Containment holds to soothe and settle your newborn

Containment holds


Holding your baby firmly, swaddling them in a wrap or providing a containment hold can be very reassuring to your baby and can be a useful way of calming your baby down when upset or overtired. It can help your baby to get to sleep or comfort him after a fright or upset.


A containment hold is done by using your hands to hold your baby still gently but firmly and restraining their arms and legs if they are showing jerky, disorganized movement.


It is not about completely smothering or restraining your baby, but providing secure boundaries to help your baby feel safe and secure.  Baby’s like to feel tucked up and to mimic how they were in the womb.  Containment holds and swaddling can be useful in the early months to support your baby’s efforts to self-regulate. 




For sleeping in a cot - Try placing your baby on their side and place one hand around your baby’s head and the other around their bottom and holding the position very still. While you are doing this you may need to gently use your thumb to stop their arm from flailing around.  You can also use your voice to soothe your baby at the same time.


For calming down without needing to go to sleep – Swaddle your baby and hold close using your voice to help them calm down.  Or hold your baby in your arms and use your hands to press gently but firmly on your baby’s uppermost arm and leg to support them to lie still.  Again, use your voice to help them calm down. 


It is important to go slowly and observe your baby’s reaction. You will hopefully feel your baby relax and calm down.