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How To Get A Newborn To Sleep Without Being Held: See What Happens When You Apply These Six Powerful Tips

The first time I managed to get my baby to sleep in my arms, I was ecstatic and incredibly overjoyed. Watching him sleep soundly gave me a sense of happiness and peace. But there came a time when putting my newborn to sleep without being held was a struggle. At that instant,

I knew I had to do something and find ways to put him to bed without crying. I read articles and books and even watched instructional videos. While some tips worked, others were quite tough to apply. As they say, we learn best from our personal experiences.

So, based on my sweet experimental strategies, I discovered six powerful tips on how to get a newborn to sleep without being held.


Why Your Newborn Refuse to Sleep Unless Held

Before I share my practical and easy strategies with you, let me first talk about the primary reason behind this discussion. Mothers are the “superwoman” in the family. We do everything to secure the comfort of every member. We plan the meals, prepare the foods, clean the home, do the laundry, and a lot more.

But when we have a new addition to our family, our newborns, we barely have the luxury of time to manage everything single-handedly. We become significantly focused on meeting the needs of our little one - from breastfeeding, bathing, and sleeping - everything is secured to a tee.

The struggle becomes evident when our newborn refuses to sleep without being held. Hence the question: “Why do newborns struggle to sleep unless they are held?”


The answer to this question is no rocket science. For nine months, your baby has been accustomed to the warmth and softness of your uterus. There is no room for hunger, fear, cold, or even pooping and weeing, only safety and comfort.

When you gave birth to your bundle of joy, he experienced a sudden change of environment. Hence, the baby needs time to adapt to the new place. To cope with the change, the baby needs to seek similar places. And where else can that place be? Only in your loving arms!

When you carry your baby, he begins to smell your familiar scent, feel the warmth of your body, and hear the beating of your heart. These are the same things that made your baby feel protected and safe.

Each time you distance away from your baby, he tends to feel abandoned. Thus, no matter how quietly you tiptoe and put him gently to his bed to make sure he doesn’t wake up, the moment you start walking away, your baby’s eyes open wide, start looking for you, and cry as loud as he can to make sure he is heard.

It will take some time before the baby’s brain understands that it is okay to be separated from his mom once in awhile and sleep comfortably on his own. We have to figure out that our babies have their so-called survival instinct. By knowing their survival instinct, we can provide them with love, nurturing, and empathy to help them become independent and secure little infants. But that does not entail holding them in your arms until they sleep.

The Role of Parents

Do parents play a big role why their baby won’t sleep unless held? Yes, you do! Here’s how:


When your baby cries, what’s the first thing you do? Certainly, you carry him, check if he is hungry, and breastfeed him until he goes back to sleep quietly. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, when you constantly and repeatedly do the same thing, you baby gets used to the rocking and craves for your arms to carry and feed them.

Both parents may have rocked their babies or sang a lullaby until they doze off. In the absence of coddling or voices, your little one becomes reliant on the affection of parents just to get them to sleep. Both parents may be doting on their little before sleeping, playing with them and keeping them stimulated.

While all the gestures mentioned above are sweet, you need to create balance. Else, your baby will become highly dependent on your carrying and coddling; thus, compromising your sleep too.

Six Powerful Tips To Get A Newborn To Sleep Without Being Held

Getting a newborn to sleep without being held is fairly easy to do if you know the tricks and how to apply them. The tips that I will be sharing with you are based on my experiences, and surely they worked. You may choose one or two approaches that will work best for your baby.

1. Set your baby’s sleeping time

My first born son was pretty laid back as a baby. So, when my husband and I decided to travel with him for the first time, I was pretty assured it was going to be a manageable one. But after a few days, naps were missed, and my little one became inconsolable.

Grandparents took turns to cuddle their grandson, but still, nothing worked. I gently took my baby and held him in my arms. He stopped crying and slept soundly.

From this experience, I learned that babies are used to everything predictable. Hence, developing routines offer great relief. Simply put, routines help protect your little from any unexpected change. Having a predictable pattern provides comfort to the baby particularly during stressful situations.

Routines for Infant and Toddler


In a study published in the “Sleep” journal in 2009, it was found those evening rituals pose positive impacts on the baby’s sleeping habits. In this study, the mothers who took part in the research provided their little ones a massage and a bath.

After the 30-minute bath, they switched off the lights. Lullabies were played, and babies were cuddled. The findings suggest that routines like these help babies fall asleep quickly. So, how can we apply this study to our topic? Well, simply set up routines for your baby.

Set a time for taking a bath, massaging, feeding, putting him to bed, and playing lullabies. Once the baby gets used to this routine, he can sleep soundly without being held. Allow your baby to take short naps during the day. However, make sure that it is not long enough to make him stay awake all night.

Promote Sleep

When establishing a sleeping routine for your little one, you may incorporate certain things that will help him settle down. For instance, if you want to do activities with your baby, keep it calm and quiet. Do not allow your baby to play games or do activities that can stimulate his senses. As for your baby’s room, make sure it is conducive for sleeping. The room should be dim and have a comfortable temperature.

2. Do activities at daytime

Daytime is the best time to do activities with your baby. You can engage your baby in activities that stimulate his senses. If your bundle of joy sleeps longer during the day than during the night, wake him up and play with him. There are several activities you can do with your baby during the day. Below are some examples.

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Face Time


Newborns like looking at faces than playing with toys. They prefer seeing your smile, opening your eyes, or staring at them straight into their eyes. Spending face time with your newborn can make him happy and develop a strong connection between the two of you.

