Caring for a baby involves repeated lifting and carrying throughout the day. In the beginning, your infant is tiny and light, but, as your baby gets older and grows, lifting and carrying becomes more of a challenge. Safety will be a primary concern for both you and your little one.
Proper Body Mechanics
Before lifting a baby of any age, place your feet shoulder width apart, keep your back straight, bend your knees and lower into a squatting position, advises Chiropractor Robert J. Evans, with the Dundas University Health Clinic. Grasp the baby and pull him close to your body, centered between your shoulders and hips, so your body absorbs the additional weight. Lift the baby using your thigh muscles. Do not twist your body as you lift the baby because this can result in back injury. Think about movements before you make them to avoid moving quickly and injuring yourself.
Lifting Techniques for Newborns
To lift a newborn from the floor, kneel on one knee with the other foot beside the baby’s head. Place one hand beneath the baby’s head and the other hand beneath the baby’s bottom and gently lift the baby so she’s even with your bent knee. Shift the baby to support her with your forearms and bring her close to your body. Support the newborn’s head and neck carefully at all times. Stand up straight while holding the baby close to your body. To lift a newborn from an elevated surface, such as a crib or changing table, bring her close to your body first, bend your knees slightly and then lift her into your arms.
Lifting Techniques for Older Babies
Prepare to lift an older baby before you lift him so the child is ready. Position equipment to prepare to lift your child -- adjust the car seat so you face it squarely or move the high chair tray out of the way, for example. Place your hands around the child’s midsection first, establish eye contact and say something such as “Up we go!” Practice proper body mechanics of bending your legs, softening your joints and pulling the baby as close to your body as possible. As you lift the baby, allow him to support his upper body as much as possible to lessen your strain. By approximately 4 months of age, an average baby has the strength and coordination to balance his head, neck and trunk when he's in a supported position, states the MyHealthAlberta website.
Keep the baby centered on your body. Avoid carrying a baby on one hip because this often leads to a postural imbalance that could cause lower back pain. Keep your back straight as you hold your baby. If you must hold your baby with one arm, switch arms frequently to minimize strain, suggest the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. Avoid carrying and holding a baby for an extended period, instead sitting with cushion or pillow support when possible.