Clinical Tip: Crying baby? Try "Daddy's hand hold"

July 1, 2005



To calm a crying newborn or infant up to 3 or 4 months of age, I recommend a maneuver that I call Daddy's hand hold. Here's how it works: Instruct the parent to place the infant prone on the parent's extended forearm, with the baby's legs straddling the antecubital fossa. The parent's thumb should be under one of the child's arms, the parent's fourth and fifth fingers under the child's other arm, and the second and third fingers under the baby's chin. (Mothers, who may have less arm strength than fathers, can use their other arm to help stabilize the baby.) The parent then rocks the child up and down slowly and gently, keeping the baby's eyes and ears in the same plane-that is, not allowing the child's head to turn to one side or the other-for greater stability. This technique won't work if the baby is very hungry, or possibly wet, but it can help parents who feel a sense of helplessness or anger when the baby cries for no apparent reason.

Sam Tressler III, MDSan Antonio, Tex.