It doesn’t come so naturally for everyone.
It’s the holiday season — which usually means there’s way more food, family, and babies around than normal.
Babies can be super adorable and fun, especially if you're celebrating their very first holiday.
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But if you’ve never held a baby before or you’re just terrified of babies in general, this can be very daunting.
We reached out to Dr. Chanelle A. Coble, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, to find out more about best baby-holding practices for beginners.
“First of all, just know you aren't alone,” Coble says. “Everyone — even pediatricians just starting out — is nervous their first time holding a small baby, and no matter how experienced you are, there are still more unique things to learn.”
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First things first: Keep it simple, and watch someone more experienced hold the baby first.
“If you haven't had experience just focus on the baby and don't try to multitask while holding them or try advanced stuff like burping them,” Coble says. Instead, she suggests holding the baby while sitting down first if that makes you more comfortable. And it never hurts to do a few brief trial runs right next to the mom before you want to try walking around or holding the baby completely on your own.
“I think people learn best by modeling, so a great tip is to really watch how the mother or an experienced grandmother handles the baby and mimic that,” Coble says. It's also best to wait until after the baby has been fed and ready to sleep, so they're less fussy and active.
The easiest way is a simple cradle hold, making sure you support the head and neck.
“The biggest thing is supporting the neck and head, especially in younger infants whose necks are very unstable,” Coble says.
A good beginner's position is the basic cradle, where two arms are wrapped under the baby and it's head is fully supported by the inside of one arm where it bends — using wide, open hands. This is an easier position to walk in as well, which is more calming for the baby than sitting still. “The cradle hold is confining and difficult for the baby to squirm out of but also very comfortable,” says Coble.
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