To Have and to Hold: Handling Your Newborn

A new mom holds her baby while sitting in a rocking chair.You’ve brought your baby home safely from the hospital, and you likely have lots of questions about properly caring for your newborn – but first things first. How should you hold your little one? Holding your baby can help her feel loved and secure, according to the Mayo Clinic, which notes that this bonding can promote your child’s healthy development. offers the following tips:

  • Before you pick up your baby, make sure you wash your hands with warm water and soap.
  • Get comfortable and “feel confident in your hold.”
  • Provide support for your baby’s head and neck.
  • Pick your holding position after you gently lift up your baby to your chest, putting one hand under the head and the other under the bottom.

Shoulder hold

Shoulder hold: Lift your baby so that her head is at your shoulder height, and then rest her head on your chest and shoulder. Keep one of your hands on your baby’s head and neck, while your other hand supports her bottom.

Lap hold

Lap hold: Sit with your feet on the ground, and put your baby in your lap with her head face up at your knees. Use both of your hands to lift up and support her head with your forearms under her body.

Cradle hold

Cradle hold: Your baby is horizontal at your chest level. Then slide one of your hands from her bottom up in order to support her neck. Move her head gently into the crook of your elbow. Continue to cradle her head and move your hand from the supporting arm to her bottom.

Belly hold

Belly hold: Place your baby with her stomach down across your forearm. Her head should be up toward your elbow at a slight angle, and her feet should rest on each side of your hand.

Healthline urges parents to monitor your baby’s mood when you’re holding her and try another position if she’s crying, but babies should never be shaken, as it can cause injury. Rocking or swinging gently can be soothing.

Consult your pediatrician for more advice about caring for your newborn.