14 Jun How to Hold a Baby
If you don’t have much experience with holding an infant, it can be intimidating. You want to make sure you don’t hurt the baby, but at the same time, you want to hold them securely enough that you won’t drop them. The truth is that babies are much more sturdy than most people give them credit for—but we need to make sure we’re supporting them where they need it.
The biggest thing you want to look out for is that you’re supporting the baby’s neck and head. A baby won’t be able to support their own head until they’re about four months old, so that’s your job until they can take care of it themselves. Here are a couple of holds that are safe and comfortable (for both adult and baby).
This is probably one of the first positions that comes to mind when someone talks about holding a newborn. With this position, the back of the baby’s head (and neck) is supported in the crook of your arm, while your forearm and hand supports the baby’s back and bottom from underneath.
The Belly Hold
For this hold, place the baby facedown so that they’re lying flat on your forearm, with their cheek resting in the crook of your arm. Secure your baby in this position by cupping your hand around their leg or bottom. With this hold, you’re able to support your baby entirely with one arm so that your other arm is free to do whatever else you need to do. This hold can help your baby if they have gas because it applies even pressure over the abdominal area.
Babywearing (or Wearing Your Baby)
This practice has been around for centuries, and nowadays you can try all sorts of gear to find what’s most comfortable for you. There are three main categories of babywearing gear: wraps, slings, and carriers. Wraps are long pieces of fabric that you typically wrap around your torso and both shoulders. A sling is similar, but this will only go around one shoulder instead of both. Carriers have a little bit more structure to them, and they usually have shoulder straps and buckles. One of the major benefits of babywearing is that you can keep your baby close while keeping both arms free. Plus, you can start babywearing right from birth (slings and wraps are awesome for newborns!).
There are lots of ways to hold your baby, so if you don’t love the above methods, it’s ok. I always tell my parents, “You know your baby best. You will learn what he or she likes (and when they want it), and it will come naturally.” Remember to be patient with yourself as you experiment, and know that the more you practice, the easier it will get.
For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your baby, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.