6 Simple Ways Parents Can Address and Prevent Back Pain


After working with hundreds of new parents in my private chiropractic practice, I’ve seen how being a parent can be really hard on our backs. And now that I have three little kids myself, I understand this more than ever! 

Whether you already deal with chronic back pain or are starting to feel it more frequently since becoming a parent, my list of simple ways parents can address and prevent back pain can help you. 

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

It’s 3 AM and you’re finally back in bed after being up with your crying one-year-old for what felt like an eternity. As soon as the clock strikes 3:20 AM, you hear your toddler’s cry start to rev up again and you slowly drag your groggy self out of bed and into his room. You bend over to pick him up out of his crib and you suddenly feel a quick, sharp *PING* in your back. 

Uh-oh. Now you’re wide awake, in pain, and afraid to stand up straight, let alone try to pick up your now-screaming baby again. You’re stuck.

Yikes! I’ve heard so many different versions of this story from patients through the years and I’ve also had a similar experience while trying to pick up my daughter out of her car seat. Besides car seats and cribs, other potentially tricky situations for back injury include getting up off of the floor, moving kiddos in and out of high chairs, and anything involving wet, slippery floors- like bathtime or localized spills. 

Back pain from lifting little kids is the number one complaint I hear from new parent patients- injury can happen so quickly!

Moms are expert multi-taskers but sometimes we forget to slow down and think about ourselves in the moment, too. Here are a few simple rules to remember to help prevent back pain and injury from starting. Practice these as often as you can – you won’t regret it!

RULE #1: Lift With Your Legs

One of the most common ways a parent can injure their back is while leaning over their child’s crib, collapsing forward at their hips with straight legs. This can lead to muscle strains and spasms. You likely make the same motion lifting your child out of their car seat, high chair, or even off of the floor. 

mother bends over a baby's crib in a posture that is likely to injure her back
Incorrect posture
mother bends over a crib, demonstrating a correct posture to prevent back pain and injury while lifting the baby
Correct posture

Instead, try your best to let your legs do the heavy lifting here, not your back. Bend your knees so you squat and lift with your legs. 

The same goes for when you’re getting up off of the floor – use your legs! If you’ve been sitting cross-legged, start by sliding your legs to the side. Form a 90-degree angle with your knees then bring one foot forward into a lunge position. Lift your body to the standing position by placing your hands on your front knee (or a nearby chair) while pushing up with your legs.

RULE #2: Hold Them Close

When picking up your little one, hold them close to your chest. Carrying any heavy weight (even a little squishy newborn) away from your body will cause your back muscles to tense and tighten. For example, when taking them in and out of their car seat, try to avoid reaching in from a standing position to do it. Instead, sit next to the car seat with your little one on your lap, if you can, and gently rotate your body to the side to get them in and out.  

RULE #3: Use Your Feet

When you’re on your feet, avoid twisting your torso and reaching at the same time. Examples of this are when lowering them onto the changing table or putting them into their car seats while standing (versus Rule #2 where gently rotating your body while sitting is okay!) Instead, shift your footing and turn your entire body toward the direction you want to face. This one takes practice (it will feel awkward at first) but it is worth the effort!

RULE #4: Loosen Up

Toting your baby around all day is no different than performing as an athlete and athletes never dive into a workout without warming up first! 

Before picking up your child, loosen up sensitive spots such as your back, neck, and shoulders. Here is a one-minute stretching sequence that can be done first thing in the morning before you even get out of bed:

Child’s Pose

  • Start on all fours with your hips and knees at right angles. 
  • Have your knees wider than hip-width apart.
  • Hinge back with your hips and lower your glutes to your heels. 
  • If possible, lower your head towards the floor.
  • Hold for a count of 10.
  • Repeat 3 times.
woman in a child's pose to prevent back pain and injury
A Child’s Pose to stretch out the back and prevent back pain and injury

Cat Cow

  • From the Child’s Pose, return to a kneeling position with your knees and hips at 90 degrees.
  • Take a deep breath, and arch your back towards the ceiling. Pull your chin in towards your chest and tuck your tailbone under. This is a Cat. 
  • Hold for a count of 2.
  • Exhale and allow your spine to drop down while your gaze and tailbone shift up to the ceiling. This is a Cow. 
  • Hold for a count of 2. 
  • Repeat 3 times.

RULE #5: Check Yo’ Self!

Check your posture whenever possible!

When you carry your baby on your hip (especially if you mostly stick to only one side) your posture will shift to compensate for this weight. Most parents also push their baby-carrying hip out to the side, causing a domino effect of misalignments throughout the body. That’s why making it a habit to check your posture throughout the day will save you in the long run. (Your mother was right…)

Step 1 – Your ears should be over the middle of your shoulders and your chin tucked.

Step 2 –  Shoulders down and back (not rounded forward) and your rib cage tucked down.

Step 3 – Tuck your tailbone beneath your hips and pull your belly in.

RULE #6: Take Care

My last bit of advice is to always make time for self-care. When you’re healthy and strong, your body can support you being the best parent you can be. And if you’re ever concerned about your back pain, always talk to your doctor first. It’s hard work being a parent and it’s important to get help when you need it. 

If you have a history of back pain, here are a few more tips to prevent back pain. 

  • You can buy a crib with sides that can be lowered each time you put your baby in and out of the crib. This prevents having to reach down awkwardly over the rails with the baby in your arms.
  • Always remove the tray when putting your baby in and out of their high chair. Not having to lift your baby up and over the tray is easier on the back. 
  • Lastly, don’t buy your car seat online; test them out first! I made this mistake the first time around and I had no idea how much lighter certain brands of car seats are. All car seats are equally safe but lighter ones are so much easier (and healthier for your back) to carry around. 

I hope you find that my list of 6 simple ways parents can address and prevent back pain is helpful! If you have any questions about the six rules listed above, comment below – I’d love to hear how they work for you!

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