Do you have a baby or toddler and are experiencing neck or shoulder pain? If you answered yes, you are far from alone. Once you had your baby, you likely thought the pain was completely behind you. After all, growing and birthing a tiny human is the hard part, right? But then those perfect little babies want to be held. And while this is easy enough when they are tiny newborns, they grow at a rapid rate. It gets harder on the body as the months and years roll by. As much as you love carrying your little one, it can be a pain. Literally.
That’s why we’re sharing our best tips with you on how you can prevent neck and shoulder pain while still carrying your baby. Which includes an easy-to-use hip carrier called TushBaby that will absorb the weight of your child for you.
But first, let’s talk about why neck and shoulder pain is so common in new parents.
Why Caregivers Feel Neck and Shoulder Pain from Carrying a Baby
Being a parent to a baby is hard work...but you already knew that. What you probably didn't expect was the physical discomfort that comes along with holding and carrying your baby. You may not notice it at first, but the same repetitive motions done with improper form will leave you sore and with a body that feels out of whack.
Here are some reasons why it happens:
Picking Up Your Baby Incorrectly
When your baby is small and wiggling is the most they do, you can pick them up with ease. But when your little one starts toddling around and scurrying away from you, you’re much more likely to scoop them up in a hurry. This causes extra strain and weight on parts of the body that shouldn’t be bearing the brunt of your baby’s weight.
Carrying Your Baby on Your Hip
Once babies reach a point where they can hold their head up on their own, they are usually held on the hip. The older a child becomes, the more difficult it is to carry them. It doesn’t take long before you notice yourself leaning over to be able to carry them and we often carry our children long after it’s become uncomfortable. In this article from Precision Pain Care Rehab, they say not to favor one side of the other. I don’t know about you, but it feels completely unnatural for me to carry my kiddo on my right side. Not to mention I then no longer have use of my dominant hand. This is much easier said than done.
Hunching Over While Nursing or Bottle-Feeding Your Baby
Even though you’re generally sitting down while feeding your baby, this is still a time where you might notice pain in your neck. Constantly bending down toward your baby to feed them or stare into those sweet little eyes can cause this type of discomfort.
Incorrect Use of a Sling or Front Carrier
This is something I noticed a lot when my children were small. I loved having a sling for my youngest when she was a newborn as it helped calm her down, but I never seemed to get the fit quite right. It was always pulling on my shoulder. Front carriers also need to be fitted and tightened properly, otherwise they put a lot of unnecessary strain where they shouldn’t.
Carrying a Car Seat on One Arm
When babies are small, we often leave them in their carseat to bring them inside and run errands. Although this is a wonderful option to have, especially when your baby is fast asleep, if it’s done too often it can put you in a lot of pain.
Add in the use of a heavy diaper bag on your shoulder and it’s not hard to see why so many new parents or other caregivers experience constant neck and shoulder pain.
Not only does the repetitive motion of picking up and carrying your baby cause neck and shoulder pain, but it also can cause back pain. In our article, “How to Carry Your Baby Without Hurting Your Back”, we gave our top tips to avoid this type of pain. We have similar tips to share here, in hopes that carrying your baby can be completely pain-free.
Solutions to Carrying Your Baby Without Neck and Shoulder Pain
Holding your little one is one of the joys of parenting. It creates a bond like you’ve never known before. And that’s certainly something you’d never want to lose. Often parents just push through pain because their little one wants to be held and they want to hold them close, too. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
These are our top solutions to prevent unnecessary neck and shoulder pain while carrying your baby.
Get a Baby Carrier
One of the best ways to prevent shoulder and neck pain is to utilize a baby carrier often. But what kind? There are many different types of carriers to choose from and we listed our favorite ones in our “Best Baby Carriers” article. Some are better than others when it comes to preventing pain when carrying a baby, but when used correctly, they’re almost always better than using nothing at all. The problem here is that many caregivers don’t use them correctly and then the pain actually becomes worse. So you’ll want to choose one that you can use easily and correctly every time. Our top recommendation in that article was the TushBaby hip carrier and it’s the best for eliminating pain, as well. That’s because there's a minimal learning curve on how to use it, where others take a ton of practice to get it right. Read on to find out more about this amazing carrier!
Lift with Your Legs
We know that sometimes you get rushed or you just don’t think twice before picking up your little. And maybe it doesn’t hurt at first, but done over and over again it can have lasting negative effects on your body. But it’s really important to lift with your legs. In order to do this, you’ll want to kneel down on one knee. Then lift your baby while holding her close against your chest before standing up. Then push to standing from your legs while keeping your core muscles tightened and back straight.
While holding your baby, pay attention to your posture. You should not be leaning to one side or hunching forward. If you’re carrying your baby without the support of a carrier, you should be carrying them in the center of your body so that their weight is evenly distributed making it easier for you to stand up straight with head, neck and pelvis aligned.
Feed with Support
Using a supportive system to lay your baby on while you breastfeed or bottle feed them will help immensely. This is because you can position the pillow high against so that you’ll be bringing the baby up to you or your breast instead of hunching over to get closer to them. The TushBaby works great for this as it can be strapped around you with your baby laid across for feeding time.
Though prevention is key, if you do find yourself with some unnecessary kinks in your neck or shoulders, you’ll want to work those out as soon as possible to get relief. Bright Side gives 11 stretches that will help relieve your neck and shoulder pain.
How TushBaby Can Prevent Your Neck and Shoulder Pain
Isn’t it the greatest feeling to receive affection from your child? So when they want you to hold them, you don’t want to have to turn them down. But parents often experience so much discomfort that they have to tell their little ones that they can’t or they end up only being able to hold them for a few minutes before the weight is too much to bear. This is especially true as your toddler grows.
And if you know toddlers then you also know how they love to run around just as much as they want you to hold them. This leaves you in an endless up, down, up, down situation and that’s only going to make your pain worse.
The solution is the TushBaby hip carrier.
Unlike other carriers that can be difficult to use and get the right fit, this will never be a problem with TushBaby. Its simplicity is what makes it such a perfect choice.
And think about how you carry your baby the most. On your hip, right? TushBaby allows you to do this while maintaining perfect upright posture and with zero discomfort. How is this possible?
TushBaby is like the fanciest fanny pack you’ve ever seen with a seat right on it for your baby. Once you’ve fastened it snugly high around your waist, you’ll be able to hip carry your baby like you always have. Essentially, the carrier holds up the weight of your baby instead of you! All you have to do is put your arm around them to keep them safe.
Here are some other characteristics you’ll love about TushBaby:
- One size fits most - You don’t have to buy multiple carriers to fit different caregivers!
- Stashes all your stuff - There are so many pockets and hooks making it easy to store everything you’ll need for yourself and your baby while out and about.
- Hold your baby four ways - You can see how you can carry your baby with TushBaby in this article, and that includes a way to feed your baby without straining your neck and shoulders.
- Easy up and down - With other carriers, your baby pretty much has to stay put once they’re in there. But that’s not true with TushBaby!
- Doctor-approved - TushBaby has been given the seal of approval as a safe product for both caregiver and baby.
And if you’re wondering how long you can carry your baby like this for, the answer is ALL DAY! It’s perfect for around the house, short errands or a full day excursion. (It’s even great at Disneyland, which we talk about here!)
If you’ve been experiencing shoulder or neck pain that you know is a result of carrying your little one, we highly recommend following all of the tips laid out above. The TushBaby hip carrier, along with safe lifting practices, can be your best preventative measure against any unnecessary pain developing.