Have you ever noticed that your baby only sleeps when held? It can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting, but it’s also quite common. You’re not alone in this challenge! Learning how to help your baby sleep on their own is a great way to benefit both of you. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why your baby might only sleep when held, the potential benefits of teaching them to sleep on their own, and tips for making it happen. Let’s dive in!

Overview of Sleeping Patterns in Babies

It’s heartbreaking when a little one is unable to rest without being cradled in loving arms. Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to help your baby sleep better. Safe swaddling and white noise are two of the most common and effective techniques used by parents. Swaddling helps babies feel secure and can prevent them from startling themselves awake. White noise, whether it’s the sound of a fan, a white noise machine, or the sound of a vacuum cleaner, helps to soothe babies and can provide a distraction from outside noises.

It’s important to remember that all babies are different, and what works for one baby may not work for another. Babies who are used to a lot of noise may find white noise too quiet to help them sleep, while babies who are used to a quieter environment may find it too loud. It’s also important to note that babies sleep differently depending on their age. Newborns may only sleep a few hours at a time, while older babies may sleep for longer stretches.

The key to helping your baby sleep is to figure out what works best for them. Experiment with different swaddling techniques, white noise levels, and other sleep strategies to see what helps your little one get some much-needed rest. With a bit of trial and error, you’ll be able to find the perfect sleep solution for your baby.

Causes of Baby Only Sleeping When Held

It could be that your baby only sleeps when held due to the comfort, soothing, and security they feel when they are in your arms. It could also be that there are dietary issues that need to be addressed, such as an undersupply of breast milk, or a food sensitivity that is causing them to wake up frequently throughout the night. Lastly, it’s possible that your baby is going through developmental milestones that cause them to be easily startled and wake up during the night, making them feel more secure when held.

Comfort and Soothing

You want to ensure your little one is comfortable and soothed – but how can you do that if they only sleep when held? Swaddling techniques, such as wrapping baby tightly in a blanket, can help create a sense of security and comfort. It also keeps baby’s arms and legs from startling them awake too soon. Additionally, using white noise is an effective way to soothe and relax baby. You can find white noise machines or apps to use, or even just turn on the fan in the room. It can help to provide a consistent sound that will help baby drift off into a peaceful sleep. Taking the time to ensure your baby is comfortable and soothed can help them get the restful sleep they need.

Dietary Issues

Do you have any dietary issues that could be impacting your little one’s sleep quality? As babies grow, their dietary needs often change. Weaning foods can have a huge impact on your baby’s sleep, so it’s important to monitor any changes in their diet. To improve your little one’s sleep schedule, try to incorporate these three tips into your baby’s diet:[1] Make sure you are offering your baby a balanced and varied diet that is appropriate for their age. [2] Try to keep your baby’s meals and snacks consistent throughout the day. [3] Make sure your baby is getting the right amount of calories and nutrients for their age.

If you’re still having trouble getting your baby to sleep, it may be helpful to consult your doctor or a nutritionist. They can help you make sure that your baby’s diet is providing the right number of calories and nutrients, and can suggest any changes that may help your little one sleep better. With the right diet and a little extra care, your baby can get the rest they need.

Developmental Milestones

Gaining developmental milestones is an important part of your little one’s growth, and can have a big impact on their sleep quality. As you know, babies are very sensitive to changes in their environment, and this can affect the quality of their sleep. If your baby is having difficulty sleeping, it could be a sign that they are not meeting their developmental milestones. Co-sleeping and sleep training are two different approaches that can help your baby gain these milestones and improve their sleep quality. Co-sleeping is a great option for babies who need comfort and reassurance, as it allows them to stay close to their parents. Sleep training, on the other hand, is more suitable for babies who need a bit more structure when it comes to sleeping. It can help them establish regular sleep patterns and help them transition more easily into independent sleep. Both approaches can be beneficial in helping your baby gain the necessary developmental milestones and in turn, improving their sleep quality.

Benefits of Teaching a Baby to Sleep on Their Own

Learning to sleep on their own can be a huge relief for both parents and baby, allowing everyone to get a much-needed rest. While it can be a difficult process to teach a baby to sleep without being held, there are plenty of benefits that come along with it.

One of the major benefits is that it helps promote better sleep habits in the long-term. When a baby learns to sleep on their own, they become more comfortable in their own environment and develop a better understanding of their body’s natural sleep cycles. This helps them learn to fall asleep and stay asleep without needing to be held or rocked.

Additionally, teaching a baby to sleep on their own also helps them become independent and self-sufficient. By learning how to fall asleep without relying on external cues, such as co-sleeping or being held, they can start to become more in tune with their own needs and develop a better sense of self-regulation. This can lead to better overall health, both physical and mental, as they grow.

Overall, teaching a baby to sleep on their own can be beneficial in the long run, both for parent and baby. It promotes better sleep habits and helps the baby become more independent and self-sufficient. It’s important to remember, however, that it takes time and patience to teach a baby to sleep without being held. With the right approach and support, it is possible to help your baby learn to sleep on their own and reap the rewards.

