Babywearing question: Does wearing baby facing out limit babywearing?

November 30, 2008 § 4 Comments

Trisha commented on my last post about babywearing and wanted to know if I had any more thoughts on wearing baby facing out. Trisha said:

I personally don’t agree with a small baby facing out when in a busy place. On one hand, I applaud the parent for holding the child close, (as opposed to facing out far away in a stroller) but the positioning for both parent and child- so uncomfortable looking! In my experience, parents who use only front-facing don’t babywear very long. What do you think?

I’ll give you a theory that bilingual papi and I share and then address the question about length of babywearing. Our theory goes that families may find that wearing a baby is handier than putting them in a stroller. However, being a stroller society where distancing ourselves from our children becomes a way of giving mom a break, we want to have the carrier mimic the stroller. Having baby up against your chest where you notice every inhale and every wiggle may not be part of what a mother thought she’d be feeling. It may be too much for a mother (or father) to have baby staring up at them, mirroring their fears or anxiety. When you wear a baby, you’re more likely to interact with them. You’re more likely to hold their bodies, all curled up in fabric. You’re more likely to feel them breathe on your body. This may just be too much. In other words, facing baby out is a way to mimic a stroller while still holding them close.

Although I absolutely love wearing babies (and wore bilingual baby through 2 winters until her desire to walk outdoors overcame her) I can speak from the standpoint of feeling over-touched. Some times when I have nursed both babies at the same time, I’ve temporarily had the “get off me” feeling. I know mothers who feel this early on. If I had felt this when bilingual baby was a tiny baby I might have plopped her in a stroller to distance myself from that feeling and been able to take a break. Unfortunately for our babies, our culture and economic situation is such that for bilingual papi to find a job we had to move far from his family and even further from mine. So there’s nobody who’s retired who can come over had I felt over-touched during the day.

I don’t say any of this out of judgment. I haven’t had a difficult time caring for my babies. Yes. We do have days where I think I’m going nuts but for the most part they’re pretty chill. Even my nearly 2 year old who’s getting her second set of molars! I understand that strollers can give the mom a much needed time away from a baby whom she may not feel capable of caring for or holding close all the time. That’s a reality moms can face and facing it without support can be very harmful to the mother.

I also applaud any parent for going against the grain (though it’s getting to be more popular) and wearing their baby. I know a number of moms who started out using a baby bjorn, facing baby out, and after some time (probably at the point when the bjorn becomes too uncomfortable) they found out more about babywearing and devoted themselves to a wrap, sling or mei tai. For the most part, I don’t think that simply facing baby out lessens the number of babywearing months. Wearing only a bjorn probably will, unless the family turns to more supportive carriers. The bjorn just doesn’t have the versatility of other carriers but it has been known to be the entry point for more babywearing.

Disclaimer: I don’t think most people think about why they put their baby in a stroller. You get pregnant, you buy crib, carseat, stroller. It’s a majority thing. I think (some may criticize and say I overthink) about everything I do that concerns my babies. These are my theories and I humbly submit them for your perusal. I’m open to your first hand experiences.

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§ 4 Responses to Babywearing question: Does wearing baby facing out limit babywearing?

  • QueenHoneyB says:

    We bought a stroller (like you said, it’s just on the “list”). Svara has spent the majority of her time in the sling and not the stroller, but I’d still say the stroller has been used well. It is almost necessary to have to put her diaper bag and all the shopping when we go to the mall haha!

  • Sarah V. says:

    Personally, I put my babies in the pushchair because they were becoming heavier and making my shoulders ache a lot when I tried to carry them for long distances, especially when carrying a bag as well. Sure, it’s possible to wear even a heavy baby. I just found it uncomfortable, even with a decent wrap, and found the pushchair also more convenient when I’d bought anything on our journeys and wanted someplace to put it.

  • Alexis says:

    I had two good months of physical recovery when by babe was newborn–walking with extra weight on my body was difficult. We didn’t plan on having a stroller until he was much older, but the need for fresh air and exercise when no one else was around necessitated it. Luckily our guy is small for his age & so he’s been in the infant position (facing me, pram style) longer than most babies.

    As for wearing baby facing out, sometimes my baby LOVES this, but just around people he knows. He just wants to see everything and interact with people. I would never walk into a crowded place this way though. For one thing, it makes ME uncomfortable not to be able to see HIM. Second, working in the kids section of a book store, I’ve seen how it invites strangers to approach and sometimes touch the babies. I know, I know…people will want to do it no matter what because babies make people happy, which is all well and good. But there’s something about positioning baby that way that is almost like handing him off. I’ve seen babies get really freaked out by this. Of course, I’ve seen babies who don’t seem to mind it at all, too…

    I think a huge part of it is just education, which is why I’m so impressed with everything you do, L. I think a lot more moms would wear their babies if they had access to the information about their options (and realized how much cheaper a Moby or mei tei is than most strollers).

  • Jen Stark says:

    Personally I wear my daughter facing out because it’s her preference. She’s never been a fan of facing in, even when held for short periods of time. Babywearing facing out has been a bit of a saviour, though now she’s hit 4 months old, she seems to be getting better with facing in. We’re just at the point of trying back carries, so we’ll see how that goes!

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