Tips for Holding a Baby in the Right Way

Important Things to Know While Holding Your Baby

Seasoned moms might find it obvious, but holding a baby does not come naturally to everyone. Tiny, squirming humans can be intimidating.  They seem so fragile at first and then so slippery.  Where do you begin to comfort them and solidify the bonds of human connection?  The following tips for holding a baby in the right way are simple suggestions that will lead the way to safely and securely holding your baby in such a way that you may find it a challenge to put them down.

Wash Your Hands

Newborns are especially susceptible to disease in the first few months of life while they are establishing a healthy immune system.  Adults may not realize the variety of germs we are exposed to that our adult bodies can readily fight off, but could be a challenge and possibly life-threatening to an infant.  Scrub up before you handle a baby. Wash your hands with soap and water and keep a sanitizer handy for emergencies.

Get Comfortable

When you are at ease, your baby will be at ease.  Make yourself physically comfortable while holding your baby.  A cushy chair or rocker with extra pillows to support your back and arms are helpful. Wear clothing that won’t inhibit a good snuggle.  Softer fabrics minus jewelry or pins that might poke the little one will ensure you are both comfortable.

Provide Support to Head and Back

Babies do not have the muscle strength in their necks to hold up those adorable sweet-smelling heads until at least three months of age.  Providing proper noggin support is vital to a good baby hold. Begin by wrapping the newborn in a Swaddle Blanket. With arms tucked securely inside the blanket, you can pick up the baby by placing a hand under both the head and the bottom and then bring the child to your chest level.  This also happens to be the perfect adult-to-baby distance for eye contact, and eye contact is instrumental in bonding with your baby. 

A Plethora of Holding Positions

Here is a list of techniques to fit your baby-holding-style.  You can choose the holding position that works for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with which position works best.  And by “best” we mean the one that calms a crying baby in the middle of the night so everyone can get back to sleep as quickly as humanly possible 😊:

Shoulder Hold

It is essential to know how to pick up a baby, and then how to hold a newborn upright. While supporting the baby’s head and neck in one hand and their bottom in the other, gently lift the child to your shoulder so that your bodies are parallel.  This is the perfect position for a baby to rest their head on your shoulder and listen to the heartbeat they have become so familiar with in the womb. Also, shoulder hold is the best way how to hold a newborn baby when burping. 

Football Hold

This is the most common position for cradling a baby in your arms and a favorite of nursing mothers. You may only do football hold breastfeeding twins. In this position, you hold the baby’s head in your hand while the length of their body rests on your forearm.  Placing a pillow in your lap to support your arm will reduce fatigue.  BONUS TIP: No need to call an audible when reverting to the shoulder hold to burp the baby after feeding.  That familiar upright position will bring on the burps.

Lap Hold

Placing the baby’s back on your lap with their head on your knees and your feet to the floor is the optimal position for introducing your child to classics such as “ Pattycake” and “The Wheels on the Bus”.  You will also have direct access to toe and finger nibbling.

Chair Hold

The older babies get, the more curious they are about the world around them.  The chair hold positions your budding sociologist with their back against your chest facing outward.  Be sure to support them with one hand to their chest and one to their bottom for security.

Cradle Hold

This is a classic baby-holding technique.  Hold your baby horizontally at chest level using the crook of your arm to support their head and neck and a hand supporting their bottom. Rock as needed.

Hip Hold

Babies will do what babies do best…grow up! Around the age of 4 months, they begin to support their head themselves and you can now safely add the hip hold to your repertoire of baby holds.  With an arm around your baby’s waist and upper back, wrap their legs on either side of your hip bone.  Viola! Instant baby seat.

Bathtub Hold

Place one hand on the child’s neck and shoulders and the other on the bottom as you lower your baby into the tub filled with water just above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to maintain a hand behind the baby’s head and neck while washing with the other hand. 

Other Tips for Holding a Baby the Right Way:

  • Be sure the baby’s head is free to move and breathe.
  • Maintain skin to skin contact to keep her warm and bond whenever possible.
  • Baby carriers are helpful for long durations on the go.
  • It is better to put the baby down in a safe place if you are frustrated or angry.
  • DO NOT hold the baby while cooking over a hot stove, cleaning, or carrying dangerous objects.
  • DO NOT climb stairs without using both arms to support the baby.
  • DO NOT toss your baby up and catch them, as much as they seem to like it. Holding baby upside down is not a safe way to hold your baby either.

It’s important to remember that holding a baby in the right way is essential for their safety. Infant care may not come naturally to everyone, but everyone can become a baby holding pro with these simple techniques. Practice them and share them with your friends and family and your baby will be a well-held baby! Happy snuggle time!


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