Forward Facing in Slings
Forward facing in slings is a hotly discussed topic online – everyone has their opinion. Posting a photo of a baby forward facing in any kind of sling or carrier will often result in many comments on all sides. So what’s the actual story?
Do babies need forward facing?
Let’s start with some facts about forward facing. All babies need to forward face in some way at some point – sounds inflammatory right? But it’s true, to learn about the world babies need to interact with it, which means turning away from your face to view it. What that doesn’t mean is that they need to be forward facing in a carrier, merely that they need time to interact with the fascinating new world around them as they grow.
Is forward facing safe?
The two most important things to assess for safety when carrying are that your baby’s airway is clear so that they can breathe and that they are secure from falling out of the carrier. Unless you are keeping your baby in one position for hours at a time, or unless there are underlying medical conditions, as long as their airway is clear and they are secure then the position is safe.
If you would like to carry your baby forward facing then you need to be aware of their airway. When babies are facing the person carrying their head naturally rests on their chest and this helps maintain an open airway in young babies who cannot maintain their own airway. When babies are forward facing in a sling or carrier they cannot rest their head, so they must be able to maintain their own airway for the position to be safe. It is for this reason that you will see recommendations to only face out in a carrier from when baby has excellent head control – around 4+ months – and to not let your baby sleep in that position. This way they can hold their chin off their chest and keep the airway open.
Don’t they get overstimulated?
Whether your baby gets overstimulated facing the world and how quickly that happens will depend on your baby’s personality. Some babies want nothing more than to look around and interact when they are awake, and only want to face the person carrying if they are sleepy. Some babies hate forward facing and want to be snuggled in and interact with the person carrying to investigate the world. Many babies are somewhere between the extremes.
Overstimulated babies are upset babies, so it is worth keeping a close eye – especially with young babies – so that you can see the signs of them beginning to fuss and get overstimulated. If you are watching for those cues you can then respond to them however you need to.
Is forward facing bad for my babies spine/hips?
If there are no underlying medical conditions and you are regularly changing positions in the sling or carrier and taking them in and out then it is extremely unlikely that using a forward facing position will do any harm to your baby. Babies need to regularly change position, which is true when facing in as well, and to stretch different muscles.
Many carriers have guidelines of using the forward facing position for no more than 20 minutes. This is not a hard and fast rule that must be followed, but it’s useful to bear in mind when assessing if your baby is comfy and happy in the position they are in.
Do I need a special carrier to carry forward facing?
Carriers which are designed to offer a forward facing position, such as the Ergobaby Omni 360 or Soul Anoona for example, will often be easier to position baby in over using other tools. If you plan to use this position regularly for longer periods then it may be worth investing in a carrier which offers this positions.
It is possible to carry forward facing in other slings however, such as stretchy wraps, woven wraps, ring slings and just in your arms. For many parents this may be a suitable alternative.
Could I back carry or hip carry instead?
Yes. Some parents don’t find forward facing positions very comfortable to carry their baby in and prefer alternative carrying positions. Hip carrying and back carrying can enable their baby to see and interact with the world around them and still snuggle in when they want to hide without the need for a forward facing position. These positions can allow baby to choose whether they are looking out at the world or looking at you.
Some people find carrying babies in a forward facing position quite hard on their back, because the weight of the baby pulls their normal posture out of alignment. These people may find a hip or back carry a more comfortable option.
What carriers do you recommend for forward facing?
We have a range of buckle carriers offering forward facing available to hire here at It’s A Sling Thing.
Lillebaby (Airflow Aqua, All Season Anchors Away, All Seasons Elephant Party, All Seasons Night Owl, All Seasons Tokidoki Iconic, Airflow Black, Airflow Mist, All Seasons Black, All Seasons Aspen, All Seasons Stone, Elephant Party, Charcoal, Purple)
We particularly like the position offered by the Ergobaby Omni 360 and 360 carriers, which have a deep bucket seat to offer a supported seated position even in forward facing. For this reason we also sell the Omni 360 and 360 carriers. All of the other carriers are popular for different reasons and as with all carriers we feel that you should try some different options to find what works for you!
If you’d like to get some more information or advice on what carrier to try, please get in touch or book a consultation – 15 minute phone calls are FREE!