The reactions to someone trying to hold a baby without the proper knowledge can range from hysterically inept to worryingly clumsy. There's no one way to hold a baby, but there are lots of ways to do it right. Whether you're an expecting mother, or an expecting-friend-of-expecting mother, we thought we'd put together a quick guide on how to hold your newborn, to avoid any embarrassment, mishaps or horrible situations.
Different methods of holding your baby
However you take your baby in your arms, one of the most important things to be mindful of is their head - especially around the fontanelles; the soft spots on the top. There should be constant support for their head and neck, as the newborn's head is the largest part of their body, and they have very little control of their neck muscles. Before you pick them up, get yourself relaxed a little to put you both at ease.
The 'Snuggle' Hold: Scoop up the baby's bottom with your right hand, supporting the head with your other. Bring the baby to your chest, so they can be soothed by the sound of your heartbeat. Your right arm should be supporting most of their body from underneath, while your left guards the neck and head. Be sure the baby's facing to the side, so they can breathe easily.
Cradling: A very common and widely used method of holding a baby that involves resting their head on your chest, having your arm positioned from the bottom up so the hand supports the neck, and then moving so their head is now on the crook of your arm, and your right hand is under their bottom. As the name suggests, you can rock them back and forth, and you can look at and talk to them.
Face-To-Face Hold: Another great way to carry, interact and bond with your baby, this is also a rather simple one to get right. Holding them just below the chest, place one hand under their bottom, and another behind their head and neck.
Laying them on their belly: One of the best holds for a baby who's being a bit whingey or gripey, by placing them atop your forearm. Their head should be turned outward, resting just short of the crook of your arm. When they're in this position, you can pat or rub their back to calm them gently.
For Breastfeeding: By having the baby curled around the side of your body, with its legs behind you, one hand supporting its head and the other to feed or provide extra support to the baby, you'll be in the prime position to breastfeed. You can hold them in this way sitting or standing, and it's easy to teach to others.
Facing Out: Sometimes you'll want your little one to turn around and see the world around them. For this hold, you use your chest as a way to support their head and neck, whilst your arms are used to support their chest and under their bottom. This one can also be done sitting down.
General tips and precautions
Never hold your baby when carrying a hot drink, or cooking. When you have to carry them downstairs, keep a firm hold, with one hand around one of their limbs.
If other people, like children or the elderly, wish to hold your baby then have them sit down and place them gently in the cradled position.
Always move slowly and smoothly when picking them up. Sudden or juttery motions will make them feel too nervous.
Reverse the processes you use to pick them up when putting them down again.
Don't be afraid that excessive holding and cuddling with 'spoil' your baby. There's little to support this idea, and soon they'll start asserting their independence in all sorts of ways!
Don't hold them in an upright position until they're capable of sitting for his or herself - this can damage the baby's spine.
If you're find yourself unable to get much done having to hold your baby all the time, remember that getting your busy hands back is one of the many benefits of Mei Tai, Ring and Wrap slings!
What are some of the worries you've had when holding your baby? Perhaps either we or the many Mums on our Facebook page and Twitter sites can give you some useful advice, so do share!