"Facing outwards" - Comment by Dr. E. Kirkilionis
Why children should not be carried facing outwards
I am not a supporter of the outward facing method of carrying a child. In a forward facing carry the anatomically positive aspects of carrying are thwarted. The child can not adopt the favourable leg position that would prevent a hip dysplasia, on the contrary, this carrying method rather encourages it. With this mode of carrying the overall posture of the torso of the baby is not appropriate for this age. If the baby sits facing away in the carrier, the straps pull from the front over the child’s shoulders forcing an upright posture since the shoulders are pressed back. This causes a hollow back which is unphysiological at this early stage of development. This position does not allow the baby to sit on the nappy-padded bottom and the baby’s weight will be distributed onto the cartilage structures of the symphysis, the pelvis. This means that girls are sitting on the crotch and boys on their testicles.
Infants in outward-facing orientations cannot turn away from surrounding stimuli. Our little ones still have to learn to distinguish between what is important and unimportant and how to blind out unneeded information. Babies, carried in this way, will be stimulated too much and are particularly awake. It seems to please them to be able to see so much. But the exposure to this flood of information is often not ended at the right time as the babies cannot withdraw from it by themselves. For one thing an independent turning away, even if the baby wanted this, would not be possible. For another, strong stimuli can hold the baby’s attention though they are too much.
With face-to-face carrying it is possible for infants to turn away from strong stimulations. When they get tired, the head sinks to the side, the body-tension lessens and the stimulating components are blinded out, the fascination with them is interrupted. All this is not possible when the baby is carried facing away from the mothers body. – At some point the information flood has to be ‘digested’ by the baby, mostly during the late evening hours. This is most often a critical time, anyway, because the transition from resting state to sleep has to be mastered. Not an easy task for a baby.
Thus, if the babies are very curious and want to see more of their surroundings, they could either be carried in a side carry sitting on the parent’s hip. However, this may be too strenuous for the carrying person’s back. Alternatively, one could choose a back carry. Here, the child should be carried in such a way that she or he can observe the surroundings over the shoulders of the carrying person. This is usually difficult with conventional carriers – it is easier to achieve with a baby wrap sling or a similar carrying device