How to Hold a Baby: The 5 Safest Ways to Hold Your Baby

Bringing home your baby is one of the most exciting and terrifying moments of any new parent's life. There's formula or breastfeeding to figure out, wake windows to watch for, and the all-important first bath at home to tackle. However, many people overlook the simplest worry that most new parents have. How do you safely hold your baby?

Newborns are very fragile. They have two soft spots you need to be aware of, and their neck muscles aren't yet strong enough to support their head on their own. With these considerations in mind, holding your baby can be a worrisome task.

But, of course, you have to hold your baby! They love you and feel safe in your arms. Worrying about how to hold a baby safely is entirely understandable. That's why we've created this guide to inform new parents about the five safest ways to hold your baby.

Related: Baby Sleeping on Stomach? Here’s When It’s Safe

1. The Cradle Hold

This is the hold most people imagine when they picture holding a baby. It's the moment that all new parents look forward to, gently rocking your baby in your arms while they stare up at you as if you're the only person that matters in their world. As the primary caregiver, you are the most important person in their world!

The cradle hold is very simple and easy to do. If you're picking your baby up out of their bassinet or off their play matt, then make sure to place one hand securely under their neck and the other under their bottom.

Lift your baby and hold them close against your chest. Slide your hand away from their bottom, so your arm is wrapped around them. Then, slide the hand supporting their neck slowly so that their neck rests in the crook of your arm.

This hold is great for rocking baby to sleep, singing to baby, skin-to-skin time, and is an excellent position for breastfeeding. 


holding baby

2. The Shoulder Hold

The shoulder hold is another position that comes naturally to most parents. You lift your baby with one hand under their bottom and the other supporting their neck. Gently lean your baby against your upper chest so their head can rest on your shoulder.

Wrap your arm securely around your baby and allow yourself to relax and enjoy the closeness. This is an excellent position for burping your baby, swaying to soothe fussy babies, and for contact naps

Babies need that closeness with their parents, so the shoulder hold is a great way to cuddle with your baby safely. Try putting the baby on your left shoulder so they can still hear your heartbeat. It will help soothe them, especially if you're holding them during one of those late-night wake periods.

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3. The Tummy Hold

The tummy hold is a great position that should be in every parent’s toolbox. Every parent is going to be faced with an instance of their baby crying non-stop. The reasons for a baby crying vary, but gas is a common cause.

Plenty of babies suffer from gassiness in their first year of life, and there’s even research suggesting that the infamous colic can be caused by gassiness. The tummy hold can help soothe babies with gas or colic, and it’s a great way to burp your baby as well.

You'll want to lay your baby chest down across your forearm for this hold. Make sure to splay your fingers under their chin to support their head. Then, you can wrap your other arm around their back for a more secure hold.

You can also do the tummy hold by laying your baby across your lap. Gently rubbing or patting your baby’s back in this position is a great way to help them release pent-up gas.

Related: How To Help A Newborn Baby With Gas

4. The Sling Hold

Using a sling to babywear has enormous benefits for you and your child. It can help soothe babies and encourages bonding and affection between the parent and baby. Depending on the sling, you can position your baby in many different ways. 

This is a great way for new parents to get things done around the house or while shopping. You can easily keep your baby close while moving about hands-free with a sling. It’s also a discreet way to breastfeed!


hip hold with baby sling

5. The Hip Hold

The last technique on our list is only suitable for babies with solid head and neck control. The hip hold is a classic way to keep your baby close while keeping one of your hands-free. 

All you do is jut one of your hips out and sit your baby on it. Wrap one arm around your baby's waist and enjoy the closeness! Your baby will love being able to look around and interact with their surroundings while still being close to their favorite person.

Related: Why Do Babies Cry in Their Sleep?

Setting Boundaries For Others Holding Your Baby

New parents are bound to be anxious when family or friends want to hold their baby. It's perfectly normal, and you can help manage your anxiety by creating boundaries for when other people are holding your baby.

Some examples of the types of boundaries you may want to put in place include:

  • Washing hands before holding baby
  • Not holding baby while sick or for 24 hours after sickness has passed
  • No kissing baby on the face
  • Only holding baby for a set period of time 
  • Only holding the baby while sitting down or while an adult is present to supervise (for younger children or those inexperienced with babies)

Love and Hold Your Baby!

Bringing your baby home for the first time is an emotionally charged experience. There are so many different things that new parents have to worry about. Finding the right formula, learning how to breastfeed, creating a routine for your new life, and finding ways to stimulate your baby are all common worries parents experience.

Holding your baby should be a beautiful, peaceful experience. It's only natural to be concerned, but that's why we've created this guide on the 5 safest ways to hold a baby. Your confidence will soar after just a few days or weeks with your little one, and soon holding your baby will be second nature.

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What to read next

123 Baby Box sources ideas for their blog content from a variety of channels including feedback from subscribers, trending topics in baby care, and insights from industry experts. They aim to cover topics that are both informative and relevant to the needs and interests of parents and caregivers.

The writing process at 123 Baby Box typically involves several steps. First, they outline key points to cover in the article based on thorough research.

123 Baby Box publishes new content on their blog on a weekly basis. This regular schedule helps keep their audience engaged and informed about the latest in baby care, product recommendations, and parenting tips.

The blog posts for 123 Baby Box are typically written by content writers who specialize in parenting, child development, and health. These writers often have backgrounds in journalism, education, or healthcare, providing them with the expertise necessary to produce reliable and valuable content for parents.

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