How to Hold a Baby

With your baby’s limited gross motor skills, he is completely dependent on you to hold and carry him 1. Your little one’s age and development will dictate the various ways you can hold him as you care for him. You will probably find that both you and your infant appreciate variety, so rotating through several different holds can help keep your baby content. Pay attention to your baby’s body mechanics as you hold him to ensure that he is comfortable and secure 1.

Hold a newborn baby upright against your body with her chest against your chest. Because a newborn lacks head and neck control, nestle her head against your body, and keep one hand behind her head and upper body for stability and security. Place your other hand under her bottom for support.

Place a newborn or an older baby into a horizontal cradle hold across your body. For a tiny baby, place his head in the crook of one elbow and support his body with your forearm. Place your hand under the baby’s bottom for support. Place your other hand over the top of your baby for added security. For an older baby, use the same positioning for the little one’s head and body, but support the baby’s legs with your other hand and arm.

Use a football hold to carry a newborn. With your baby facing up, hold his head in one hand, support his body with your forearm and tuck his body between your side and your arm like you might carry a football.

Situate your older baby against your body, chest to chest. By 3 to 4 months of age, your baby should have a stronger neck and better head control, according to MedlinePlus. Boost your baby slightly so her chin rests on your shoulder. Place one hand behind her back for stability and the other hand under her bottom for support.

Hold your baby on your hip when he can hold his head up independently, according to the Children’s Hospital and Health System 1. Place your little one on your hip so his legs straddle your body -- one leg in front of your body and one leg behind your body. Encircle your baby with your arm and grasp his leg gently with your hand. Use your other arm for added stability to the hold, if necessary.

Place your baby horizontally against your body with her front facing out. Place one hand through your baby’s legs and support your baby’s head and upper body with your other arm. Position your baby’s head in the elbow crook of this arm. Clasp your hands together against your baby’s tummy. Babies often enjoy this hold, especially if you sway and jiggle gently to soothe.

Use a kangaroo hold to soothe an unhappy, ill or premature baby. Undress your baby down to her diaper and place her vertically against your chest, skin-to-skin. Position her face to either side. Drape a blanket over both you and your baby to conserve heat. Babies often soothe and relax during this hold, according to the UNICEF website. Healthcare professionals can help guide you in safe kangaroo-hold techniques.


In any baby hold, always make sure that you support your baby’s head, neck and back at all times.