There seem to be two camps regarding newborns. One side believes that newborn babies are elastic and pliable, and that there’s no need to be extremely careful when handling them. The other side believes that babies are exceptionally delicate and should be treated gently.
While most parents lie somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, there’s a lot to learn about how to keep a baby (and yourself) safe as you navigate parenthood. From the moment you first hold that brand-new baby in your arms, you’re already filled with questions. Questions about how much sleep you’ll actually get, about how to care for this tiny creature that depends so heavily on you, and how to figure out how to use the pile of baby equipment you’ve no doubt collected.
Most new parents are willing to learn, and the best way to learn is from parents who have been there, and professionals whose areas of expertise are all things baby. From how to pick the baby up, to how to buckle him in his car seat, to how to save her if she’s choking, these fifteen pics will show you everything you need to know about handling the baby without harming anyone in the process.
15 Cartoon Moms Need Head Support
If you’re truly baffled on the appropriate way to handle an infant, WikiHow has got your back. Their very basic tutorial shows moms and dads how to carry an infant while properly supporting the baby’s back and head. While most new parents can figure out on their own that holding their new child like a sack of potatoes isn’t exactly safe, we’re sort of glad this resource exists for the parents who need it.
At the same time, sometimes moms have to juggle more than just their infants in their arms, and we’ve probably all done a one-handed carry regardless of the age of our child. That said, this image doesn’t show the variations of a one-arm carry that’s less dangerous for baby- like putting baby up on your shoulder or holding them prone in the crook of your arm.
14 Chiropractor Schools Us On Car Seat Carries
While new moms don’t want their newborn babies to be jostled around too much in their carriers, there’s also the concern about mom’s overall health when she’s forced to lug around an unwieldy infant seat. Many modern moms are turning to on-body carriers for baby while out and about, leaving car seats, either infant or convertible type, in the vehicle. But for moms who see infant carriers as a must, Dr. Emily Puente, a chiropractor, is saving backs and bodies.
Dr. Puente’s YouTube video shows parents the proper way to carry an infant seat (the right side of the image), without undoing the positive effects of their chiropractic care. If you’ve ever felt weighed down by your infant’s seat, try out Dr. Puente’s solution for a more comfortable carry for you, and a ride that’s just as safe for your baby.
13 Hip-Healthy Swaddling Suits Baby
There’s been a ton of controversy over the age-old practice of swaddling, but more recent research shows that tightly swaddling an infant’s hips can cause problems down the road. That’s because babies legs’ are froggy-positioned in the womb, and they’re supposed to stay that way. Tightly binding babies’ legs in a swaddle can even lead to injury that requires casts to correct.
Therefore, the International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends swaddling only baby’s upper half- or swaddling them loosely enough that their hips and knees can relax naturally. Putting baby in a “standing” position in a wrap, they say, can loosen the joints and damage the soft cartilage in the hip sockets. Luckily, there are plenty of commercially available wraps that promote hip health- like the one in the image above.
12 Letting Baby Walk Free
Plenty of parents want to encourage their babies to walk, but is there really a right way to support your baby as they learn to take their first steps? According to parenting expert Janet Lansbury, there isn’t- hence the image of a baby taking its first shaky steps unassisted. Holding babies up by their arms messes with their natural gait, and how many parents have dealt with nursemaid’s elbow as a result?
Janet maintains that babies’ own wisdom governs their risk-taking, and that they’ll walk when ready, despite our uncomfortable and even dangerous prodding. Another reason for letting babies learn to walk on their own is that holding them up cuts out the natural transition between crawling, cruising, and toddling. Leave them alone, and they’ll eventually get it (barring any serious medical or health issues, of course).
11 Compact Newborns More Malleable
If you thought it was impossible to carry your newborn in a baby carrier, thankfully, that’s not the case. Whether you’re avoiding lugging around an infant carrier or are just trying to keep baby close while you do things around the house, there’s a carrier for your needs. Boba is one manufacturer that makes wrap carriers, and one of their tutorials involves newborns from about five pounds to ten pounds.
You might think that babies need to have their legs hanging out of the carrier, but infants are naturally super springy and stay snug in a carrier that keeps their legs tucked up under them, the way they were positioned in the womb. Ensuring that baby is fully upright and at a “kissable” height means you’re handling your tiny baby correctly.
10 Seated Carry Cares For Hips
The number one rule when carrying babies beyond the newborn stage is to ensure proper positioning of their hips. The same concern arises as with swaddling- forcing babies’ bodies into unnatural positions only stresses their joints. Plus, it makes for an uncomfortable trip around the amusement park or grocery store. Wherever you’re going, double-check baby’s position and see that they’re seated correctly.
Your baby’s knees should be level with their bottom, and they shouldn’t be hanging by their crotch. The idea is that they’ll look like they’re sitting down, with the bottom of the carrier supporting their little bum. The benefits help out the parent who’s doing the carrying too- evenly distributed weight is better than a toddler who’s hanging by a thin width of fabric and clinging to your neck for dear life.
9 Breathing Easy With Baby
Whether you have one baby or two, you can carry your infant or infants at any age. The key is to make sure that the baby’s airway is always open. Otherwise, any kind of carrier can pose a suffocation risk to your little one. One mom learned this the hard way. Lisa Cochran’s son was just seven days old when Lisa was out and about with her mom, doing some shopping at Costco.
