As a new parent who has bought a baby wrap carrier or has been gifted one as a baby shower gift, you might find yourself with a lot of questions about it, like when can I start putting my baby in a baby wrap? How to wear my baby in the wrap? What all carrying styles can I follow ? Can the baby sit forward facing in a baby wrap? And at what age or weight can my baby sit forward facing in a wrap?
While you can start wearing your baby in the wrap from newborn stage, facing inwards is the recommended position for a baby wrap. Forward facing position in a baby wrap is not so popular. Though babies love to face the world and forward facing carry could seem to be a good option, here are few factors to consider before taking a decision to forward carry in a wrap.
Dangling Legs and Hip Safety
When your baby is facing you, the wrap is supporting not only the babies bum but also his thighs up to the knees – it’s like sitting in a proper chair/seat. When facing outwards, the wrap can only hold the baby by the bum, which means the legs dangle down. Not only is this more uncomfortable (imagine sitting on a bar stool without having anything to place your feet on so they’re dangling), but it could also aggravate any existing hip problems like hip dysplasia.
Lack of Head Support and Sleep Safety while Carrying
Good head control for babywearing is about more than neck strength - it includes the sensory processing skills to respond to the wearer's movements. The question is not, "Can your baby hold her head up and steady when sitting on your lap?" The question is, "Can your baby hold her head up and steady as you walk down the street, turn swiftly or lean over slightly when reaching?"
Even when your baby has the strength to be able to control his neck, should you want to put him in forward facing, please don’t do so for more than a few minutes. Babies reach their threshold for over-stimulation very easily, and after this they may simply want to rest their head on your chest to take a breather, and most likely, a nap.
Since forward facing offers less support for the head, your baby absolutely, positively needs solid head control to be safely worn forward facing. While forward facing in a baby wrap, the baby will have no head support when sleeping. This means that he will sleep with his chin to his chest, which is not the safest way to sleep, it can restrict baby's airway. When facing inwards not only will your baby be able to rest his head on your chest but there are also a couple of different ways to provide additional support to the head whilst your baby is sleeping.
In the first few months, a baby’s spine is a C shape. This is why he will curl up with his knees to the chest – this is how he has spent the last few months. The wrap complements this curve and allows the baby to sit in a natural position, curled up against you. If instead, the baby’s back is leaning against yours as it would in a forward-facing baby carrier, it puts unnecessary pressure on his spine, and he will naturally try and lean back against you to feel more supported. Thereby placing more pressure on the wearer's back leading to discomfort for the wearer too. It can be harder on the wearers back - especially for longer periods of time and for heavier babies.Carry baby snug and close on your chest and not the belly. If you have back problems or find them developing, you may choose to skip front facing your baby for wearing.
Center of Gravity
When your baby is facing you, their center of gravity meets yours and you will feel stable and perfectly grounded. However, if baby is forward facing, you will constantly feel like the baby and you are both being pulled forward, which will mean that you end up constantly trying to lean back to get back to your stable position, which will be no good for your neck, shoulders, or back and create unnecessary hassle.
Responding to Baby's Cues
When your baby is in a forward facing baby position you are unable to see their face, and therefore not as prompt to respond to their cues (spit up, rooting etc) until they resort to crying, where pacifying the baby will take up much time than actually resolving their need.
Try a Hip Carry
Having said that, there are babies who simply hate facing in and prefer to face out, and you know your baby better than anybody else. So should this be the case, try a hip carry, which is safer and more comfortable than a forward carry and offers a wider view for the baby than the facing in position.