Carrying and Caring for Babies
By: Madison Harpenau, Doctor of Occupational Therapy
You have carried your baby around within you for 40 weeks! You have got this carrying thing down! Now your baby is in your arms and you have begun to realize that they are growing and getting heavier and carrying them can become more of a challenge.
The purpose of this post is to provide parents with helpful information to keep moms and dads healthy and injury free.
Let’s start with the nursery.
There are countless pieces that compose the perfect nursery for your baby. Design, color, and atmosphere tend to be the parts that determine the furniture pieces that are selected for your baby’s nursery. But what about you and your partner’s back? The height of the crib, changing table, and positioning of baby clothing can all cause pain to your low back if you are not mindful. According to Kilic, Ozcan, Efe, & Kasal, cribs that are around 95 cm (~37 inches) tall provide the least strain on low backs (2017). This measurement is from the floor to the top of the crib railing. Therefore looking for a crib that is taller, with a mattress that can be adjusted in height is the best solution for preserving your back (Kilic et al., 2017). Another solution that you can use to help reduce back pain while picking your little one up out of a crib is to use a small step stool. Place the step stool next to the crib, when reaching into the crib, put one foot on top of the stool to reduce the force placed on your low back.
When it comes to other pieces within your nursery, use similar concepts. Look for a changing table that is taller in height, comparable to the crib. This will reduce your need to stoop over when changing your baby’s diaper. When arranging clothing and supplies for your baby, put them within arms reach and in an area that does not require you to bend or reach down (Carroll & Loesche, 2017).
Breast Feeding: Position your baby against your body, using the help of gravity. This can take place in a number of positions such as laying on your back or side (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). When laying on your side, position your baby next to you with a pillow beneath them to bring your baby closer to your breast (rather than your breast to baby). When sitting up to breastfeed, utilize a pillow or two beneath your baby to bring them to your breast and reduce your effort (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). Try to avoid in soft or cushy chairs and couches when breastfeeding, as it will help you avoid awkward feeding positions and make it easier to get up and down.
Highchair Feeding: As your baby gets older and is ready to eat in the highchair, keep these tips in mind. Remove the highchair tray prior to putting your baby in the highchair (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). This will help you keep your baby’s weight closer to your body for a longer period of time which in turn reduces the strain on your back.
General Carrying Solutions
Tips and tricks to reduce the risk of hand, wrist, other injuries that can be caused by picking up your baby. When you go to pick up your baby, try to scoop them up- keeping your thumbs tucked in- rather than making an “L” with your hand (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). Additionally, when you are scooping up your baby, keep your wrists straight without bending or tilting them one way or another. Always remember when picking up your baby to bend at your knees and engage your core to reduce the risk of injury (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). Once you have scooped your baby up, bring them close to your chest to better distribute the weight. When carrying them around the house, avoid holding your baby on your hip; instead, position them between your forearm and elbow (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). There are more muscles here that will not cause as many poor postural effects as carrying your baby on your hip. Lastly, it comes to your baby carrier. When your baby is in their carrier, hold the carrier directly in front of you with both hands (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). If possible try to carry your baby and the baby carrier separately. This means if you are preparing to get into the car, bring your carrier out to the car first and secure it (Carroll & Loesche, 2017). Then go back and bring your baby out separately and secure them in the carrier within the car. When putting the carrier or baby in the car, kneel on the seat (since the best spot for the car seat is in the middle) in order to refrain from reaching and bending while standing on the street to secure your baby (Carroll & Loesche, 2017).
While all of these tips and tricks will help you and your partner reduce the risk for injury, be sure to maintain your own self-care while tackling the role of parenting. Washington Park Chiropractic has a wide variety of services such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and nutrition to help you keep yourself as healthy as you can be!
Madison Harpenau is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Madison is anticipated to graduate in August of 2019. She has completed two prior internships in the settings of outpatient pediatrics and inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Madison’s Doctoral Project is focused on Connecting Holistic Health Care Professionals; such as Chiropractic and Occupational Therapy. Her project is largely rooted in health and wellness promotion for all clients.
Carlson Carroll, T., & Loesche, S. J. (2017, April 24). Caring for the caregiver: How occupational therapy can support those who care for young children. OT Practice, 22(7), 8-11.
Kilic, H., Ozcan, C., Efe, H., & Kasal, A. (2017). Computer aided ergonomics in furniture design: Baby crib case study. Research for Furniture Industry, 1-9.
Madison Harpenau is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy. She graduated in May 2019 from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Madison is anticipated to graduate in August of 2019. She has completed two prior internships in the settings of outpatient pediatrics and inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Madison’s Doctoral Project is focused on Connecting Holistic Health Care Professionals; such as Chiropractic and Occupational Therapy. Her project is largely rooted in health and wellness promotion for all clients.