What To Do When Baby Won’t Sleep Unless Held
In this post, I will be discussing when babies can sleep without being held. And, how to teach your baby to sleep without being held.
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Is It Dangerous To Hold A Baby To Sleep?
Before we discuss the logistics of getting your baby to sleep without being held, you might also be wondering about the safety of holding a baby while sleeping.
If you are awake and not actively doing anything else while you are holding a sleeping baby, it is generally safe to hold babies while they sleep.
However, holding a baby while you are also sleeping is NOT safe. There is a big increase for the risk of SIDS when you do this.
Additionally, if your baby is sleeping on your chest, while you are asleep, he is at risk of falling and getting injured.
Is It Safe For A Newborn To Sleep In A Baby Carrier?
What about letting your baby sleep in a baby carrier? I can just share with you my best friend’s personal experience. Based on this alone, I would not recommend it, unless you are doing absolutely nothing else and monitoring your baby’s sleep.
When my friend’s now thriving 6 year old was a newborn she had fallen asleep in her baby carrier. My friend, was doing chores around the house, while her 6 week old baby slept with her face towards her chest in the carrier.
After a few hours she realized her daughter could not be woken up and she was not sure she was even breathing. She immediately called 911.
Emergency help was there within minutes and luckily by the time they came her newborn baby was breathing and waking up.
She was still brought to the hospital to be monitored, and thank goodness, everything turned out okay.
This was an extremely scary situation and a good lesson on why you really need to be able to monitor your baby’s sleep if you are holding him or her.
When Can Babies Sleep Without Being Held?
It is best to teach your baby to sleep without being held from the time he or she is a newborn.
Does this mean every single time your baby sleeps you cannot hold them to sleep? From personal experience the answer to this is NO.
I understand, it is so peaceful to hold your baby as he or she falls asleep and when they are newborns babies sleep A LOT.
But, for some naps and at bedtime it is important to give your baby the tools needed to start learning how to fall asleep on his own.
The easiest way to do this is to start teaching your baby to sleep without being held as early on as possible.
If you are reading this and your baby is older, you can still teach him or her to sleep without being held. It’s just the earlier on in your baby’s life that you start, the easier it will be.
Why You Should Swaddle Your Newborn Baby
Before we review exactly what to do when you put your baby down to sleep, let’s go over the newborn sleeping gear that will help you get there.
I often hear parents say their babies hate to be swaddled. Well, I also thought one of my twins hated swaddling as well.
She would fight us when we would swaddle her and break out whenever possible. I had given up on it. She was colicky at 2 months old and we were lost at how to get some sleep.
But, then we remembered a friend had given us the DVD “The Happiest Baby on the Block“, so we watched it. This DVD tells you that swaddling is very important, even if your baby doesn’t seem to like it.
We took this advice, and once we figured out how to get our daughter to sleep better (see baby swing below), she slept longer if she was swaddled tight.
So, don’t give up on swaddling your baby too easily. And, I highly recommend watching The Happiest Baby On The Block to get your baby sleeping well.
Must Have Baby Sleep Items For Newborns
There are a couple baby sleep items that were absolute necessities when my babies were newborns.
A baby glider swing was a lifesaver for two out of my three children. There was a one month time frame where this was the only thing they would sleep in at night.
In order to make sure our babies would not be addicted to the swing, every single night, we would put our baby to sleep in their bassinet. If they were fussy, we would just move them to the swing. And, eventually both kids just grew out of needing to sleep in the swing.
Your baby will fit in the swing from birth to about 6 months old, but we were able to successfully stop using it by 3 months old.
I like pacifiers because they give you an extra option for helping your baby fall asleep without being held.
One tip for pacifiers, after your baby is around 6 months old, it can be useful to put more than one in bed with him at night.
If your baby wakes up and his pacifier has fallen, he will cry. You will have to get out of bed, find the pacifier, and give it back. An extra pacifier provides a little insurance for a full night’s sleep.
When To Start Putting Baby Down Awake
One of the keys to teaching your baby to sleep without being held is setting him or her down when he or she is drowsy, but not asleep yet.
You can start doing this from the time your baby is a newborn for both naps and at bedtime. Just look for these drowsy baby signs and when you see them set your swaddled baby down in his bassinet or crib.
- Rubbing eyes
- Pulling ears
- Difficulty focusing
- Sucking on fingers
If your baby is fussy or crying when you first set him down, don’t pick him up immediately. Wait a few minutes to see if your baby can settle down on his own.
If your newborn baby is still crying after a few minutes, definitely go ahead and pick him up. Then, try to get him to settle down.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Without Being Held After 3 Months
Once your baby is 3 to 6 months old, he will start to grow out of his bassinet. It will be time to transition baby to a crib.
In order to make the transition easier, I highly recommend the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit.
The Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit is great for transitioning away from swaddling. And, on top of that, it is also a great tool for transitioning your baby to a crib.
The reason the sleepsuit works so well is that it helps keep your baby cozy. It makes the move from from the small sleeping quarters of a bassinet, to the much larger sleeping quarters of a crib less dramatic.
The smoother the crib transition is, the easier it will be tocontinue having your baby fall asleep without being held.
Moving on to after 6 months old, your baby will grow out of the Baby Merlin sleepsuit. I do not recommend buying the 6-9 month size of this suit.
As soon as your baby is strong enough to roll over with the suit on, you are supposed to transition out of it.
Again, by having a plan for helping your baby stay comfortable as he gets older, it will be easier to continue having him fall asleep on his own.
Nursery Must Haves To Get Baby To Sleep Alone
Once your baby has moved to the nursery there are some key items that will help your baby fall asleep without being held and help your baby sleep longer.
Each kids bedroom has a sound machine in our house, that is still used to this day.
It is so helpful to drown out noises elsewhere in the house at both nap time and bedtime. We also take the sound machines when we travel for the same reason.
Whether it’s naptime or summer time and still light out, blackout shades are key for keeping your baby’s room as dark as possible.
They also help in the morning to stop your baby from waking up too early when the sun is coming up.
Top Tips For Getting Your Baby To Sleep Without Being Held
Now that you know what to do to get your baby to sleep without being held. Plus, the baby sleep gear that will help. Let’s review the most important points.
- Set your baby down to sleep when he shows signs of being drowsy from the day you come home with your newborn.
- It’s okay to let your baby cry for a few minutes to see if he will settle down on his own.
- Make sure you appropriately dress your baby for sleep.
- Establish a 5 minute baby bedtime routine.
- Be consistent and don’t give up. It will probably take a few days after implementing these tips before your baby starts sleeping without being held.
If you put these tips to use combined with the baby sleep must haves described above, you will get your baby sleeping without being held in no time.
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Hi, I’m Jeanne, thank you so much for visiting my blog. I am a working mom to twin girls and their little brother. In my free time I enjoy writing tips from my own experiences on pregnancy, babies, toddlers, and twins. Read More…