Forward-facing baby carriers called cruel: Why?

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(CBS) What do you call moms and dads who carry their babies facing forward? If you're Australian parenting expert Cathrine Fowler, you call them cruel and selfish.

"Imagine if you were strapped to someone's chest with your legs and arms flailing, heading with no control, in a busy shopping center," said Dr. Fowler, professor of child and family health nursing at The University of Technology Sydney, according to news.com.au. "It would be terrifying. It is the same for our children."

A mother of two, Dr. Fowler said forward-facing chest carriers and strollers expose babies to "a bombardment of stimulus" and that parents who fail to consider a baby's perspective are "inadvertently quite cruel to children."

Is Dr. Fowler talking nonsense? Actually, some research seems to back her up.

Children in front-facing carriers have been found to be less likely to talk, laugh, and interact with their parents, the Guardian reported in 2008. One study of more than 2,722 parent-infant pairs conducted by Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk, a psychologist at Scotland's Dundee University, showed that parents who use face-to-face buggies are twice as likely to talk to their children while out and about.

"Our data suggests that for many babies, life in a buggy is emotionally impoverished and stressful," Dr. Zeedyk said, according to the Daily Mail. "Stressed babies grow into anxious adults."

But some childcare experts asked about Folwer's claim are crying foul.

"This is just another thing that can worry mothers," Robin Barker, the author of Baby Love, told news.com.au. "What babies need is parents who love them and feed them and if that's in place, then I'm afraid which way the pram faces is irrelevant."

What do you think? Is it torture for babies to be carried facing forward?

  • David W Freeman

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