How to Hold a Newborn Baby

How to Hold a Newborn Baby

Baby is here, and you’re wondering how to hold them. Don’t worry! We’ve got the 411 on how to hold a baby safely so that both you and they are comfortable.
Finally! Your baby has arrived. Safe and sound.

This is the moment you get to pick them up for the first time. It’s huge.

And it can feel overwhelming.

As a new mama, holding a newborn baby can feel awkward, even scary at times.

This is totally normal.

Even seasoned parents can forget how to hold a newborn – they’re so tiny!

How to hold a baby was not a class taught in high school. So, where do you start?

Don’t worry. We’re here to hold your hand — while you hold them ❤️.

In this article: 📝

  • How do you hold a baby for the first time?
  • What are the 3 different ways to hold a baby?
  • How do you not hold a newborn?
  • Hold up! Is it really that simple?

How do you hold a baby for the first time?

There are only really two essential rules for holding a baby.

And this is especially true for a newborn.

  • Wash your hands.
  • Support the head and neck.

That’s it! (Probably not a good idea to juggle fire while you hold them. But you get the drift.)

Mostly everything else is about comfort for you and your peanut.

After all, once the baby is safe and happy, how do we make sure mom or dad is comfortable, too?

It happens to all parents that we find a position the baby likes, and then 10 minutes later our arm is asleep and our back is giving out.

Let’s break it down a little more.

1. Wash your hands.

Babies arrive with a pretty underdeveloped immune system.

So it’s really important to keep our hands as clean as possible when holding them.

A good wash with soap and water is ideal, but bottles of hand sanitizer dotted around the house are also very effective.

It also makes it easier to remind guests that you need them to wash up before holding the baby.

2. Make sure you’re comfortable.

Try to find a comfortable space you can relax into while holding the baby, like a cozy rocking chair.
Or if you’ll be standing, wear comfortable shoes.

3. Support the head and neck.

Babies’ heads are the heaviest parts of their body — and they only really learn to control them at around four to six months.

So they need a little extra help here.

Pay close attention to protecting the fontanelles.

These are the small soft spots on your baby’s head where the skull hasn’t closed yet.

(Don’t worry, it will!)

Slide one hand under the baby’s head, neck, and the top of the shoulders, and the other hand under the baby’s bottom.

Gently lift the baby up towards your chest.

Aside from that, babies really are hardier than you think. You’ve got this!

What are the 3 different ways to hold a baby?

These are the three most common ways to hold a baby:

1. The cradle hold

Let’s assume your baby is lying down.

Take your wide open dominant hand and slide it between the mattress and your baby’s shoulders until you are cradling their head, with your wrist extending down their neck.

Then use your other hand to cup their bottom, and lift them up.

Bring your dominant hand towards the crook of your opposite elbow and nestle the baby’s head between your elbow and body.

Once your baby is secure along the length of your non-dominant arm, you can release your first hand and tada!

Your baby is safe. And you even have a free hand.

This hold is perfect for interacting with your baby, allowing eye contact and visual connection, which are great for their development.

2. The shoulder or snuggle hold

Wondering how to hold a newborn upright? This one’s for you!

This hold can be great for a gassy baby or one suffering from colic.

Pick them up in the same way you would for the cradle hold.

With one hand under their head and the other under their bottom, bring them up to your chest, head turned sideways on your shoulder.

Or even gazing over it.

They may be able to hear your heartbeat in this position which can be very comforting.

Gently pat their back to relieve any burps that may be building up.

Whether you’re sitting or standing, this is also an ideal hold for skin-to-skin, which has excellent benefits for both mama and baby.

Lay your baby, dressed only in their diaper, directly against your naked chest, then cover with a blanket.

3. The belly hold or football hold

This option is also a useful one for tummy issues.

It’s almost like a mini-massage for their belly.

Lay the baby across one of your arms, with their little legs hanging on either side of your arm.

Again you can gently rub their back to relieve any gas.

Whether you have their head in your hand or the crook of your elbow, make sure their face is pointing outwards.

4. Bonus hold-the-lap hold

This one is best for when you’re seated and fancy gazing into your baby’s beautiful eyes.

Here you pick them up as with the cradle hold and then slide your other hand to meet their head.

Both of your hands end up holding their head, and the bottom/feet sit in the crook of your elbows. Let the binging begin!

How do you not hold a newborn?

There are a couple of things to be aware of when handling and holding a newborn.

  • Don’t lift your newborn baby under or by their arms. This leaves their head and neck unsupported. Plus, it could injure their arms or shoulders.
  • Be careful of the baby’s fontanels — the soft, undeveloped spots on the baby’s head.
  • Don’t jiggle, bounce, or shake newborns. This can injure baby’s head and neck. Rather, gently sway or rock to calm a fussy baby.

Hold up! Is it really that simple?

Yup! A pair of loving arms is all your baby needs to feel safe.

But what if your baby needs to be close to you AND you also have work to do that requires a complete set of hands? What then?

You could always invest in a baby wrap or carrier to get the job done (our Peanut mamas love the Hemp collection by Baby Tula, if you’re after recommendations).

And, lastly (#protip), even a little sausage of a baby can become super heavy after a couple of hours in your arms.

So remember, lift with your knees and carry them close to your body for extra support.

It’s CrossFit for mamas.

Don’t worry, mama.

Holding a baby can be intimidating at first, but pretty soon you’ll be a pro.

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