When you think about holding your baby for the first time, do you feel comfortable, confident, or do you feel more like King Kong holding that blonde woman in his hand atop the Empire State Building in the elevendy-seventh remake of the movie? If so, you’re not alone. Most new parents are unsure about how to hold a newborn baby correctly (especially first-time dads).

After all, babies seem so fragile, don’t they? I mean, they come with a built-in self-destruct button for Pete’s sake! (For more on how to prepare for a baby, click here.)

The good news is babies aren’t as fragile as they seem, and the techniques outlined in this video will help ensure you’re holding your baby in a way that keeps her safe and happy.

Here’s a video of 5 easy holds to help you comfort and support your baby properly. We’ve included detailed descriptions of each position below the video for even more insight into how to hold a newborn baby.

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What's Your Favorite Baby Hold?

How to Hold a Newborn Baby: The Cradle Hold

Image of a man holding a baby for How to Hold a Newborn Baby - the Cradle HoldThe cradle hold is the most popular way to hold your newborn (especially with new parents) because it feels natural and gives you (the parent) a good deal of control over your baby. An infant’s movements can be sporadic and jerky, so having her in a secure position like the cradle hold can make you and your baby feel more comfortable. Here are the steps for the cradle hold.

  1. Support your baby’s bottom with your left hand and use your right hand to support her head.
  2. While holding her in this position, slide your right hand down her back and under her bottom making sure to support her neck and head along the way with your right arm.
  3. Allow her head to rest on the inside of your arm opposite your elbow while supporting her back and bottom with your forearm and hand.
  4. You can now let go with your left hand.

The cradle hold allows you to have one hand free at all times, which can come in handy. (haha, get it? …handy?? And my wife says I’m not funny…)

How to Hold a Newborn Baby: The Snuggle Hold

Image of how to hold a newborn baby - The Swaddle Hold

The snuggle hold is a favorite of our daughter Joanna. She’s three weeks old and likes to stay close to her daddy. For this hold,

  1. Start with your left hand on baby’s bottom, and your right hand under her neck and head.
  2. Gently rotate your baby into the upright position and bring her in close to your chest.
  3. While continuing to support her head and neck with your right hand, make sure her head is turned so that her airway is clear and unobstructed.
  4. From this position, you can slide your baby up to your shoulder if it is more comfortable.

Many newborns find the snuggle hold to be very soothing because they can hear your heartbeat and feel the warmth of your body.

How to Hold a Newborn Baby: The Belly Hold

Image of how to hold a newborn baby by supporting baby's head, neck, and back.The belly hold is similar to a cradle hold, but upside down. Instead of laying on her back across your forearm, your baby will be resting on her belly. Here are the steps for the belly hold:

  1. Start again with your left hand on baby’s rump and your right hand supporting her head and neck.
  2. Gently rotate your baby over and place her on your left forearm belly side down.
  3. Use your left hand to support her bottom half and let her legs dangle towards the floor.
  4. Be sure to turn baby’s head so that breathing is unobstructed.

The belly hold is an excellent technique for soothing or burping your newborn. She can relax and stretch out on your arm which will make burping easier and more effective.

How to Hold a Newborn Baby: The Football Hold

Image of how to Hold a Newborn Baby - The Football PositionThe football hold is a favorite of dads everywhere. It feels natural and allows you to keep one hand free while holding your baby in a secure position. For the football hold,

  1. Start with your right hand under baby’s bottom and your left hand under her head and neck.
  2. Rotate your baby so that her bottom is under your left arm with her back supported on your forearm and her belly facing you.
  3. Let go with your right hand and hold baby close to your body.

This hold is also great for nursing mothers since it places your baby in the perfect position for breastfeeding. Simply place your baby on a pillow as in the image above.

How to Hold a Newborn Baby: The Face-to-Face Hold

Image of How to Hold a Newborn Baby - Face to Face HoldThe face-to-face hold works well when your newborn is awake and alert. It allows you to connect with her, talk to her, sing, make faces, and interact while making eye contact. Here’s how to hold a newborn baby using the face-to-face hold:

  1. Start with your left hand on baby’s bottom and your right hand supporting her neck and head.
  2. Rotate your hands so that she is directly in front of and facing you.
  3. Commence playtime.

You can also place your baby on your lap in the face-to-face position to make holding your baby more comfortable.

How to Hold a Newborn Baby: The Takeaway

The most important thing to remember is to support your newborn’s head, neck, and back at all times, but don’t stress, baby’s aren’t as fragile as they seem. Now that you know how to hold a newborn baby properly using the five techniques outlined above, you can cradle your infant with confidence. With a little practice you’ll be a pro in no time!

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to hold a newborn baby. What’s your favorite hold? Which one does your baby like best? Let us know in the comments below!

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