When Baby wants a View of the World
The fist thing people think of when it comes to babywearing with a view, is facing baby forward in a baby carrier.
Forward facing. Facing outward. Whatever you call it, the idea is that you are wearing or wrapping baby with baby’s back against your stomach.
While this position has been popularized by many strapped baby carriers readily available at baby stores and big box stores, it is not always the best way to give your child a view.
So my first message to you is that there are many ways to give your baby a view in a woven wrap! Read on to learn about each method and find the one that will work best for you:
Heart to Heart with a View
With baby facing you, baby wraps around you in a squat position. Knees and elbows curl around mom or dad. Baby’s naturally (and healthy) outward curved spine is supported. Mammals that cling to their mothers do so in this position and all the physiology of mother and child are designed to fit well in this configuration with minimum stress on mom.
Making babywearing as comfortable as possible for as long as possible encourages more babywearing and for more months and years, which is known to be extremely beneficial for babies, so that’s what I try to emphasize.
For that reason, I will recommend a tweak to your front carry for a baby who likes to have a view.
Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) is a common and comfortable carry in a woven wrap in which your baby may be oriented right into your chest without any view.
Try wrapping with one (or both) of baby’s arms and shoulders OUT of the wrap to allow baby to turn to that side and see a lot more. They are not facing the same direction as you but they can still see a lot of the world. The picture above shows the difference between how much baby can see and interact with the world in a carry with arms in vs arms out.
This can also be done in your stretchy wrap if you do not yet have a woven wrap. Just make sure the wrap is tied tightly enough to hold baby snug against you when one arm is out. And here’s where you can get a woven wrap from me that will last you for comfortable years of wrapping and offer you tons of versatility including toddler wrapping and back wrapping!
Woven Wrap Seated Sideways Position to Give Baby a View
You can also wrap a baby in a Front Wrap Cross Carry or Front Cross Carry in a seated sideways position. This is especially perfect if you have a young baby who already wants to be able to see the world but still needs plenty of support.
High Back Carry to Give Baby a View of the World
Babies absolutely love a high back carry in which they can see over your shoulder and really do share your perspective.
This is fantastic because it keeps your baby involved in everything you’re doing. They are watching from the same viewpoint as you, as you make meals, grocery shop, etc. When you interact with other people, they are right there to observe your interactions. And while they are just babies, they are already taking cues and learning how the world works.
It isn’t long before they are toddlers watching from a back carry over your shoulder, picking up communication faster, and learning how the household works!
With a woven wrap, there is no minimum age for a back carry because the wrap conforms perfectly to baby’s body for perfect support. It is only important that you, the wrapping parent, be able to do the back carry safely and confidently.
Practice over a back pack: So when you are ready to learn to back wrap, I recommend practicing with a bulky backpack until you get good at it. The backpack should have some weight and be lumpy to best imitate a real baby 🙂 Wear the backpack on your back and practice the wrap carry of your choice over the backpack as if that was your baby.
Back wrapping is a specialized skill that does not come naturally to many. After all, what other task requires dexterity while reaching behind our backs where our eyes can’t see and our arms aren’t made to reach?!
The backpack wrapping lets you learn your carry so you have it in muscle memory. And it gives you a chance to learn how to reach and manipulate behind your back. And it starts to stretch you out so you are more flexible and will find it easier to reach!
Wrap baby while sitting on the edge of your bed: when you have learned the carry and gotten used to how to position and tighten the wrap behind your back, then try it with your baby while sitting on the edge of your bed so there is a soft landing and you don’t have to be scared to drop your little one!
High Back Carries for Babies Who Want a View
Rucksack Carry is a wonderful high back carry that you can learn to do with your woven wrap to give baby a view.
Christina’s Ruckless Back Carry with a knot at the chest is another option for a high back carry.
Double Sling Shoulder to Shoulder (DSS2S) was formerly called Double Rebozo Shoulder to Shoulder (DRS2S) and can be wrapped with baby quite high.
Or with a short wrap, use one of these short back wrap carries that keep baby nice and high.
Woven Wrap Hip Carry when Baby Wants to See
Another option I like is a hip carry, which is good starting when baby is able to sit unassisted.
Facing Forward or Outward Facing in a Wrap
I’m not a fan of outward facing babywearing for myself as a wrapper. It is not as comfortable as having baby oriented toward you and I’m a big fan of my comfort! It lets me keep wrapping for longer periods and it keeps me happy and eager to wrap again tomorrow!
