There are lots of beautiful carriers out there that enable you to carry your baby facing away from you, often called world facing, or front facing out, or outward facing.
Clients will often ask about this during consultations, they want to know all about it, we want to show our babies the world right? But then the sling police come out, they tell you all these horrible things about outward or world facing positions, what now?
The answer is simple, speak to a professional!
That's right, if you are in any doubt whether or not something is correct, or you want to know more about the reasoning behind something you've been told, then speak to a carrying consultant or peer supporter. They will have up to date training and experience and will be able to offer unbiased information for you to be able to make your own informed decision about how you wish to carry your child.
Find your nearest sling library or carrying consultant here.
If you don't have a local consultant, you can get in touch with us here at MotherRucker, we are always happy to help.
Here's some of the common questions we get about world facing and my thoughts on them:
What age can a baby outward face from?
Most carriers that are manufactured for outward facing state on the packaging that this position is suitable from 5 months of age.
As a minimum baby must have good head and neck control and is sitting mostly unaided to ensure they can't slump down and compromise their airways.
They must also be tall enough that their chin clears the top of the carrier by at least a 2 finger width distance, so that the fabric cannot become a suffocation risk.
The manufacturers instructions will also provide you with a minimum, weight limit which you should follow if you cannot see a carrying consultant in person.
What age can a baby outward face until?
Again most carriers will have their own ages or weights in the instructions so always check there first (if you have lost your instruction leaflet or bought your carrier pre loved you can usually find them on the companies websites).
Generally speaking, it is not recommended to carry your baby outward facing beyond 12 months, this is purely because it will put a lot of strain on the wearers back causing discomfort.
Carrying consultants would usually advise that in order to continue carrying comfortably at this stage, it may be best to look at other carrying options that are less demanding on the wearers body, such as back carrying.
How long can my baby face outward at a time?
There are lots of specific time limits out there for world facing, 20 minutes seems to be a popular one, but they range any where from 5 minutes to an hour.
The thought process behind a time limit is that after a certain amount of time, babies will become overstimulated by whatever it is they are seeing and will ned to turn back to parent facing to re regulate themselves.
This is completely true, all babies will become over stimulated at points throughout the day (in and out of the carrier), and will need reassurance both physically and visually from their care giver.
HOWEVER, there is no blanket time limit for this. You know your baby best, you know what level of sensory stimulation they are used to, you know the signs and signals they give when they are tired or might want to nuzzle in. Ultimately, a baby will tell you when they've had enough one way or another, and then you will know that it may be time to turn them back inward facing, that may be after 5 mins, it may be after an hour, its different for every baby.
Is outward facing bad/worse for my babies hips?
There is absolutely no evidence that outward facing a baby with no underlying hip conditions causes any issues. If they have existing hip conditions, please get in touch with a baby wearing consultant to discuss the most suitable carrying options for your baby.
I think some of the conflicting advice comes from the fact that a lot of narrow based, non ergonomic carriers are used for outwards facing. Again, whilst these will not directly cause any hip issues in children that have healthy hips, its not going to be as ergonomic/comfortable for both the wearer or the baby. (Think of it as sitting in a deck chair vs sitting on a bar stool, the deck chair holds your bum in a lovely hammock seat whilst the bar stool forces your legs straight down and it's hard to balance)
Does my baby need to face outwards?
Absolutely not! Lots of people assume that outward facing is a position you HAVE to do once baby reaches a certain age or stage. This is not true, your own personal carrying journey is just that, your own. If outward facing isn't for you and you're happy with inward facing then great! If you love to outward face, that's great too!
What's important is for you to have options for you to take or leave as you see fit, with enough information to make your own informed decision.
Can I outward face in all carriers?
No, some carriers are designed for outwards facing and some are not.
The ones that are usually come with specific adjustments that need to be made in order to ergonomically carry facing outwards, and are therefore slightly more expensive than their non world facing equivalent.
What are the benefits to outward/world facing?
Outward facing opens up a whole new perspective for babies. Once they are developmentally ready, it offers them a great opportunity to observe and take in the world whilst still being in the safety of their parents arms (carrier). By the time they are old enough to outward face their range of vision has increased dramatically and it is an exciting time for them! If offers them a great opportunity for using their hands for exploration such as stroking leaves on a tree or for interacting with other family members whilst out on walks for example. As I mentioned earlier, its good to have as many options as you feel you need to make your own informed decisions.
*NEVER LET YOUR BABY SLEEP WHILST OUTWARD FACING*
This poses a massive risk to the air ways due to the slumped positioning and due to the potential for their nose and mouth to become obstructed by the fabric of the carrier.
If they fall asleep whilst outward facing, either turn them so they can rest their head on your sternum and you can see and monitor their air ways, or place them onto a safe sleep surface.
Another thing to be mindful of is grabby hands, be aware of your surroundings and do not outward face in a situation where baby may be able to grab hold of something that could cause them (and you) harm.
The bottom line...
to summarise, outward or world facing is an excellent carrying option for babies that are physically and developmentally ready to do so.
As long as you are mindful of your baby, checking in regularly and monitoring them there is no reason to suggest that outward facing is not a positive experience for your baby.
A well fitted, ergonomic carrier will ensure that you and baby are as comfortable as can be. If you are already outward facing and it is causing you pain, please book a consultation either in person or online and we can troubleshoot and advise on how to best continue carrying.
I hope you find this blog post useful and informative, please let me know what you think in the comments!
Stella | MotherRucker