How to Hold a Newborn Baby for the First Time

happy couple holding newborn baby

Newborn babies always seem so tiny and so impossibly fragile; it’s no wonder that if you haven’t had much experience with them, it might seem really intimidating to pick one up.  Even if you’ve been around children a lot, newborns are in a small little class of their own!

Parents don’t hand off their newborns often to be held, and they are newborns for just a short period, so some people just haven’t had much experience with them. Feeling awkward about handling a newborn is very common. Even parents who have had other children report that remembering how to handle newborn babies is something they have to get used to again.

Some people just seem to find it second nature and can scoop up a newborn like it’s no problem at all. Don’t worry if you don’t instantly feel comfortable picking up your new baby! The good news is that in the end, every parent becomes an expert in holding their children.

Tiny But Mighty!

The tiny newborn before you has just made an amazing journey through the birth canal, so they really are tougher than you think! The main thing you need to remember is that newborns have fragile necks and heads, and they must be supported at all times.

Babies need human contact and like to be held closely because it mimics the womb, where they just came from. Plus, it’s just pure bliss holding a tiny little human, that soft skin, the fuzzy head, and they have this smell that is the most amazing thing you’ve ever smelled. If only it could be bottled!

How to Pick Up a Newborn

  • Support their head first, then nestle them into your bent elbow, bringing their body to yours
  • Use your other arm to support their feet (be sure to hold the feet because newborns have a stronger push reflex than you think!)
  • Once you are seated comfortably for a while, change sides. Babies need time on equal sides!
  • Also, try reclining and holding the baby flat on your chest; they love being tucked up under your chin and being able to hear your heart.

Holding a newborn helps them in so many ways. It comforts them, it helps connect you to them, and it also helps them develop those crucial muscles that will mean they can eventually hold their heads up on their own. 

For more information on how to hold a newborn, we recommend visiting Pathways.org. You can find lots of instructional videos and information on the site that show you how to pick up a newborn, as well as information on newborn development and connecting with your new baby!

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