How to Carry a Car Seat Without Killing Your Back

Hauling a car seat around with a baby in isn’t always easy. And it’s not uncommon for some of us loving moms to experience a bit of discomfort or even pain in the back, hips, or shoulders. But, is there’s a way to lift and carry a baby car seat without it hurting your back, hips, or shoulder? Such a way exists according to one mom who happens to be a chiropractor at Bridge Family Chiropractic.

Related: What to Do With Old Car Seats

I bumped into Emily Puentes’ video way back in 2017, and the video now has almost 6 million views. The video went viral because many moms and dads watched it, shared, and tagged their friends so they too could benefit.

Related: How to Clean a Baby Car Seat

6 Safe Ways to Carry an Infant Car Seat

Here’s the list:

1.Use Emily Puente’s technique.

2. Grip the handle with both hands and carry your baby on the front using your core’s strength for support.

3. Hold the seat by the sides and carry it without using the handles (might feel awkward but it’s probably the safest method because there’s zero reliance on the handles. Works best for short distances)

4. Put the infant safety seat in a compatible baby stroller and wheel it around while out on the town.

5. Where permitted by the car seat’s manufacturer or where they have provided straps, use straps to carry the seat as a backpack.

6. Use a structured baby carrier or any other type of safe carrier option and leave the car seat in the car.

You Probably Have Been Carrying Your Infant Car Seat Wrong

You’ve been carrying your infant car seat all wrong IF it’s been hurting badly afterward.

Take a look at the picture. That’s how the vast majority of moms and dads carry their infant car seat with their baby inside after getting out of the car.

a mother hanging a car seat by foream

this way of carrying baby seat hurts

These two methods seem and feel like the most natural ways to carry a baby car seat. But going by the sea of anecdotal evidence around, these conventional car seat carrying methods hurt. Maybe it’s time you tried something different.

Below is how the chiropractor mom says is the easiest way to carry your baby from the car to wherever you’re going. I’m not saying to use your car seat as a baby carrier, though, which a surprising number of people do. You certainly should leave the car seat where it belongs once you get back home.

How Puente’s Method Works

Look at the photo above. The arm and bicep aren’t forming the letter V as is often the case with many parents and caregivers. Instead of the seat hanging from the arm/bicep V, the arm takes some of the pressure. At the same time, your palm counteracts the pressure at the arm by pressing in the opposite direction.

carry a car seat right

I’ll now describe how this chiropractor mom’s safe car seat carrying technique or maneuver works. These are the motions Puente describes in her viral video:

Step 1: Turn the infant car seat so that your kiddo now faces you.

Step 2: Bend down so that you’re now crouching.

Step 3: Loop a hand through the handle of the seat with the palm facing up.

Step 4: Turn your hand so that your palm faces to the side somewhere around the base of the seat.

Step 5: Cradle the base of the seat and press your palm against it for support and then stand up.

If you’re anything like me and many moms who’ve tried out this new method, you’ll love it. You’ll really appreciate how relaxed your back, hips, and shoulder feel after using this baby gear.

Good Reasons to Try Out Puente’s Car Seat Carrying Method

One reason to try out this newish technique is that it works. And the best part is that it seems to prevent back pain for those who use it. Puente’s method keeps hip, shoulder, and back strain at bay by distributing the seat’s and baby’s weight in a different way.

In the video, the chiropractor says that carrying a car seat her way won’t hurt your hips and shoulder. Nor do you need to ever swing the seat using your knee as many moms and dads habitually do.

Another reason you want to put this idea to the test is that it works very well for parents with two little ones. One hand holds the car seat plus baby (securely, I might add) while the other hand remains free so you can hold the hand of your walking child.

Her method seems to defy the laws of physics, but legions of parents from around the world swear by her technique. They’re noticing a huge difference in how their back and other parts involved in the activity feel afterward.

Puente’s Method May Not Work for Every Car Seat, Though

Many parents found the chiropractor’s car seat holding method to be easy, convenient, and comfortable. However, one person who put the technique to work found that it caused a bit of discomfort.

But that wasn’t because the method doesn’t work or causes discomfort. Rather, the viewer experienced discomfort likely because her seat model didn’t work too well with the method.

That feedback prompted the Mansfield, TX-based chiropractor to advise viewers that it was likely that her method may not work for all car seat makes and models.

She even told her viewers that it’s best for anyone who wants to try out her approach to consult a doctor first. So, let a qualified medical professional examine you and advise you whether you’re fit to use Puente’s maneuver.

It’s Better to Babywear or Hold a Baby Outside the Car

Baby safety in the car seat experts agree that strapping in a baby is the safest way to carry them around in a car. But while you can still detach the infant car seat from the backseat with the baby in, that’s probably not the safest way to carry a baby when walking outside.

