We get asked about forward facing position a lot here at Zarpar Bebe, with the most common question being ‘Why can the Snap carrier not forward face?’
Well, there are a few reasons the Snap carrier cannot forward face and the first is we like to keep things simple – we’re not big fans of fiddly straps and adjustments. We believe this leaves too much room for uncertainty trying to figure out if you are using the product correctly or not. We want to stick to the basics and make babywearing as easy and enjoyable as it possibly can be for you.
But the second, and most important reason/s come down to safety and security for you and baby, there are many factors to consider when forward facing your child and we hope these points gives you a better understanding on carrying your baby safely.
1. Overwhelming for a young child
Babywearing has a history as old as human beings, however Forward facing carry is a new and modern style of carrying position. It was made popular through pop movies and TV shows, remember baby Carlos from The Hangover? These types of media have influenced many of us to believe that this is the optimum position to help our babies develop and feel a part of our every day – that they love to be carried in this way, helping them to learn and take our lead in society. But what isn’t considered is that babies are still just babies, they are small beings still developing their essential neural connectors and cannot receive and process as much as you and I.
Walking through a busy shopping mall, market place or fluorescently lit supermarket can be incredibly overwhelming for a small bub. I know I tend to feel a little on edge after leaving one of these places, so you can only image how a baby must feel after being exposed to so many new colours, sounds and experiences in a short space of time. A baby can feel very vulnerable when she doesn’t have the option to snuggle back into her carer easily after she has had enough.
2. More difficult to respond to and monitor your child
Children who are in forward facing carry can become very grizzly very quickly as the world becomes a little too much. It is also very common for many babies to “shut down” or fall asleep when it all gets a bit much. Once a baby falls asleep whilst in forward facing position, it can take some time before you actually notice if you are not actively engaging with your baby - this can become a very dangerous situation as it can be easy for the fabric to cover their face or their heads to flop forward and block their airways. You need to remain very attentive when your baby is in this position.
3. Lack of hip support
A babies hip joints are very fragile – the socket is very shallow and lacks connective tissue and muscle to give it stability. Weight bearing activities, such as crawling, standing and walking are the biggest factors in assisting in hip formation.
Your baby should always be supported in an ‘M’ seat position with full knee to knee support, regardless of which way she is facing in your carrier – this means that your babies knees are slightly higher than babies bum forming an M shape. The narrow seat panel of many forward facing carriers forces your babies legs to simply dangle freely from the hips putting a lot of pressure on this joint which has been known to cause hip dysplasia in some babies.(Correct Knee to Knee Support)
4. No head or neck support
Head & neck support is another major factor – there simply is none in any style of forward facing carrier. So as such you should never carry a baby younger than 6 months in this position. It is simply unsafe to carry a baby with weak neck strength as they will be bouncing around in the carrier with you. Remember the phrase, “never shake a baby!”
When deciding if your baby has the necessary neck control, you should not just consider if she can hold her head while sitting on your lap, you should also be considering if your baby can hold her head strongly while you stroll down the street, quickly turn a corner or lean over to pick something up
5. Places pressure on baby & wearers spine
Back support for both baby and the wearer is another important factor to consider.
In this position it forces your babies spine to extend unnaturally into a hollow back position - ordinarily this is not a bad position for your baby to be in. However, when in forward facing carry with nothing to hold onto and with weak abdominal muscles, your baby's compromised spine, not only needs to support the weight of his own body but also absorb the impact of every step the wearer takes.
Additionally for the wearer, the weight of a baby in forward facing carry is distributed in a different way, you do not have the same support like you do in a standard inward facing carry. This can be detrimental to a person that is prone to back issues. You essentially feel as though you are being pulled forward, so your back tends to use other muscles to pull yourself back up into a straight posture, this can take a considerable amount of effort and can cause discomfort for the wearer very quickly.
What you can do instead
Some babies do get to an age where they may indicate to you they aren’t interested in being worn inward facing any longer, they may protest and want to see the world around them – typically this can just be a phase, and I definitely don’t recommend giving up offering this position.
However, this is normal, and we absolutely should oblige their curious minds – but we also should ensure that we do it safely and provide the emotional safety and security they are so accustomed to.
This is where hip carry becomes so useful.
- Hip Carry allows your babies hips to be fully supported in the essential ‘M’ seat position avoiding any stress or strain on this delicate joint.
- It provides a full 360 view of the world.
- Your baby is able to come back into you when she has had enough avoiding any guess work on your part and avoiding a really grizzly baby.
- It also means you can see your baby’s face at all times.
- It is a very comfortable and supportive carry for both wear and baby and its one of our favourite ways to carry our now 12 month old in our Snap carrier!
Back Carry is also a perfect alternative!
See how easy Hip Carry is in our Snap Carrier
You can watch all of our video tutorials here.
We understand, as human beings, that when shopping for a new item, it is only natural to want to find the product that has the most features. In some cases we don’t even know if we will use all the features, its just always nice to know we have the option if the opportunity came around.
Now armed with this information, you would still like the option to forward face your baby – our wrap carrier can offer this option and it is very easy to do. However, we strongly recommend you use this position for very short periods at a time, i.e. 10 minute blocks, and in familiar environments to your baby.
If you have any questions or are unsure about any of this information, please do reach out. We are more than happy to help with any of your uncertainties.