Parents and caregivers of babies and tots know all too well the physical toll child rearing can bring.  About 66% of parents report that they have pain stemming from caring for their children under the age of 4, especially low back1.  The way we lift, carry, and hold our children can be very demanding on our bodies.  If you aren’t careful, you can even injure your back, wrists, or shoulder.  Here are some steps to keep you pain-free and safe when caring for your children:

  • Carry close to your core. This is known as your center of gravity.  It will make carrying easier on your whole body and help protect your back.
  • Even better…for longer periods of time, use a baby or toddler carrier. This keeps baby close to your core/center of gravity, gives your arms a break, and transfers the load more evenly.  You may even find that this is a great way to soothe your baby.
  • When doing a diaper change, use a changing table or dresser that is around waist height to protect your back. Also, use a safety strap to protect baby.
  • Lifting should use your leg power, not your back. Keep your core tight, and do this for all lifting, including diaper changes, tummy time, transfers from crib.  This means squatting to pick up baby and also when you pick up toys etc.
  • Choose a stroller that has adjustable handle bars or has handlebars that are about the height of your belly button.
  • Be mindful of how you push a stroller. Wrists should be neutral-NOT arched back.
  • Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, having a baby propped up on a nursing pillow will help prevent you from arching your back or having to place undue strain on your wrists.

1Sanders, M. J., & Morse, T. (2005). The ergonomics of caring for children: an exploratory study.

AJOT: American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59(3), 285+. Retrieved from http://

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