How to Hold a Baby How to Hold a Baby
This is the first installment in the Postpartum Pain Clinic, a multi-part series on managing the aches and pains that come along with caring... How to Hold a Baby

This is the first installment in the Postpartum Pain Clinic, a multi-part series on managing the aches and pains that come along with caring for newborns and infants.

New parenthood often comes with a certain amount of pain. Some of it is unavoidable—recovering from delivery and breastfeeding injuries takes time. But even if you didn’t deliver a baby and you’re not breastfeeding, there is still much pain to be had! My own husband suffered from major wrist and back pain after our first son arrived—niceties like “alignment” and “bending from the knees” tend to get forgotten in that new-parent fog of war. But over time, awkwardly holding a baby can lead to major issues in the neck, back, and wrists.

A pretty typical new-parent problem is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, or pain and inflammation on the thumb side of your wrist. My own doctor described this to me as “housewife’s thumb,” a term that that comes from the millions of repetitive, non-ergonomic tasks that caregivers do all day long.

I spoke to Stephanie Leaf, a physical therapist specializing in postpartum issues and the director of New Leaf Physical Therapy, for her best advice on avoiding and treating the pain caused by caring for a newborn.


When you’re holding or rocking the baby, don’t wrap your hands and fingers around the baby while bending your wrist at an acute angle, which compresses the nerves in your thumb and wrist. Repeated pressure in that area can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. And don’t jut your hip out to one side, which throws your hip, back and neck out of alignment, says Leaf.


What Leaf says you should do: Stand with your hips even and your pelvis in line with your body. Keep your hands open and flat to support the baby, but use the strength from entire body—don’t just clench your hands and wrists around the baby and clutch the baby to you.

Rachel Foley, a pediatric occupational therapist writing for CanDoKiddo, suggests thinking of your hands as a bulldozer rather than a forklift—don’t approach the baby with your thumbs at a 90-degree angle from your hands and lift her with your hands and thumbs on either side of her armpits; instead keep your hands and thumbs flat and scoop her from under the tush and back.

Another not-so-great thing about early parenthood: Our phones, which can be a lifeline for support and companionship, are operated mainly by our thumbs. So obsessive scrolling can exacerbate wrist and thumb problems. For a good stretch of time when I had a newborn, I tried to limit my use of the phone, switching to my desktop as much as I could, and using my fingers instead of my thumb to scroll.

Now, as always when we’re talking about health issues, if it’s bad, talk to your doctor. She might recommend ice, splints, anti-inflammatories, cortisone shots, or, worst-case, surgery. And, of course, rest—like that’s possible if you have an infant.

Have other new-baby related pain? Stay tuned for our other posts on handling a baby ergonomically.

Obinna Onyia

  • Ladonnsa

    2017-10-11 #1 Author

    This is very good info on what to and not to do when holding a baby . I love it !


  • always

    2017-10-11 #2 Author

    this will help us, thankyou 😊


  • Juque Hamilton

    2017-10-11 #3 Author

    I think this is a very MUCH NEEDED article. Especially for new mothers like myself ! Great read


  • Akira

    2017-10-11 #5 Author

    It should be common sense on how to hold a baby


  • Ash

    2017-10-11 #6 Author

    Wooow really omg


  • Ash

    2017-10-11 #7 Author

    Wooow really omg lol !


  • Kira

    2017-10-12 #8 Author

    Not a lot of mothers know this . This article is extremely helpful


  • Queddy wiggins

    2017-10-12 #9 Author

    Great info thanks for this arrticsl


  • Ronay monroe

    2017-10-12 #10 Author

    Very informative


  • Jamisha Riddick

    2017-10-12 #11 Author

    This is great info!!


  • Candy

    2017-10-12 #12 Author

    Very educating, I’ve learnt alot


  • Tracy Myers

    2017-10-12 #13 Author

    I love it i learn so much


  • Kristina

    2017-10-12 #14 Author

    This is very helpful for new moms. Thanks!



    2017-10-13 #15 Author

    this is very helpful specially for first time moms


  • Sharlette

    2017-10-13 #16 Author

    This article is really helpful! Thanks!


