Exercising with Your Baby

From biking and hiking to walking and jogging, today’s parents are keeping fit and bonding with their babies in the process. With an array of products unheard of a generation ago— like baby carriers, joggers and trailers— even the tiniest among us are enjoying the great outdoors. But while these items can make life easier and more enjoyable for both parent and child, they can be the cause of pain and injury if not used properly. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) urges you to exercise caution and good judgment while exercising with your baby.

BIKING

When biking with a child on board, use a trailer, a rolling ride-along that hitches to the back end of a bike. It is a much safer option than a carrier, a “passenger” seat that sits directly on the bike, according to Dr. Scott Bautch, of ACA’s Council on Occupational Health. Dr. Bautch prefers trailers because of their added stability. He cautions that carriers can decrease a bike’s stability, possibly causing it to topple and injure both the parent and child.

To further ensure the child’s safety while biking, keep the following tips in mind:

The trailer must be equipped with a harness that can be placed over the child’s body. The harness should be complicated enough that the child cannot unhook it or wiggle out of it.

JOGGING

If you wish to go for a jog and bring your child along for the ride, the baby jogger is your best option. A baby jogger is a rolling pushcart that a parent can jog behind, using handlebars to maneuver. Here are some rules of thumb to consider:

WALKING OR HIKING

Backpack-Style and Front-Side Baby Carriers

For parents who prefer walking or hiking with their little ones, a backpack-style or front-side baby carrier could be for you. Dr. Bautch cautions, however, that there are risks involved with carrying an infant on your back in a backpack-style carrier. “The cervical spine of a child less than one year old is not fully developed. It is important at that age that the head does not bob around. The backpack-type carrier is not ideal because the parent cannot watch to make sure the child’s head is stable. A front-side carrier is better for a very young child,” explains Dr. Bautch.

Dr. Bautch also urges you to think about the following:

Baby Slings

The “baby sling” is becoming more and more popular for its versatility of positions and comfort. But if you wish to use a baby sling, keep in mind that it is intended only for very young infants and follows these tips:

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, don’t forget about your own health and comfort. When lifting a child to place him or her into a trailer or jogger, exercise caution. Don’t bend from the waist, but begin in a 3-point squat and implement a two-stage lift that consists of a) pulling the child up to your chest and then b) lifting straight up with your leg muscles. Stay as close to the car seat or trailer as possible and place the child into it without reaching, stretching or twisting. The further the child is from your body, the more strain you will place on your spine and musculoskeletal system.

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