When we read the headline, "Study: Away-facing strollers stress babies" our first reaction was, "Hogwash!" Then we decided to read the article.Researchers out of the University of Dundee, Scotland, in two studies, found that babies whose strollers were oriented to face their parents had more and better interactions with their parent or caretaker.
In an observational study of 2,700 babies, those whose strollers faced their parent were more than twice as likely to be interacted with and talked to during their walk. In a much smaller study, twenty babies were pushed in their stroller for a mile. Half of the time they faced their parent and half they faced forward. Only one baby laughed during the walk while facing forward, but over half laughed while facing their parent. Additionally, the heart rates of parent-facing babies were lower and they were twice as likely to fall asleep. Researchers concluded that these babies found their stroller time less stressful.
"Our data suggests that for many babies today, life in a buggy is emotionally impoverished and possibly stressful," lead researcher Suzanne Zeedyk said. "Stressed babies grow into anxious adults." The researchers concluded with the wish that stroller designers take note of their studies and revisit the conventional forward-facing design.
We found the study findings and conclusions to be more than provocative. For our own 5-month old son, we consider stroller time (facing forward) to be his time to observe and interact with the world. He gets enough "face time" with mom and dad at home as far as we're concerned. We'd be interested in seeing these studies replicated with baby carriers as our son is delighted to face forward in his carrier and seems rather bored when he faces our chest.
What do you think? Do you love your Xplory or other parent-facing stroller because you and your child can interact more? Do you think your baby loves facing forward and taking in his or her surroundings? If you're currently stroller shopping, does this influence your thinking?