How To Hold A Baby – How to hold a newborn baby is a common concern for many first-time parents. The body of a newborn baby is very fragile and pliable, and care should always be taken. For moms and dads, learning how to hold a baby is a priority to ensure safety and security for their little one.

How To Hold A Baby
Why Learning How to Hold a Newborn Baby Is Crucial
Different Ways To Hold A Baby
How To Calm Your Fussy Baby
Extra Tips On How To Carry A Baby
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How To Hold A Baby
Why Learning How to Hold a Newborn Baby Is Crucial

Learning how to hold a baby is more than just a rewarding experience for you and your new baby. Spending time holding a baby can actually change a baby’s DNA [1]. A study done in 2017 at the University of British Columbia, Canada found that “high contact” children had DNA changes that reflected positively on their immune and metabolic systems. Children who had less contact experienced a difference in the biological aging of blood and tissue. Children were tested a half year later. One lead researcher, Michael Kobor, stated that scientists think that the slower the epigenetic aging, the less favorable the developmental progress [2].

This seems especially true for preterm babies (born before 37 weeks gestation.) As far back as 20 years ago, researchers found a positive correlation between higher skin-to-skin contact and neurodevelopment. Researchers tracked 716 of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) participants and compared them to a similar control group. The kangaroo care kids demonstrated higher IQ’s, reduced hyperactivity and aggression when tested through early childhood to adulthood [3].

Skin-to-skin contact has also been shown to make certain medical painful procedures less painful for infants [4].

It is not unusual for a children’s hospital to have an active volunteer program geared for this purpose. The neonatal intensive care unit at Phoenix Children’s Hospital recognized that many parents must return to work while their newborns are still hospitalized, and a volunteer program was commenced. On the other side of the country, Syracuse University offers volunteering opportunities at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Volunteers hold and cuddle the premies giving them comfort and warmth and boosting babies’ development as they transition from the womb to life outside. These volunteers have specialized training to learn how to hold a newborn baby as they are so fragile and often have medical devices attached to their tiny bodies.

Variations in cuddling methods may be required in cases of certain conditions such as congenital hip dysplasia. This condition is when the ball of the femur does not quite fit into the hip joint. These newborns often require a harness that makes snuggling, breastfeeding, providing a diaper change and giving a baby bottle more challenging [5].  Parents of these children can ask questions of their pediatricians to ensure proper bonding between parent and child.

How To Hold A Baby
Why Learning How to Hold a Newborn Baby Is Crucial
Different Ways To Hold A Baby
How To Calm Your Fussy Baby
Extra Tips On How To Carry A Baby
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Different Ways To Hold A Baby
Different Ways To Hold A Baby

  • Carry the baby on your chest. This is a good option for how to hold a baby after a feeding. To carry your baby on your chest, lay your infant with the head positioned on your shoulder and the hands falling on your back. Hold the bottom of the baby with your dominant hand, and lean back slightly for added comfort. Your baby’s torso and head should not be leaning backward at too much of an angle, so adjust your position accordingly  [6].
  • Pick up the baby. Newborn babies sleep a lot of the time. In the beginning, babies may spend a lot of time in their cradles. When breastfeeding every few hours, it is important to learn how to pick up and hold the baby properly. Be careful when lifting the baby’s head since there are soft spots called fontanelles, and support the neck. Support your baby’s head first when lifting from the crib. Slide one hand under the head and one at the bottom before lifting. Bend your knees slightly so as not to strain your back when bringing your baby to your chest.
  • Cradle hold the baby. Another way for how to hold a newborn baby is the cradle hold. As the name suggests, your arms will be positioned in a cradle while carrying your baby. Position your baby parallel to the ground at the height of your chest, then slide your hand from your baby’s bottom all the way up to the head and neck placing your little one’s head in the crook of the elbow. Bring your other hand to your baby’s bottom and hips so you will be able to bring your little one close to you. This may help him or her fall asleep better. It is also a favorite when in the rocking chair.
  • Hip hold the baby. Once your baby has neck control, one of the other ways to hold your child is the hip hold. This is recommended for babies who are three months and older. As with any baby hold, support your baby’s back at all times. Face your little one outward sitting on your hip bones. Your free hand should wrap around your baby’s waist. In this position, you will be able to support your baby at your hip while they enjoy the view.
  • Belly hold the baby. Babies become fussy from time to time, especially when they have excess air in their bellies. The belly hold may help the baby burp. Place your baby’s stomach down on your forearm with their head positioned at the crook of your elbow. Your baby’s feet should be placed on either side of your hand and are angled a bit closer to the ground. Stroke your baby’s back gently to relieve any pressure on their belly and make them burp. Make sure that your forearm offers enough support to your baby.
  • Lap hold the baby. Infants love to see your face. Indulge your baby with the lap hold. Start by sitting on a chair with your feet planted on the ground. Then, place your baby gently on your lap. Your baby’s head should be at your knees with their face looking up at you. Support your baby’s body with both of your hands placed at the back of their head and your forearms at their back. Your little one’s feet should be tucked safely at your waist. You can gently rock your baby in this position.
  • Sling hold the baby. Many parents wear a sling to hold their little one while maintaining a free hand for tasks. The sling support hold is quite popular for many reasons. It allows you to breastfeed your baby discreetly and maintain close contact with your baby while also caring for other children. When using a sling, secure it fastidiously so that there is no chance of the cloth unraveling with the weight of your baby.

