The Right Way to Carry a Car Seat

Learn how to carry your baby's car seat without compromising your lower back.
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Do you know how achy you can get from carrying your baby’s car seat? Have you seen other people with that awkward stride that comes along with it?

If you had no idea you were doing it wrong, read to find out the right way to carry a car seat. You can also opt for other ways to carry your baby if the seat seems too heavy. Let’s dig right in!

How Do You Carry Baby Seats?

One of the most convenient ways to carry babies around is using the car seat. But who knew they could be so heavy? The average infant car seat weighs between 10 and 20 pounds, depending on what type of seat it is.

Add the baby in there and you have yourself a pretty hefty load to carry. Doing this often enough will take a toll on your body. Your arms, back, neck, and hips may take the full brunt of it and chronic pain could easily become a constant companion.

Take a moment and think about how you have been carrying your infant car seat. Have you been looping your arm through the handle? The crook of your elbow possibly takes all the weight, right?

Have You Been Doing It Wrong?

I never came across this advice until after my kids were out of car seats. It would have been a real lifesaver (or back saver).

Usually, there are two options for carrying these awkward seats — you can either carry it with one hand or cradle it over your arm.

It’s most harmful when you carry it with one hand. The further the weight is from your torso, the more stress on your ligaments, muscles, discs, and joints. This would be the equivalent to carrying up to four full cans of paint in one hand (1).

If you cradle it with both hands you wouldn’t be able to hold anything else. If you have a toddler with you who needs a hand to hold, the situation becomes tricky. The only option you’re left with is hooking it over your arm like a picnic basket.

By the time you get where you’re going, your arm may ache so bad you’re dying to put it down. Turns out, there are better and easier ways to carry a baby car seat.

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So How Should It Be Done?

Experts have come forward to demonstrate one of these ways that we’d like to share with you. Dr. Emily Puente, a chiropractor from Bridge Family Chiropractic in Mansfield, Texas, was kind enough to help us out. She happens to be a mom as well and says that she got this idea, which was the best gift ever.

What you do is kneel or squat close to the baby carrier and loop your arm through the handle. Then, turn your hand so that your palm is facing down and supporting the weight of the car seat.

Getting up will be pretty easy, and if you carry the seat this way, your posture should be more protected. This method distributes weight in a way that alleviates the strain on your arm, hips, and back.

This is merely a creative idea to help parents out. However, it might not work with all car seat makes and models.

Remember Your Limits

Keep in mind that postpartum moms, especially post c-section, should not be carrying any items heavier than 10 to 15 pounds (2). Most doctors recommend not lifting anything heavier than the baby (3).

If your car seat tends to fall beyond that category with the baby in it, avoid it. This tip could be helpful, however, if you absolutely must take the car seat with you and you’re making the trip solo.

Any time you are carrying your baby in the car seat, be sure they are properly strapped in. Keeping your child unbuckled or with loosened straps allows the baby to move into unsafe positions that put the baby at risk of strangulation or asphyxiation.
Headshot of Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Editor's Note:

Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Carry the Car Seat in the Center

If the method above doesn’t work for you, holding the car seat in front of you with both arms could be better. This will be close to your core and will help you maintain your posture without strain.

As we mentioned above, it could get tricky with a toddler in tow or other bags to carry. Aside from this, it’s just another viable option.

Add Straps to Your Infant Seat

If your car seat manufacturer permits it, you can add a strap to the seat and make it easy to carry your car seat over your shoulder or like a backpack. This is a hands-free method that will also allow you to do other things.

Some brands include these straps with the car seat upon purchase, but you can get one separately as well.

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Use a Carrier Instead

If the tips above fail to work for you, your body doesn’t have to pay for it. Instead of lugging a baby seat wherever you go, wear your baby instead. Most carriers are ergonomically designed to distribute the baby’s weight, easing pain and discomfort.

There are many carrier options on the market. I personally went with a carrier for my third baby as it made it easier to travel with the other kids.

But car seats do come with an advantage, especially when you need to sit at a restaurant. With a carrier, you must hold the baby the whole time, so be ready for that.

Ready to Carry?

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to carry a car seat. Thanks to the trusty chiropractor, we think we’ve found our favorite. Just one twist of your arm and voila!

This is one of those genius hacks we are more than glad to add to our books. If you try this technique, get back to us and share how it goes.

We always look forward to hearing from you. If this hack doesn’t work out for you, please let us know of any other method you prefer.

Headshot of Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Reviewed by

Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Kristen Gardiner, CPST is a writer, wife, and mother to three boys. Kristen became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician by Safe Kids Worldwide in 2015 and loves to volunteer and help educate parents about car seat safety. She has a passion for all things related to child safety.
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