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    How to Pick Up a Baby: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents

    Updated 15 April 2020 |
    Published 24 May 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    You're no doubt excited when your newborn comes into the world. But even with this excitement and unbridled joy, you probably still feel some fear and hesitation in picking up this seemingly fragile baby. Worry not! This guide will teach you the safest way to pick up an infant.

    How to pick up a newborn

    Now that your journey of carrying your baby has come to an end and you have introduced him or her to the outer world, another one begins — and you're sure to have lots of questions about it. You’re going to need to usher your baby through the various facets of this new world.

    In these first months before your baby can get around on his or her own two feet, you'll need to provide some assistance. Naturally, this involves picking up and holding the baby.

    Lifting baby by arms

    Some parents might be tempted to hold the baby by the forearms or wrist and lift. This is not recommended and can be dangerous, as it can cause a condition known as nursemaid’s elbow, or subluxation of the radial head. It happens when baby’s ligaments get loose, slip, and then get trapped between the joints. This is the second most common serious elbow injury in children after supracondylar fractures. It's most common in children between 2-5 years of age and comes with lateral elbow pain, a well as pain and tenderness in that area.

    In other instances, lifting your baby by the arms might cause his or her head to loll forward or backward, owing to the momentum of the force with which you lifted. This can also be dangerous, since the neck muscles and ligaments aren’t strong enough to adequately support the weight of the head at this early age.

    So, what's the right way to lift? You should ensure that you support the head whenever you lift your baby, until he or she is able to support the weight independently. To lift your baby up when he or she is lying down, place one hand under the head and the other under the bum, and then lift up towards your chest.

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    Proper way to hold a baby

    It's not uncommon for parents of newborns to be emotional and always want to hold the baby. In the previous section, we explained how to lift a baby. Here are some steps you should follow to ensure that you hold him or her properly.

    Wash your hands

    Wash your hands before you hold your baby. The same applies to your partner, family, and friends who want to help you out with carrying the baby.

    Though it might seem rude to demand that everyone wash their hands, it’s a necessary first step. Your little one’s immune system is still weak and developing. If he or she comes into contact with germs, the body may have a hard time fighting off the infection.

    If having people wash their hands with soap seems a bit too much every time, it's a good idea to have hand sanitizer nearby so they can quickly disinfect before they pick up the baby.