Facing outwards in a sling
Is it ok to face outward in a sling?
This is a heated and sensitive topic in the babywearing world. Ask in a Facebook group and you’ll get mostly two polar opposite answers: ‘I did and my baby is fine’, or ‘omg you should never do that’.
In the babywearing profession, we go through extensive training to meet the needs of those who seek our advice. In most cases, there are alternative options to facing outwards that can still meet the needs of the clients, for example seated sideways, off centre/hip carry or back carrying. (For more information about back carrying, read here).
As a professional, we make risk assessments during the time spent with clients. We take the information offered to us, add in our observation during teaching and gauge the situation as we go, to decide if it is responsible to teach facing outwards. By this I mean, we could have a 10 month old in a sling designed to face outwards, but during the consultation, the professional feels there is a lack in confidence from the wearer and that the additional risks this may impose, outweigh the desire to face outwards and we would discuss this with the clients.
There are three participants of babywearing: the caregiver, the child, and the sling. Each of these all have to align in order to safely face outward. If the sling is not designed to forward face, then the answer is likely to be ‘it is unsuitable to face outwards’. If the child has a reason where it would be unsafe – i.e age/health/illness, then the answer would likely be ‘it is unsuitable to face outwards’. The same with the adult.
There are many reasons why facing outwards comes with guidelines of age etc, you can read this fantastic article on when it may indeed be a suitable option for many. There are also many reasons why it would not be a suitable option, also discussed in the link.
While there are general ‘rules of thumb’ where facing outwards would or would not typically be suitable, every now and again you get an exception. Each and every caregiver, child and sling come with their own journey to our door, and it is up to us as professionals, to guide you to the safest way of meeting your needs.
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Thank you for this blog, I found it very informative especially as I have always worried whether I should be forward facing my baby his is always happy comfortable and safe but never see many forward facing sling babies!