Forward-Facing Baby Wearing is “Cruel, Stressful and Terrifying,” Expert Says

Wearing your baby facing away from you causes stress, hip dysplasia and spinal injury, parenting expert warns

Parents are overstimulating, “terrifying”  and injuring their babies when they wear them in forward-facing chest carriers, parenting author and professor Dr. Cathrine Fowler says.

“Imagine if you were strapped to someone’s chest with your legs and arms flailing, heading with no control, in a busy shopping center,” Fowler, a child and family health professor at The University of Technology Sydney, told “It would be terrifying. It is the same for our children.”

“Outward-facing baby carriers and strollers give babies a bombardment of stimulus, creating a very stressful situation,” Fowler said.

“In not considering our baby’s perspective, we are inadvertently quite cruel to children,” she added.

Her view is backed by a 2008 study that found forward-facing carriers and strollers may stunt children’s development and turn them into anxious adults

Children worn in inward-facing carriers and strollers are twice as likely to talk, laugh, and interact with their parents, the study found.

“Our data suggests that for many babies, life in a buggy is emotionally impoverished and stressful,” the study’s lead author and psychologist Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk told the Daily Mail. “Stressed babies grow into anxious adults.”

The forward-facing infants in the study suffered more stress and sometimes even trauma. The parent-facing infants were more likely to laugh, listen to their mothers talking and sleep – indicating lower stress levels.

In addition to psychological stress, the forward-facing carriers can cause physical damage including hip dysplasia and spinal injury., according to the Hip Dysplasia Institute.

“Babies whose legs are forced straight either by swaddling or dangling have an increased risk of hip dysplasia,” says pediatrician Erika Krumbeck.

“Straightening the legs places a lever-like force on the femur, encouraging the hip to pop out of the socket.”

Here are my favorite carriers, that provide good leg and hip support:

Boba wrap:






6 responses to “Forward-Facing Baby Wearing is “Cruel, Stressful and Terrifying,” Expert Says”

  1. Abraham Avatar

    In my experience, this would be a case-by-case basis. Staying acutely in tune with your infant would be in order regardless of what technique you choose . My first son was most often absolutely adamant to be facing forward while we held him or had him in a baby carrier. He wanted to constantly see what was going on in his surroundings and socialize with those around him. I even went as far as to fashion a shelf made out of steel that I could slip in between my belt and my pants so that he could essentially sit on his own chair.

  2. Lara Avatar

    Sorry, but there would need to be a lot more research than one doctor and one study focused quite a bit on strollers to convince me that outward facing is out of hand bad. I think carrying at all is preferable to sticking babies in plastic carriers or strollers, and there are many carriers that take the way the child sits into account. It also depends on the child. I have a little extrovert who LOVED facing out in the Baby Bjorn where she could “chat” with people.

  3. Jennifer Avatar

    What age is this good for? And up to what age? Cause the “baby” in the picture looks like she’s 2. Years

  4. Laura Avatar

    This link is to an excellent article about forward facing from Dr Rosie Knowles, she is a GP and a sling consultant.

  5. Becca Avatar

    My son freaks if I try and carry him facing me. He wants to see what’s going on in front and reach for things. I can’t even carry him over my shoulder anymore because he turns himself around to see what’s going on.

  6. Valerie Shaikh Avatar
    Valerie Shaikh

    This is just simply not true.
    Babywearing cannot CAUSE hip displaysia if the child has not history of it in the family or other predisposition.
    Also if a baby is “terrified” or uncomfortable, they are pretty good at letting you know!
    Forward facing can be used safely provided the wearer follows the guidelines provided by the manufacturers.
    FWIW, I babywear almost daily, have been wearing for over 5 years (3 kids) and I teach babywearing.