After Pregnancy: How to Hold Your Baby as a New Dad

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

Newborns demand to be held a lot, and their brains thrive through touch. As a new dad you’re going to find yourself carrying the baby around quite a bit during the first few weeks.

Babies who are colicky (cry a lot) are often more comfortable if you keep moving, and moving also helps dispense your tension and anxiety when you’re on hour two of a colic episode. You can hold babies in several ways, and yours may have a definite preference. Try these tried-and-true baby holds:

  • Cradle position: Cradle the baby’s head in the crook of your arm. Most people hold the baby on the left side, but go with what works for you.

  • Football hold: In this hold, baby’s head rests on your hand looking up, her body lies on your arm, and her feet are pointed at your elbow.

  • Over the shoulder: Some gassy babies feel better with pressure on their abdomen, so slinging them up onto your shoulder may help get the gas out. However, spit-up-prone babies and vomiters also like this position, so have a burp cloth on your shoulder at all times. A big one.

Whichever position you choose to hold your baby in, use it often! Nothing is better for dad and baby bonding than time spent in close proximity — except maybe hands-free holding. Having baby strapped to you allows you to get more in tune with baby’s movements, noises, and facial expressions.

As a bonus, wearing baby allows you to complete daily tasks and chores around the house that won’t get done as quickly and easily otherwise.

Most men enjoy using a baby carrier that straps onto their body like a backpack and is easily worn on the front, side, or back. Wraparound slings can be used almost immediately, but they’re generally more popular with women because of their more feminine aesthetic.

That said, they’re comfortable and soothing, and any man who’s comfortable with his masculinity should give it a shot. Buy black or another neutral color to share with your partner.

More popular with men is the pouch sling, a tube of fabric that turns you into a human kangaroo, which can be used beginning at four months of age — usually when baby can hold up her own head. Soft-structured carriers, such as the über popular BabyBjörn, are comfortable and easy to use but are best used starting at four months of age.

Here is how you carry your baby in a carrier, if you’re interested in doing so. Whichever carrier you use, always make sure baby has an unobstructed airway. Also, just because you’re hands-free doesn’t mean you’re baby-free. Don’t bend over at the waist or baby can fall out of the carrier. Yes, it happens.

[Credit: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.]

Credit: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

One last thing, and it’s a big one: Make sure your baby’s head doesn’t fall forward so her chin touches her chest in a sling. This position can make it difficult for your baby to breathe.