Q&A: stroller facing in or out

Maria writes:

"Here in Sweden there is this dilemma about having your child facing out in a stroller. Most pediatricians recommend babies up to at least one year to sit facing their parent. But still there are many strollers facing out only and they are becoming more and more popular. Parents often say that in other countries they have their babies in outfacing strollers and nobody ever complains about it. That their babies are fine...What do you think about this?

Personally I have my baby (10 months) facing me.

Thank you!"

When it comes to car seats, it's pretty clear that rear-facing as long as possible is the very safest thing. (Here's a link to the video Portlairge left in the comments on my last carseat post. If you don't want to sit through all 3 1/2 minutes of it, go right to minute 1:20 to see the crash tests. They will seriously question your assumption than turning a baby around at one year is appropriate.)

But strollers are a different story, because it's a pretty safe assumption that they're not going to be involved in vehicle crashes. In my opinions (and again, you know, just my opinion), the style of stroller you have is a reflection of the intersection between the culture you live in and your child's personality.

I think it would be really hard for Americans to swallow having our kids facing in for years and years. Our culture is fundamentally based on the idea of independence that we do all sorts of things that are frankly bordering on the insane to get our kids to be as independent as possible as soon as possible. When I was worrying about putting my older son facing outwards in the stroller when he was 4 months old and had outgrown the infant seat/base combo I'd been using to stroll, people actually told me that he had to face outward at that age so he'd "learn about the world."

(I did manage to refrain from laughing in their faces. But it made me laugh typing it again right now. I think those people would be absolutely horrified to know that I occasionally carried him in a sling even at age 3. But what can I say? It was easier than schlepping a stroller on the bus, and I'm all about what's easier.)

From what I know about Swedish culture (and I'm much more familiar with Norwegian culture, so I may be getting this wrong) there's more value on the collective, and on the idea of interdependence. So at the very least, you won't be in a rush to turn a true infant outward, and there may be significant cultural tradition of keeping the baby facing inward as long as possible.

But. I think you should also take your kid's personality into account. Some babies (no matter what culture they're born into) need more closeness for longer, and would do better facing you for longer. Others are the kids who really really want to see the outside world, and just use you as home base. Those kids will do better facing outward.

Anyone else have any opinions on this? It seems like a nice, minimally-controversial topic for a Wednesday.