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Pregnancy & Birth

How to: hold a newborn

Nervous about holding a new bub? Never fear, use our fumble-free guide.

Feeling nervous about holding your brand-new teeny weeny bub? Never fear, here's our fumble-free 10-step guide to cradling your newborn like a natural.
Perfect for bonding
Movement and touch are vital for your newborn's development, plus holding your baby promotes your bond. It also helps her to recognise your smell and your voice.
Check for buttons
Before you pick her up, be aware of anything like zips or buttons on your top - they could graze your newborn or pose a choking hazard. For extra closeness, try skin-to-skin contact.
Support her wobbly head
Rest her against your chest, with one arm along her back and the other under her bottom. Her neck muscles are weak, so support her head with your shoulder, chest or hand.
Gently rub her back
If your baby is suffering from wind or colic (excess crying], rubbing her back can provide relief. Be careful that her head doesn't fall forward — if her chin is on her chest, it could obstruct her breathing.
Lie her across your body...
If holding her against your chest doesn't settle her or you need a change of position, hold her across your body with her head nestled in the crook of your arm.
...Or along your arm
A good position for burping is to lie your baby with her chest on your open palm. With your other hand, rub or pat her back to help her bring up any trapped air.
Wrap her up
After the close protection of your womb, new babies may become agitated by all the sudden freedom to move their arms and legs. Wrapping (or swaddling) her in a muslin square can help make her feel more secure. Here are some detailed instructions on how to wrap a newborn.
Soothe with your heartbeat
Some newborns like to be held constantly. Holding your baby close so she can hear your heartbeat will calm her as she's reminded of being in the womb.
Keep her close with a carrier
Having your baby next to your body helps her feel safe, while leaving your hands free. An inward-facing carrier (holding her across your body or upright) allows her to look at you face. When she's older, turning her outwards will increase her interest in her surroundings.
Find her personal preference
Your newborn may look fragile but it's fine to experiment with different ways of holding her. Some babies love being rocked from side to side as they lie down on your forearm, head in your palm; others prefer to be upright. Try out a few to see what your newborn prefers.

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