How to Handle a Newborn Baby
Picking up your newborn baby for the first time is a special moment, but it can be daunting and many parents feel nervous. Your baby’s neck muscles are very weak at birth, so the important thing to remember is to support their head at all times. Holding and cuddling your baby helps with bonding and also allows you to interact with them, talk to them and show them their new world.
Before picking up your baby, talk to them and touch them firmly so that they don’t startle. Try to pick them up calmly and with confidence, placing one hand under their head and one hand under their bottom and lift them onto your chest. Alternatively, place both your hands under each of their arms, and then support their neck and head with your fingers, and then scoop them up between your forearms.
There are many other positions in which you can hold your baby, all serving different purposes:
Chest to Chest
Pick your baby up and let their head rest on your shoulder. Support them under their bottom and cradle their head with your cuddling arm. This is a great position for burping, and allows your baby to look at things over your shoulder.
Once you have picked up your baby, slide their head into the crook of your arm and use your forearm to support under their back and cup your hand under their bottom. This is a lovely position to allow you to talk to and make eye contact with your baby. It’s also great for rocking your baby to sleep.
Once you are more confident at picking up your baby, slide your hand under your baby’s chest so that they are lying on your forearm. You can then scoop them up so that their chin is resting in the crook of your elbow, and if you want to support their chin with your other hand, you can. This is a nice position that allows you to pat their back to sooth them. Keep checking that their head is always supported.
You can turn your baby round from the chest-to-chest position so that their back is against your chest. Hold them under their bottom and with your other hand and support them under their chin if they still require some head support.
On the Hip
Once your baby has good head control (4-6 months) you can start holding your baby on your hip with your forearm wrapped around their back and your hand under their bottom.
After your baby gets to three months old, they’ll start to develop more muscle control and they’ll be less floppy. And of course, by this time, you’ll be far more confident in handling them.