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Afraid to Hold the Baby

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"Keep that thing away from me!"
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Babies, especially newborns, are little, squishy, and fragile. This fragility scares more than a few people. What if you accidentally hurt the baby or drop the baby?

This trope happens when a character is nervous about holding a baby. They could be a first-time parent (usually a dad), a relative, or just someone who's told to hold a baby despite having no experience with them. There are various reasons why they could hate handling babies—usually it's because they're afraid of hurting them, however others just don't get along well with babies or consider it "beneath them" to handle one, and some don't want to hold a baby for fear that they will soil the holder's nice clothes.

Usually, however, nothing goes wrong... Usually. If the baby does fall then it's often Black Comedy and can result in Childhood Brain Damage. Can also apply to a pet or animal.

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Compare to Maternally Challenged.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kyros from One Piece outright refused to hold his daughter unless he was wearing gloves out of fear that his past as a murderer would somehow taint her. After a decade or so where his daughter has grown up, the events of the story made him decide that he'll be the "dirty worker" of the peaceful kingdom of Dressrosa in order to defend it, even if her daughter has to see it. By the end, he finally holds his daughter's hand by his bare hand, which reminded him of the time he was with his (late) wife.

    Comic Books 
  • A humorous version appears in Volume II, Chapter 9 of Castle Waiting. While everyone else at the castle has had a turn watching Jain's infant son Pindar, Chess initially refuses to so much as hold the baby because he considers himself too manly to bother with children or childcare. (Chess softens up after Henry literally throws Pindar into his arms, and even ends up baby-talking to the little guy.)
    Chess: N-O, Henry. This is the very thing I've dedicated my entire adult life to avoiding. I have battle-honed reflexes. I am undefeated in all forms of armed and unarmed combat. I rescue damsels. I do NOT tend babies! Forget it!

    Comic Strips 
  • One Zits strip has Connie fawning over her friend's newborn baby, then asking Jeremy if he wants to hold it. Suddenly, the phone rings and Connie answers to hear Jeremy on the other end, calling from a payphone across the street, saying "No thank you."
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    Fan Works 
  • It's a Fandom-Specific Plot in the Frozen fandom that Elsa will initially be uncomfortable holding her sister Anna's first child:
    • In the Frozen oneshot Love Will Thaw, Elsa is terrified to hold her newborn nephew. She's afraid that she'll accidentally freeze him if her powers go awry. It takes Anna and Kristoff all but forcing her to babysit him for Elsa to get over her fear.
    • In Darkness Burning, amongst Elsa's worries is the worry that she'll accidentally hurt her nephew with her powers.
  • In the second part of beautifulpurpleflame's Little Cherub series, Starfire tries to convince Robin to hold Raven and Beastboy's newborn daughter, and he's afraid to. Then an argument starts when she tries to point out he should practice because once they get married they'll have their own babies, and it turns out that's yet another fear of his.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Book of Life, Maria gets Chuy the pig as a gift before she leaves and wants Joaquin to hold him for her. He holds him with a cautious look on his face, which is understandable since Chuy just peed on Manolo's shoe moments before this.

    Literature 
  • Safehold: Shortly after Hektor and Iris' twins are born, there's a cute scene where Prince Daivyn is asked to hold one of the babies. He agrees, but is clearly terrified of doing something that might harm the child. To be fair, Daivyn is roughly 12 at the time and had zero experience with babies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Good Luck Charlie episode "Baby Steps", Bob is afraid to carry his youngest son Toby up and down the stairs after accidentally dropping Charlie in the series' first episode, as he's worried he might do the same to Toby. Gabe spends the episode trying to help Bob overcome this fear by having him practice carrying other things up and down the stairs. Near the end of the episode, Bob finally overcomes his fear, until P.J. bumps into him, causing him to drop Toby. Not only does Bob's fear come back, but it's now stronger than ever.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Instinct", Echo complains that "her" husband reacts to her handing him "their" child as if she were trying to get him to hold a loaded grenade.
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Old Yeller Dies", Ross tries to hand Ben over to Rachel to hold. She reluctantly holds him, out at arms length.
    Ross: Just hold him like you'd hold a football.
    Rachel: This is how I'd hold a football!
  • In The Sinner, the point at which Jamie Burns realizes that he's mentally ill is when he tries to rock his newborn son to sleep and suffers a vivid, terrifying hallucination of his alter-ego crushing the baby in his hands. Later, talking to a doctor, he confesses that every time he picks his son up, he has a terrible fear that he will drop him, and that eventually, he'll actually do it just so that he'll stop feeling that anticipation.
  • River: John River is afraid to hold his new partner Ira's baby out of fear that he'll drop it. This may be a Casting Gag as Stellan Skarsgård has eight children, but it also represents River's loneliness and isolation from others.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Robin was afraid to hold Marshall and Lily's son, Marvin, as part of the fact that she has a discomfort with children in general. She managed to avoid holding him until he was eight months old when Lily, who wasn't aware of this, casually handed him over while Robin was distraced.
  • In the season one finale of The Mandalorian, Cara Dune was resistant to carry the Child, claiming she doesn't "do the whole baby thing."
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Near the end of "Friday's Child", Spock finds himself awkwardly holding Elaan's baby. Dr. McCoy tries showing him how to hold the infant properly; Spock responds by saying "I would rather not" and handing him off.
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019). Kate Kane refuses to hold a crying baby when it's passed down the line to her. Who finally calms the kid down? Mick Rory who, instead of refusing the new charge like Kate did, immediately warms up to the baby, with one of the most adorable smiles you'll ever see from someone like him. Cue a stunned look from everyone.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Arthur episode "Arthur's Baby" (and "D.W.'s Baby", which reuses this clip), Arthur doesn't think that his new baby sister Kate likes him. When his mother instructs him to hold Kate for a bit, he is very nervous about it. Kate starts crying, and Arthur's sister D.W. helps him take care of Kate. Arthur starts liking Kate after he burps her and causes her to feel better.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Harold's Kitty", Arnold and Harold find a stray kitten in a garbage can. Arnold wants Harold to hold the kitten so he can find its name tag, but Harold doesn't like cats and is afraid the kitten will pee on him. He holds it anyway and gets attached to it after he finds it cute.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Steven's Birthday", Pearl reacts this way after Steven accidentally de-ages himself into a baby. Even though she's the most motherly of the Gems, neither she nor Garnet nor Amethyst have any idea of how to take care of baby Steven, because when he really was a baby, his father Greg did it all.

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