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6 Ways to Hold Your Baby

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Experiment with different ways to hold your baby until you find the one he likes best. He will signal that he feels good by not squirming and by settling onto your body as if he is molding onto your contours. Some basic guidelines:

  1. A newborn baby should be held firmly under his bottom, with one hand under his wobbly head to support it. When you bring him within 12 to 18 inches of your face, this is called the "en face" holding position, and it is ideal for cooing conversations.

  2. When you pick your baby up from a changing table, hug her closely so that your faces touch as you settle her firmly on your chest. She may not like being held out and away from your body.

  3. Wrapping or swaddling in a receiving blanket can help calm your baby down so he can concentrate better on nursing from breast or bottle. A very young baby may feel safe when swaddled and tucked under your arm in the "football" hold.

  4. After six months, hold your baby up with your arm circled around her as she surveys the world over your shoulder.

  5. If you're sitting in a rocking chair, try "molding" your baby over your tummy as you hold him in place on your lap and gently rub his back.

  6. Once your baby can sit comfortably, she'll probably love being held on the shoulders of a trusted adult.

About the Author

Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., is a professor emerita of child development at Syracuse University. She is the author of Secure Relationships: Nurturing Infant-Toddler Attachments in Early Care Settings.

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