Updated: 30/05/2020

How To Hold Your Baby

If you’re worrying about how to hold your baby, you are not alone. This is one of the things that almost every mum-to-be worries about, but nobody really talks about. It’s perfectly natural to wonder how to hold your baby, and how to do it safely.


How To Hold Your Newborn

Newborn babies can seem scary, and the idea of holding your newborn can be almost terrifying. Here’s a guide on how to hold your newborn baby.

  • Wash your hands. Your little one is developing an immune system, so always make sure that your hands are clean before you lift or hold your baby. 
  • Relax. If you need five minutes to relax your body and clear your mind, take the five minutes. 
  • Get comfortable. If you feel more confident holding your baby while sitting down, sit down. Get into the most comfortable position for you. 
  • Support the head and neck. Your baby doesn’t have the muscle in the neck to hold the head up, so you have to make sure that you’re providing support. 


On Your Chest

Lying down, and holding your baby on your chest is possibly one of the first ways you will hold your baby after birth. It’s a great way for skin to skin contact, which can help you and your baby strengthen your bond. 

Lie down, and move your baby gently onto your chest, face down. Keep one hand supporting your baby’s head and neck, and the other supporting the bottom. Your baby’s head will be resting on your shoulder or near your neck. 

If you use this position, take care not to fall asleep while holding your baby. 


Cradle Hold

The cradle hold is pretty much what it sounds like. This is the hold you’re most likely to use to feed, and comfort your baby.

You cradle the baby in your arms, using the crook of your elbow to provide support for the head and neck. The hand of that same arm, will be supporting your baby’s bottom. You can use your other arm for more support, but as you get more confident, this hold gives you one hand free.

Shoulder Hold

This position is the one you’ll use to support your baby when you’re burping your baby after feeding. Keep supporting the head and neck, and lift your baby up to your chest. Your baby’s head will be resting on your shoulder. One hand will be on the head and neck, while the other will be supporting your baby’s bottom. 


Tummy Hold

This hold works well for babies that are particularly gassy, or unable to bring up wind. Your baby will be lying face down on your forearm. Your baby’s head will be at your elbow. The feet will be slightly on either side of your hand. You can use this position while sitting down if you would feel more comfortable. 


Lap Hold

The lap hold is a great way to interact with your newborn. It gives them a good view of your face. Sit in a chair, and keep both feet on the ground, with your legs together. Your baby will be lying on your lap, with the head at your knees. You can use your hands and arms for more support. If you feel confident, you can lift your baby, supporting the head and neck, using your forearms to support the body. 


Curious Hold

Some babies are naturally very curious. If your baby is very alert, and interested, they may enjoy being held with their back to your chest. This hold allows them to look around. One arm will be supporting the bottom, the other arm will be across your baby’s chest. Your chest will be supporting the baby’s head and neck. 


In The Bath

Bathing a newborn is not as easy as you would think. Babies become very slippery when they get wet, and it can take some practice before you know exactly what you’re doing. 

Otherwise, you need to lift the baby gently, with one arm supporting the head and neck, and the other hand supporting the bottom, as you put your baby into the bath. When the baby’s bottom is touching the bottom of the bath, you can take your hand away. 

Some newborns do not like to be bathed, so it may take two people to bath your baby. You should also think about using the top and tail method for bathing until your baby likes the water a little more, or buying a baby bath seat, as that would give you both of your hands free.

How To Hold A Baby From 4 Months +

At around 4 months, your baby will begin to develop the neck muscle, and start to hold the head up. As your baby grows, you will be able to hold them in different ways that encourage them to hold the head up more. 


On Your Hip

It’s actually quite easy to hold an older baby on your side, or hip, as it gives you one hand free to do whatever you need to. Depending on the age and abilities of your baby, you may not want to use this hold at all times. 

There’s two ways to hold your older baby on your hip. The first is to nestle the baby onto your hip. The baby will be facing the same way as you, and both legs will be on your side. You will use the arm of your ‘holding’ side to support the baby’s back, bottom, and legs. You can use your other hand for more support if you feel you need to, or you can keep it free to do other things.

The second way to hold your baby on your hip is to have your baby straddling you. You hold your baby in the same way, except your baby has one leg on either side of your midsection. 


In The Bath

Older babies still need to be supported in the bath. If your baby can hold their head up by themselves, you should still keep one hand and arm supporting their back. You can still use a cradle hold if you need to lie them down a little for washing.

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