  • Karly

    2017-10-13 #17 Author

    This is very helping information, thank you !


  • Cristina lumabad

    2017-10-13 #18 Author

    Very helpful ☺️☺️☺️


  • Miriam Pastor

    2017-10-13 #19 Author

    This article gives me more info i learned a lot thank you so much


  • Pamela Gonzalez

    2017-10-13 #20 Author

    Very important info


  • Pamela Gonzalez

    2017-10-13 #21 Author

    GREAT article!!


  • Tru Nguyen

    2017-10-13 #22 Author

    Good to know, tnks


  • Ashlee Mays

    2017-10-13 #23 Author

    this is actually very helpful but i have two questions 1. what age do you stop swaddling a baby? 2. do you have to swaddle for them to go to bed ?


  • Milky Go

    2017-10-13 #24 Author

    Really helpful ☺☺


  • Quanisha porter

    2017-10-14 #25 Author

    Wow didn’t know that


  • Vianey Sanchez

    2017-10-14 #26 Author

    This its very intresting, it helps news moms to how to do it righ and how to don’t do it


  • Daniel Burton

    2017-10-15 #27 Author

    Interesting ! I really enjoyed this article, I’ve gain some more knowledge on how to properly hold a baby.


  • Maria Laiza Bringino

    2017-10-15 #28 Author

    It did help. Thank you for the info.


  • Kamilla Harris

    2017-10-15 #29 Author

    Needed this so much 😩😂


  • Torrey Lamar

    2017-10-16 #30 Author

    Very good info, very helpful.


  • Sadheka

    2017-10-16 #31 Author

    Very informative


  • ger

    2017-10-16 #32 Author

    this is so much of help 🙂 thanks for the info


  • chena

    2017-10-16 #33 Author

    This will be a big help and a must read to all new moms like me.


  • Queen-Azhane Byrd

    2017-10-16 #34 Author

    Very nice info thank you


  • chelsea

    2017-10-16 #35 Author

    this is a great article and will helps us as out baby begins to grow bigger by the day . thank you . bery valuable information !


  • Chanie

    2017-10-16 #36 Author

    I think it depends on the individual. However and whatever is comfortable for baby and mom.


  • Bee Lyons

    2017-10-16 #37 Author

    A must read!!! Information!!!


  • Robette

    2017-10-17 #38 Author

    There were some informative do’s and dont’s. I was familiar with most but not all. Good information for 1st time parents like myself.


  • Dricka

    2017-10-17 #39 Author

    Wow you should already know


  • Lashun Mitchell

    2017-10-17 #40 Author

    That’s very informative.


    • Shuna

      2017-10-17 #41 Author

      Very detailed and such great points.


  • Niq Niyo

    2017-10-17 #42 Author

    This is very helpful to new mothers and teen moms!


  • Rechelle asuncion

    2017-10-17 #43 Author

    Very useful for us first time moms☺ thank you😉


  • Kyla Warren

    2017-10-17 #44 Author

    This is a very good article and helpful for first time parents!


  • Kimberly

    2017-10-17 #45 Author

    This is what daddy needs to pay attention to ❤️👏🏽


  • Chale

    2017-10-17 #46 Author

    interesting information was given


  • Alia

    2017-10-17 #47 Author

    Very informative.


  • Carleen Cabrejas

    2017-10-18 #48 Author

    Yay!! This one’s helpful especially for a first time Mama like me ❤


  • Takakia

    2017-10-18 #49 Author

    This is a must read! Thank you for sharing this article it is very helpful


  • fawn fleming

    2017-10-18 #50 Author

    Very good and informative article for new moms


  • Keishawn

    2017-10-18 #51 Author

    This is so true you need to know how to hold a baby


  • Almira

    2017-10-18 #52 Author

    This article can help new moms out there.


  • Presley

    2017-10-22 #53 Author

    This helps a lot


  • jannet melo

    2017-10-30 #54 Author

    Great info..big help for me and my baby!!!


  • Crystal

    2017-11-03 #55 Author

    Good info. for new parents, family members, and friends. Surprisingly lots of people don’t know the proper way to hold a baby.


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