Babies do not HAVE to use a facing away position in their sling or carrier. Most babies do not need a facing away position, they generally don’t care about “seeing the world” – it tends to be driven by us as parents. We love to show our babies off to the world & the show the world to our babies, but our babies often want to see us, as much as they want to see around us.
Some babies, as they pass the 4th trimester, start to show more of an interest in the world around them & enter the NOSY baby stage (NOSY = Not Only See You – thanks to West Yorkshire Sling Library for the phrase). As babies spend more time awake, they realise that you are not the centre of the Universe (sorry)! Their distance vision has improved & they start to show more of an interest in what’s going on around them. They can sometimes become frustrated by slings or carriers that restrict their view by having fabric/straps that run close by their face. However, this does not mean that they have to face away from the adult carrying them. The facing away position is often not as comfortable for the carrying adult, which is why the carrier manufacturers suggest maintaining the facing out position for a maximum of 15-20mins, & while babies are in this phase of wanting to see more, they also want to see what you, as one of their important adults, think about what they can see. They will frequently look to you to gauge your reaction to the things around you both, & this can be substantially harder for them to do when facing away from you.
Changing the height of a carriers body panel, so that it supports to the back of baby’s shoulders, rather than nape of the neck, can open up the space & improve baby’s field of vision.
You can often change the height of a carrier by changing where you wear the waistband. Have a look at the photographs below. You can see the difference in where the waistband has been placed & how it makes a difference to the height of the body panel. With the second picture, the baby is able to get their arms out over the top of the body panel & have a little more freedom of movement. By raising the waistband, then holding the baby in the same position, some of the body panel is used up by coming down between the two of you before it comes up the baby’s back, which means it doesn’t reach as far up & can allow more space for them in this stage of development.
Once baby has excellent head & neck control, you may find a hip carry helpful. In the hip
carry position, baby can see around you, but their weight is nicely hugged into you. If they need to rest, they can simply lay their head on you, there’s no time limit associated with a hip carry & if they’re not sure about something they are seeing, they can very easily check in with you.
The Hip Carry position can be great for things like days out, trips to the park, museums, & more – any time baby would like to see around, but you can also chat about what you’re seeing.
Having said all of this, some babies really enjoy a facing away position. In this case, there are some important things to bear in mind.
- Your baby should have excellent head & neck control, to be able to stabilise
themselves against the movements of your body,
- Your baby needs to be tall enough that the carrier comes no higher than the top of their chest & does not press against their neck.
- Make sure that your carrier holds your baby in the best position possible, with their knees at least level with, or preferably higher than, their bottom.
- Once your baby is in the carrier, you can lift their thighs & tilt their weight back into your body. This will keep you a little more comfortable, as the baby’s weight won’t be pulling away from you as much.
- As with every other type of carrier/carrying position, remain aware & responsive. If your baby seems to have had enough, or appears tired, turn them back around to face you again.
If you would like any help with carrying a baby of this age, or during this stage of development, do come along to any of our advice sessions, or our monthly Sling Meet & we’d be pleased to help. If you’re not local to South London you should be able to find a Babywearing Consultant closer to you, via Sling Pages.