Now that your baby is here, you probably have a lot of questions about how to care for them. Even if you’re a seasoned parent, things like how to hold your newborn might feel foreign or downright scary at first. Having said that, holding your newborn is easily the most fulfilling experience any parent can have! So, we have compiled a series of simple steps, which you can follow to experiencing the joy of holding your newborn, without being afraid!
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to hold your newborn infant.
Step 1: Wash your hands
Always make sure your hands are clean before you pick up your baby. Baby’s immune system is still developing, so any germs you carry may make them sick. While lathering with soap and warm water works well, consider keeping hand sanitizer around for guests who also want to cuddle your little one. Clean your hands each time before holding your baby.
Step 2: Get comfortable
Comfort is one of the most important things about holding your baby. Not only do you want to feel physically comfortable, but you also want to feel confident in your hold. Seasoned fathers at the blog “Dads Adventures” suggest that it takes around five minutes to get comfortable with the idea of holding your newborn.
It’s OK to feel a bit freaked out at first. Give it time, and remember to breathe!
Step 3: Provide support
When holding a newborn, it’s very important to always have a hand to support the head and neck. After all, your baby’s head is the heaviest part of their body at birth. Pay special attention to baby’s fontanelles, which are the soft spots on the top of their head.
Newborns lack the critical neck muscle control to keep their heads supported on their own. This milestone isn’t usually reached until closer to the fourth month of life.
Step 4: Choose your position
Holding starts with picking baby up. When you go to lift your baby, place one hand under their head and another under their bottom. From there, raise their body to your chest level.
As long as you’re supporting baby’s head and neck, the position is up to you. There are a variety of holds you and your baby might enjoy. Some of these positions are also great for breast-feeding or burping. Experiment by trying different ones to see what feels the best to both of you.
The cradle hold is one of the easiest and best ways to hold your newborn for the first several weeks of life:
- With your baby horizontal at your chest level, slide your hand from their bottom up to support their neck.
- Gently nudge baby’s head into the crook of your elbow.
- While still cradling their head, move your hand from the supporting arm to their bottom.
- Your free arm will be able to do other things or provide extra support.
- With baby’s body parallel with your own, lift their head to shoulder height.
- Rest their head on your chest and shoulder so they can look out behind you.
- Keep one hand on their head and neck, and your other supporting baby’s bottom. This position may also allow baby to hear your heartbeat.
- Lay your baby, stomach down, across your forearm with the head up toward your elbow.
- Their feet should land on either side of your hand, angled closer to the ground so the baby is at a slight angle.
- This position is helpful if baby is gassy and needs to be burped. Gently stroke baby’s back to work out the gas.
- Sit in a chair with your feet firmly on the ground and place your baby in your lap. Their head should be at your knees, face up.
- Lift their head up with both of your hands for support and your forearms under their body. Baby’s feet should be tucked in at your waist.
Checking the position
Pay attention to baby’s mood while you’re holding them. If they’re fussy or crying, you might try another position to see if that makes them more comfortable. You can also try a gentle and slow rocking. Take note that baby’s head should always be turned out to allow them to breathe.