaturally restrict the blood flow, especially as major blood vessels run in front of the hip joint. If the crotch area is too narrow, it is time to change to one with a broader crotch support. An overly narrow crotch support may also cause chaffing which can be painful for the baby’s delicate skin. Remember the baby has to be comfortably seated, not unnaturally dangling.
Reason #7 – Risk of Insufficient Air
There is a risk of asphyxia, when the baby’s chin fall too close towards the chest, restricting airflow. Thus, once again, the forward-facing carrier should be not be used until adequate head and neck control is achieved. The same risk can also occur for baby slings and other carriers, thus parents should note that the chin is not unnaturally forced too close to the chest at all times.
Being outdoors can be relaxing for a family with a newborn baby; choose open spaces with less crowd and noise and be sure that your baby is safe and comfortable when being carried around to explore the world!