There are several online videos demonstrating perfectly acceptable ways to pick up young infants and place them down again, but since none illustrates the way infant specialist Magda Gerber advised, I thought I’d share a brief example (N.B. – no infants were harassed or harmed in the making of this video)…
A few thoughts….
This is not meant to be a demonstration of the only “right” way, or to be at all guilt-inducing. It is a way to engage a baby when we touch him, help him to feel cradled and secure, to treat him as a fully aware human being. Or, as in Magda Gerber’s words, an “honored guest”.
“Security is almost a ‘body feeling’ that an infant can sense. The way we pick up and carry an infant can support or decrease this feeling. …Everything we do or not do influences how an infant feels. We believe that if you do everything very, very slowly, and if you include the child, then the child feels he is a very important person.” (From Dear Parent – Caring For Infants With Respect.)
To make the play time transition more comfortable for a baby, sit with the baby in your arms near the playpen or on the floor for a couple of minutes before placing him down to play.
Whenever you are unsure whether a baby wishes to be picked up or there is a choice, try asking first. “Do you want me to pick you up?” Or, “Are you ready for me to pick you up?” Then wait a moment or two. This gives babies a wonderful opportunity to communicate their needs or wants. Young infants learn on their own to lift their arms, move their hands, or otherwise signal readiness.
Telling a baby what you are going to do before picking him up or placing him down is difficult to remember and feels awkward at first, but it soon becomes second nature. The effort is worth it. This is the beginning of the path to a highly rewarding, respectful person-to-person relationship.
I share more about this unique approach in Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting