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Containment Holds

"Containment holds” is a practice that I most frequently utilize in the NICU, as is it a frequently used tool to help babies during caregiving tasks (i.e. diaper change, temperature check, heel sticks). I have found that for the newborns of 0-3 months, that this practice can still be highly effective to support an infant when they are distressed/fussy/irritable. I have adapted the containment holds to be more appropriate for a term infant versus a pre-term infant.

How a Containment Hold Works





  • It offers the infant positive touch during cares

  • It allows both you and baby to slow down and take a deep breath, especially when both of you are stressed

  • It can help to reduce the interpretation of discomfort and offer a sense of security

  • It helps baby to feel good! Thus making you as the caregiver feel good too!




How to do a Containment Hold

  • Relax YOUR shoulders and hands

  • Gently place your hand ontop of your baby’s head or at their chest/hands (hands should be placed together on their chest) and then place your opposite hand at their feet or buttocks and provide some gentle flexion or tuck

  • *Baby may resist initially- stay calm and relaxed and continue to coax the infant into physiological flexion

  • If you have one handed skills (which every caregiver develops as their newborns develop), you can leave on hand on the baby and use your opposite hand to do the work you need to do (if needed)

  • Once baby is calm and you are done doing what you need to do, slowly remove your hands, one at a time

When Should I Do a Containment Hold?

  • Whenever your infant shows stress cues!

  • If your infant is fussy after being put down

  • During or after a bath, diaper, feeding, dressing

  • In prep for bedtime

  • Before or after a transition (being picked up, placed/removed from a car seat or infant seat, etc)


These are some basic strategies for containment holds, but in my experience making tailored recommendations is highly effective. Reach out to me if you'd like more help in identifying cues and how to help your baby work through stress.

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