How could such a cute little thing cause such pain, you might wonder as you hold your new baby and carry that car seat for the umpteenth time. You’re so busy learning the parenting ropes that you may not stop to think about the toll it is taking on your body.

Repetitive stress injuries, such as tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, are caused by repetitive use of certain body parts. If you are a parent with a baby or toddler you may be experiencing the discomfort, aches and pains of RSIs in several upper-body locations, as well as your knees and hips. Holding, lifting and playing with baby, as well as dealing with baby equipment like strollers and car seats can hurt.

Here are a few tips to avoid disabling conditions associated with parenting.

It all starts with good posture.

Carrying your toddler: We all do it when we’re carrying something heavy. We kick one hip out like a shelf and use it to help balance whatever needs to be carried. When you’re carrying a 20-pound toddler on one hip for long periods of time you can strain your back and the ligaments on that side of the body. Instead, hold your child in front of you with legs wrapped around your waist. This will keep your little one centered and help you stand upright, honoring your spine’s natural position. Using a stroller and encouraging your child to walk as much as possible will help distress your frame.

Lifting your child from the floor: Remember to use your legs! Standing close to your child, back straight, step forward with one foot and lower yourself to one knee. With your child close go your body, grab them with both arms and lift with your legs. Reverse these steps when setting the child down to the floor.

Wrangling the infant car seat: Carry the seat by the handle with both hands, elbows bent, holding it in front of your body with weight evenly distributed. Never carry the car seat to one side of your body or lug it around on your forearm like you would a purse or handbag. This can put unneeded stress on the back, shoulder and arm.

There are lots of stressors on a new parent’s body, from lack of sleep to rough play with your high-energy toddler that can send you to the emergency room with a sprained neck. Take care of yourself while taking care of your baby by strengthening your abdominal, back, pelvic and hip muscles. Talk to your physician for more guidance or contact a physical therapist directly. At Cahill Physical Therapy we can help you recover from the wear and tear of being a parent, and customize a resistance-training regimen to address your personal strength deficiencies.