'Cruel' Parents Carry Their Babies Like This


baby carrierWhen it comes to raising my babies, I thought I had appropriately worried about pretty much every little thing I could possibly be doing to screw them up. Here's one I somehow missed along the way. According to at least one expert, if you place your baby so that he faces forward in either a baby carrier or a stroller, you're pretty much scarring him for life.

Catherine Fowler, an Australian professor of child and family health nursing, says doing so scares children and turns them into anxious adults. She has harsh words about parents who do such an unthinkable thing too.

Fowler told the Daily Mail:

Imagine if you were strapped to someone’s chest with your legs and arms flailing, heading with no control into a busy shopping centre -- it would be terrifying. Outward-facing baby carriers and prams give babies a bombardment of stimulus, creating a very stressful situation. In not considering our baby’s perspective, we are inadvertently quite cruel to children.

Cruel? Wow, and here I thought they loved seeing the sights instead of just staring at me. I thought it was good for them, but Fowler seems to think they may need therapy someday. Another previous study found babies may suffer "trauma" from such experiences. That seems a little extreme, don't you think?

It's not just newborns they're talking about either. Fowler thinks kids up to age 1 should be kept facing their parent, which doesn't sound fun for anyone. Others just hate the carriers (dubbed crotch danglers by some) and strollers altogether no matter which way a kid faces and condemn their use ubiquitously. Fine for them, but there's no way I would have made it this far if I didn't have both, so let's concentrate on the proper way to use them, and save that argument for another time.

I can see how facing forward may be a problem if your child was in a carrier or stroller for long periods of time each and every day, but that in itself seems like the real problem in those cases. Even then, it would seem most parents would be able to tell their kid wasn't happy. If a kid seems happy facing forward, I personally don't see any harm ... but I guess I'll have to see how my kids turn out in 16 years or so to know for sure.

Do you put your baby in the forward-facing position? What do you think about "evidence" that says it's harmful to babies?

Image via abbybatchelder/Flickr

baby activities, baby development, baby first year, baby gear


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nonmember avatar blueberry

my baby has shreiked since about 2 months old if she was put facing inwards. She really wants to see the world. Maybe she's just brave? I do agree that strollers are over used and abused by many parents though.

SandM... SandMsMama

this is why I love my moby and Maya. they keep my hands free to wrangle my free range 2 yr old, and my 1 yr old stays so content, not to mention alert. there have been studies that show babies who are worn (as in, facing mama in a sling or wrap) actually take in more of the world around them and feel more secure.

Sara Jeffers Dodson

I've always read that facing them outward in a carrier is bad for their spine/hip developement.  I love my Ergo and my Moby.  They've been life savers.  Cruel, no, but I can understand her point about it being too much stimulation. 

nonmember avatar blh

That's so stupid especially for older babies. My son loves riding in the stroller and looking around. If a baby's unhappy they will definitely let you know.

Sarah Keys

I don't use a carrier, but I'm pretty sure my son loves his stroller, which is forward-facing. When he's fussy, it calms him right away, and he does love looking around.

Kristy Hinojosa

I've never used a carrier until this last baby.  She wants to be with me 24/7 so I borrowed a Bjorn and she loves it so much she gets excited when she sees me putting it on.  She's 7 1/2 months and loves to face away from me and see what's going on around her.  If I carry her on my hip, she is looking around from one side to the other to see what's going on.  There is no way I'd believe that facing them outward scars them for life.  That's ridiculous.  When given a choice when placed on the hip, a baby could face it's mother or face out.  How many babies have you seen bury their faces in their mom's side so they don't look at the world around them?  Good grief, people will come up with "theories" for every stupid thing.

Melis... Melissa042807

Um...some babies like facing forward...

Ember... Emberbaby

If this is cruel, I am curios to see what Mrs. Fowler's thoughts are on daycare! LMAO

GlowW... GlowWorm889

Are you kidding? Most babies love facing outward, even from a really young age. It's a better view than Mom's chest. If they get overstimulated, they cry, and the natural instinct would be to flip the baby back towards Mom (or Dad). Totally normal. I would argue that by restricting their view of the world, we are inhibiting their learning--if they can't see and interact with anything but a parent's shirt, how are they ever to learn anything from it? And what would the appropriate age be to introduce a child to the world? Two, three? Ridiculous.

easun... easunshine

Look, another wonderful bit of news to come out of Australia. That's up there in brilliance along with showing movies about the female orgasm on flights, and how living together before marriage murders your relationship.

For what it's worth, most (not all) babies enjoy taking in the world around them, especially knowing mama is right there!! Facing babies outward is not bad for their hips, it's the type of carrier used that has the potential to cause hip and spine issues. Wide-based carriers better than narrow based as it distributes the weight properly - facing in or out. That said, I love carrying my kiddos on my back!! But I sure don't hesitate to use a stroller either. :)

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