Why this picture of Jools Oliver holding her baby has sparked a parenting debate

Jools and Jamie Oliver have been criticised by some parents for using a forward-facing baby carrier [Photo: Instagram/JamieOliver]
Jools and Jamie Oliver have been criticised by some parents for using a forward-facing baby carrier [Photo: Instagram/JamieOliver]

Barely a day goes by when a celebrity parent isn’t being bashed on social media for their parenting skills. The latest parents to find themselves on the receiving end of the shaming are Jamie and Jools Oliver.

Uploading a sweet snap to Instagram of his wife with their fifth baby, River Rocket, the 41-year-old celebrity chef offered Jools some birthday love.

“Happy birthday Mrs Oliver,” he wrote. “Love you and of course the dude that is baby River”

So far, so innocent. But critics were quick to pass judgement about the way Jools was holding the baby in his carrier. Her parenting ‘crime’? Supposedly allowing her little one to face away from her, which critics said wasn’t safe.

“No, the baby should never look forward,” one concerned user wrote.

“Happy birthday. But please never use that carrier again,” another added. “It’s not ergonomic for the child and can cause hip dysplasia. Use a carrier that support from knee to knee.”

“Please do your research or ask your physio; narrow-based carriers are not only dangerous but also uncomfortable for baby,” another added.

“River doesn’t look particularly cosy in that pic, they should never front face. Also hip dysplasia can be undiagnosed in 15% of babies.”

This isn’t the first time a celebrity has been on the receiving end of criticism about the position they are wearing their baby in. Earlier this year Sam Faiers found herself on the receiving end of negative comments about carrying her baby, Paul, in a forward facing carrier. And last year Ryan Reynolds shared a sweet father’s day snap of him and his 6 month old (at the time) baby daughter, James, only to be shamed for the way he was carrying her.

Though Ryan’s daughter was facing inwards, onlookers said she wasn’t being carried in an ‘ergonomic’ way, and slammed the dad for allowing her feet to dangle out of carrier.

#familyhike ☺️

A photo posted by Samantha Faiers (@samanthafaiers1) on May 12, 2016 at 1:54am PDT

But like many parenting debates, how to carry your baby safely in a carrier is somewhat of a grey area. The British Association of Babywearing Instructors (BABI) recommends following the ‘TICKS’ checklist, which has been developed by the The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers. These advise that you should be carrying your baby Tightly, that your baby is In view at all times, Close enough to kiss, Keeping your baby’s chin off their chest and that your baby’s back is Supported.

According to an article republished on the NCT website, carrying a young baby facing out in a sling is not recommended because “it forces your baby’s back straight against your chest and causes their legs to dangle in a harness like position.”

“This can mean the baby’s weight rests on his crotch rather than being spread from his bottom and thighs.”

But other baby wearing experts believe that a baby facing outwards in a carrier isn’t always unsafe.

“The best carrying position is the one that mum/dad and baby are happiest with,” Michelle Mattesini at Attachment Parenting UK told parenting website MadeForMums.

“In early development being able to see the caregiver is hugely beneficial to cognitive development. But as the child develops they also benefit from interaction with the world around them. This is individual to each child. There are carriers now available that make world-facing more comfortable for both parties.”

And what of the Dysplasia risk many users raised on Jamie Oliver’s Instagram post? Hip dysplasia is a condition where the bones of the hip joint are not aligned correctly. It prevents the hip joints from functioning properly and means your child may develop painful and stiff joints, a limp or hip pain, especially during teenage years. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) hip dysplasia affects 2-3 in every 1000 babies (approximately 2000 babies in the UK each year).

So can forward facing baby carriers increase the risk? According to Dr Charles Price director at IHDI the support a baby carrier offers is more important than the position of the baby.

“From the perspective of hip health, it’s OK to face toward or away from the mother/father as long as the hips are supported properly,” he told MadeForMums.

“Hip support is probably more natural when the baby faces the mother and most babies prefer to look at their mother or father instead of the World.”

So far neither Jamie or Jools has responded to the criticism of their baby wearing choices, but one awareness hip awareness association took it upon themselves to offer their support to the couple.

“We’re sorry your birthday Jools and loving post Jamie got hijacked by baby carrier and hip dysplasia concerns,” @healthyhipsaustralia wrote. “You didn’t design the carrier. Awareness is important but not at the expense of the scapegoat. You are both loving parents. Happy birthday Jools.”

Besides, as baby River is the youngest of five, the likelihood is that Jamie and Jools probably know what they’re doing by now. So maybe we should just let them get on with it.

What do you think? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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