Several authors have reported that participants have a leftward bias when holding a newborn or young infant. Our study of mothers met before and after their infant's birth sought to ascertain whether particular combinations of affective symptoms (depression, anxiety) and holding positions (horizontal versus vertical) were related to holding-side biases. Our results showed that (a) mothers displayed a significant leftward (71%) holding bias, (b) mothers with affective symptoms held their newborn on the right side and more frequently in the vertical position, and (c) hemispheric specialization for perceiving visual emotions had no significant effect on the holding-side biases of new mothers. These results suggest that maternal affective symptoms have a dominant effect on the determination of holding-side preferences, when associated with a particular holding position. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.