Babies transported in forward-facing buggies could end up "emotionally impoverished" due to lack of face-to-face contact with the parent pushing them, a British study suggested Friday.
Having infants facing their parent gives them positive reassurance and reduces mental stress, said the study by researchers at Dundee University in Scotland, believed to be the first of its kind.
"Neuroscience has helped us to learn how important social interaction during the early years is for children's brain development," said Suzanne Zeedyk of the university's School of Psychology.
Specifically, the study found that 25 percent of parents using face-to-face buggies actually spoke to their baby, more than twice as many as with away-facing buggies, which are the most common type.
The heart rate of babies who could see the buggy-pusher was also lower, and the infants were twice as likely to fall asleep, the researchers discovered.
The findings were based on studying nearly 3,000 parent-infant pairs, including an experiment where babies were pushed for a mile, half the time facing their parent, and half the time facing away.
Laura Barbour of the Sutton Trust, which funded the research, said she hoped that "buggy manufacturers will look closely at this research, which suggests that face-to-face models improve communication at a very early stage.
"Parents deserve to be able to make informed choices as to how to best promote their children's emotional, physical, and neurological development," added Zeedyk.