Is It Safe To Hold A Newborn Baby Upside Down? (What Every Parent Should Know)

Holding a baby upside down is the stereotype of traditional baby delivery. Back then, doctors would hold the baby by the ankle and spank his bottom to stimulate proper breathing. But due to safety reasons, modern practices do not adopt the method anymore. On the other hand, some pediatric chiropractors may also recommend holding a baby upside down to realign their spines. Holding a baby in an inverted position by his ankle is safe if you know what you are doing. However, if you are unsure how to do it properly, it is best to avoid it and its risks altogether.

You should not also hold the baby that way for more than 30 seconds. Keeping him in an inverted position may overwhelm his respiratory system.

Why do some people hold their babies upside down?

Picking up a newborn for the first time is a little intimidating, especially for first-time parents. That look of awe, hesitation, and great interest is always an anticipated sight from moms in the nursery.

But don’t worry, you will get better as you bond with your baby every passing day. Pretty soon, you will be able to whisk him into your arms or put him down in a breeze.

Babies are delicate little beings, so it is probably appalling to hear suggestions of holding a baby upside down. Even moms in the delivery rooms would go ballistic with doctors performing the old-age tipping and spanking method. But the thing is, some people do hold their babies this way. And it is not just about dads being dads playing with their little ones.

Here are the most common reasons why babies are held upside down:

Spine realignment

Mom is massaging her newborn son to give him comfort.

A bad position of the baby in the uterus or the childbirth process itself can cause spine misalignment in newborns. Some babies may develop KISS Baby Syndrome, which hampers their body symmetry and movement. To avoid this developmental dysfunction, parents may seek the help of an osteopath or chiropractor.

Chiropractic care is ideal for newborns, even right after delivery. But you can also wait for the infant to turn 3 months old before engaging in the service.

The pediatric chiropractor holds the baby upside down to check for spine alignment. They may also recommend the same exercise that the parents can do on their own.

But without proper guidance, parents should avoid doing this practice alone. They must also not do it for no longer than 15 to 30 seconds.

Calm the baby

A lot of moms are complaining about fathers holding their kid’s upside down while playing. To dads’ defenses, they find the effort calming their crying babies.

Mom is soothing her crying newborn son.

It’s also a fun bonding activity for toddlers. But doctors do not advise this kind of stimulation for the newborn or infant to stop crying.

It’s okay to hold the baby in an inverted position, but you should not do it for a prolonged period. Great bonding aside, it may stretch their joints or disrupt their circulatory system.

Stimulate breathing

Some time ago, doctors came up with the idea of spanking a newborn while holding him upside down. The goal is to encourage the baby to cry and dispel fluid out of his lungs. Startling him will get him to cry to stimulate his breathing.

The doctors may hold babies in an inverted position for a short period after delivery.

But instead of spanking, they will likely do the towel drying and suctioning thereafter. These practices will also elicit crying so he can clear his airways promptly.


Why do I hear other parents say that hanging kids upside down is beneficial?

Hanging kids upside down is beneficial, but only so for older kids. Not so much for newborns. Older kids benefit from hanging upside down as it helps stimulate their vestibular system.

As a matter of fact, activities that involve hanging upside down are recommended daily. But again, remember that this is for OLDER KIDS and not for newborns.

Is there something I need to remember when hanging my baby upside down?

If you need to hold your baby upside down, start with 5 seconds at a time until your baby gets used to it.

Don’t hold him upside down for more than 30 seconds. It is also important not to turn your baby upside down immediately after feeding.


Although holding the baby upside down is important at some point, parents should also weigh the risks. You need to take caution not to drop the baby or hold him for longer than necessary.

If you want to calm your fussy little one, there are safe alternatives than holding him like that. Keeping him well-fed, at the right room temperature, or doing some skin-to-skin contacts are a great help.

If you need him to exercise his muscles and joints, a tummy time every day is also beneficial.

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Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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