For me, high back carries were the most convenient and comfortable and kept my curious babies happy.
Some babies really just prefer to be held facing away from mom. Or sometimes it’s the position that works best for the circumstances of the day.
In that case, I want to help you find the most comfortable way to wrap forward facing!
Opinions on Facing Outward in Baby Carriers
There are a lot of opinions on whether facing baby forward in a baby carrier or wrap is safe.
The answer is that there is no evidence of a forward-facing position damaging anyone or being unsafe.
Finding a Good Forward facing Position for Baby
There are many ways to wrap a baby facing forward.
If your baby is young, you can do a buddha style carry like I’m doing in the picture above. With this style, your baby is seated cross legged in the wrap without legs hanging out. Similar to how it is done in this video:
One of the most common ways to wrap a forward facing out carry is Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (PWCC), that ends up in a carry similar to how your baby would sit in a Baby Bjorn or other commercial carrier with straps that is designed for front facing carries.
For me it’s really just a question of keeping baby and babywearer comfortable and happy!
Baby positioning in a facing forward baby carrier: Facing outward does not allow your baby to curl around you with knees and elbows wrapping toward you. It does not support baby’s spine in the healthy outward curve that is natural at this age.
In fact, most baby carriers that are designed for a facing-outward position result in baby’s spine being held in a concave curve (curving inward rather than outward). It cannot very well curve outward when held against our bellies since we are not built with concave bellies!
I was very impressed with this way of tying a wrap to face baby outward and minimize the downsides:
In this video, Nichole has used the versatility of the wrap to create a forward facing carry that does support baby in a seated position. By pulling baby’s knees up (and thus tilting baby’s pelvis up), baby’s spine is able to curve outward. The outward curve is further supported by the fact that baby’s shoulders are free and not held back (thus forming the concave spine) by any wrap coming over them.
Effects of facing outward on the parent: a facing forward carry can be uncomfortable for the babywearer because baby’s weight is pulling downward and outward on your shoulders, rather than being wrapped against you where the two of you share a center of gravity. This is where having baby wrapped toward and around your body makes a big difference.
Wrap your baby facing outward when you would hold baby facing outward, and spare your arms! Many parents will find themselves carrying baby in an outward facing position at some points throughout the day. It’s no more convenient for your sore arms than when you wear baby facing outward, but it’s often not a problem if done for a few minutes here and there.
That’s a great model to follow when wearing baby facing outward. The wrap will allow you to keep baby forward facing much longer without getting uncomfortable, but do plan on doing it for shorter stints for these reasons:
Why You Should Face Outward for Short Stints
- even if it’s not hurting you now, you may feel it in an achy back and shoulders tomorrow
- an outward facing carry does not offer baby retreat from stimulation
- facing each other increases physical contact between you which has great benefits
- facing each other increases communication and awareness of baby’s needs
One Precaution When Wearing Baby Facing Forward
This caution is not specific to forward facing positions or even to babywearing, but is something to be aware of.
Baby’s chin should never sink down to rest on baby’s chest. Not in when facing you, not when facing out, not in a careat, not in a bouncer, not in your arms. Protect your baby’s airway and oxygen intake by keeping baby’s spine supported and chin up off the chest.
Because of the particular position often achieved by a forward facing carrier, baby may be more likely to have head hanging forward so that’s why I want you to know that you should be able to fit two adult finger widths between baby’s chin and baby’s chest at all times.
If need be, use your hand to hold baby’s chin up. You can do that since you are hands free in the wrap!
The best babywearing positions are the positions that we and our babies are evolutionarily designed to be in. You will see these positions occurring naturally. When you hold a tiny infant, he usually is curled into a ball on your chest. When you pick up an older baby, they usually spread their legs around you with their knees up. Sure, every once in a while I pick my baby up facing outward and carry her across the room. But it lasts only a minute or two, then she gets turned around and tucked against my body because that works better.
And yes, I consider a back carry to be evolutionarily appropriate too. Matter of opinion, I suppose, but babies and children clinging to our backs–in a carrier or just the parent’s arm reached back to support their bottoms–is not a new concept. Could the grasping reflex that babies have even be a throwback to the days of clutching hairy backs while we swing through the trees?
So go forth and wrap your baby however works best for you and reap all the wonderful benefits:
- regulating baby’s physical systems
- teaching balance and rhythm
- promoting communication and eye contact
- safe and comforting place to sleep or cuddle
- mother or father’s scent
Please let me know if this post leaves you with any unanswered questions about babywearing with a view of the world!