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How to Carry a Car Seat: Without Compromising Your Back

Medically Reviewed by Kristen Gardiner, CPST
How to carry your baby's car seat without compromising your body.

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? Carrying a car seat the wrong way can be downright dangerous and hard on your body.

We’ve been there — and have the injuries to prove it.

But we’ve learned from our mistakes and have discovered a better way. If you’re finding it difficult to take your heavy baby on outings, read on to learn how to carry a car seat in the best, most comfortable way.

Key Takeaways

  • Carrying a car seat with one hand can cause strain on ligaments, muscles, discs, and joints, leading to discomfort and potential injury.
  • Dr. Emily Puente suggests looping your arm through the handle and grabbing the side of the car seat with your palm facing down to distribute weight and alleviate strain.
  • Holding the car seat in front of you with both arms can help maintain posture and minimize strain, especially when carrying other items or managing a toddler.
  • If carrying a car seat is still difficult, consider using a baby carrier instead to evenly distribute weight and reduce discomfort.

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 wrist/arm/hip/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 equivalent to carrying up to four full cans of paint in one hand (1).

If you cradle the seat with both hands, you won’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 while your baby gets jostled and bumped around.

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

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How to Carry a Car Seat

Experts have demonstrated one of the techniques 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’s also a mom and says this idea she had was the best gift ever.

To pick up your car seat, kneel or squat close to the carrier it and loop your arm through the handle. Then, turn your hand so that your palm is facing down. Grab the side of the carrier with your hand to support 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 moms, should not be carrying any items heavier than 10 to 15 pounds. Most doctors recommend not lifting anything heavier than the baby (2).

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.
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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, but it’s another viable option.

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Use a Carrier Instead

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

There are many carrier options on the market. I 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.


Can You Carry a Car Seat After Giving Birth?

Whether you can carry a car seat after giving birth depends on your recovery, type of delivery, and doctor’s advice. Many recommend waiting a few weeks, especially after a C-section or if there are any complications.

How Do You Walk Through an Airport With a Car Seat?

Walk through an airport with a car seat using a car seat travel cart, wearing the car seat as a backpack with straps, or checking it in. Some parents opt for a car seat stroller frame for ease of movement.

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Medically 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.