Lifting and carrying safely

Parents lift and carry their children in different ways. To prevent injury, take care when lifting and carrying.

Tips for protecting your back

  • When lifting anything, especially children, remember to:
    • bend your hips, knees and ankles
    • keep your spine safe by lifting with your leg muscles
    • take your baby out of the car seat before carrying her, whenever possible
  • Avoid carrying your baby on one hip. This causes your spine to twist. Carrying your baby over one shoulder will also put more strain on your lower back.
  • The best height for a work surface (e.g., change table) is near the level of your hip bone. Keep supplies close at hand.
  • Set your stroller or baby carriage handles high enough so that you won’t need to bend forward.
  • Kneel or squat when working at floor level. Bend your knees, not your back.


Baby and child carriers

Using carriers properly will help prevent back and neck strain. During the first few months, when babies have poor head control, they need to be carried on the front of the parent. After that you may want to use a back carrier.

When carrying your baby on your front using a sling:

  • follow the instructions carefully
  • have someone help you the first few times
  • choose a sling that holds your baby upright—these are safer
  • make sure her face is uncovered
  • Slings and carriers

  • Some slings and carriers have been recalled and aren't safe. For product safety and buying advice, visit Health Canada.

When carrying your baby on your front using a carrier:

  • have her sit high on your chest, with her head under your chin and make sure her face is uncovered
  • carry her up higher to prevent you from being pulled forward and down
  • don’t move your baby to a back carrier until she has good head control

When carrying your baby or child on your back:

  • follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on your baby or child carrier
  • place her low around your waist, close to your center of gravity. You’ll be more stable and this will put less strain on your muscles.

Bike carriers and trailers are not safe for babies under 1 year old because babies have poor neck or head control. For children over 1 year old, always use a properly fitting helmet and ensure that they are safely secured.

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