Pushchairs are generally used for babies, toddlers and young children up to the age of three and occasionally four years old. The overwhelming majority of baby transportation carriages available today are the stroller (U.S.) or buggy/ pushchair (U.K.) which place the child facing the direction of travel. This is a relatively new trend; only a couple of decades ago children were generally pushed in an old style pram, in which the baby would look at the person pushing, usually its parent.
Many parenting books have suggested that the rear-facing pram is better for the baby because of the opportunity for interaction with the parent; until recently, however, there was no specific research into this. “‘What’s life in a baby buggy like?’ The impact of buggy orientation on parent-infant interaction and infant stress” by Dr Suzanne Zeedyk was ground breaking being the first investigation by psychologists into children’s experience of pushchairs, as described by its subtitle.
The research was conducted throughout the U.K. in two parts. First, 2722 parent-child pairs were observed on High Streets in 54 towns, the social interactions were systematically documented and analysed. Second, 20 mother-infant pairs were closely monitored examining interactions and indicators of stress.
The research results were inline with existing knowledge. The report concludes that children benefit from facing and interacting with the person pushing them (usually the parent); that children facing forward may be emotionally impoverished and isolated.
Why are Forward Facing Strollers Prevalent?
Economical; they are generally, but not always, the cheapest models
Compact; suitable for storage in small apartments and car boots
Light weight; suitable for lifting into the car
Fashion; some models are marketed as extremely stylish or funky
Stimulating; an idea that children will enjoy or benefit from viewing the world
Are Forward Facing or Rear Facing Buggies Beneficial?
Infants facing forwards were twice as likely to be asleep, which contradicts any notion that children are enjoying looking at the world around them. The Zeedyk tentatively suggests sleeping may be an indication of stress. The children facing the parent are more likely to be awake, enjoying stimulation and experience quantitively more interaction with the adult. Furthermore, the report explains that children need to see the adult’s face to help understand the world around them.
The research was published by Talk to Your Baby, a campaign run by the National Literacy Trust which is based on the assumption that talking to young children will enhance their lives by improving their communication skills. Brain’s develop at the greatest rate during the first three years of human life; it is, therefore, suggested that people benefit greatly from interacting during infancy with adults