How To Hold A Baby
Why Learning How to Hold a Newborn Baby Is Crucial
Different Ways To Hold A Baby
How To Calm Your Fussy Baby
Extra Tips On How To Carry A Baby
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How To Calm Your Fussy Baby
How To Calm Your Fussy Baby

A fussy baby can be difficult to calm. Whether it is due to a minor stomach upset or something more serious like gastroesophageal reflux, these holds may make it easier on your baby.

  • Over-the-shoulder hold – Parents and caregivers should know how to calm a fussy baby to prevent them from crying too much and swallowing air. A crying baby may be soothed with this over-the-shoulder hold. In this position, raise your baby to your shoulder with the weight of their body pressed against your shoulder. You can swaddle your little one before doing this hold so there will be less movement on their part. In this position, it is easier for you to place them back on their crib so that there is less jostling.
  • Reverse-breastfeeding hold – How to hold an infant baby who tends to fuss all the time is a valid query. The reverse-breastfeeding hold is another way to carry your squirming little one. This is an easy and comfortable position. This reverse hold allows you to support your baby’s head and neck without any difficulty. Start this hold by placing your swaddled baby on his or her back. Now, place your palm on the front of the diaper, roll your little one on your forearm until their stomach is resting on your arm, and bring your baby close to your body. Make sure that your baby’s head and neck are supported on your upper arm as well as the elbow. Keep your little one steady at this point, and sway your baby until calmed.
  • Football hold – Another technique on how to hold a baby who is becoming fussy is to swaddle before letting lying the baby face-up. Roll your little one on your forearm gently while making sure that the chest and stomach are cushioned properly against your forearm. Your baby should be lying on their belly at this point on your arm. The baby’s cheek should be resting on your forearm or your palm with their groin positioned near your elbow. Allow their legs to dangle on either side of your arm. This is the perfect hold to calm your fussy little one because you have better control of their weight [6].

How To Hold A Baby
Why Learning How to Hold a Newborn Baby Is Crucial
Different Ways To Hold A Baby
How To Calm Your Fussy Baby
Extra Tips On How To Carry A Baby
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Extra Tips On How To Carry A Baby
Extra Tips On How To Carry A Baby

Here are a few more guidelines on how to hold a baby to help make it a pleasant experience for both him and you.

  • Always wash your hands. As a rule of thumb, you will need to wash your hands before you pick your baby up to avoid transferring germs from your hands to their skin. Keep in mind that your baby’s immune system is not yet fully developed which means they are prone to sickness at an early age. Infections, fevers and colds can affect them, hence the need to wash your hands before handling your little one.
  • Support is everything. Make sure that you support their body as well as their head all the time when handling a crying baby. Since your baby’s head is the heaviest, you will need to offer full support to it every time you are carrying your little one. Remember the rest of their body because the neck and the hips need the same support.
  • Show confidence. Before you pick your little one up, exude a calm and confident vibe. Your baby is sensitive and can sense your fear or uncertainty. If you want to make your little one feel calm in your arms, take a deep breath before picking your little one up from the crib. The more often you hold them, the faster you will gain confidence.
  • Sit down. If you are still building confidence when it comes to holding your little one, the best thing to do is to sit. This way, you will not drop your baby because you have enough support to give. It also gives you and your infant time to bond and maintain eye contact.
  • Maintain support on the stairs. It is always a good idea to hold your little one with both hands, especially when going up or down the stairs to avoid moving them too much especially when they are just a few weeks old. Do not to bounce your baby too much because it can cause the head to snap back.
  • Invest in an infant support pillow. Infant support pillows help baby’s lay with an elevated head while maintaining proper support. Another plus to this tool is that it makes feeding your baby breast milk an easier task.

It is crucial to learn how to hold a newborn baby. Holding your baby does not have to be scary.  Trying different positions while you lull or calm your little one to sleep will help you both learn which positions are preferable. The results of frequent cuddling offer lifetime benefits. Whether your baby is a premie or decides to make their arrival a bit late, it is important to hold and cuddle your baby.

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How To Hold A Baby
Why Learning How to Hold a Newborn Baby Is Crucial
Different Ways To Hold A Baby
How To Calm Your Fussy Baby
Extra Tips On How To Carry A Baby

How To Hold A Baby Resources:
[1]   Science Daily; Holding infants — or not — can leave traces on their genes, University of British Columbia, November 27, 2017.
[2]   Office of Women’s Health; Newborn care and safety.
[3]   Science Daily; Holding infants — or not — can leave traces on their genes, University of British Columbia, November 27, 2017.
[4]   Cochrane; Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants.
[5]   Internal Hip Dysplasia; Causes of DDH.
[6]   Healthy Children; How Your Newborn Behaves, August 01, 2009.

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How To Hold A Baby - Step By Step Guide For First Time Parents
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How To Hold A Baby - Step By Step Guide For First Time Parents
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[QUESTION] How to hold a baby? [ANSWER] Carry the baby on your chest. This is a good option for how to hold a baby after a feeding. To carry your baby on your chest, lay your infant with the head positioned on your shoulder and the hands falling on your back.
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