How to hold your baby safely

The late Heywood Braun said, “Except that right side up is best, there is not much to learn about holding a baby…”

Holding and nurturing your infant is essential to their development and is an unforgettable part of your journey together. These moments of closeness facilitate the bonding process between you and your baby. Your newborn will appear tiny and very fragile to you and you may wonder if there is a right or wrong way to hold your baby; you may be afraid of hurting or even dropping your little one.

Be confident when you approach your baby: confident in your ability to protect, comfort and keep your baby secure. Any fears you have are entirely normal and will lessen as you and your baby get to know each other.

Methods of holding your newborn

1. Cradle

Smiling dad cradling his newborn baby

This is a good beginner’s hold and great for young siblings as it is a simple and natural hold. Place baby on their back and tuck the head in against your elbow. Your free arm wraps around the body and supports them. Cradling your baby allows for eye-to-eye contact as well as verbal communication.

2. Over-the-shoulder hold

Mom holding her newborn baby over the shoulder

Resting your baby against your shoulder comes naturally. Use the arm of the same shoulder and wrap it around baby’s bottom. Your other arm comes across to support your baby’s back or neck. Your baby will feel comforted by your breathing or heart beating.

“In a world of hands-free technology, baby slings and carriers meet our demands superbly, allowing parents to carry their babies close and complete other duties at the same time.”

3. Belly hold

Dad belly holding his newborn baby

If you have a gassy baby, try this position! Position your baby chest down over your forearm and place your other arm across baby’s back to hold him firmly. Baby’s legs can be either side of your forearm if you wish, depending on the length of your arms. You can also place them tummy down across your lap while burping or winding.

4. Hip hold

Working mom holding baby on her hip

An early version of this: when your baby is still young, sit baby on one of your forearms facing away from you, with your other arm across their chest to hold baby firmly against your chest for support. Once your baby has developed head and neck control and becomes more alert and mobile (at about six months), the hip hold becomes an effective one-armed technique. Move baby to sit on a hip bone, facing outwards and wrap the same arm around baby’s waist. You have a free hand while your baby can look around.

5. Sling holds

Mom on beach with baby in sling hold

Regardless of how much you love to hold and cuddle your baby, you and your partner’s arms will get tired from time to time! In a world of hands-free technology, baby slings and carriers meet our demands superbly, allowing parents to carry their babies close and complete other duties at the same time. Slings also come in handy for parents of twins or multiples where each parent can carry a baby, or one parent can carry one baby in a sling and one in their arms.


  • If you are worried about dropping your baby, try sitting down and having someone place your baby into your cradled arms.
  • Generally, your non-dominant hand supports the newborn baby’s head (right-handed people = left hand; left-handed people = right hand)
  • Be careful of the soft spots (fontanelles) on your newborn’s head.
  • Always support the neck!
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