How to Get a Newborn to Sleep Without Being Held

Taking care of a newborn is an extraordinary experience that offers joy and fulfillment. But, as all parents know, it can be difficult to get the little one down for a nap without holding them in your arms. Getting a newborn baby to sleep is one of the most challenging tasks for new parents. 

It seems like every time you put them down, they start screaming – or worse, wake up again moments later! Lee Wong, a certified child sleep consultant with years of experience helping families get through this difficult time, can now guide you on how best to support your little one and get them to sleep without having to hold them all the time.

How to Get a Newborn to Sleep Without Being Held

The good news is that there are several proven strategies parents can use to ease their babies into sleeping independently – even at a young age! In this blog post, we’ll cover tips on how to rock, zone in, soothe and encourage your infant’s sleep independence so you both receive some well-needed restful sleep. Read on for practical advice from seasoned moms and dads on how to get a newborn to sleep without being held to conquer this important milestone in parenting.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Newborn to Sleep Without Being Held

Before trying to put your little one down without being held, take into consideration the following:

  • Newborns are not able to self-soothe and will need a parent or caregiver to intervene in order to help them sleep.
  • It is important to establish an appropriate sleep association in order for the baby to be successful at sleeping independently and without parental assistance.
  • Don’t expect too much from your newborn – they will need to learn how to sleep without being held, and it can take some time.

Is It Possible to Get a Newborn to Sleep Without Being Held?

Yes, it is possible to get a newborn to sleep without being held. With the right combination of patience, consistency, and understanding of your baby’s needs, you can help your little one learn how to sleep on their own.

Before you start trying any new strategies for helping your baby learn to sleep independently, make sure that they are healthy and have all the necessary needs met. If they are feeling any discomfort, it’s best to address this before attempting to teach them how to sleep without being held.

Why Does a Newborn Wakes Up When Put Down?

1. Attachment

This is a common issue for many new parents. Newborns are used to the sound of their parent’s heartbeat and breathing, so when they’re put down in a different environment, it can cause them to wake up.  This is why it’s important to establish a sleep association, such as rocking or swaddling them before they go down.

Newborns Are Used to the Sound of Their Parent's

2. Hunger

Newborns need to eat frequently, and having a full tummy will often help them sleep better. If you suspect that your baby is still hungry when you put them down, try offering a small snack before bed.

3. Overstimulation

Newborns can easily become overstimulated, and this can cause them to wake up when you put them down for sleep. The best way to avoid this is by limiting their daytime stimulation and ensuring that the environment they’re sleeping in is calm and quiet.

4. Separation Anxiety

It’s common for newborns to experience separation anxiety, especially if they’re used to being held all the time. If your baby is having a hard time sleeping without you, try using a transitional object like a special stuffed animal or blanket to help them feel secure when left alone. 

10 Ways How to Get a Newborn to Sleep Without Being Held

1. Rocking

Rocking is one of the best ways to get your newborn to sleep without being held. This can be done in a chair, on the floor, or in bed. Make sure you’re not making any sudden movements, and keep your hand on the baby’s back for reassurance.

2. Zoning In

Zoning in is a technique where you put the baby on its side or stomach and make sure they are comfortable and secure with its head slightly raised. This helps to simulate a parent’s touch, giving them the comfort of being held without actually being held.

3. Swaddling

Swaddling is a great way to provide your baby with the comfort of being held without actually being held. Make sure that the swaddle isn’t too tight and adjust it as necessary for their size and comfort level.

4. White Noise

White noise machines are great for creating a calming environment to help your baby sleep without being held. Make sure not to make the noise too loud, as this can be overstimulating and cause them to wake up.

5. Pacifier

Pacifiers are great for helping babies self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. If you find that your baby is waking up when you put them down, try giving them a pacifier to help them stay asleep longer.

Pacifiers Are Great for Helping Babies Self Soothe

6. Nightlights

Nightlights can be helpful for babies who are used to being rocked or swaddled before bed. The light will provide them with some comfort and security without actually being held. Nightlights might be especially helpful for babies who are transitioning from being held all night.

7. Sleep Schedule

Establishing a consistent sleep schedule is key to getting your newborn to sleep without being held. Make sure that you’re sticking to the same times each day for naps and nighttime, as this will help them learn how to fall asleep on their own.

8. Sleeping Position

When you put your baby down for sleep, make sure they are in a comfortable position on their back or side. This will help them to stay asleep without being held and also reduces the risk of SIDS.

9. Bedtime Routine

Having a bedtime routine is essential for helping your baby get used to sleeping without being held. Try to do the same activities each night before bed, such as reading a book or singing a lullaby.

10. Reassurance

Reassuring your baby that you’re there even if they can’t be held is key in getting them to sleep without being held. Talk softly to them, stroke their hair or back gently, and provide them with verbal comfort so they drift off to sleep.

If you’re having trouble getting your newborn to sleep without being held, the tips above can help make the transition easier. Make sure that you’re consistent in your approach and that you’re providing your baby with plenty of reassurance as they adjust to sleeping without being held. With a little patience and these helpful tips, your baby will soon be able to fall asleep on their own!

5 Tips to Make Newborns Sleep Well

Setting Up a Consistent Bedtime Routine

1. Establishing a bedtime routine is a solution. Setting up a consistent bedtime routine will help your newborn learn to settle down and fall asleep on their own. Try giving them a warm bath, reading stories, and playing soothing music before they go to bed to create positive associations with sleep.

2. Create a sleep-friendly environment. Make sure the room your newborn is sleeping in is comfortable and quiet. Maintain a consistent temperature, reduce outside noise, and use blackout curtains to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep.

3. Put them down drowsy but awake. Once you have established a bedtime routine, it’s important to put your baby down while they are still drowsy rather than completely asleep. This will help them learn how to soothe themselves and fall asleep on their own.

4. Use a swaddle or sleep sack. Swaddling can be a great way to keep your newborn comfortable at night and prevent them from being disturbed by sudden jerks and movements. A sleep sack can also help keep your baby warm and secure as they sleep.

5. Consistency is key. Even if your newborn cries at first, try to remain consistent in your bedtime routine and put them down drowsy but awake. Eventually, they will get used to it and sleep through the night. With time, patience, and consistency, your baby will learn how to fall asleep on their own without needing you to hold them. 

Follow these tips to help your newborn sleep better, and you can all enjoy a peaceful night’s rest.

Use a Swaddle or Sleep Sack


All in all, getting your newborn to sleep without being held can be a challenge. But it is important for both the baby and parent(s) to get a good night’s rest. Establishing a bedtime routine, sleeping in the same room as the baby, using props like white noise machines, and taking regular breaks where you hold or nurse the baby are all strategies that can help make it easier.

With enough patience and practice and these tips on how to get a newborn to sleep without being held, parents will find a solution that works best for both them and their new bundle of joy.

And remember: don’t be afraid to reach out to family or friends for emotional support throughout this journey! No matter how many sleepless nights there might be along the way, never forget how quickly time passes — before you know it, your baby may very well be sleeping through the night all on their own!

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Loren Jones

Hi, my name is Loren. I live with my husband and 4 lovely kiddos in the Eastern part of San-fransisco. I have a smart beautiful,curious 6 year old daughter, a handsome 11-year-old son, an intelligent and tech geek 15 years old son and a creative, artistic 12-year-old stepson. With each of my kids being five years apart, I feel that I’m now continually phasing in and out of each stage of parenting! I’ve learned a lot about the way children learn and behave, especially in a school setting with regards to curriculum. I enjoy sharing that insight through my writing and hope that it can help others.

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