How to Be Mindful Holding a Baby

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Meditation for Real Life

“Being mindful while holding a baby can be an incredibly gratifying, renewing and sometimes challenging mindfulness practice. Babies cycle through various states of being throughout their days and nights. How you are in relationship to a baby in these various states is truly a practice in everyday life. It can be helpful to remember that whatever state of being that your baby is in at any particular moment, it is not a permanent condition. Nothing is.” — Nancy Bardacke, founding director of Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting.

If the baby you are holding is asleep, take the opportunity to really experience him or her with all your senses.

Notice the feeling of warmth of the baby’s body against yours, the peaceful expression on the child’s face, any scent arising from his or her body as you breathe in, listening to any sounds that may be coming from the infant.

Take a moment to reflect on the vulnerability of this tiny being and the reality that every human being on the planet, including you, was once a baby.

If the baby you are holding is awake and content, notice the changing expressions on his or her face.

If the baby is interested, gaze into its eyes for some moments. Notice any thoughts or emotions that may arise as you do this.

If the baby is actively moving, hold the child underneath the arms, allowing the infant an opportunity to jump up and down on your lap, strengthening leg and arm muscles.

If the expression on the baby’s face changes to unhappiness or you hear sounds of fussing, notice any emotions this brings up for you — sadness, compassion, frustration or anxiety.

Come to the sensations of your own breathing, feeling the breath in the belly or the nostrils. If you are sitting, consider standing up, being aware of your feet on the ground, perhaps of your body rocking side to side as you hold the baby.

If the baby begins to cry, notice how this makes you feel, as well as any thoughts about the future, such as “how long will this last?” or “I don’t know what to do.”

Feel the feelings, as unpleasant as they might be, and return to the breath. By working at being with your breath, your body may become an anchor for the baby to find calm in the present moment.