Life with newborns is already hard enough, but what do you do if your baby won’t sleep unless held? Sleep is so important for both mom and baby. When babies do not sleep well, they are fussy. When moms are sleep deprived, they are also fussy.
Are you feeling sleep deprived and frustrated because your baby will only sleep when you are holding him or her? If you are struggling because your baby won’t sleep unless held, I have some suggestions to get your baby out of your arms and into the crib.
Why Does Your Baby Only Want to Sleep When Held in Your Arms?
Moms carry a baby in the womb for approximately 40 weeks. For 40 weeks, the mother was all the baby knew, so the mother’s arms are where the baby feels the most secure and safe naturally.
A baby recognizes the touch, smell and sound of his or her own mother. However, a mom needs her own sleep, and this is impossible when her baby refuses to sleep anywhere but her arms.
Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep Without Being Held
Let’s talk about some ways to help every mother in this situation. I’ve prepared a list of the 6 most common tricks for getting your baby out of your arms and into a crib.
1. Babies Need to Nap During the Day
It may seem contradictory, but it is true. Babies need to have several good naps throughout the day in order to sleep peacefully at night. This means you should not try to “tire your baby out” during the day to try to get him or her to sleep better at night.
Begin by looking for cues that your baby may be getting tired and ready for a nap. Signs may include fussiness, looking away, or looking for comfort from feeding. A cranky baby is often a sleepy baby. Watch this video to know more.
2. Develop a Bedtime Routine
Having an established ritual helps set the mood for sleep and lets your baby know it is time for bed. In our house, we follow a very simple bedtime routine – we bathe our little one, turn the lights off and then sing a quiet lullaby.
In addition to preparing your baby for sleep by setting the mood with a bedtime routine, you should swaddle any babies under 4 months of age. A tight swaddle holds their limbs close to their bodies and helps prevent them from jerking themselves awake.
A prominent medical professional, Dr. Karp, is an advocate for swaddling and discusses it in detail in his popular book, The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer.
Some parents worry that swaddling is unsafe. This is simply not true. Until your baby is able to roll over independently, swaddling is a safe way to help your baby sleep by mimicking the close quarters of a mother’s womb.
4. Put Your Baby to Bed While Awake
Again, this tip may seem contradictory, but it is effective. After following the bedtime routine and swaddling your baby, you should put your baby down in the crib while awake. This helps in the long run because your baby will learn how to fall asleep independently rather than in your arms.
5. Help Your Baby Self-Soothe
Once you put your baby to bed while awake, you should consider giving your baby tools to self-soothe. For instance, many babies find pacifiers soothing. Some parents also find it helpful to place a crib-friendly, safe toy or blanket in the crib with the baby. I gave my baby a pacifier and placed a soft play book in the crib.
6. Turn on the Noise
Finally, you should invest in a white noise machine. Babies like to hear the quiet “shhing” sounds because it sounds familiar like the womb. However, you cannot possibly make the “shh” sound all night long.
Products such as the LethroFan Jr are popular for helping babies sleep. The white noise machine should be turned on loud enough for you to hear when you close the door. The sounds should drown out the other noises in the house while sounding womb-like, but the noise machine should not be so loud that you cannot hear your baby cry.
To Wrap Up
If your baby won’t sleep unless held, try these tips to help you and your baby get better sleep. Getting babies to sleep well is tricky, but there are many resources to help you such as Dr. Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block, and technology such as the LethroFan Jr. Tonight, give these tips a try:
- Make sure your baby sleeps during the day.
- Develop a bedtime routine.
- Swaddle your baby.
- Put your baby to bed while awake.
- Help your baby self-soothe.
- Turn on the white noise.
After reading through this list of tips, do you have any questions? Please comment to share your questions and comments.