On Facing Out

15th November, 2010 / Baby Wrap Tips / 4 Comments

I’m not a fan of outward facing babywearing (when your baby has his or her back against your stomach and is facing away from you).  There are a lot of opinions on whether this is safe, or good, and for the most part they are just opinions.

For me it boils down to this:

Facing outward, your baby’s physical position is non-optimum. His or her spine should be a curve and being held against your torso forces the curve in the wrong direction.  His or her weight should not sit on solely the base of the spine as occurs when a baby’s legs dangle down from the crotch.  It can be difficult to achieve a seated position in a forward facing carry, as baby’s knees should be up with his or her thighs sticking straight out in front of you.

Facing outward not good position for you, the babywearer because the baby is pulling downward and outward on your shoulders, rather than being wrapped against you where the two of you share a center of gravity.

Facing outward is less comfortable for you and your baby because of the poor positioning specified in the first two points.  One of the biggest boons of babywearing is being able to stay close comfortably and I hate to see that go to waste.

Facing outward does not supply the instant retreat from stimulation that a baby has who can bury his face in your shoulder.

There are plenty of good positions that allow your baby to have a view, so why bother with facing outward?

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 let me suggest a hip carry or back carry for your “look-around” carry.  Your little one will have just as much of a view as facing out, but you will be nestled together in a way that promotes all of the benefits of babywearing, including:

  • closeness
  • comfort
  • 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

Hip carries can be done once baby has head and trunk control and can sit up.  Back carries can be done at any age, but depend on the skill of the babywearer.  Until you know you can safely wrap up your baby behind your back, you may want to stick to hip carries–while practicing back carries at home with help or over a bed, until your skill is developed.

Great hip carries to try:

Hip Cross Carry

Robin’s Hip Carry

RobinsHipCarry

Robin's Hip Carry for a view of the world

 

Great back carries to start learning (wrap your baby high enough to see over your shoulder):

Double Hammock Carry

Rucksack Carry

 

3 weeks old in the Double Hammock Carry

3 weeks old in the Double Hammock Carry

Please let me know if this post leaves you with any unanswered questions about babywearing with a view of the world!


4 Comments

  • Michelle October 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Will these back carries work with a gauze wrap?

    Reply

    • Diana October 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      A gauze wrap should be fine for back carries, but I find that gauze is most comfortable in multi-layer carries, not carries with a single layer, like a Rucksack. Other than that, go for it!

      Reply

  • Catherine Hornsby January 16, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Hi
    I enjoyed reading you’re article
    I have a wrap and my baby don’t seem to like facing me…ive correctly positioned Her but it’s like she thinks it’s feeding time and nizzles my chest it headbutts me ha ha she 15 weeks Monday..she is very nosy also

    Reply

    • Diana January 20, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Yours is not the first baby to think it’s nursing time when wrapped against mom’s chest 🙂 I think the best solution is to nurse your baby at these times and you can find some tutorials for how to nurse in your wrap here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfYxQPacnOs&list=PLJylmeJsq8NTaOPzHEJWCpF5iM4IAI1xF

      As your baby gets used to being worn, she will know what she’s doing there and won’t automatically start rooting. Also, if she is interested in looking out around you, try pulling one of her arms and shoulders out of the carry. That will make it so she can turn out a little and have a view. You don’t want the wrap any looser, though. Just with baby’s shoulder and arm out of the fabric 🙂

      Reply

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