How To Hold A Baby: 8 Safe Positions With Pictures

Image: Shutterstock


Remember the first time you held your baby. The moment the nurse passed your newborn into your arms, your hands must have shivered, your heart must have missed a beat, and a tear must have rolled down your eyes. That’s the magic of holding your baby.

However, holding a newborn is not easy. It is natural to feel nervous, and there is a constant fear that the little one might just slip from your hold. While the apprehensions are understandable, you can work on making your hold safe and comfortable for your baby.

MomJunction helps you in this as we tell you about the different positions in which you can hold your baby.

But before that, you should prepare yourself for the task.

Prep Up To Hold Your Newborn:

  1. Clean hands: Wash your hands before you take the baby. Their immune system is very immature, maintaining hand hygiene is essential to stop spreading infections. . Use mild soap and warm water to rinse your hands. Also, keep a sanitizer handy may be used.
  1. Make yourself comfortable: It is not just the physical comfort but also the confidence about your hold. You may feel scared at first, but with time you will adjust.
  1. Offer support: Newborns have little neck muscle control. Therefore, you need to support her head and neck. Also, make sure not to press the soft spots on the head (fontanelles). The support is critical until your baby reaches three months when she develops a good control over the head and neck muscles.

[ Read: Parenting Tips To Take Care Of Baby ]

How To Pick Up A Baby?

To hold a baby, you should pick her up first. Place one hand under the head and another beneath the bottom. Now raise the body to your chest region. You can hold the baby in this position as long as you are comfortable holding the baby’s neck and head.

Also, your baby likes to be held in some positions while she is uncomfortable in some others.

Choosing Baby Holding Positions:

You can even try out different positions to understand what suits her the best.

1. Shoulder hold:

Image: iStock

This is one of the most natural holds for your newborn. Here is how you should do it:

  • With the baby’s body parallel to yours, lift her to your shoulder height.
  • Rest her head on your shoulder so that she can look behind you.
  • Support her head and neck with one hand, and the bottom with another hand.

This position allows your baby to hear your heartbeat.

2. Cradle hold:

Image: Shutterstock

Cradling is quite simple and natural. Here is how you can cradle your newborn to sleep:

  • With your baby parallel to your chest level, slide your hand from her bottom up to support the head and neck.
  • Gently place your baby’s head into the crook of your elbow.
  • Now move your hand from the neck to the bottom and hips.
  • Bring your baby close to you, and you can quickly bring her to sleep.

[ Read : How to Use Babyhug Beryl Electronic Cradle? ]

3. Belly hold:

Image: iStock

Your baby will surely enjoy this baby hold. Here is how to handle the newborn:

  • Lay your baby with stomach facing down on one of your forearms with head up over the elbow.
  • Let her feet land on either side of your hand, at an angle closer to the ground level.
  • Lay your other hand across the baby’s back to make her feel secure.
  • This position can be helpful while burping your baby. Gently stroke her back to release the gas.

4. Hip hold:

Image: iStock

You can hold your baby’s hips once she gains complete control over her head and neck. So, try this position when your baby crosses three months. Here is how you can do this:

  • Face your baby outward and make her sit on your hip bones.
  • You should wrap your arm around her waist.
  • Your baby will be able to look at things around her comfortably.

5. Face-to-face hold:

Image: Shutterstock

This hold will let you interact with your baby. Here is how you can try the hold perfectly:

  • Support your baby’s head and neck with one hand.
  • Offer support to her bottom with another hand.
  • Now hold the baby just below the chest facing you.
  • Enjoy making her smile and have fun interacting with her.

6. “Hello World” hold/ Chair hold:

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Got a curious baby? Then this is an excellent hold that makes her see what is going around. Here, she will sit on your hand as if she is sitting on a chair.

  • Let your baby lean back and rest on your chest so that her head has proper support.
  • Place one hand across her chest to prevent her from leaning on the sides.
  • Place your other hand under her bottom.
  • Give her a good support.

If you want to try the same hold while sitting, there is no need to support her bottom. This position is not recommended for babies below three months.

7. Football hold:

Image: iStock

This hold suits for feeding your baby, and you can use it while standing or sitting. Here is how you should do it:

  • Support your baby’s neck and head with your hand, and the rest of her back with your same forearm.
  • Adjust the baby’s head and neck with the other hand.
  • Make the baby curl towards your body side, with her legs extended behind.
  • Draw your little one closer to your chest.
  • Use the other free hand for offering extra support to the head or feed the baby.

