Any first time parents will tell you what a daunting thought it is to hold a baby for the first time. Add to that the tiny neck and the pressure of holding it in the right way is another big tension. You will get a lot of tips and instructions on how to hold a newborn the right way even before the baby is handed over to you for the first time. It is obvious that your nerves will do the talking then but at the same time it is important that you keep calm and go with the flow.
Why Is It Important To Hold The Newborn Properly?
Newborn babies have very floppy necks because their muscles have not developed properly and also because it is the heaviest part of the body. The muscles will start developing within the coming few weeks but till then you will have to give its neck the best support so that:
- Your baby’s neck does not move in an uncontrolled way
- To keep the baby’s neck from being injured. If for example, it remains on one side without support for too long then he might pull a muscle resulting in painful muscle spasms
- Supporting the neck properly also makes it easier for you to hold him and stabilize his movements in your arms
It is very essential to learn how to hold a newborn properly so that the baby is comfortable and any chances of injury are ruled out. However, that does not imply that you do not even touch your baby’s head. The membrane covering your baby’s skull is pretty strong to support the head.
Is My Baby Very Fragile?
Newborns have very little neck muscle control, and thus it becomes very important to support the head and the neck carefully. Atleast for the initial few months, you will need to be very careful when holding your baby by providing support at the head and the neck. However, you need not fret as all babies are extremely resilient and elastic – and are born with the startle or Moro reflex. Anything that will make your baby uncomfortable, will be responded with throwing off arms and legs in the air, and crying. By the time your baby is 3 months old, he will develop a fairly good control over his head and neck muscles, and this phase of clumsiness will end.
Picking Up A Newborn Baby
It is very important to your newborn’s head and neck while you pick him up. Newborn babies have very little neck-muscle control and are unable to balance their neck on their own. When picking your baby up, first slide one hand under her head for support, taking care not to press the soft spots on the head, and slide in the other hand under the baby’s hip. You will feel that the baby from head to toe is in your grip, and once you feel confident enough, you can pick the baby lifting him up and bringing him close to your chest.
10 Tips To Hold The Newborn Steady
- Wash your hands: Your baby’s immunity post birth is weak and it is only imperative that you and anyone else, must wash their hands properly before holding the baby. Keeping a hand sanitizer close will ensure that no one misses out sanitizing his hands before touching your baby
- The Cradle Position: It is most likely that the nurse will pick up the baby and pass it on to you. At this time, bring your hands in a cradle position by bending both your elbows. Place the baby’s head on one of your elbows such that your hand supports your baby’s neck and wrap the other arm near the waist.
- If you are picking up your baby from the cradle, then keep the sole thing in your mind that you have to support the baby’s neck first. So, for that, slide your hand under the baby’s neck while your fingers support his head. Spread your fingers to give your baby a firm support. Then slide the other hand under his bottom from between the two legs. Now that both your hands support the baby you can pick him up
- While picking him up, hold him close to your chest. Once you stand upright, you can come back to the cradle position and cradle your baby
- Changing positions : Always keep in mind to keep your baby’s head in a slightly upper position than his bottom. If you want to change from cradle position, place your baby’s neck on your shoulders and support his bottom with your hands
- Taking the baby on your shoulder: While taking her on your shoulder, keep supporting his neck and head with the palm of your hand so that the baby’s neck does not move in any unwanted ways
- The Face-To-Face Hold: Hold the baby by placing one hand behind the baby’s back and head, and the other under the bottoms. Hold the baby, facing you, just below your chest. Have fun while interacting with the baby
- The Belly Hold: Doctors will suggest you use this technique it it’s been a few weeks after birth and the baby is being fussy and not sleeping at nights. You need to drape the baby around your forearm and while making sure his head and neck lie properly supported on your arm
- Chest to chest contact: Hold your baby close to your chest such that his face rests on your bosom. Support him with your hands from bottom and keep your other hand firmly on his neck and head
- The Switching of Hands: It is inevitable that you will want to switch hands time to time. While doing this make sure you keep one of your hands under your baby’s head every time
- Enjoy Bonding: Every baby is different and will have some or the other preferences. Once you and the baby is comfortable in a given position, do make the most of that time and enjoy bonding with your baby – talking, gazing, and admiring each other
- Never shake the baby: A newborn is a little being, and is not at all ready for rough play. Refrain from shaking your baby, it can have serous repercussions. If you have to wake your baby up, tickle the baby’s feet or touch her cheeks gently
The bottom line is, no matter in which ever position you hold your baby, remember, his muscles are still underdeveloped so it is your job to support him throughout his developmental phase especially his head and neck area.
Holding A Newborn While On Your Period
Some folklore says that women on their periods must not hold newborn babies as it can cause some health problems to the baby. Most often, it is said that a baby held by a woman who is menstruating will get constipated. Now this holds no relevance in the scientific world whatsoever, and at the best can be attributed to hygiene practices that used to run in the country ages ago. Your best bet if such an advice comes your way – a hearty laugh!
Common Mistakes That New Parents Make
The most common mistake new parents do is that they think it would not really hurt the baby if they do not support the neck a few times. This is wrong and parents need to ensure that they support the baby’s neck every time they pick him up. It is the worst thing they can do because your baby needs your support each and every time. Second thing is, parents become too conscious and too nervous. Not being calm and composed may lead your baby to be uncomfortable in your hold and sometimes in fatal positions. This should not happen. If you are anxious and nervous you will not hold the baby properly.
Yes, your baby is delicate but he won’t break! So, keep yourself calm, hold your baby in the right positions and enjoy the new bond of unconditional love.