Cradle Hold

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Common Holds

  • Cradle hold
    Cradle hold
  • Hand and elbow position for cradle hold
    Hand and elbow position for cradle hold
  • Cradle hold
    Cradle hold
  • Cradle hold
    Cradle hold
  • Adapted cradle hold to include mastoid of temporal bone
    Adapted cradle hold to include mastoid of temporal bone


Cradle hold
  • The cradle hold is one of the classic cranial holds. Generally its a very comfortable, supportive hold.
  • Try to have your forearms, and optimally, your elbows resting on the table. It is generally ok for feet to hang off the end of the table to enable this.
  • Nearly everybody needs a cushion or pillow under the head to prevent hyperextension of the neck. A good sign of overextension is that the Adam’s apple looks prominent.
  • You can have the little finger sides of your hands touching. Your first and second fingers can often reach down, if required, to contact the atlas and axis. Similarly, the fourth finger can rest on the mastoid and the thumb can reach up to the squama of temporals.
  • Soft, fluid hands as above - commonly compression can be felt by the client via the heels of the hand medially or pushing inferiorly.

Bi wiki hold cradle close.jpg


An old school version of the cradle hold is the squama of the occiput resting on the thenar eminences. This hold is used more in biomechanical approaches. It allows the practitioner to hold into the occiput as the occiput narrows side to side in exhalation and support compression of the 4th ventricle (CV4).

Treatment Notes

The occiput is in four parts at birth

In the adult, pay attention to the inner dynamics (motility) of the occiput. Frequently patterns of experience from birth affect the ossification of the four parts of the occiput at birth.

Relevant Anatomy

Inhalation of the cranial base, expanded superior view Fetal skulls showing 4 part occiput, inferior view Adult skull, inferior view