Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

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Babies affected by your choice of pushchair

with 2 comments

So, babies who face away from their parent/carer could find that their development is impeded.


Research published today by Dundee University, which worked with the National Literacy Trust (NLT) charity, found that babies who faced the person pushing them laughed more and were far likelier to chat and interact than those who faced the opposite direction.


According to Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, a researcher at the university, 2,722 parent-child pairs were observed in 54 areas across the UK, with a further 20 babies examined during a one-mile walk in Dundee.


She found that:


Ø      Only one baby laughed while sitting in the “away facing” pram, while half of the babies laughed when facing the carer.

Ø      The children’s average heart rate fell slightly when they were facing the carers and were twice as likely to fall asleep.

Ø      Parents who faced their infants while walking them in a pram were more than twice as likely to talk to their child/

Ø      But only 22 per cent of adults who were observed for the study were seen chatting to the babies.


Dr Zeedyk said that the babies who faced away from the carer were more likely to feel stressed and “emotionally impoverished”.


“If babies are spending significant amounts of time in a baby buggy that undermines their ability to communicate easily with their parent, at an age when the brain is developing more than it will ever again in life, then this has to impact negatively on their development,” she told the BBC.


“Our experimental study showed that, simply by turning the buggy around, parents’ rate of talking to their baby doubled.


“Our data suggests that for many babies today, life in a buggy is emotionally impoverished and possibly stressful. Stressed babies grow into anxious adults.”


The surprising thing about this study us that anyone should be surprised.


Surely it stands to reason that if your child is looking away from the main carer (who can also looked detached from the whole parenting situation or who are too busy on their mobile phones) then there will be no interaction.


Buggies are low down and children aren’t able to see what’s going on properly anyway. It must be incredibly daunting for them to see a sea of legs, bags and occasional cigarette flying around the place.


Whether the statistics are meaningful or not, it might serve as a notice to parents of infants when they choose their prams and buggies.


Do you want to look at your child? Talk about your surroundings when you are out and about? Just babble inanely together? Even if they are only a day or two old, you can still – and must – chat to your child. Which mother-to-be didn’t talk to their bump? Why should it stop when the child is born? Your voice is comforting. It makes the baby feel safe.


You cannot talk properly when you are a few feet higher and behind them, just pushing them around. (Anyway, it hurts your back to keep bending down to chat.)


Communication is vital. Enjoy long walks, facing each other, and enjoy chatting to your baby. Heck, they soon grow up and the time with them as babies is incredibly  precious!




Written by CommonPeople

November 21, 2008 at 2:52 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I agree, it’s one of those things that seems SO blindingly obvious that it’s amazing that all pushchairs haven’t been designed that way.

    I guess most parents choose buggies over traditional (old-fashioned) prams because they are less bulky and clunky.

    Communication between parents and babies/toddlers is so important, it makes me shudder when I see (and we’ve all seen it) impatient and intolerant mums and dads shouting at kids who will probably never receive good parental love.

    Steve X

    November 21, 2008 at 4:53 pm

  2. When I am out in my wheelchair (being pushed by my husband) I sometimes get to make eye contact with babies and toddlers in pushchairs. It’s such a lovely moment it does make you wonder why parents wouldn’t want to be able to do that themselves.

    I wonder if the idea is that only being able to see mum/dad is boring and it’s better to be facing out into the open world. The kids in pushchairs I don’t make eye contact with (aside form the ones who are asleep of course) are usually either in their own world and playing with a toy or look kind of trippy from all the stimulation of a massive fast moving world around them.

    I suppose I should be honest and say sometimes it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable – being on the same eye level as a baby when I’m in my wheelchair. Something about feeling sort of helpless and vulnerable. I was out being pushed around by my dad one day and saw a (forward facing) pushchair approaching us being pushed by grandparents. It felt wrong to have my father pushing me round a nature reserve instead of being the one pushing a grandchild (he doesn’t have any – yet). But I was busy chatting to my dad and that child was kind of isolated as gradparents chatted amongst themselves. It made me sad on quite a few levels.

    Well, please excuse my going off on a slight tangent! A really interesting blog post that I think it will stay with me should I ever have the fortune to need to buy a pushchair.


    November 25, 2008 at 8:33 pm

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