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No, your hip is not a shelf. It should not be used as one. Parents who are tired of their backs being broken by young children need to learn the Spider Monkey concept for carrying children.

Try holding something close to your chest. Now straighten your arms and hold it far away. The farther away from the center we move the more stress it puts on our bodies. Unless you are dealing with a seriously stinky diaper holding close is a much better strategy.

There is no shelf on your hip. If you have a child sitting on your hip think about how distorted your back has to become to allow this and can cause hip pain. Sure it works at the moment, but this position will take a toll on you. Here is a better alternative.

The position:

While holding the farther leg just below the knee in your hand, place the baby’s butt on your forearm. Have their legs wrapped around your body and their arms wrapped around your neck. Their head should be tucked in close and against you.
A large portion of a baby’s weight is in its head. If they are leaning back and playing the trust game drop into a squat and tell them that you will put them down if they do not hold themselves close.

They should also start trying to hold themselves with their arms and legs.

The why:

  • By having the arm flexed you are engaging the biceps and have the baby held up by the strongest muscle in your arm.
  • Holding the lower leg just below the knee gives you a solid hold and you can support the head if needed with your opposite arm.

Once your child is good at supporting their own head you can start building towards them holding on to you and supporting more of their weight. Making less strain on your body. As they get stronger you could even start letting go for small moments.

Spider Monkey?

This idea in our family originated from reading a book with our older child about Spider Monkeys. The book described how from birth the baby would cling to Mom’s back as she leaped from tree to tree. If a monkey could hold on, why not my 5-year-old? So we started with him and slowly started doing more with my youngest. It reached the point where I could say “Spider Monkey”, and my kids would know to hold on while I let go and did whatever needed to be done with my hands.

My youngest monkey is now a Gymnast, I like to think building that strength started her on that path.