Techniques To Hold Your Baby The Right Way

Written by Dr. Bugaeva Irina Viktorovna on Tue, 21 November 2023

Key Highlights

  • Cradle the head and neck when you hold a baby.  
  • When putting your baby to sleep, always ensure that everyone watching your child is informed of the hazards of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  
  • Make sure to burp your infant after feeding them.  
  • When travelling with an infant, using a baby carrier or sling can free up your hands and make travelling more enjoyable both for you and your child.  
  • Skin-to-skin contact with your baby or Kangaroo Mother Care is not only beneficial for babies with low birth weight but also for healthy infants as it helps in enhancing the bond between you and your little bundle of joy.  

Holding your baby is one of the most heartwarming and precious experiences of parenthood. It's a moment filled with love, comfort, and bonding. However, holding your baby correctly is not just about creating these beautiful moments; it's also about ensuring your baby's safety and well-being.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the essential techniques to hold your baby the right way.

Why holding your baby correctly matters

Properly holding your baby is crucial for several reasons:

  • Safety: The safety of your baby should always be the top priority. Holding your baby correctly helps prevent accidents and injuries.
  • Comfort: Holding your baby in a way that is comfortable for both of you ensures a positive and enjoyable experience. Your baby will feel secure, and you'll avoid strain and discomfort.
  • Bonding: Holding your baby correctly fosters a strong emotional connection. Skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, and a gentle touch are all vital for bonding.
  • Development: Holding your baby the right way can aid in their physical and emotional development. It supports muscle and sensory development and provides a sense of security.

Tips to remember when handling a baby

Tips to remember when handling a baby

1. Wash your hands thoroughly

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before handling your child. Newborns are prone to infections since they don't yet have a strong immune system.

2. Cradle the head and neck

Support the neck and head of your infant when you are carrying your baby. When you lay your newborn down or carry him or her upright, support the head. With one arm, support the baby's head, with the other, support the baby's bottom.

Tip: Even if your baby is not responding, make sure to keep talking, playing and smiling.

3. Trust your instincts

Every baby is different, and you will develop your own unique way of holding and soothing your child. Trust your instincts and adjust your technique based on your baby's cues.

4. Take time to bond with the infant

Both you as well as the baby may find great comfort in being held. Until the next feeding, nappy change or nap, you can sing or read to your baby. You will need to switch hands.

Tip: Always keep a hand below the baby's head while you switch hands when doing this.

How to hold a baby while breastfeeding

1. Cradle hold

  • This is the most common position which promotes a pleasant bonding experience for the two of you. Place yourself in a supportive seat, such as an armchair or couch, to keep your arm at the proper height. Pillows can be used to support the arm if necessary.
  • Your baby should be sitting on your lap with their head resting in the crook of your arm.
  • To avoid having to turn your baby's head towards your breast, keep their chest close to yours. Use cushions, if necessary, to support your infant's head.

2. Cross-cradle hold

  • This position works well with newborns and is helpful when learning to nurse. It enables you to encourage latching while keeping strong control over your baby's head.
  • Place your infant in the opposite position from the cradle hold, with their head in your hand instead of the crook of your arm, to perform the cross-cradle hold.

3. Rugby hold or football hold

  • This is an excellent position to try if you have engorged breasts or sore nipples. By putting your infant in this position to clear the bottom milk ducts, the rugby or football hold helps to avoid plugged ducts, isn't that simply amazing?
  • Like a rugby ball or a football, hold your baby along your forearm while resting on your side and turn their face towards your chest.
  • The legs of your baby should be tucked beneath your arm. Keep your breast supported with the opposite hand.

4. The side-lying posture

  • The side-lying position is a lifesaver for those days when you're simply too exhausted and want to rest while still feeding your infant.
  • Lay on the side with your baby facing you and their head resting at your breast.
  • Make sure the baby's nose is not blocked and support your spine with pillows.

Hush little baby: Putting your infant to sleep

Hush little baby: Putting your infant to sleep

Always make sure you and anybody caring for your infant are aware of the following things to keep them safe and lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (also known as cot death).

