Jason T Smith renowned Physiotherapist shares his tips on lifting and carrying children to avoid injury

In my years of physiotherapy practice, one of the most shared complaints from new mothers is that of back pain and strains. Lifting and carrying your baby or toddler is often a highly underrated task and the frequency of these activities can certainly take its toll on your body.

As a Mother, you tend to do a lot of repetitive lifting.

Not only are you continuously picking up your children, but also lifting baby car seats, baby strollers and spending large amounts of time bending over or kneeling down. The last thing any mother wants is an injury that prevents her from being able to pick up or carry her child. Maintaining good core strength is significant in avoiding back injuries, which are often slow to recover and quick to reinjure. Therefore prevention is the key.

The aches and pains that come from constant lifting and carrying can be reduced and prevented by practicing some safe techniques.

As a physiotherapist, I recommend the following:

  • Begin with a strong base of support, keeping your feet shoulder distance apart.
  • Immediately before lifting your baby, activate the core stabilising muscles in your lower back, abdomen, pelvic floor, inner knee and neck/shoulder.
  • When lifting your baby, make sure to keep a neutral back, bend at the knees and use the muscles of your legs.
  • Avoid carrying your baby on your hip as this will result in a misaligned and unbalanced posture and will create excessive stress on your back.
  • Like the main image above, carrying and holding your baby in a central upright position, directly against your chest will allow you to carry for longer, without the risk of injury.
  • When holding your child, do not twist or bend sideways – this creates excessive pressure on your body and especially on your lumbar discs.
  • Never try to lift or carry both your child and a car seat or stroller at the same time! When time is of the essence, it is very tempting to juggle your baby on one hip and the car seat on the other, yet this is a very fast and sure path to serious back injury (let alone risk to your child).
  •  Often, injury is caused by quick, sharp motions such as reaching hurriedly for a toy or a bottle. It is important that you maintain control throughout your movements and are able to recognise your limitations.

Whilst it can be difficult to find large amounts of spare time during early parenthood, I also recommend regular exercise in order to maintain a strong, healthy back and overall wellness. Leaving the house to go to the gym or heading out for a run is often out of the question, therefore some simple stretching exercises can be excellent options for busy mothers and can be easily incorporated into your morning or nightly routines.

It is also a fantastic idea to maintain an exercise program throughout your pregnancy, not only to help with the extra physical effort of being pregnant, but to ensure that your body is in prime condition to perform the weight lifting and load bearing activities of a new mother. Back In Motion offer both Mums in Motion™ and Mums & Bubs™ classes, in which exercises are specifically designed and cater to the needs of expectant or new mothers and their babies.

If you experience any pain or injury, or are limited in performing certain activities, visit your local Back In Motion physiotherapist for a free initial assessment and a program tailored to your own personal needs.

  • yes this is the right way to lift and you don’t want to hurt yourself when you have to care for kids


  • yeah definately exercise and start gently after you have had a baby


  • I’ve always tried being careful when picking up my son when he was a baby. thanks for sharing.


  • Great tips and advice, I need to lessen loads. Thanks for sharing


  • You really do need to look after yourself when having children especially when lifting and carrying as it has a lot of strain not only physical but also mentally


  • Good advice, I’m hopeless, thanks for the article.


  • I am so guilty of carrying my daughter on my hip. I guess everything is usually fast paced that we rush to do things or get things and not bending or lifting correctly and overtime I find that my back gets more sore. I can’t hold my daughter for a long period of time due to my back feeling like it’s going got snap


  • Great tips. So hard not to pick children up sometimes tho.


  • I had lots of problems with my hips as I carried all three children on the hip. Suffering for it now!


  • We’ve all been guilty of lifting more than we should because we’re in a hurry, or trying to do too much. But it’s better to lift properly and safely, because once you’ve injured your back, life becomes a hell of a lot harder.


  • Good tips. This is why my back sometimes goes! I need to strengthen.


  • Thank you for the tips – really good to know.


  • babies and little ones do get heavy and are never really balanced which can cause a lot of damage


  • Great tips! Now I just have to follow your advice!


  • Thanks for this, I don’t think we stop and think about carrying kids and hurting our backs


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