Every month we feature a carry or carrier to highlight at our monthly meetings and online (“BWITCCOTM” stands for Babywearing International of the Twin Cities Carry or Carrier of the Month).

This month we are featuring “front/forward facing out!”

Image is a graphic with header text: front/forward facing out (FFO) followed by sub header text: August 2017 hashtag BWITCCOTM followed by the multi-colored Babywearing International of the Twin Cities logo. An orange intermittent line swirls around the header. On the left are four images: smiling woman wearing a baby on her front facing out in a wrap style buckle carrier; a smiling woman wearing a demo doll on her front facing out in a gray soft-structured carrier, blue and orange striped ring sling, and a black and gray damask patterned meh dai.

One of the debated topics within the babywearing industry focuses on whether a child can be worn front or forward facing out, also known as FFO. As a new caregiver or babywearing hobbyist, there is a lot of contradicting information out there and it can be overwhelming and confusing. What’s safe? What’s optimal? (“Safe” and “optimal” or “ideal” are not synonymous) My baby wants to see the world and prefers looking out, can I wear him facing out safely? Guess what? You. Can. Whether a child is worn facing towards you or away from you, the same safety guidelines apply.  Because baby’s head and neck are not supported while forward facing out, it is safest to be sure that baby has good head control before using this position – often around 4-6 months old. The following graphic is a quick reminder of safety tips when wearing a child:

 Image is an informational graphic with the header: Quick Babywearing Reminders. Subheader text: Sometimes, using a carrier comes naturally. Sometimes, it takes practice. Remembering these ABCs can help you achieve a safe and satisfying fit for you and your child. Next to the headers is a shape person wearing a shape child with a word bubble and text, Now I know my ABCs! To the left in large bold red orange font is A B C with the test Airway, Body Positioning, and Comfort underneath each letter respectively. Text to the right of A - Airway: Ensure baby's airway stays open by keeping chin off chest, and allow fresh air to circulate around baby's face. Keep child close enough to kiss and in view at all times. Text to the right of B - Body positioning: Be sure the carrier supports baby in a way that is appropriate to his/her level of neck and trunk control and prevents slumping, ideally with baby's knees higher than bum and weight borne by thighs and bottom. Text to the right of C - Comfort: The carrier should be comfortable for you ad baby. If you do not feel comfortable and confident with the carry you are doing, have a spotter nearby to help you. If you need help using your carrier, contact your local BWI chapter. In the footer of the graphic is www.babywearinginterational.org and the multi-colored Babywearing International logo.

But what about OVERSTIMULATION!?!?! As the caregiver, you know your child best. Be attentive to cues like fussing, squirming, zoning out, other changes in behavior etc. They may be telling you, “I’m done seeing the world…for now!” For some children this may be after five minutes of FFO and for others it may be after twenty minutes. For some, they may love FFO while at out and about but detest it when at home or vice versa. Every child is different. Know your options so you and your child can wear comfortably and have an enjoyable experience!

Image of a woman wearing sunglasses smiling as she wears a baby on her front facing out in a black soft-structured carrier designed for safe forward facing out. They are outside with lots of people behind them.

Sleeping. Oh sleeping. The sweet snooze. If your child is showing signs of getting tired or if it’s close to nap time or bed time, turn him/her around to face towards you while wearing. It can be hard to monitor airway when a child is FFO. Plus, facing out does not offer adequate head support while sleeping. Ahh….those sweet baby cheeks on your chest, snoozing to the rhythm of your breath and gait.

Image of a man smiling while wearing a sleeping baby on his front in a wrap strap style meh dai baby carrier. It is dark outside and they are lit by street lamp.

It is not recommended to have a child facing out (away from you) on your back. Hard to monitor breathing, status of stimulation, etc. Not close enough to kiss there!

Soft-Structured Carriers with Front/Forward Facing Out (FFO) Option

Interested in FFO with a soft-structured carrier? You’re in luck. There are several options. Listed in alphabetical order with company name followed by model name(s):

  • Beco
    • 8
    • Gemini
  • Baby Bjorn
    • Baby Carrier One
    • Baby Carrier One Air
    • Baby Carrier One Outdoors
    • Miracle
    • Original
  • Britax
    • Baby Carrier
  • Brighter Elements
  • Catbird
    • Pikkolo
  • Chicco
    • Close To You Baby Carrier
    • Ultrasoft Carrier
    • Ultrasoft Magic Baby Carrier
  • Chimparoo
    • Multi 2.0
  • Contours
    • Love 3-in-1
  • Evenflo
    • Active Carrier
    • Breathable Carrier
    • Infant Carrier
  • Ergo
    • 360
  • Infantino
    • All Seasons
    • Breathe
    • Carry On
    • Flip Advance
    • Fusion
    • Swift
    • Unison
    • Up Close
    • Upscale
  • Lillebaby
    • Complete Airflow
    • Complete All Seasons
    • SeatMe
  • MiaMily
    • Hipster Plus 3D Baby Carrier
  • Mission Critical
    • Baby Carrier
  • Mountain Buggy
    • Juno
  • Snugli
    • Front Snugli
    • Vented Snugli
    • Front & Back Snugli
  • Soul
    • AnoonA
  • Stokke
    • MyCarrier

 

And note, narrow-based carriers (NBCs or “front packs”) are commonly seen on baby registries and have a lower price point than many other carriers, making them more affordable for many caregivers who otherwise may not have the opportunity to babywear. They are safe when worn correctly (like any other carrier!). There is the perpetuated myth that NBCs cause hip dysplasia. Unless a child already has existing hip dysplasia or has a predisposition for the condition,there is no concrete evidence to draw specific correlations between hip development and the use of baby carriers. 

