There are only two types of people in the world; those with children and those without. Recently I helped a close colleague celebrate the birth of his first child—a girl. If you’re already a father, as I’ve been, twice, you know the routine; the middle-of-the-night awakenings, diaper changes, feedings, burping, and the best part of all, cuddling your new little one in your arms.
Having researched numerous articles and “how to” videos on the subject, the one thing that is absolutely mandatory, especially for newborns, is supporting the baby’s head. Proportionally, a baby’s head is larger than the rest of its body. Additionally, the baby’s neck muscles are not strong enough to support its head, so it’s up to you.
Following are several tried and true methods for holding a baby. First, make sure your hands are clean, and when you hold a baby, always hold it snugly.
Newborns spend a lot of time swaddled in a blanket. Carefully lift the baby with one hand under its neck and your other hand under its bottom. Position the back of the baby’s head so it rests in the crook of your elbow, with the rest of its body cradled on your forearm. If you like, you can slowly rock your hips, creating a gentle back and forth motion that will help keep the baby relaxed.
Another way to hold a newborn is with its head resting on your shoulder. This is the burping or soothing position. Using your hand on the same arm as the shoulder the baby’s head is resting, hold the baby’s body, while using your other hand to support the baby’s head from the back. Be careful to keep its neck supported, otherwise it can fall backwards in a whiplash-like motion.
If there are young children around who want to hold the baby, have them sit on a chair or a sofa, and stand close-by in case the child gets nervous or the baby becomes uncomfortable and starts to cry.
When its neck becomes stronger, you can hold the baby facing out. Place the baby’s back against your chest and place one hand across the baby’s mid-section like a human seat belt. If you’re standing, hold its tush up with your other hand. If you’re sitting, the baby’s bum can rest on your lap. Lower your nose to the baby’s head, and get a whiff of that wholesome “new baby smell.” There’s nothing else like it.