8. Lap hold:

Image: Shutterstock

This is another hold you can use while bottle feeding the baby, and can be used while in a sitting position.

  • Place your feet firmly on the ground level when sitting, and take your baby onto your lap.
  • The baby’s head should be near your knees with face upwards.
  • Place both of your hands beneath the head for support, and your forearms all along the body.
  • Let her feet tuck in at your waist region.

[ Read: Breastfeeding Techniques ]

How To Hold A Baby After Feeding?

When feeding the baby, keep her head raised from the lap or a crib (be it a football hold or a lap hold as mentioned above). After the feeding, keep her upright and pat her until she burps. Do not indulge in activities such as jiggling, playing or bouncing with your little one right after the feed. It may lead to spitting up.

Tips To Hold A Baby Right:

Pay attention to your little one’s mood while holding her. If she is crying or is fussy and irritated, change her position to make her comfortable. These tips will help you avoid discomfort for the baby:

  1. The baby’s head should always be free so that she can turn around to breathe.
  1. Make sure you are at skin-to-skin contact when you hold the baby. It is an excellent way to keep her warm and improves bonding.
  1. If you are nervous holding the baby, you can choose a sitting position. This position also suits you if you do not have enough strength to carry the baby’s weight.
  1. Do not hold the baby while cooking or carrying something hot.
  1. If you are holding the baby for longer periods, try taking the help of an infant support pillow. It also helps during breastfeeding.
  1. Do not show your negative emotions, such as frustration, when you are holding the baby, as you might shake her. It can have serious repercussions.
  1. If you want to wake her up, touch her cheeks or tickle her feet gently.
  1. Use both the hands to hold the baby while you are climbing and getting off the stairs for extra safety.

Keep these tips in mind, and you will hold the baby without any worry. It may be frightening at first, but with practice, you will master it.

How To Hold A Baby To Stop Crying?

There is a technique known as “The Hold”, demonstrated by Dr. Robert Hamilton, a practitioner at Pacific Ocean Pediatrics in California. He showed a live demo of the hold that consists of four steps.

  • Pick up the crying baby and fold her arms gently across her chest.
  • Secure the arms by holding them with your hand. This hand will also support her chin.
  • Now support the baby’s bottom with your other hand. Use the fleshy part of your hand but not the fingers for a comfortable hold.
  • Keep the baby at a 45-degree angle and move her gently. You can slightly swing her up and down but avoid jerky movements.

This technique is suitable for babies below three months. After that, they are heavy to hold in this position. Here is the video to demonstrate the position, which makes the babies stop crying in seconds.

How To Hold A Baby During Shower?

Image: Shutterstock

Bath times are fun times for babies. Here is how to hold a baby while bathing, to prevent accidents like drowning or swallowing of water.

  • While you lower your baby into the bathtub, hold her with one hand beneath her bottom.
  • Use the other hand to support her back and shoulders.
  • Once she is settled in the bath, you can use the hand which was supporting her bottom to wash her body.
  • With the other hand hold her firm and keep her head above the water level.

You can use a bath support to free your hands. A bath cradle also provides support while bathing a baby. If the child is old enough to sit, you can try a bath seat.

[ Read: How To Bathe A Baby ]

Holding a baby in your hands helps you bond with her. It gives you pleasure that can’t be explained in words. However, to enjoy this pleasure, you need to know the techniques of holding the baby. Hope our article has helped you get those techniques. Try each of these positions and see which one suits you and your baby the best.

Let us know your baby’s favorite position, by commenting below.

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Dr. Nikolina Zdraveska

(PhD, MD )
Dr. Nikolina Zdraveska is a pediatrician, educator and a researcher, working at University Children Hospital in Skopje, Macedonia. She received her medical degree from the Medical Faculty of Skopje in her native Macedonia and completed Residency Training at University Children’s Hospital in Skopje. She is attending physician at the Department of Neonatology for ten years and is Assistant Professor at... more

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Rohit Garoo is a zoologist-botanist turned writer with over 8 years of experience in content writing, content marketing, and copywriting. He has also done an MBA in marketing and human resources and worked in the domains of market research and e-commerce. Rohit writes topics related to health, wellness and development of babies. His articles featured on several notable websites, including... more