Two bespectacled smiling women wearing demonstration dolls in narrow-based baby carriers outside. Everyone's having a great time.

Here’s an example of how to FFO using a soft-structured carrier:

Video demonstration without audio (3 minutes 53 seconds) showing how to use an adjustable full buckle carrier (Soul AnoonA) in the front/forward facing out position.

Additional Carrier Types for Front/Forward Facing Out (FFO):

Did you know you can safely FFO in carriers other than soft-structured carriers?

Check. It. Out.

FFO with a Woven Wrap

Video (2:54) demonstrating how to FFO in a front wrap cross carry using a woven wrap.

Video (4:44) with captions demonstrating how to FFO in a centered robin’s hip carry using a woven wrap.

Video (7:17) with captions demonstrating how to FFO in a pocket wrap cross carry using a woven wrap.

Video (1:56) with text overlay demonstrating how to FFO in a front cross carry using a woven wrap.

 

FFO with a Stretchy Wrap

Video (4:07) with captions demonstrating how to FFO with a stretchy wrap.

FFO with a K’Tan

Video (2:01) with captions demonstrating how to FFO with a K’Tan.

FFO with a Ring Sling

Video (1:22) without audio demonstrating how to FFO in a ring sling.

FFO with a XOXO buckle carrier (photo tutorial link, video tutorial below)

Video (2:33) without audio demonstrating how to FFO in a XOXO buckle wrap carrier.

FFO with a Meh Dai

[Graphic features 11 square photos demonstrating how to use a meh dai - an Asian-style baby carrier with a rectangular body panel, two waist straps, and two shoulder straps. The one featured is black, white, and gray with a damask pattern and made by Infantino. On the left is an orange arrow with the text Start pointing up at the upper left corner square where the photo tutorial starts; on the bottom of the square are a line of orange circles next to the text Finish, indicating the photo below is the last of the photo tutorial images. Center of the graphic has a flourish of dotted lines next to header text: Front/Forward Facing Out (FFO), subheader text: Meh Dai; and the multi-colored logo of Babywearing International of the Twin Cities. First photo shows the carrier with waist straps tied around a woman's waist; an orange hair tie cinches the bottom of the carrier, above the waist straps. Second photo is a happy demo baby facing away from the woman. Third photo the body panel is up against the demo baby's chest. Fourth photo shows the woman's back with one shoulder strap going across the back; the double knotted waist is also visible. Fifth photo is of the front with both shoulder straps over the woman's shoulders. Sixth photo, the woman is bringing one shoulder strap from behind her back to the front. Seventh photo, the straps are being brought over demo baby's legs and crossed in front. Eighth photo is of the woman's back with both shoulder straps crossed and they're being double knotted in back. Ninth photo, the woman is adjusting her back shoulder straps to spread for comfort. Tenth photo the woman is rolling the demo baby's hips forward to a seated position. Eleventh photo is of a smiling woman with her happy demo baby in a safe and comfortable front/forward facing out carry.]

  1. Tie a ribbon around the base of the panel or wiggle a hair tie over the straps and onto the panel. Tie the carrier around your waist apron style.
  2. Ask your baby if they’d like to forward face out today and place them in the panel of the carrier.
  3. Smooth the panel up and over baby’s body.
  4. Take one strap up and over your shoulder and wrap across your back to your opposite hip.
  5. Place the strap between your knees to keep it taught. Wrap the other strap around your body in the same manner.
  6. Gather tension out of the strap as you wrap it around your body.
  7. Place the straps over baby’s legs and cross them in front.
  8. Tie off under baby’s bum in front, or pass the straps under baby’s legs and tie off in back.
  9. Pull the straps down in back to position them away for your neck if that is not comfortable for you.
  10. Roll baby’s hips forward into a seated position. Adjust the straps to be comfortable for you and baby. Baby’s chin should clear the top of the panel, and baby should have good head control before forward facing out. If baby falls asleep, turn them around to allow their head to rest on your chest. Watch baby’s cues – if they are overstimulated, they may wish to turn inwards towards you until they’re ready to face out again.
  11. You’re done!

 

Additional Resources:

BWI of Tucson: “Babywearing Forward Facing Out” 

BWI: “Babywearing Research Part 2”

BWI of Cleveland: “Seeing the World: Everything You Want to Know About Forward Facing Out!”

Baby Carrier Industry Alliance: Member Directory

 

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