Safe, Gentle Ways to Hold a Baby

The Delights of Holding a Baby

Father cradling newborn baby in nursery
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Holding a baby is such a delightful "job." Many people state that they could hold a baby for hours. While this is true, there are many different ways to hold a baby. There are also times when you need to be doing other things while holding a baby.

Then, there's the matter of who should hold your baby. Do you let strangers hold him? Should you make people wash their hands first? What about siblings? Only you can answer these questions.

You should have a philosophy of baby holding and a set of rules that you can enforce within your family. This may include things like:

  • washing your hands before holding the baby
  • no holding the baby standing up
  • no holding the baby if you're sick
  • holding the babies one at a time (for twins)
  • no holding the baby without an adult present (for older siblings)

The Cradle Hold

Cradle hold for baby
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Cradling a baby is quite natural and simple. Place the baby's head in the crook of one of your arms and wrap your other arm around the baby or hold the original arm with the second arm. This is a great position for talking to the baby or looking at him. Many babies sleep very well in this position. It's also a good beginner's position, particularly for younger kids or siblings.

This is used as a breastfeeding position for many mothers. This is one of many breastfeeding positions. It is also a great position for skin-to-skin.

The Belly Hold

Belly Hold for Baby
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This is a great position for gassy babies. Lay the baby chest down over one of your forearms. Use your other arm to lay across baby's back to hold them securely. You can also do this across your lap or use it for burping. I find the comfort of this position depends on how long your arms are. A variation is to place the supporting hand between the baby's legs for a more secure grip. You can also bounce your legs a bit for added help in gas relief. 

The Hip Hold

A Hip Hold
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Once baby has some good head and neck control, the hip hold is a great, one-armed technique for holding your baby. Sit baby on one of your hip bones facing outward and wrap the same side arm around the baby's waist. This is a great way for baby to look around, and yet it gives you a free hand! You can also combine this with the use of a sling or other baby carrier.

The Shoulder Hold

Shoulder Hold of Baby
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I find this to be another natural hold for a baby. Lean your baby up on a shoulder and with the arm of the same side, wrap it around his bottom. Use the other arm to hold against his back and/or to support his neck. Babies sleep well in this position, too. It also allows them to hear your heart beating and breathing. This is a great position for almost any age. As the baby grows, the need for support is less and less.

The Sling Hold

S;eeping baby in a sling
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A sling is a great device that allows you to carry the baby hands-free. Your baby can be nestled in many positions, including positions for discrete nursing. A sling is also very useful for the parents of multiples, as it is never advisable to carry two or more babies in your arms without the use of something like a sling for fear you might fall

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