  • Never put your infant to sleep on their front or side, always put them to sleep on their BACK. Put your child to sleep on a flat surface.
  • Avoid putting yourself in a position where you might fall asleep with your child in an armchair or sofa.
  • Avoid overdressing your infant. A baby's likelihood of SIDS can increase if they are excessively warm while sleeping.
  • Avoid sharing a bed. While an infant's risk of SIDS is reduced if they sleep in the same room as their parents, that risk rises if they share a bed with siblings, parents, or pets.

Travelling with your little one

  • Use a baby carrier or sling for newborns and a hip/back carrier for toddlers whether travelling with your little one in a car, on a bus, or on a flight. Additionally, it frees up your hands.
  • You might ask for a bassinet for your infant to sleep in on long trips. They can maintain their habits by travelling at night.
  • The baby carrier will keep the child securely upright so that the parent can see their face at all times and make sure their airways are clear. Keep in mind the TICKS guidelines when using a baby carrier or sling:
    • Tight
    • In view at all times
    • Close enough to kiss
    • Keep chin off the chest
    • Supported back


Your baby can ease the discomfort by burping some of the gas. There are two ways in which you can efficiently make an infant burp while holding them.

  • Hold your infant close to your chest while sitting upright. You should hold your infant with one hand, with the baby's chin resting on your shoulder.
  • Your infant should be placed on your lap on its belly. Make sure your baby's head is supported and elevated above their chest. Pat your little one's back gently.

Benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC)

Benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care

Kangaroo care, also known as skin-to-skin care, is a method of holding a newborn baby (especially if the baby is of low birth weight i.e., less than 2.5 kgs) against a parent's bare chest. This practice has many benefits for both the baby and the parent, especially in the early days and weeks after birth. Kangaroo care could be performed as you sit in a chair next to your baby's bed.

To provide kangaroo care, the following steps should be undertaken:

  • Thermal control: When a mother and the baby are close for an extended period, the baby's temperature is kept within a normal range. This is equivalent to putting the infant in an incubator.
  • Breast milk production: Skin-to-skin contact helps the baby learn to start sucking quickly and encourages the production of breast milk.
  • Bonding: The emotional connection between the mother and the child is strengthened through close physical touch during KMC.
  • Fewer infections: Infants who receive KMC stay healthier than those who do not. KMC shields infants from infections.

How to perform KMC?

  • The infant should be placed upright in between the mother's breasts.
  • The head ought to be tilted to one side and somewhat raised. This position aids in breathing and enables eye contact with the mother.
  • Arms and legs must be folded. The baby's abdomen ought to be at the mother's upper abdominal level.
  • Use a sling or binder to support the baby's bottom.


Holding your baby is a beautiful and essential part of parenthood. By following these techniques to hold your baby the right way, alongside the generic safety guidelines, you can ensure that you're holding your baby correctly, providing comfort, safety, and fostering a deep bond.

Remember, every baby is unique, and while holding them close offers numerous benefits, it's important to be responsive to your baby's individual preferences and comfort level. Keep in mind that practice makes one perfect, and as you spend more time with your baby, you will become more confident in holding and caring for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Properly holding your baby is crucial to ensure their safety and comfort. It helps prevent injury and supports their physical development. 

For a newborn, use the "cradle hold." Gently support their head and neck with one hand and place their body along your forearm, keeping their face visible and close to you. 

As your baby grows and gains head control, you can transition to the "shoulder hold" or "hip carry." Make the switch when your baby can hold their head steady, usually around 3-4 months. 

Avoid holding your baby too loosely, not providing proper head support, or allowing your baby to slump. These mistakes can lead to discomfort and potential injury. 

To practice safe holding, learn from healthcare professionals or experienced caregivers, and always pay close attention to your baby's cues and comfort during the process. 


Dr. Bugaeva Irina Viktorovna

She graduated from Lugansk State Medical University in 1995. Qualification of pediatrics, ultrasound diagnostics, pediatric gastroenterology. 10 years experience as a doctor.

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