Jools and Jamie Oliver criticised in front-facing baby carrier controversy

Jamie's Instagram post of Jools with 4-month-old son River has ignited a debate...

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Jamie Oliver recently shared a sweet birthday tribute to wife Jools on Instagram, and prompted a lively and at times angry debate. (But hey, it’s a carrier pic, it’s bound to get a response…)

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In the pic, mum-of-5 Jools is holding a winter-hatted 4-month-old son River in a baby carrier facing outwards.

Jamie wrote: “Happy birthday Mrs Oliver !! ? 42 today girl !! Jeeze where did all that time go since we first met, Hope you had a great day babe, love you and of course the dude that is baby River ?Oliver. Xxx”

We’re guessing Jamie probably wasn’t expecting his post to receive a flurry of criticism due to the way Jools was carrying their son.

What people said

The photo has amassed nearly 700 comments, with some concerned users saying that Jools shouldn’t be using the carrier in the front-facing position. Others have said that the carrier’s narrow base and River’s leg position could potentially put him at risk of hip dysplasia.

One mum wrote: “My son had undiagnosed hip dysplasia and it was not fun for him being in plaster for months and then having surgery. This is most definitely the wrong kind of carrier!”

While another criticised: “Poor baby looks so uncomfortable! With all the money you have, you’d think you’d listen to the advice, not put your baby in danger and buy an ergonomic carrier!”

“Narrow-based carriers are not only dangerous but also uncomfortable for baby,” added another. “River doesn’t look particularly cosy in that pic, they should never front face.”

However, some fans were quick to defend the couple, saying that mum knows best when it comes to carrying her baby.

One user wrote: “Some people need to calm their t*ts. These guys have 4 other perfectly healthy children that survived infancy. I’m pretty sure they know what they are doing by now ?.”

And another – saying she was a ‘baby-wearing educator’ – urged commenters to stop spreading false information: “Narrow based carriers are not inherently dangerous. Your attitude is what often discourages new mums from baby wearing.

So who’s right?

When it comes to baby-wearing, here at MFM we say: let’s talk to the experts. And so did. Three in fact.

So is it safe to have a baby facing forwards in a carrier?

The general consensus is that babies should face inwards (towards you) until they’re 4-6 months old – baby River is 4 months old so just falls into this category. At this age, it’s safe for your baby to face outwards, as long as your baby’s legs and hips are fully supported, say the experts.

“From the perspective of hip health, it’s OK to face toward or away from the mother/father as long as the hips are supported properly,” explains International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI).

For clarity, here’s the diagram of the correct hip position when facing inwards:

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With some carriers, they may not offer as much hip support when they’re facing forward.

However, there are now carriers that “make world-facing more comfortable for both parties”, explains Michelle Mattesini at Attachment Parenting UK. “In early development being able to see the caregiver is hugely beneficial to cognitive development.  But as the child develops they also benefit from interaction with the world around them. This is individual to each child.”

Baby carrier manufacturer BabyBjörn advises parents to keep your baby facing inwards until 4 – 6 months, at which point it’s OK for them to be forward-facing.

“With a newborn it is important to change their position often and alternate between a baby carrier, lying on the back and being carried in the arms,” notes BabyBjörn’s Head of Public Relations, Annika Sander Löfmark.

Generally, MFM fully recommends making sure you change baby’s position often – and regularly alternating between using a carrier and not using a carrier.

You can read our full guide to sling and carrier safety here.

Images: Instagram/Jamie Oliver

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