Plenty of parents wear their baby because it feels amazing to look into their baby’s eyes and snuggle them close. It promotes bonding, helps to soothe a fussy baby, and is good for baby’s overall health and well-being.
This doesn’t need to stop as your child grows and develops. But as your baby becomes more curious about the world around them, you may decide it’s time to wear them forward facing, so they too can see what you see. As tempting as it is to wear your baby forward facing — meaning their back is on your front — they must have total head and neck control before this to avoid risks of suffocation. This milestone is typically reached between 4-6 months. As with all baby-wearing devices, the best front facing baby carrier is the one that is comfortable to wear and easy to use.
Best Front Facing Baby Carrier
Some parents feel that once their baby is worn in a forward facing baby carrier, they can get overstimulated and have a hard time falling asleep. So, as with all things related to your baby, use your own judgment and trust that you will find the best front facing baby carrier when the time comes.
Types of carriers
It’s important to understand that when it comes to carriers, you must follow the age and weight requirements listed on any of the products you might be interested in. Some carriers are meant for infant wear only, while others have more carrying positions that work well into toddlerhood.
It can take a minute (to put it mildly) to figure out which kind of carrier will work best for you and your lifestyle, so take the time to figure it out! If possible, take a test drive at your go-to baby boutique or super store, or see if a friend or relative has one they can give you a tutorial on. Also, watch any videos about brands you are interested in to make sure you’re comfortable with how to wear your baby given the product you like the most.
Listed here are the different kinds of carriers, but again, check manufacturer guidelines for which ones are the best baby carriers for forward facing with your lifestyle:
- Wraps — traditional and made of long fabric to “wrap” around your body, shoulders and torso to create a pouch-like seat for baby.
- Slings (including ring slings) — similar to wraps and made from a soft fabric worn over one shoulder and across your torso like a sash where baby can sit and snuggle.
- Structured carriers — usually made of sturdier material with straps for shoulders and a waistband to offer a more supportive carry.
- Hybrid carriers — a combo of a structured carrier but worn more like a wrap, comfortable and usually easy to use.
- Hipseat carrier – many parents feel that this is the best front facing baby carrier because it allows for your baby to go up and down without having to deal with straps and buckles.
More on hipseat carriers
A hipseat carrier is exactly what it sounds like: a simple seat for your baby to sit on that wraps easily around the wearer's hips without having to deal with extra straps and materials. The Tushbaby hipseat evenly distributes your baby’s weight, so you can carry them longer and more comfortably. Tushbaby fastens just above your hips, taking pressure off of your upper body and back. Like most hipseats, Tushbaby isn’t entirely hands-free as one arm should always be wrapped around your baby, but it still offers all of the benefits of baby-wearing — plus the following:
- Strap-free and ergonomically designed
- Evenly distributes baby’s weight
- Ideal for children 8lbs - 45lbs
- Safety-certified & doctor recommended
- Puts your baby’s hips in the pediatric-recommended “M” position
While there has been some controversy over the years regarding front facing baby carriers, the best way to ensure that you’re wearing baby properly in an outward facing baby carrier is by adhering to the following safety measures:
- Your baby must have total head and neck control to be worn front facing.
- Do not let baby fall asleep forward facing. If their chin touches their chest, this could block their airway and become hazardous.
- Carry front facing for shorter periods of time, as some babies can feel overstimulated or overwhelmed with everything they are taking in.
- Strive to carry baby in the pediatric recommended “M-position” with their knees higher than their tush
Style and comfort
In a perfect world, wearing your baby should be both comfortable and stylish. In other words, who doesn’t want to wear something they feel good in, whether it’s jeans, a blazer or a baby carrier?
For the baby wearer, be sure to choose a carrier style that isn’t going to overwhelm you with too much fabric, or too many straps, or is simply too complicated to get the hang of. As much as your best friend, partner, or family member swears that “you just need to get used to it,” trust your gut and go with the carrier that will work best for you, because we all know that if something doesn’t feel right, you probably won’t want to wear it. Make sure that it’s easy to take on and off, and also gives you the support you need. Of course, wearing a baby means you’re carrying extra weight around, so be sure to choose a carrier that takes pressure off of your back, shoulders and upper body.
As for your outward facing baby, to ensure they are in the important “M-position” – which by the way is suggested by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) — make sure of the following:
- Legs are supported from knee to knee (try to avoid that “dangling” baby look!)
- Baby looks as if they are seated and supported by their thighs
- Pelvis is tilted so that knees are higher than their hips
Some carriers that cover both style, comfort and support include:
- Tula Explore — this versatile carrier allows you to wear your child in an ergonomic front facing world position. It comes in a variety of sizes, and baby can be worn in several positions in addition for forward facing.
- Ergo Baby Omni 360 — this carrier makes a lot of “best-of” lists for its variety of positions and style.
- Tushbaby hipseat carrier — all of the benefits listed above, plus it doubles as a fanny pack with plenty of pockets for extra diapers, wipes, bottles and toys.