Lisa was wearing her baby in a sling carrier, an Infantino “SlingRider,” CNN reported, and by the time Lisa and her mom arrived at the car, her baby was not breathing. By the time they reached the hospital via ambulance, baby Derrik had passed away. His cause of death was asphyxia/suffocation, and a recall of that model sling followed his untimely passing. Regardless of what carrier you use, checking baby’s breathing can help avoid tragedy.
8 Lift With Your Legs
You already know that lifting your baby seemingly hundreds of times a day will be quite the workout, but have you considered that how you carry your little one can affect the health and wellbeing of both of you? Lifting your baby with your back can result in serious pain for you, so you should follow the same advice as you’re told when lifting a box. Bend at the knees and use the strength of your legs to lift both of you up.
There’s also the fact that this mom is showing how to lift her toddler under her arms. That’s important because if you grab your toddler by their arms to lift them, you risk dislocating their elbows and even their shoulders. Obviously, kids are pretty hardy, but if you want to avoid an ER or chiropractor trip, take it easy on their little limbs.
7 Burping Done Right
All new parents wind up with a mixture of bodily fluids on them, the most common being spit up. But there’s a way to avoid getting puked on while making sure baby gets out all that air. Whether babies are breast or bottle fed, there are plenty of reasons why air gets trapped in their tummies. From a loose latch at the breast to an overenthusiastic drinker at the bottle, sometimes babies need burping.
If you’re used to throwing a rag over your shoulder to burp baby and winding up with puke down your back, rethink your methods. According to many hospitals, the proper way to burp a newborn (and baby of any age) is to sit them up, lean them forward, and gently rub or pat their backs. As long as you support baby’s head and spine properly, this is a great way to avoid smelling like sour milk.
6 Spine-Safe Diaper Changing
Most parents have experienced the horrifying moment when their child is diaperless and squirms out of their grasp, wiping who knows what all over the diaper changing location and themselves. But grabbing baby by his ankles and lifting him up isn’t the only way to avoid messes and achieve a clean diaper change.
Chiropractors and medical professionals don’t recommend lifting your baby by her legs to change her diaper, because it can damage littles ones’ spines and mess with their body’s alignment. Beyond the risk of losing baby completely when you aim to lift them with one hand, rolling your baby on his or her side to change the diaper makes the process safer and possibly easier. Even if your baby is particularly wiggly, rolling them to the side helps keep the mess in the diaper and off of the both of you.
5 Worst Case Choking Scenario
Probably every parent’s worst fear is that their child will have a medical emergency, and they won’t know what to do. Choking is so common that every parent of an infant should know how to properly handle this type of situation. There are plenty of YouTube videos that show the right procedure, but the main premise is the same with all of them.
If your infant is choking, the best way to dislodge whatever’s in their airway is to flip them on their tummy, with their head lower than their feet, and pat their back briskly. Of course, you’ll also want to check inside their mouth to see if you can manually remove whatever is stuck. Fortunately, this is such an easy skill to learn so that parents can be prepared if there’s ever a problem.
4 Shopping Safe And Smart
It’s never been a safe way to handle the baby, but many parents had no idea until one mom’s infant’s car seat toppled from their shopping cart, resulting in the infant’s death. Plenty of moms and dads slip their child’s infant seat onto the toddler seat portion of shopping carts, but infant seats are only made to be compatible with their car seat bases and select strollers- not shopping carts.
When one baby died after a fall off the grocery cart, a local pediatrician said he sees injuries from shopping cart falls at least ten times a year in his practice, the Huffington Post reported. Although it’s convenient to slide the infant seat onto the top of the grocery cart, consider avoiding danger by placing the seat in the basket portion of the cart. It takes up more space, but it’ll also give you peace of mind.
3 Car Seats Simplified
From the very day you come home from the hospital (or the birth center, or maybe the first time you drive anywhere after your home birth), you’re potentially putting your baby at risk. Car accidents are a leading cause of child deaths, according to the NHTSA. Keeping your child in a safely installed and properly buckled car seat could save his life, so getting it right from the start is crucial.
Current recommendations from the NHTSA include keeping babies and toddlers rear facing from birth until age 3, then using a forward-facing car seat until the child reaches roughly 7 years of age and can safely fit a booster seat. Kids should stay in boosters until between age 8 and 12, when they can properly sit in an adult-sized seat and wear their seatbelt safely. However, many car seat safety advocates recommend stricter limits, like those in the image above.
2 Avoid Installation Confusion
Installing the car seat that’s right for your tot is another parenting challenge, but one that’s important to get right. If you’ve read your car seat manual thoroughly and are still baffled by the diagrams and coded explanations, head to your local CHP or car seat safety technician office and have them give it a go. Some car seats simply aren’t compatible with certain vehicles, but a professional will be able to tell you if this is the case.
With most car seats, you can use either a section of a foam pool noodle or tightly rolled towels to properly position the recline of a rear-facing car seat, but this is also up to the manufacturer’s discretion. They’re the only ones who know what’s been safety tested, so take their advice and seek help with the installation if you need it.
1 Buckling Right Saves Lives
Another important consideration when using your child’s car seat is buckling it properly. For rear-facing children, the shoulder straps should be at or below the child’s shoulders. For kids who are forward facing, the straps should be at or above the shoulders. In both forward and rear facing positions, the chest clip should rest at armpit level, and the straps should be tight enough that you cannot pinch any of the strap material between your fingers. Avoid puffy coats, because in an accident, those can compress and let your child slip out of their harness.
Using aftermarket cushions, padding, and even head supports can put your baby at risk and even void your warranty should the car seat sustain damage in an accident. The safest way to buckle your baby or older child is to use the padding that comes with the seat, then use rolled blankets for head support.