Once your baby passes the 12 month mark and starts walking, your daily routine kicks up a notch. You’ll be chasing your little tyke all over the house, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or if you pick up the babies from daycare after work.
All that running around takes a toll on your body—but not as much as picking up your growing darling when she reaches for you from her latest precarious position. Knowing how to lift and chase to protect your spine is vital for preventing back pain from adding to your worries.
Holding and Picking Up Your Big Baby
You won’t be spending as much time holding your toddler as you did your infant, but you still need to know how to hold him properly so you don’t hurt your back. The risk of back injury increases with added weight, and the rapid surge in your child’s weight and height over the next couple of years will certainly add to any back pain you already deal with; 12-month-olds weigh an average of 20 pounds, and it only goes up from there.
Consider these ways to hold your toddler to protect your spine:
- As with any heavy object, lift with your knees instead of your back. Bend at the knees (squat) to pick up your child, don’t bend over. This places strain on your shoulders and goes all the way down the spine.
- If your child is in your lap and you want to get up with them in your arms, again, use your thigh muscles instead of your back to pull yourself up.
- If you need to hold your toddler for a long time, try a baby carrier like the one pictured here because it will bear the child’s weight for you.
Car Seat Mechanics
When it’s time to get your little buddy out of the backseat, how do you approach it? Have you trained yourself to kneel on the seat rather than bending over your child? That’s right—if you arch your body over your child to unfasten the buckle, you aren’t doing your back any favors. The best way to protect your back with a car seat is to kneel on the side of the seat and use your abs and hip muscles to move forward. By two years old, your child should be in a forward facing car seat like these , making it much easier on your back. Just remember to use your legs to lift your child out.
Diaper Bags and Working Out
Take advantage of your child’s growth and teach them how to carry their own bags. Getting a fashionable (or favorite themed ) mini backpack can be just the thing to make your toddler feel special while relieving you of the weight of diapers, wipes, and even snacks. (Of course you should always supervise your toddler when they carry anything that could become a hazard.)
However, the best way to deal with all of it—from lifting to carrying to shouldering bags—is to keep your body in shape, whether you are the primary caregiver or not. When you strengthen your muscles, you can both prevent and recover from injury faster. So it’s not just about good body mechanics—it’s about strong muscles too. Try exercises like these to help you keep up with your little one.
Has your toddler ever hurt your back?
From lifting to carrying a diaper bag, keeping your back strong for your toddler is important. You can’t take care of your little guy with a hurt back, so get to strengthening it—and using other muscles—to stay active with him. Check out these other tips for further reading.
Have you ever injured your back while caring for your child? Or do you know someone who has? We want to hear how it happened and what you did to recover. The more stories our readers share, the better we’ll all be at preventing injuries around our little ones. Leave a comment now!