As we parents know, taking care of our children can be quite physically demanding! Childcare can require frequent bending, lifting and carrying at times. In order to prevent a low back strain/soreness from occurring, be mindful of using proper mechanics whenever possible. This applies throughout the continuum of parenthood – from expecting a new child to becoming a grandparent.
There are several techniques that can be used when lifting, carrying, or transferring children. When lifting a child from the floor or out of the bathtub, use a squat or one knee lift. A golfer’s lift, achieved by bending at the waist and kicking one leg out behind you, as well as a mini squat can aid in placing and removing children from a crib or low bed. Keep your child close to you and carry them in front, rather than at your hip. When carrying car seats, try to keep them in front of you and hook your arm through the handle to decrease strain. During car transfers, try placing your foot on the floor of the vehicle or kneel on the seat. This will allow you to properly bend at your hips, and prevent over-reaching while supporting your child’s body weight.
Be mindful of your body mechanics when dressing, bathing and diapering your child as well. Focus on keeping your ears, shoulders, and hips in alignment; and bending at your hips instead of your waist. For dressing and diapering, use a changing table or bed to avoid repetitive or prolonged bending. Bend at your hips when bathing your child while seated on the edge of the tub (with your feet inside of the bathtub), or kneeling just outside the tub.
When feeding your child – whether nursing or bottle feeding – sit in a supportive chair with your feet flat on the floor, and prop the child up on a boppy or bed pillow to maintain good posture. A high chair or seat can also be used for bottle and spoon feeding to avoid excess strain from supporting the child’s body weight.
At PDR Clinics, our occupational and physical therapists provide hands-on training in proper body mechanics to decrease strain to the neck and back while participating in childcare tasks. For more information regarding our services, go to www.PDRclinics.com.