How to hold your baby

by Alex Davies |
Updated on

Holding your baby in your arms is a beautiful thing, but it’s completely normal if you’re not entirely sure how to hold your baby, especially if you’re a first-time parent.

Firstly, don’t worry if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, we’ve all been there and we all know there’s no such thing as ‘the perfect parent’, but with a few handy pointers you’ll soon get the hang of it. Follow our simple guide to help teach you how to safely hold your baby, so you (and baby) both feel confident.

How to hold your baby

mum holding newborn baby

There’s a few important things to bare in mind when holding your baby. Here, we break them down for you.

Support their head and neck at all times

Your baby won’t develop any head or neck control until they’re four months old, so you must take extra care to make sure their head and neck doesn’t flop back and forth or side to side.

To do this while picking your baby up, carefully slide one hand underneath their head and neck and place your other hand under their bottom (this will support your baby’s head, neck and spine). Bend your knees and lift your baby up, putting them close to your chest, while your straight your legs.

A bit of supervised tummy time is great to help your baby develop the neck muscles they need to hold their head up without your assistance.

How to hold your baby upright

An upright position is ideal for giving your baby a great view of the world or helping to ease the symptoms of reflux or burping them after a feed.

Again, place one hand behind your baby’s head and neck for support, then rest your baby on your chest or shoulder. Place your other hand under your baby’s bottom.

How to hold your baby in your arms (cradled)

This is one of the most popular ways to hold a baby, as it lets you and baby be able to get a full view of one another and feel close. To do this safely, hold your baby’s head in one hand and lean it against your chest and use your other forearm to support your baby’s neck, while placing their head into the crook of your elbow. You can support their bottom with your other hand.

how to hold baby in your arms

How to hold your baby while bottle feeding

It’s important to hold your baby in a semi-upright position to help them with swallowing. Hold your baby’s head in the crook of your arm and support the rest of its body along your inner forearm.

Don’t hold your baby horizontally, as they may choke on the milk. Keep the bottle at a very slight tilt too, as this will stop your baby from swallowing air and keep the milk flowing nicely.

How to hold your baby while breastfeeding

There’s several positions you can use to hold your baby while breastfeeding, but some of the most popular include the rugby hold, cradle hold and lying on your side. Whichever you choose, always remember to support your little one's neck and head.

Related: The best positions to use when breastfeeding

How to hold your baby when burping

dad holding baby and burping

Again, there’s a few different ways you can hold your baby while doing this. The most common are:

Tummy time (lying across your lap) - Lay your baby tummy-down on your lap supporting their head with your hand. Use your other hand to gentle rub your baby’s back.

Sitting on your lap - Sit your baby on your lap facing to the side or facing forward. Support your baby with one arm under their tummy and your hand supporting their chin. Lean baby forward slightly and rub their back up and down quite quickly with your free hand.

Over the shoulder - Place one hand behind your baby’s head and neck for support, then rest your baby on your chest or shoulder. Use your other hand to gently rub or pat their back.

Related: How to burp a baby

How to hold your baby in the bath

Bathtime is a wonderful bonding time for you and your baby, but obviously them being in the water means you need to take extra care.

As we’ve mentioned before, supporting your baby’s head and neck is very important, so use one hand to do this, while your other hand guides their body into the water. Always keep one hand under your baby’s head for support and to keep it out of the water and use your other hand to gently swish the water over their body.

Never leave your baby unattended in the water.

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