Safe Holding Positions for Newborns

The sight of that vulnerable newborn lying in his crib in the hospital may fill you with joy and pride -- but maybe also a bit of fear. You may be hoping you will instinctively know how to handle your tiny newborn, but if this is your first child, you may be grateful for some reassurance that you are holding your little one in a safe position.


Cradling is probably the most common way to hold a newborn. This involves making a cradle position with your arms in front of you and resting your newborn in them. The main thing to remember is that her neck muscles are not strong enough to hold the weight of her head yet, so you must always support her head. Pick her up with one hand under her head and one under her bottom and then move her slowly to your body, allowing her head to rest in the crook of your arm, supported on one side by your chest. Use the hand of this arm to hold gently onto her leg, leaving your other arm free if you need it.


To hold your newborn safely on your shoulder, pick him up with one hand under his bottom and one under his head and gently move him towards your shoulder and into an upright position, supporting his head all the time. Support his bottom with one hand so that his head is safely above your shoulder and keep the other hand gently behind his head. Make sure your clothes or body do not smother his mouth and nose.


Your newborn baby may enjoy short periods of being held on your lap on her tummy. Sit in a stable chair with your legs slightly apart and rest her across both legs with her head supported by one hand, making sure her head is past your leg to ensure her mouth and nose are clear; this can be a good position for burping 1. You can also hold her on your lap on her back, with her feet touching your tummy and her head resting on your knees and supported by one or both hands, allowing you to look at each other.


You may think your baby has to be lying down all the time, but in fact he may enjoy being supported in a sitting position sometimes; this can help shift trapped wind and also give him a new perspective on the world. Place him in a sitting position on your lap with one hand under his chin supporting his head but also taking his body weight through the chest and tummy area. Lean him slightly forward so that his weight is resting on your hand. You can use your free hand to make sure he doesn't tip sideways and also to rub his back.