Engage in a Conversation

Talking to your baby doesn’t take much of an effort. Engage in a conversation with him whether it is during bath time, diaper changes, or feeding time. As the baby reaches three months, carry him and give him a tour of your backyard, house, or introduce objects to her.

Baby talk if you must as this can also help your baby develop that ability to concentrate on human voices. A research study suggests that talking to the baby can improve his IQ level.

Sing and Dance


I never realized the importance of singing and dancing until I became a mom. I used to see mothers singing to their babies or dancing while carrying them. More than just entertainment, singing and dancing bring significant benefits to your little one.

When you sing with hand movements, this helps the baby in his developmental skills. Developmental skills include bringing hands to midline, coordinating the movements of the hands for functional purposes, and hand crossing the midline.

On the other hand, when you dance while holding your baby, this exposes the little one to big-time motions and helps prepare him for learning to roll.

Read Books

Reading knows no age. Just because your baby can’t speak yet and has no words formed at the moment does not mean you cannot read books to them. Start out by reading books that come in simple images and highly contrasting colors. Reading out loud exposes your baby to rhythm, language, and sentence structure.

3. A soother for baby


You might ask, “What is a soother?” Soother can come in various forms such as a pacifier, a small blanket, stuffed animals, and pillows. Soothers are used to calm the baby especially when your little one is fussy.

However, soothers such as pacifiers should not be used as a substitute for feeding or nurturing. But if your little one is still being extremely fussy after all the cuddling, burping, feeding, and playing, the use of a pacifier will give him satisfaction. Some studies reveal that the use of soothers can lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. 

4. Pamper your baby with a gentle massage

Massage is one of the most neglected aspects of nurturing the little one. The truth is, massage works wonders in calming your baby and giving him a good sleep. Here’s what I observed. During the first few days that I had my newborn, each time I put my son down, he’d cry. But when I picked him up, he was all smiles and looked so serene.

Hence, I realized the importance of touching or holding the baby. You can get your newborn to sleep without being held by giving him a full-body massage. Some studies have demonstrated the impacts of massaging in reducing the baby’s fussiness and crying. Massaging also helps the baby sleep peacefully, and soothe wail-inducers such as colic and constipation.


When you massage your baby, you are stimulating his central nervous system. When CNS is stimulated, it produces a series of reactions. First, the brain will produce serotonin, a chemical responsible for giving your baby a happy mood.

Then, cortisol is inhibited. Cortisol is the hormone produced in reaction to stress. When there is more serotonin, the baby’s breathing and heart rate slow down. Thus, the baby feels more relaxed.

To give your baby a massage, simply rub his arms and legs gently until he falls asleep. According to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, supine position or sleeping on his back is the safest position for babies. When your baby starts to fret, communicate with him gently, but do not carry him.

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Here’s a video that will show you how to massage your baby gently. 

5. Help is free, So, don’t be shy to ask

Your baby is a smart little one and can certainly recognize the difference if another person is carrying him. However, when your baby is in a deep sleep, he is unable to identify and tell the difference. It is during deep sleep that you can ask one of the members of your family to hold the baby.

In this case, you should have the idea of your baby’s sleeping routine. Then, try to check who is available at that particular time to help you look after the baby. Remind them to avoid carrying the body. Let the baby stay in his bed until he drifts off. It usually takes 20 minutes before the baby finally is in a deep sleep. To check whether your little one is completely asleep, try lifting his arm and drop.

6. Create a mom-like crib

Some of you may not have anyone living with you. And that’s okay. When you hold your baby, your little one likes your warmth and smell and the softness of your arms. These are the same things he would look for once you put him down to bed. In this case, you can still get your baby to sleep without being held by creating a mom-like crib. How?

First things first. When you make a crib, get rid of blankets, lovey, and pillows because they can increase the possibility of suffocation. I know you just want to give your baby a cozy crib. But now isn’t the perfect time for that yet. Instead, try using swaddles and gently put your little one in his crib. A swaddling blanket is a lightweight fabric utilized to wrap around the body of your baby to avoid him wriggling out.


Purposes of Swaddling Blankets

  • Swaddling blankets emulate the snuggling sensation that your baby feels when he was still in your womb. This gives your baby a sense of calmness and comfort.
  • Swaddling blankets make your baby warm without the hazard of suffocations.
  • Swaddling blankets avert startle reflexes, which usually happen when your baby feels like he is going to fall. Thus, swaddling blankets keep the baby protected and secured.

If you wish to deepen the impact of a swaddle, keep it in your drawer or wardrobe before using. In this way, the swaddle blanket will absorb your scent, and the baby can sense that fragrance from the blanket.

Try to purchase as many swaddle blankets as possible so that you will have extra blankets for your baby in case you wash them. Swaddles are best for 4-month-old babies and under. When your baby outgrows his swaddles, you can switch to sleeping sack. Sleeping sacks offer the same comfort that swaddles provide your baby with.


As mothers, we want to give all the cuddles and attention to our baby. However, if you carry your baby each time he cries, he will depend on your presence all the time. Teach your baby how to sleep without being held, and you will be surprised that by doing so, you are also helping your baby in his developmental skills.

What methods do you use to get your newborn to sleep without being held? We would love to hear from you. Did you find this article helpful? Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family.


http://mamaot.com/how-to-play-with-your-newborn-baby-0-to-3-months/ http://www.livestrong.com/article/185094-how-to-get-a-newborn-to-sleep-without-being-held/


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