Tips for Teaching a Baby to Sleep on Their Own

You may be feeling overwhelmed if your baby only sleeps when held. It can be difficult to teach a baby to sleep on their own, but it can be done. With a little guidance and patience, you can establish a routine and a sleep environment that will help your baby learn to sleep independently.

It’s important to create a schedule for your baby’s sleep. This helps them become accustomed to sleeping at certain times, and it also helps to create a sense of security. Establishing a sleep routine is the key to success. You may want to start by having your baby take a nap at the same time each day, and then work on having them go to bed earlier or later as needed.

Creating a comfortable sleep environment is also essential. Make sure their sleeping space is free of distractions and as comfortable as possible. You should also practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding stimulating activities near bedtime, like watching TV or playing video games. All of these steps help to create an environment that encourages relaxation and good sleep habits.

It can be challenging to teach a baby to sleep on their own, but it’s not impossible. By establishing a routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment, you can help your baby learn to drift off to sleep without the need to be held. With perseverance and consistency, you can find the sleep solution that works best for you and your baby.


With a bit of guidance and patience, you can help your little one develop a healthy sleep routine and environment that will benefit them in the long run. When it comes to baby only sleeping when held, the solution is not always easy, but it is possible. It can be helpful to start by looking into safe co-sleeping options such as a co-sleeper or a bassinet. This will allow your baby to still feel close to you, but in their own space. Additionally, sleep training can also be beneficial for teaching your baby to eventually fall asleep on their own. This can be done through various methods such as the ‘crying-it-out’ method or the ‘bedtime fading’ method.

Whichever method you choose, the key is to be consistent and patient. During sleep training, it is important to not pick up your baby when they are crying, as this will only reinforce their need to be held in order to fall asleep. It can be difficult to listen to your baby cry, but it is important to remember that your baby will soon learn that crying does not always lead to being held. With the right approach, you can help your baby learn to sleep independently and create a secure and comfortable sleep environment.

Having a plan in place and sticking to it is essential for helping your little one develop healthy sleep habits. It may take some time, but with your support and dedication, your baby will soon be sleeping soundly and independently.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much sleep should a baby be getting?

Having a bedtime routine and sleep training your baby can help them get the sleep they need. Babies need 12-16 hours of sleep per day, with at least one nap in the daytime and a full night’s sleep at night. To ensure your baby is getting the sleep they need, establish a bedtime routine and use sleep training techniques. Start with a warm bath and massage, then a soothing lullaby or story. Put them to bed at the same time every night and avoid too much stimulation before bed. Be consistent and patient with sleep training, and your baby will soon learn to sleep through the night.

What is the best way to soothe a baby when they are crying?

If your baby is crying and you’re not sure how to soothe them, there are a few techniques you can try. Swaddling is a great way to give your baby a sense of security and comfort. Make sure to use a light, breathable fabric and wrap your baby snugly, but not too tightly. Rhythmic rocking is another great way to soothe your baby. Rocking your baby in your arms or in a rocking chair, using a steady and consistent rhythm can be incredibly calming for your little one.

What age is best to start teaching a baby to sleep on their own?

Sleep training your baby and establishing a bedtime routine can be tricky, but it’s an important part of helping them become more independent. Starting to teach your baby to sleep on their own is best around the age of 4-6 months, when they are starting to get more active and mobile. It’s also a great time to begin establishing a routine that works for you and your baby. You should try to keep their sleep environment quiet and comfortable, and create a calming ritual before bed. Remember, sleep training takes time and patience, so stick with it and you’ll soon see the rewards!

What are the potential risks of leaving a baby to cry it out?

Leaving a baby to cry it out might seem like an easy solution, but it can have serious emotional and physical implications. Alternative solutions should be explored to prevent long-term damage to the baby’s emotional well-being. Crying it out can lead to feelings of abandonment and distress, as well as physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and adrenaline levels. Instead, look for ways to soothe your baby without leaving them to cry, such as rocking, singing, or providing a safe and comfortable environment for sleep.

Are there any medical conditions that can cause a baby to only sleep when held?

You may be wondering if there are any medical conditions that can cause a baby to only sleep when held. The answer is yes, there are several medical conditions that can cause a baby to have difficulty sleeping. This can include neurological, gastrointestinal, and respiratory issues. Co-sleeping and sleep training may be helpful for babies with these conditions, as it helps the baby to feel safe and secure, and can make it easier to relax and get some rest. It’s important to note that, while these strategies can be effective, they should be used only with the guidance of a medical professional.


It can be difficult to watch your baby struggle to sleep, but teaching them to sleep on their own is a skill that will benefit them for life. With a little patience and consistency, you can help your baby learn to self-soothe and sleep independently. Start by introducing a soothing bedtime routine, establishing a calming sleep environment, and making sure your baby is getting enough sleep during the day. With some effort and dedication, you and your baby can get the restful sleep you both need. So don’t be discouraged, you got this!

About Author

Jaimie is a mother of two lovely children, aged 3 months and 3 years, who resides in the beautiful city of Brisbane. She cherishes spending quality time with her family and thoroughly enjoys the joys and challenges of motherhood. Jaimie's life revolves around her little ones, and she takes pride in being an involved and caring mom.