Parenting

Taking care of newborns: How to hold your newborn

Dr Pooja AttreyPT
0 to 1 years

Created by Dr. Pooja Attrey(PT)
Updated on Oct 19, 2017

Taking care of newborns How to hold your newborn

Motherhood is an unpredictable rollercoaster ride. It is full of overwhelming love and many uncertainties, but it is a hugely heartwarming and fulfilling experience. You might feel an overpowering love when you hold your newborn in your arms for the first time, or you may feel scared. It doesn’t matter, because the mother’s instinct will kick in at some point of time. It’s the skills for the road ahead that may require some training. But don’t worry! These skills can be learnt with some will power and patience. So here we are to help you. Under the series Taking Care of Newborn, we will first discuss the most basic but a very important skill in baby care—holding a newborn appropriately.

Know Your Newborn’s Body

Before we tell you how to hold a newborn, here are some essential facts about your newborn’s body.

  1. Newborns don't have enough body control and strength to support themselves
  2. The head of the newborn is the heaviest part of the body, resting on a delicate and a weak neck
  3. They don't have any head and neck control for up to the first two months, neither do they have any back stability and control for the first 4-5 months
  4. By the time they’re 2-3 months old, babies start developing head and neck control, mastering it by 4 months and by 5-6 months they start developing back muscle control. They gain total control only by 8-10 months

You have to pick up and hold a baby according to her age, and amount of self-controlshe has. Till she develops head, neck and back control, you need to cautiously support these parts in your arms and against your body while picking up and holding your baby.

How to Pick Up Your Baby?

Now that we’ve gone through the important facts about your baby’s body, here are some things to keep in mind when you pick him up each time.

  1. Be calm, confident, loving and yet very cautious before picking up your baby
  2. Take care of the soft spot on his head. This point should never be pressurized
  3. Slide one hand under his head in such a way that the heel of your palm supports his neck, and your fingers span around and support his head. Slide the other hand under his bottom. Be loving but firm in your grasp at the head and the bottom
  4. Now scoop your baby up and bring him closer to your body

Note: Babies respond to energies instantly. If you are nervous or anxious, he will automatically feel unsafe and uncomfortable. On the other hand, if you are composed, he will instantly feel at ease and comfortable.

How To Hold Your Baby?

There are two easy and popular ways to hold a baby--traditional cradle or shoulder hold.

Cradle Hold

  1. After picking up your baby, make sure her head is resting against your chest
  2. Now slide your hand from her bottom up to support her neck (your baby’s back should be resting against the length of your arm)
  3. Gently move her head to fit into the crook of your arm
  4. At this stage, her head and neck should be properly held in your arm's cradle; her back and bottoms should be supported by the same hand’s side

Your other hand will now be free to pat or play with your baby now.

Shoulder Hold

  1. Rest the baby on your shoulder/upper chest, his head moved to one side, to let him breathe properly
  2. Support his head and neck with one hand. Place the other hand under his bottom
  3. From this position, you can also put same side's hand under his bottom and use the other hand for head-neck support

How To Lay Your Baby Down?

Reverse the all above mentioned actions for laying your baby down on a surface.

Transferring Your New Born to Another Person

When you’re handing over your newborn to your partner or anyone else, keep these things in mind.

  1. The other person should preferably be sitting down when handing the baby over to him, to minimize the risk of falling. Hold the baby with one hand under the head- neck and the other under his bottom
  2. Now carefully place the baby's head in the sitting person's arm’s crook. Their arm side and hand should support baby's back and bottom
  3. Never leave baby's head support unless you are sure it is properly stabilized in crook of the other person's arm

After 6 months, as the baby's back control starts developing, you can shoulder hold her, making her sit upright on your lap, cradling her with both arms, but still holding her cautiously and supporting her back.

Holding During Feeding

Keep these tips in mind when you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby.

  1. For breastfeeding, once you are comfortably sitting with proper back support, your baby can be cradled in your arms or over a nursing pillow that is placed on your lap
  2. Make sure your baby is level with the breast and not with his neck bent too much.This can interfere with hisbreathing
  3. If your baby is bottle fed, his head should be on a slightly higher plane than the rest of the body. If adjustment is required, adjust his head-neck rather than just tilting the bottle

It is advised to feed your baby in a sitting position for at least the first 6 months to reduce chances of choking, regurgitation of milk, and ear infection.

