I'm Alex Moctezuma, a physical therapist assistant at Balanced Fitness & Health. A few months ago, I had my amazing daughter. At the time, she was pretty small and her car seat was the lightest it would ever be. I didn’t have any aches or pains while carrying her, so I didn’t think too much about how I was carrying her car seat. However, as she grew, which babies tend to do, she got much heavier, and carrying her car seat became more of a challenge. After I carried her, I started to notice that my neck, shoulders and back would tighten up and become sore. As a result, I started looking into better ways to carry her car seat, and I want to share my tips with you!
How to Carry a Car Seat
If you have carried a car seat with a baby in it when you take them to daycare or into the store, you know that it is a bit awkward to hold as you walk. If you carry it like a toolbox with one hand, you will find yourself leaning over to the side to compensate for the additional weight on the one side. You may also notice the shoulder on the same side you are carrying the car seat on will hike up a bit. To reduce the amount of compensation while carrying a car seat, there are few adjustments you can do to make toting your baby easier and more comfortable.
One way to ease strain is to hold the car seat in front of you with both hands. You will want to keep your core tight to protect your low back and keep your shoulders relaxed. This technique keeps the weight evenly distributed between both sides of your body. The only downside with this technique is that it’s not the most comfortable to walk and carry the car seat. This technique works well if you need to stand for a longer period of time with your baby in the car seat.
A technique that works well if you are on the go with your baby is what I call the wrap-through method. While this technique does link the baby carrier to one side of your body, it helps reduce some of the strain going through your low back and shoulders. See the pictures below for the simple step-by-step process to do the wrap-through hold.
Additional Car Seat Tips for Parents
Another way to reduce strain on your body is to transfer your baby from the car seat in your vehicle to a stroller. This is especially helpful if you are planning on doing a lot of walking, such as at the grocery store. If you don’t have room in your vehicle for a stroller, you can also put the car seat directly in the grocery cart, however, this does take up room in your cart. Based on experience, I would reserve this only for short grocery stops.
When picking up your baby’s car seat, be sure to get close to the car seat and squat or kneel down to lift it rather than bending over. This reduces the strain going through the smaller muscles in your back and puts more of the work on your larger, stronger leg muscles.
As parents, we are already busy enough with work and our families, and the last thing we need to worry about is aches and pains. Try these car seat carrying methods to maintain a more balanced approach. If you have further questions or continue to have aches and pains, please reach out to our office so we can help you get out of pain and get back to enjoying time with your baby!
- Alex Moctezuma, PTA