7 Tips to Deal with Babies Who Only Sleep When Held

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We'll explore how to deal with babies that only fall asleep when held in your arms in this blog post. The baby only falls asleep when held.

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While cuddling is essential for bonding and comforting your baby, relying solely on your arms to make the baby fall and stay asleep can be like sailing an endless rocking boat. Fear not; This guide offers practical tips and strategies to help your little one.

Why does my baby only sleep when held?

Ah, the classic mystery of the cuddly baby sleep lover! It's no secret that many babies find the refuge of your arms irresistible for sleep. But why, oh why, is this the only place they seem babies prefer to fall asleep? 

If you're curious about the challenges of getting your baby to sleep peacefully, check out our article on baby fighting sleep. It's much simpler than you think; let's look at some reasons:

  • Newborn reflexes: these involuntary responses can disturb sleep, and how your presence helps them calm down. Emphasize the biological aspect of their sleep cycles and soundly need for close contact.
  • Mimicking the womb: Draw their attention to the warmth and security your arms provide. Focuses on the comfort and security they find in your embrace.
  • Comfort and security: This reinforces the emotional element. The rhythmic sounds, movement, and closeness you offer them are soothing and encourage bonding, making them feel safe and loved. 

Our StoryBook App can help you with that. 👀

Children show they’re tired through changes in behavior. For example, your child might be suddenly irritable, overactive, or demanding.💡 Raising Children

What to do When Baby Only Sleeps When Held

1. Make a gradual transition 💤👶

Explain how to slowly move the sleeping baby safely from holding to independent sleep. 

💖 Parent tip:
Start by rocking the baby until drowsy falls asleep, then place them awake in the crib. Gradually reduce rocking time over several days.

2. Ensure a comfortable sleep environment 🛌

Elaborate on temperature, darkness, white noise, and swaddling (if appropriate) as critical factors for promoting sound sleep.

You could offer variations like a warm bath or lullaby to personalize the routine.

3. Establish a bedtime routine⏰

Detail a calming sequence of events leading up to bedtime, like baths, stories, and dimmed lights. Consistency is key! 

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4. White noise or lullabies🔉

Describe how soothing sounds like white noise machines, fans, or gentle music can mask startle reflexes and create a calming atmosphere.

✨Friendly advice:
You could suggest exploring different sounds and volumes to find what works best for you if the baby refuses to sleep through.

5. Implement sleep training methods

Discover a range of proven techniques and strategies in our comprehensive guide on sleep training methods.

  • Pick-up/Put-down (PUPD): This sleep technique helps babies learn to sleep independently. Comfort and encouragement are provided to the baby while gradually teaching them to self-soothe and drift off to sleep independently.

  • Chair method: You sit in a chair near your baby's crib as they fall asleep, gradually moving the chair further away each night until you're out of the room.

  • Fading method: You gradually reduce the intensity of sleep associations (rocking, feeding, etc.) until your baby can fall asleep independently.

6. Try using relaxing massage techniques

We understand from StoryBook, your desire to find soothing techniques for your toddler's bedtime routine. That's why we provide you with an extensive catalog in which you have all the necessary techniques for a consistent bedtime routine.

7. Provide a transitional object

What are transitional objects?

  • Soft, cuddly items like a blanket, stuffed animal, or special toy to a child form a strong attachment.
  • Provide comfort and security, especially during separations or transitions like bedtime.
  • Help toddlers feel safe and calm when you're not physically present.

Here are some valuable tips for you: advice for new parents

Pros and cons of contact napping

Let's delve into the pros and cons of this comforting practice where your baby insists on sleeping only when held! 

Pros and cons of contact napping

When to begin transitioning your baby to independent sleep?

Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed marks a significant milestone in your child's early years. Typically occurring between 18 months and 3 years, recognizing the signs of readiness is crucial. 

If you're unsure when to transition and looking for guidance on when your baby is ready to sleep without a toddler bed, check out our blog on when to transition to a toddler bed.

 How long does it take for a baby to adjust to independent sleep?

Unfortunately, there's no magic answer to how long a baby can adjust to independent sleep. Every little one is unique and will adjust to better sleep at their own pace, influenced by various factors like:

  • Age: Younger babies might take longer to adjust, while older babies with well-established routines may transition quickly.
  • Temperament: Easygoing babies adapt faster, while sensitive babies might require a more gradual and gentle weaning process.
  • Sleep habits: Babies used to frequent contact naps or co-sleeping may take longer to learn independent sleep.
  • Consistency and patience: Sticking to the routine and offering consistent support is crucial in shortening the adjustment period.

Check out this blog, we assure you it will be productive for you: baby sleep tips

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Raising Children. (n.d.). Tired signs in babies and toddlers. Retrieved from

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