“How to carry a baby?” New parents and parents-to-be find this task daunting the first time they do it. Even seasoned parents feel scared to hold their newborns sometimes but later on, realise that it’s the most natural thing in the world. Parents have different ways of holding their babies, and they’re mostly safe, so the better question would be how not to hold a baby.
How not to hold a baby
Kenya Moore, a former Real Housewives of Atlanta star, was once criticised for the way she was carrying her baby in an Instagram post. In the photo, she was carrying and kissing her baby Brooklyn, just over a month old. People said that the way she was carrying her baby was how not to hold a baby.
Commenters were critical of how Kenya Moore was carrying her baby | Source: Instagram @thekenyamoore
While some fans adored her photo, others chided the fact she was kissing her baby and holding her baby the wrong way. One comment said Kenya shouldn’t be holding her baby underneath baby’s armpits as baby will become sore from being held in the air by the armpits.
That netizen had a point. Babies, especially newborns, are fragile. Carrying a baby the wrong way could cause lasting damage to your little one.
The dangers of carrying baby the wrong way
Dr Jason Hare, a UK-based chiropractor, enumerated some of the conditions he encountered that is related to the wrong way of carrying babies.
One of them is hip dysplasia, also known as congenital hip dislocation. It occurs when the hip joint has not formed normally, or when it is too shallow, making the femur (thighbone) prone to dislocation.
Another one is spondylolysis, a serious spinal cord injury due to constant stress that causes fractures. It is a painful lifelong condition, says Dr Hare, which may eventually require surgical intervention. Spondylolysis can be caused by using rigid high backed baby carriers.
What to avoid when carrying the baby
You will be carrying your little one for the most part of his first year, so it’s better that you know how to carry your baby properly. The best carrying position depends on you and your baby’s comfort. But take note of these reminders on what you should avoid:
1. No head support
The baby’s neck muscles aren’t fully developed yet, and it usually takes about a month for the baby to move her head on her own. So when carrying your baby, her head might flop to one side, which might injure or make her difficult to breathe. Holding the baby by her armpits not only makes her uncomfortable but also lacks proper head support.
Always make sure you support your baby’s head with your full hand or arm. It usually takes a full six months before the baby can support her own head.
2. No back and hip support
It’s not just the head you need to support but your baby’s back and hip as well. Most parents carry the baby under the head and buttocks only, which could less to stress injury, stress to the spine or a fall because there’s not much balance in such a large surface area.
Place a hand or arm under all of the baby’s back and hip, and another hand (or the same arm) to support the baby’s head. If you’re carrying your baby against your shoulder, being chest to chest should serve as enough back support for the baby.
3. Face on shoulder
When burping their baby, mums usually carry the baby chest to chest. Make sure the baby’s face isn’t covered against the mum’s shoulder. Not only is it difficult to breathe, but whatever fabric you’re wearing can get into the baby’s mouth or nose.
Always check if the baby is able to breathe properly. When burping your baby, make sure her head is above or facing away from your shoulder.
4. Facing outward
Facing baby away from you is one way how not to hold a baby – opt to face baby inwards instead | Source: Picswe
You wanna show off your little one to the world, but don’t make facing outwards a habit. This can put unnecessary pressure on her spine, undue pressure on the groin or chafe her inner thighs.
Even with baby carriers, always opt for baby to face inwards chest to chest. Having your baby embrace you is more natural and helps you become closer to her.
When can you switch to the front-facing position?
At 6 months old, and when your baby is showing better control of his head and neck muscles, you can already start carrying your baby facing outward, so he can also explore his surroundings with you.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be doing other things while carrying baby. This includes menial things like drinking a hot beverage or using your phone. This includes carrying baby down the stairs – don’t do it. When you don’t focus, baby could fall and have a serious injury, or worse.
Focus on the things you need to do, and leave baby in her cot or under your loved one’s care.
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Can you go overboard with carrying your baby?
For working mums, at the end of a long day, coming home to our baby can be the happy pill that we needed. So we really can’t get enough of holding our little one when we get the chance. Meanwhile, stay-at-home mums know that nothing else can bring our child the comfort that he needs than a big embrace and to be held by us.
However, some people, especially elders believe that carrying our baby too much can lead him to be spoiled and needy. Is there any truth to this?
The answer is NO. Research shows that you cannot spoil a baby, especially newborns. According to Dr Barbara Howard, assistant professor of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health,
“A spoiled child is one that’s manipulative, but babies don’t learn until they’re about 9 months that they can cry to get you to do something for them.”
So go ahead and carry your little one as much as you can, just as long as you do it the safe way.
Tips for a happy baby who wants to be carried
- If the baby gets moody or starts crying when you carry her, maybe she’s uncomfortable. Try holding her in a different position. Or gently rock baby, holding her on your shoulder. Remember to give baby room to breathe – either above your shoulder or her head turned aside.
- Nervous about holding the baby? Try a seated position, especially if you don’t feel strong enough to carry baby.
- For hands free carrying, invest in a baby carrier or wrap. Don’t forget to read and follow the instructions on how to wrap baby or use the carrier.
For soon-to-be parents, don’t be scared to hold your baby. Yes, they are fragile and should be handled with utmost care, but for sure, everyone at the hospital will be guiding you on how to carry your baby properly. Besides, you’ll do it very often that you’ll be such pros within the first couple of months!
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.