Puente says that holding the baby or even better babywearing them is better than ferrying them around in the car seat. Maybe it’s time you joined a babywearing group where you’re at or contact a babywearing educator for advice and guidance on the same.

What a Critic Said About Puente’s Method

I spent some time reading the comments Puente’s 1-minute video pulled in. Lots of people reported that this car seat holding idea worked for them. And that they no longer noticed discomfort or pain afterward.

But one comment stood out to me because it sounded like fair criticism. Below are the ideas I gleaned from that comment:

1. Carrying a baby using only one hand isn’t the safest way to do it because the handle can break putting your infant in harm’s way.

2. The hip still pushes out a bit, maybe less so, but it sure does. That means you might still experience a little stress there.

3. The other concern as per the critic is that infant car seats aren’t designed to distribute their weight through one handle. If you use this method, you’ll likely end up with a strained elbow and hurting wrists, said the unhappy commenter.

I’ve tried out the chiropractor mom’s suggestion myself, and there’s nothing to complain about. Even though the car seat’s handle rested on the inside of my elbow, it wasn’t anywhere near uncomfortable.

A Huge Safety Concern Raised: The Handle Can Break

Some have raised concerns about the overall safety of Puente’s almost revolutionizing and painfree infant seat carrying approach. Yes, your looped-in arm also provides support for the base of the seat. And that does increase safety in some way?

But I can see how the handle could break and the worst happens. According to the CPSC and NHTSA, the handle can break if a parent uses an infant seat as a baby carrier. Older moms can remember Century Products recalling 4,000,000 car seats because they were defective.

Before the press release, Ohio-based Century had received at least 2,700 car seat handle quality-related reports. By the way, Graco now owns Century. And more recently, Britax recalled 71,000 car seats because the handles were defective. 

Small wonder most experts don’t recommend carrying an infant seat in your hand or hanging it in the crook of your elbow. So…

What’s the Correct Way to Carry an Infant Car Seat?

The best and safest way to carry an infant car seat is to use both hands rather than carrying one-handed as many parents do. Use both hands to grip the handle or to hold the seat by its sides.

Below are two safe ways of handling a baby car seat when outside the car if you must carry it in the first place:

Method #1: Hold the sides and lift the seat with both hands. This method is probably the safest since you’re not relying on the handle at all. The handle can’t break because you’re not using it to support the seat. So, your baby will always be safe.

The downside to this method is that your hands stay occupied throughout use. This idea forces you to maintain a strong core while walking in the right posture.

When you walk around in the correct body posture, you’re less likely to experience discomfort around the hips, back, or shoulder. According to Harvard Health, one way to prevent back pain is to improve body posture. a dad carrying car seat on his shoulder

Method #2: The second method is to carry the infant car seat front and center. Using both hands, firmly grip the seat’s handle in front of your body.

You’re positioning the seat near the core of your body here for better support. The greatness of this approach is that the seat gets lots of support and you get to keep a good body posture. Maxi Cosi recommends this method

The downside to using these two safe infant car seat carrying methods is that both hands are always at work. You have no free hand to hold your toddler, or pulse, or whatever. But when it comes to the safety of your child, are you willing to take any chances? No loving mom or dad ever does.

a mom carrying a baby corretly

Other Painfree Seat Carrying Ideas

1. Put the infant seat in a baby stroller: This is a pain-free way to get around town with your little one. If you have a stroller that’s compatible with a baby car seat, lucky you! Rolling a heavy car seat around in a baby stroller is much easier and kinder to your lower back, hips, elbow, and shoulders.

2. If the car seat manufacturer allows this, attach straps to the infant car seat: Read the manual to learn whether the manufacturer permits this suggestion or not. Adding straps to a seat enables you to carry it as you would a backpack. You’ll save your hips, elbow, and wrists pain and suffering.

Don’t Carry the Seat. Instead, Wear Your Baby

Why not leave that little cutie’s safety seat in the car and instead load your tot into a meh dai or a structured baby carrier? Babywearing has become quite the trend, and there are multiple reasons you should join the movement, mama.

How to Carry an Infant Seat Safely Without Pain: Conclusion

The most convenient way to carry your baby when out on the town is to put their seat in a stroller and just wheel it around. Another idea is to use Chiropractor Puente’s new infant seat carrying technique. But the safest ways to get around with a baby include using both hands to grip the handle or support the seat.

Putting the seat in a stroller and rolling it around is another good idea.

You can also add straps to the car seat to make it more convenient to carry. Some manufacturers include straps that help you to convert the car seat to a backpack for painfree use. Be sure to check the seat manual to learn whether the manufacturer allows straps to be added, though.

Happy and safe parenting!

Author: Esther Moni

I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="">nascent youtube channel.

Esther Moni

I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being a wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. Visit my Facebook profile here, and this is my LinkedIn profile, and here's my nascent youtube channel.