So, your baby wants to look around more and you're thinking about world facing. Maybe you're buying your first sling and want to have it as an option for later on.
You may have seen some mixed opinions and people being told not to world face. So I'm here to give you the facts to make the best decision for you and your family.
Do I have to use a world facing position?
Not at all. Many families will use other carrying positions. It's not a developmental 'must do', it comes down to each person making the choice for their little one. There are alternative positions that give just as good visibility, such as hip carries and back carries. These positions may be more comfortable for the person carrying.
When can you carry your baby world facing?
* When they are developmentally able (usually between 4-6 months but this is very dependent on the individual)
* When your carrier fits safely (each manufacturer has different guidance but again, when your individual baby fits may be different)
Firstly, check that your carrier supports a world facing position as not all do. Your baby should be able to hold their head without it dropping forwards. Carrying in a world facing position is for short time periods (between 15-30 minutes) and baby must remain awake.
If you would like any further guidance on this, please do get in touch.
What reasons do some families choose a world facing position?
Babies do enjoy seeing the world around them. This is usually from the 4 month mark, when they start to become more aware and spend less time asleep. You may then be considering giving your baby more visibility whilst being carried. Some families describe it as the 'nosey baby stage' and it can be a point in which little one begins to 'push back' in their current sling/carrier (note - this can be helped in a variety of ways, please do get in touch to talk through it more)
What are the disadvantages?
Babies can easily become overwhelmed in this position. There is no safe space to snuggle in to. We take for granted all the visual and auditory stimuli around us but for babies, this can be too much. If you see signs that baby has had enough, turn them around so they can snuggle in.
It can be slightly more difficult to see your little one and it is important you remain as responsive as if they were parent facing. Basic safety checks remain the same regardless of carrying position. Babies also use us as a point of reference and to make sense of the world. If they can't see our faces, this becomes more difficult and we may be less able to pick up on early cues of distress or overstimulation.
Babies should never sleep in a world facing position due to the risk of airway compression from their chin falling onto their chest. Always return to a parent facing position for sleep.
Most carriers will require some adjustment to switch between carrying positions and some families find this to be fiddly.
World facing is only to 12 months in the majority of carriers. This is due to the pressure that is put on the straps with an older baby, and the comfort of the wearer and child.
Are there alternatives?
Yes! Hip carries are usually more comfortable, and there is the option of back carries too. Hip carries offer more support to baby as they are resting against your body and is easy to achieve in most slings/carriers. A back carry will give a great vantage point and we run back carrying workshops to talk you through how to safely get your baby onto your back. Lots of families share their concern that they won't be able to see their little ones, but there are solutions to that such as using your phone camera or sling mirrors that clip onto your sling/carrier.
It also may be possible to make a few little tweaks to your current sling/carrier to help your baby see more. If you'd like to book a consultation, you can book via our online system.
Will it harm my child's hips? Is it uncomfortable?
Some concerns come from the positioning of baby when world facing. It will not harm your child's hips unless your child has a pre-existing hip condition. If this is the case, please seek advice from your child's specialist.
In terms of comfort, some carriers hold a more ergonomic position than others. We aim to hold little one in a similar position to in arms, with a gentle curve in the spine, tilted pelvis and in a 'seated' position. If your carrier cannot hold this position, please get in touch and we can talk through options and tweaks that can be made.
The person carrying may find that it becomes uncomfortable after short periods of time. Some people report back pain as baby is pulling away from, rather than against, their body. This is a time when it could be useful to look at an alternative carrying position that works for you.
If you'd like to know more about world facing, try a carrier that has this option or find out more about alternatives, please do drop us a message or book an appointment via our online booking system.
If your baby is developmentally ready and you'd like to find out how to world face safely, or look at a range of other carrying options please do get in touch.