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Cradle Softly: How to Hold Your Baby (Plus, a Giveaway!)

Let’s talk about how to hold your baby. Some may think this is common knowledge, but there’s nothing more nerve-wracking for a new mom than the fear of picking up your baby the “wrong” way and “breaking” her. In the new book, How to Rock Your Baby: A Heartwarming, Back-to-Basics, Happy Baby Guide, Erin Bried addresses these new mom fears with sage advice and baby care tips from experienced mothers.

She already shared how to swaddle your baby and change a diaper — now let’s move on to holding your baby. Whether you’re cradling a newborn or an older babe, Bried shares how to keep baby safe and comfortable in your arms. Check out her tips, and find out how you can win your own copy of her new book, after the jump!

For newborns

Step 1: Give him support. While leaning over your baby as far as you can, gently slide one hand, fingers spread, under his head and neck and the other hand, fingers spread, under his tush. Since his little neck isn’t yet strong enough to support his head, you’ve got to do it for him.

Step 2: Scoop him up. Without moving your hands from their supportive positions, bend over him and lift him toward your torso, so his tiny body, head included, rests on your chest, and then straighten yourself up. You can stop here if you’re both comfy, or proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Cradle him in your arms. Always supporting his head, gently lay him down in your arm so his head is resting in the crook of your elbow and his bottom is snug in your hand. Use the other hand to give him extra support and cuddles.

For older babies (who can support their own heads)

The extrovert: For the baby who doesn’t want to miss any action, turn him so he’s facing out and hold him vertically in front of you against your chest. Place your left hand beneath his bottom, your right arm across his chest, and your right hand supporting him underneath his armpit. This is also a good hold for friends and relatives to employ; if your baby can keep an eye on you, he’ll likely be less fussy when being held by others.

The lounger: Hold your baby horizontally in front of you, allowing him to lie, face out, across your left forearm. Use your left hand to gently grip him between his legs. (His head will be nestled in the crook of your left elbow.) Add your right arm on top for more support. Because this hold applies light pressure to his belly, it can often put even gassy babies to sleep.

More tips for holding your baby:
“You have to be gentle with babies, but they’re not going to break.” —Mary Huff

• Newborns startle very easily. Before picking up a baby, talk to him and gently rub his back or belly for a few seconds.

• Be smooth, never sudden or jerky, with your actions, or you’ll have a crying baby on your hands.

• If you’re a nervous wreck, just stay calm and know that it’s up to you to make the infant feel secure and warm. The more you become comfortable holding him, the more he’ll become comfortable being held by you. Stick with it.

• Your baby knows you not only by touch and sound, but also by smell. Let him nuzzle into you, and you’ll soon find it’s more challenging to put him down than it is to pick him up.

Excerpted with permission from How to Rock Your Baby: A Heartwarming, Back-to-Basics, Happy Baby Guide by Erin Bried. Copyright © 2012 Erin Bried. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Erin Bried is a senior staff writer at Self magazine. She’s appeared on Today, Better TV, and National Public Radio and in magazines and newspapers nationwide. Erin lives with her baby daughter and her better half in Brooklyn, New York, where she plays peek-a-boo, sings off-key lullabies, and reads bedtime stories every night. Visit her website at www.ErinBried.com or her YouTube Channel (Nifty Button) to watch how-to videos.

Interested in getting your hands on your own copy of How to Rock Your Baby? Comment on this post with your best tip for holding a newborn for your chance to win! 

This contest has ended — stay tuned for the winner!

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