I’m remembering a country song that goes a little something like, “’Cause I’m redneck woman, I ain’t no high-class broad. I’m just a product of my raisin’, And I say “Hey y’all” and “Yee Haw””. Further into the song she emphatically announces “Some people look down on me, But I don’t give a rip. I stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip”.
Now, I’m definitely not judging, because I too have been known to stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip. However, most recently, I have been lying face down on an adjusting table having Dr. Wickstrom work on my hips from doing that exact thing. This setback has prompted me to talk to my chiropractor about the proper technique of holding my little one.
An expectant mother usually expects or anticipates that there will be some discomfort as their bundle of joy is developing inside the ever growing belly. But nobody tells you how hard it’s REALLY going to be once the new baby arrives. I don’t mean the diapers and the feedings and the sleep schedule. I’m talking about the toll on a mother’s back and neck, strain on the shoulders and wrists, and knee pain from all of the lifting and bending. After all, car seats, diaper bags, and babies can’t carry themselves, can they? And, until Google works the kinks out of their new robot, I’m not handing my child over to it. Thankfully I know a chiropractor who can help me with the correct technique to carry my baby.
Let’s begin with the proper way to lift a newborn from a crib. To do this correctly, you should bend at the knees, like a squat of sorts, rather than bending over at the waist. Position the baby close to you, keeping your body straight, then use your legs to straighten back up. Many cribs come with a side rail that can be let down to allow for easier access to baby. Take advantage of this to avoid bending or twisting at the waist as you lift.
Many new parents find that using a baby carrier will reduce the amount of strain that they experience and still allow for the baby to be held close while allowing their hands to be free. I wasn’t lucky enough to learn about baby carriers until just recently, and unfortunately, my 1-year-old is not having that….he’s got places to go and people to see….and things to climb. BabyGearLab.com has a list of baby carriers that they have tested and rated on their website. They suggest using a carrier with wide, well-padded straps and a waistband. Stating, “A good waistband can support the majority of baby’s weight so your shoulders don’t have to”. When it comes to shoulder padding, they recommend “the more the better”.
For those, like myself, that have little ones that are not so little anymore, these next tips are specifically related to lifting and carrying your toddler correctly.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT do as Gretchen Wilson does in her front yard – Balancing the child on your hip. This can cause undue strain on your back and stress the ligaments supporting that side of your spine. Not only will your spinal column be shifted into an abnormal position, you also run the risk of causing unnecessary repetitive trauma to your arm, shoulder, and spine. Instead, hold your chunky monkey in front of you with their legs wrapped around your waist, centered, using both arms for support. This will allow you to stand upright, keeping your posture and your spine in a structurally correct position.
If your child is anything like mine, they are what my grandma called a “lap baby”. Meaning just that. My son LOVES to sit in my lap. Well, not just mine, but really anyone. Thank goodness for the small things, right? Use this tip to protect your spine while picking your toddler up. DON’T lean forward while you are sitting. This produces additional strain on your spinal column, not to mention your shoulders and wrists. The correct way to lift your toddler onto your lap would be to come all the way down onto the floor on one knee with the other foot securely planted in front of you, hold the child close to your own body, tighten your core muscles and look forward, and lift smoothly, using your leg muscles. Another tip would be to teach your child to help you by holding on tightly as you are lifting him and not to lean back or pull away. (Good luck with that one).
This last tip can definitely help with your sanity, as well as, maintaining correct posture. One thing that I have learned the hard way is when you have a toddler, “nothing is ever where it is supposed to be”. I end up looking for diapers and wipes and find them hidden underneath the bed, pacifiers in the trashcan, the car seat on the front porch, you name it. If at all possible, store frequently used or heavy items at waist level in an easily accessible (for you) area. This will not only protect your spine from repetitive motion injuries but also the toll of having to bend and stoop to continuously clean these items up off the floor.
But above all, never miss an opportunity to tell your child, I LOVE YOU.
Written by: Angel Horne