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Do front-facing baby buggies traumatise kids?

Yes, says the Daily Mail:

Baby buggies which face forwards may stunt children’s development and turn them into anxious adults, according to a study.

Infants suffer more stress and sometimes even ‘trauma’ in modern buggies with seats facing away from their parent, researchers found. 

Guess what? That’s not quite what the study said.

Despite the news report, there is no evidence from this study that buggies which face forwards cause trauma or have an effect on how the child grows up. Such interpretations of its results are incorrect and could be interpreted as scaremongering.

The study used heart rate as a measure of infant ‘stress’ and the finding that babies facing forward have slightly higher heart rates is unsurprising given the different stimuli they would be experiencing. As such, this may have nothing to do with ‘stress’ levels. The cautious interpretation of the results taken in some parts of the research article must be emphasised. In other areas and in some news reports the results have been over-interpreted and may cause parents unnecessary anxiety.

3 replies on “Do front-facing baby buggies traumatise kids?”

I actually found that a certain baby that was occasionally in my charge last year to be far more well-tempered facing forward. I think it depends on the person pushing the buggy. If it’s a grimacing anxious high strung mother, then maybe not so good. Loving happy parents smiling and laughing is probably better. Seriously – when K was 4 months old she was a pain in the ass in the stroller. So I suggested we reverse it and let her face forward because she is a nosey baby (and always has been; can’t sleep for fear of missing something). That cured the wailing for no reason in the buggy. Then on the cruise got her a “umbrella” stroller (not sure what you call them there) and she loved that because not only was she facing forward but her peripheral vision and ability to lean forward and see the ground were all (safely) available options.

So my assessment is an increased heart rate from stimuli other than the every-day-grimacing-mother is a good thing and if the child stops crying and even start leaning forward and “clapping” I’m going to interpret that as “happy baby” and not “OMG! where’d my mom go!” anxiety. Though that said, this baby might clap if her mom disappeared for a wee while and gave the poor kid a break..

Why do people study these stupid things?

Remind me, Lis, I need to send you a book: Ben Goldacre’s bad science. It’s a superb attack on all the health crap, “studies have shown” nonsense that infests newspapers. I think you’ll like it and fall in love with the dashing Dr Goldacre to boot :)

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