Most new parents have never held a newborn until their own starts crying out to be cuddled, so it can seem awkward at first. But as with most things – night feeds, changing nappies – you’ll soon get the hang of it, especially as your baby’s neck muscles get stronger. Which is just as well because research shows being held is vital to your baby’s health and emotional wellbeing. Here are a few baby-handling tips to get you started:
Give a warning
Make eye contact or tell your baby that you’re going to hold her before you pick her up so she’s not startled.
Babies, especially newborns, sometimes cry when they’re first picked up because they dislike the sensation of being in the air. Put one hand under her neck and head and the other under her bottom half and hug her to you when you lift her.
Always keep a hand behind your baby’s neck when you pick her up and when you hold her to your chest. Keep a firm but gentle grip, as newborns have a startle reflex and may jettison themselves backwards while in your arms, causing their heads to loll.
There are so many different ways to hold your new baby. You can cradle her in your arms, prop her against your shoulder, make one hand into a seat and face her forwards with the other hand around her chest, or hold her face down along your arm, supporting her head with your hand (known as the ‘leopard in a tree’ position). One of these is sure to be a hit.
Watch your back
Try to keep a good posture by bending your knees rather than your back when you pick up your baby, and keeping your knees bent to support your lower back whenever you hold her. It’s also a good idea to prop up pillows under your arms when you hold her sitting down.