When Esther and William came home from hospital we did not mix with many people. We had been warned by the hospital about the risks of taking our tiny babies to busy public places. What we did do a lot though was go out for walks. Our trusty Easywalker Duo was well used from the start. We loved it.
Esther and William were always happy in their pram and because they were so tiny we were able to keep them in their carry cots for much longer than a term baby.
When they finally turned out to face the world I found that I missed them terribly and would often take them out in their car seats so that they could be facing me.
I have since realised that they were probably missing me too. Even though their turning to the world was delayed because of their early birth and tiny size it still may have been too soon
Matilda Mae is 7 months old this week and she does not like facing the world. She is a very sociable baby and when in a pushchair she likes to feel connected with her pusher. Usually me.
And I have to say that I want to stay connected to her too.
Life is busy with three under three and I do not always get much quality time with my youngest daughter. On the rare occasions we are out as a pair I like to be able to see her, to talk to her and to share with her our world.
As mummy to two premature babies I do worry about development and particularly language.
If my babies were born again right now I would be looking for a parent facing buggy. Not an easy challenge with two. But now I have only one and though she was born at term I obviously still worry about her development and want to ensure that I do the best for her that I can.
I have made no secret of my interest in (obsession with?) Stokke strollers and the main reason that I am such a fan is because of the level of research and consideration they have given to infant transportation and why having a parent facing stroller is so important not just for the first few months but for the first few years.
And when you think about it, it is common sense. Of course you want to talk to your baby, make them laugh, tell them about the pretty flowers you are passing, the Christmas lights. Of course you want to be able to see if their nose is snotty and reach it to give it a wipe. Of course you want to be able to see how your baby is feeling and tend to their needs. In a busy shopping centre you want your baby to be able to meet your eye for reassurance. You want connection with your baby or toddler whenever you are out and about, physical and emotional. I know that I do.
With premature babies mothers often feel even more protective. They often need the connection for themselves as much as for their baby. That is why I am sure that parent facing pushchairs are the best kind for premature babes.
There has been research carried out in recent years about the effects of forward and parent facing prams.
In the first ever study on the psychological effects of forward-and parent-facing Prams, researchers at the University of Dundee suggested that babies were less likely to sleep, laugh or interact with their parents if they were facing away from them.
In the study, researchers observed more than 2,722 parents pushing their infants in their prams, the majority of which were forward-facing. They noticed that:
Parents were twice as likely to chat to their children if they were in a face-to-face pram.
The children were more likely to talk back.
In the second part of the study, the researchers looked at 20 volunteer mums with their infants, who were aged between 9 and 24 months. They were asked to push their children in both types of pram for 20 minutes each. When the children were in parent-facing pushchairs:
Their mums spoke to them more.
Mums and children laughed with each other more often than when they were facing forwards.
Babies were more likely to fall asleep and their heart rate was lower, suggesting they were more content.
When I read this information with my almost 7 month old daughter by my side I know that I need to find her a parent facing stroller. She has many many buggy days ahead of her and I want her to be facing me so that we can explore the world together and so we can talk and laugh together and make the most of our mother-daughter time. I want us to communicate on our trips out together.
Why is it better for my baby to be facing me?
Our research¹ has shown that if the baby is facing you, you are twice as likely to talk as when your baby is facing away from you. Furthermore, when adults talk, babies communicate too. If you are face-to-face with your baby as you go out and about, you will have the opportunity to make eye contact and talk to your baby, offering quality stimulation and instant reassurance.
I have read enough research to persuade me as a parent of prem babies and a full term daughter that parent facing strollers are important for all. They help parents to bond with their babies and foster a positive relationship.
… given what we now know of neuroscience, that infant transport must be shaping infant brains.
This is because brains are growing more rapidly between the ages of birth and 3 years than they ever will again. Moreover, relationships with other people have a tremendous influence on that growth: the attention that babies receive, the amount of touch they are treated to, the amount of emotional attunement they experience all matter. Since babies spend their whole first year (at least) being transported by other people, their experiences of that movement must be shaping their neural and psychological development.
Parent Facing Pushchairs, including the beautiful Stokke Connection Stollers, encourage talk, laughter and communication through facial expressions. They make it easier to touch your baby while out and about, physically and emotionally.
All of these things matter for babies big and small.
Premature and term.
All of these things matter for mothers all.