How old must a baby be to be lifted under its arms? Is there any required age? Is this kind of baby lifting safe for a newborn or toddler?

  • 6
    Baby lifting has supplanted traditional weight lifting in many American suburbs. They key thing to remember is lift with the legs, not lift by the legs.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


The key thing about lifting under the arms is that it's harder to support the head and neck, you'd have to use your hands as support, rather than the crook of your arm.

So it's less about age, and more about head control. If your baby is able to hold her head up to look around, then it's fine to pick her up under her arms. If the minute you try it, her head slumps to one side, not fine.

Frankly, you'd be able to tell immediately that her head is not coming up with the rest of the baby; if nothing else, she'll be getting upset by this shabby treatment.

  • I put my thumbs under her armpits and still support her head with other fingers - but her head is definitely steady and does not slump at all. I was more worried about lifting her like that having negative influence on her shoulders or spine. I just started doing this - she definitely didn't seem upset or afraid, but rather curious and (positively) surprised.
    – Dariusz
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 19:00
  • @Dariusz How old is she? It certainly shouldn't be an issue for her spine, and if you're pulling hard enough to wrench her shoulders... don't.
    – deworde
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 10:50
  • over 9 weeks. I'm not pulling at all, all I lift is her, there's no additional "fun" acceleration, etc. Just a way to pick her up and put her on my shoulder.
    – Dariusz
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 10:54
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    @Dariusz Sounds fine to me. If in doubt, check for bruising around the armpits, but I'd be astounded to see that.
    – deworde
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 14:42
  • +1. My two sons were completely different here - my first was 37 weeks 3 days and took several months to attain head control, my second was 42 weeks and had some head control immediately. Age was almost irrelevant.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 17:27

While @deworde's answer is mostly true, there is another aspect:

It is fine to pick your baby up under the arms at any age as long as you support their head.

I don't know any of my friends who haven't held their baby up this way many times. It can be a handy way to bring them close - it just requires a little technique, like @Dariusz mentioned. When they are small their armpits fit easily in the crook between your thumbs and first fingers, which leaves the other fingers available to cradle the head.

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