What to Do If Your Baby Won’t Sleep Unless Held

What to Do If Your Baby Won’t Sleep Unless Held


One of the most challenging experiences for new parents is dealing with a baby who won’t sleep unless they are held. This can be especially frustrating when parents need to get some rest themselves, or when they have other responsibilities to attend to. In this article, we will discuss what to do if your baby won’t sleep unless held.

Section 1: Understanding Why Babies Won’t Sleep Unless Held

Babies have an innate need for comfort and security, and being held by their parents provides both. When a baby is held, they feel safe and secure, which helps them relax and fall asleep. Additionally, babies who are held are more likely to experience deeper, longer periods of sleep.

Section 2: The Dangers of Co-Sleeping

Many parents who struggle with a baby who won’t sleep unless held may be tempted to bring their baby into bed with them. However, this can be extremely dangerous, as there is a risk of suffocation or accidental injury. It is essential to create a safe sleeping environment for your baby.

Section 3: Strategies for Helping your Baby Sleep Alone

If your baby won’t sleep unless held, there are several strategies you can try to help them learn to sleep on their own. These include:

1.      Establishing a Bedtime Routine

One of the most important things you can do to help your baby sleep is to establish a bedtime routine. This routine can include things like a warm bath, a massage, a story, and a lullaby. By doing the same things every night, you can signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep. This can help them feel more relaxed and comfortable, which can make it easier for them to fall asleep on their own.

2.      Gradually Reducing the Amount of Time you Hold Your Baby

If your baby is used to being held all the time, it can be difficult to break this habit overnight. Instead, you may want to try gradually reducing the amount of time you spend holding your baby each day. For example, if you usually hold your baby for 30 minutes before putting them down to sleep, try reducing that time to 25 minutes. Then, after a few days, reduce it to 20 minutes, and so on. By slowly weaning your baby off being held, you can help them adjust more comfortably to sleeping on their own.

3.      Using A Swaddle or Sleep Sack

Many babies find it comforting to be swaddled or wrapped up in a sleep sack. This can create a sense of security and help them feel more relaxed. Additionally, swaddling can help prevent your baby from waking themselves up with sudden movements. If you haven’t tried swaddling your baby yet, it’s definitely worth a try.

4.      Using White Noise

Your baby can sleep better with the help of white noise. This type of noise creates a soothing background sound that can help block out other noises and distractions. Additionally, it can mimic the sounds your baby heard in the womb, which can be comforting. You can use a white noise machine, a fan, or even an app on your phone to create this sound.

5.      Gradual Separation

Another approach you can try is gradual separation. This involves slowly increasing the distance between you and your baby over time. For example, you could start by holding your baby while standing up, then move to holding them while sitting down, then move to sitting next to them, and so on. By gradually increasing the distance between you and your baby, you can help them get used to sleeping without being held.


6.      Using a Transitional Object

Many babies find comfort in having a transitional object, like a blanket or stuffed animal, with them when they sleep. This can provide a sense of security and familiarity that can help them feel more comfortable sleeping on their own. If you decide to try this approach, be sure to choose a safe object that doesn’t pose a choking hazard.

7.      Using the Ferber Method

The Ferber method, also known as graduated extinction, involves gradually increasing the amount of time you let your baby cry before going in to comfort them. This method can be controversial, as some parents feel uncomfortable letting their baby cry for any amount of time. However, proponents of the Ferber method argue that it can be effective in helping babies learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.

Section 4: Seeking Help from a Professional

If your baby still won’t sleep unless held after trying these strategies, it may be time to seek help from a professional. A pediatrician or a sleep specialist can provide guidance and support to help you and your baby get the sleep you need.


Having a baby who won’t sleep unless held can be a challenging experience, but there are strategies you can try to help your baby learn to sleep on their own. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional. Remember to prioritize self-care and rest when you can to help you cope with sleep deprivation. With patience and persistence, you and your baby can establish healthy sleep habits that will benefit you both in the long run.

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