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!”
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:
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!
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.
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):
- Baby Bjorn
- Baby Carrier One
- Baby Carrier One Air
- Baby Carrier One Outdoors
- Baby Carrier
- Brighter Elements
- Close To You Baby Carrier
- Ultrasoft Carrier
- Ultrasoft Magic Baby Carrier
- Multi 2.0
- Love 3-in-1
- Active Carrier
- Breathable Carrier
- Infant Carrier
- All Seasons
- Carry On
- Flip Advance
- Up Close
- Complete Airflow
- Complete All Seasons
- Hipster Plus 3D Baby Carrier
- Mission Critical
- Baby Carrier
- Mountain Buggy
- Front Snugli
- Vented Snugli
- Front & Back Snugli
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.
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
- 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.
- Ask your baby if they’d like to forward face out today and place them in the panel of the carrier.
- Smooth the panel up and over baby’s body.
- Take one strap up and over your shoulder and wrap across your back to your opposite hip.
- Place the strap between your knees to keep it taught. Wrap the other strap around your body in the same manner.
- Gather tension out of the strap as you wrap it around your body.
- Place the straps over baby’s legs and cross them in front.
- Tie off under baby’s bum in front, or pass the straps under baby’s legs and tie off in back.
- Pull the straps down in back to position them away for your neck if that is not comfortable for you.
- 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.
- You’re done!
If you have any questions about babywearing, we encourage you to contact us and/or come learn in person at one of our meetings! Check out our Instagram @BabywearingTwinCities and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Babywearingtwincities/).
Images have image descriptions in the alternative text accessible to those who use screen readers.