Holding During Burping

Now that he’s fed, you need to burp him. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. For babies of 4-5 months, use shoulder hold and pat slightly over your baby's upper back till you hear the sound!p
  2. Start patting from the bottom and move your hand upward to force the air out of your baby’s mouthp
  3. Be gentle yet firm. Also, burping doesn’t come easily, so be patientp
  4. For an older baby, make him sit upright on your lap, supporting him from the front with one hand. Pat his upper back with the other handp

Holding During Bathing

If you’ve been concerned about bath time and how to hold your little one so that he’s safe, here are some tips.

  1. Pick up your baby, as described earlier, one hand under head and one under his bottom
  2. Place your baby's bottom carefully in a slightly inclined bath tub's/chair’s lower end, still holding his head with one hand
  3. Now with the help of the other hand, very cautiously and slowly put your baby's head down on the raised end of the bath tub/chair. Once done you can go ahead with bathing

Through the bathing process, do not leave your baby unattended at all.

Holding During Sleeping

When your little one is taking a nap, keep these things in mind.

  1. You may make a baby sleep in an arm cradle but once they are fast asleep put them in their crib or bed
  2. Do not sleep with a baby held in your arm’s crook.This may again cause positional asphyxia

Holding During Travelling

Journeys need not be stressful at all, when you’re travelling with your baby.

  1. For more than an hour long journey, never hold your baby in cradle or your lap else you expose the child to potential jerk risk
  2. Instead get a baby car seat installed if you travel frequently with your baby

Holding During Household Chores

We’re always prone to multitasking to get things done quickly. However, do keep this in mind

  1. Never try to juggle baby in one hand and do chores with the other
  2. You may end up hurting yourself and the baby as well
  3. If you have to finish chores, use a body wrap/sling for babies up to 3-4 months’ age and use a baby carrier after 4-5 months

As a new mother, questions about your newborn and how to care for him, ensuring his safety, are very natural. Don’t hesitate to ask the doctor any question – remember that no question is a silly question. Happy Parenting!

We hope you found these tips on newborn care useful. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

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Comments()
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| Jun 02, 2017

As n when baby starts sitting independantly anupriya. When he is able to master his neck n spinal balance from any abrupt force like jerks.. This milestone infants generally achieves anywhere between 6to 8 months.

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| Jun 01, 2017

at what age can i make my child to sit in baby sitter in car??

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| May 24, 2017

Yes kartik.. Pictures would have definitely brought more clarity.... I insisted on same.... But somehow it couldnt happen at that time!

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| May 24, 2017

Although it was quite informative still I feel it could have been better if illustrations were added along with the various title heads.

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| Dec 15, 2016

Very informative

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| Dec 13, 2016

Glad that the blog helped u renu n jayamala :):)

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| Dec 12, 2016

hi.. my bAby is 2 months old n this ia very valuable information.. shared .

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| Dec 11, 2016

hi, this one is very much useful for me, thank u

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| Sep 01, 2016

hi vidhula... glad that u found the article helpful.. at 2. 5 months,sitting is not advised but yes u can make him burp once in a while in upright position... keeping in mind to give proper support to his back n abdomen area.. and some infants don't like to lie on bed.. I faced same issue with my son... so much so that I had to literally sit whole night with him in my lap.. just so that he can have a peaceful sleep... after some time I tried making him sleep in side lying and it worked... try that.. good luck.

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| Sep 01, 2016

Hi, very nice article.. My baby is 2. 5 months old and he doesn't wants to lie down. He wants to sit or be in a upright position. Is it ok if i make him sit and also can i burp my baby in an upright position on my lap?

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| Aug 23, 2016

hi rashmi.. there are very good articles on increasing milk supply on Parentune as well.. please have a look.. however u may try azwain kadha or methi Dana along with proper nutritious food n two time milk

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| Aug 23, 2016

no problem@ halaby... ur baby is still to learn n master complete neck control.. it will come in some timw

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| Aug 22, 2016

my baby is three month old and holds her head only in one position

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| Aug 13, 2016

i have done. c-section. i. am. doing breastfeeding. my uterus will shrink. faster.

