Babywearing (or baby carrying) is the best way to get outside as a new mom—this keeps your hands free and your baby near.
Which Babywearing Position Is Best?
A question I often get is which position way is the best way to carry my baby – Front Facing In (baby's face close to your chest with a frog-leg position) or Front Facing Out (baby's back close to your chest with legs dangling) and why?
The first part of the question is easy to answer: Front Facing In (FFI) is the best way to babywear your child. The second part is a bit more in depth and has to do with your baby's spine and hips (for the sake of this article, I'm going to refer to the baby as ‘he').
Protect Your Baby's Spine While Babywearing
First, let's talk about the spine. If you look at an adult from the side, you'll see an “S” curve with the bump of the “S” making up the mid back curve. A baby, however, is born with a “C” curve! The “S” gets developed over time and it's necessary that it happen at its own pace.
How babywearing front facing out affects your baby's spine
Babywearing front facing out (FFO) forces the baby's spine up against the hard, almost inflexible breastbone of the adult who’s holding him. It's similar to being backed up against a wall while hanging from a harness.
It's really difficult to move in this position and depending on how often and how long a baby is held front facing out, it can affect the development of his spine.
Spinal development is important because the spine protects the nervous system. The nervous system carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body, like a very intricate phone system.
Babywearing your baby FFO puts his back at an unnatural angle which puts more stress on his spine leading to over-stimulation of his nervous system. This over-stimulation can contribute to colic, constipation in children, or cause trouble sleeping.
Best Babywearing Position To Protect Your Baby's Hips
Another reason why it's better to carry your baby FFI is to protect his hips.
Before birth, your baby is in the aptly named fetal position for a few months. Once he's born, it can take several months for the hip joints to stretch out.
Why babywearing front facing out can hurt your baby's hips
Carrying your baby FFO forces his hip joints to stretch out too soon. This can lead to baby hip dysplasia (a deformation of the hips) or in extreme cases, dislocation. These two conditions are not painful for babies so they can go undetected.
Prematurely stretching the hip joints may also cause arthritis to develop in later years when the baby is an adult.
Babywearing your child front facing in is especially crucial during the first 6-8 months of life. It supports and protects his little spine and hips.
Most importantly, when you are babywearing FFI, it gives you the opportunity for extra cuddles throughout the day. There's nothing wrong with that!