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| Aug 13, 2016

i have low milk. supply. what can i do. for that. my baby is 2months old.

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| Aug 05, 2016

hi sneha... upto one year of age baby will have little cough every now and then.. it's because of milk diet that she is taking.. so fir little cough don't worry.. however if cough is more and start disturbing her feeding and sleep... u may try cough relieving remedies for yourself.. like take haldi milk... or take gud azwain kadha.. .if u r breastfeeding her,it will reach her... to ease her symptoms,juse tie some garlic buds around her neck n chest area with round thread... like a necklace.. garlic smell will act as immunity booster and will not let little cough turn into any chest or respiratory infection.. gd luck.

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| Aug 05, 2016

hi amreen.. sorry for replying late.. for hairs on anywhere her body,u need not to be worried... with age these hairs shed by themselves.. my son had much hairs on his forehead when he was born.. but now there's none!

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| Aug 05, 2016

my baby is 1 month old. i m giving her similac powder. but now she is suffering from cough. i can feel cough when she sleeps . kindly advice

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| Jul 30, 2016

Thank u Dr pooja ur tip was very useful now my baby is ok.... she has hairs on for head and her head hairs are not growing wt can I do for that

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| Jul 29, 2016

and also thank you Parentune team for giving this opportunity to reach out fellow mothers and being able to help :) with print media,i had limited access to mothers but here almost from every corner of country mothers are connected.. it's really nice!

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| Jul 29, 2016

really happy that it worked for ur baby @kiranmai :)ur welcome anytime:)

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| Jul 29, 2016

thank you Dr Pooja, it helps me also as my daughter is 2+ months and not taking milk and crying.. used gripe water. thank you..

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| Jul 29, 2016

thank u

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| Jul 29, 2016

u may also try chamomila30 ..a homeopathic medicine... gripe water can also be helpful. hope it helps u amreen.

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| Jul 29, 2016

hi amreen.. it could be stomach pain due to colic or gas.. if it is so,u may put her on her tummy at ur lap or on bed or shoulder hold her for some minutes to release gas. in home remedies,put little hing dissolved in warm water at her umbilical area n massage it in circles for a minute or two. also,if she is breastfed,u avoid eating things that are acidic in nature.. fir example citrus fruits, urad daal,spicy things etc.. have nutritious but easy on stomach meals. increase ur water consumption.

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| Jul 28, 2016

my baby is 3 months she got gastric wt can I do

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| Jul 28, 2016

Thanks Dr. Pooja.

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| Jul 28, 2016

@ ramesh : it's better to go with what ur neurologic pediatrician have told u.. I won't be much of a help considering that he can not be assessed or observed from here.. one thing that I suggest is if he is having trouble in body movements n balance,do consult a neurologic physiotherapist along.

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| Jul 28, 2016

Quite informative blog on how to hold your newborn. Thanks Dr Pooja

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| Jul 27, 2016

my son is suffering from nurologycal problem. wt I will fo

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| Jul 27, 2016

@ asha: is this what generally his temp is or just these days it's reduced?also from which site at body u have measured it?from mouth or armpit or anus?

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| Jul 27, 2016

my son has temperature above 95 degree Fahrenheit is it normal

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| Jul 27, 2016

@ nandini.. it's an absolute NO for bouncing n shaking! never ever do this.. till upto at least one year of baby's age... reason behind is to avoid injury to their delicate internal organs... mostly brain from his skull bones!u can go ahead with little swaying to relax or soothe the baby though. n baby's this small don't have self head neck n back control... so if u try to make them sit or stand they will just curl or sway in imbalance..

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| Jul 27, 2016

Nice Blog. Is it ok to bounce , make sit and stand 3 months old infant?

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| Jul 27, 2016

Informative. Thanks for writing

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| Jul 27, 2016

the information is really helpful.. thank you

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| Jul 27, 2016

@ asha: u can repeat ur queries here.. let's see if we .. fellow mothers can help!

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| Jul 27, 2016

so glad that this helped @ archna and arti..

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| Jul 26, 2016

very useful thankyou

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| Jul 26, 2016

very informative. thanks.

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| Jul 26, 2016

there is no response from wellness center for my last two questions

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