Some babies want to be held while sleeping: Here’s why

If you’re a new parent, sometimes all you want is five minutes of peace and quiet. That can be hard when you have a newborn baby who wants to be held all the time. 

Newborn babies love being held for many reasons. Older babies can continue this habit, however, making it tough for parents to get things done. Let’s delve into why they want to be held, the best way to hold your baby, and when to put them in their crib.

Why babies want to be held while sleeping 

Father holding son in nursery
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The relationship between a parent and their baby is complex and beautiful. While cuddling, your baby can actually hear your heartbeat, and your presence is soothing. Babies can also smell your scent, and when you hold them, it makes them feel safer. 

If your baby is less than 4 months old, they’re still getting used to life outside the womb. It’ll take time for them to become accustomed to this new environment, and when parents hold their babies, they feel warm and safe — just like in the womb. 

However, when your baby falls asleep in your arms too often, it can become a habit that’s hard to break. Your baby might associate sleeping with being in your arms and will consequently have trouble sleeping anywhere else, like their own crib. 

On the other hand, cuddling them during the day makes them feel safe, too.

Comfortable ways to hold babies while sleeping

Holding a baby isn’t challenging, but sometimes it can be difficult to find an agreeable position while they’re sleeping. Here’s a breakdown of a few positions that are often very comfortable for babies to sleep in.


Cradling a baby may just be the most common position for holding your baby. It’s natural and very easy to do. Your baby’s head should gently rest in the crook of your arm while your other arm is wrapped around them, securing your baby while they sleep. 

On your shoulder

It’s also pretty natural to let your baby lean up against your shoulder while you support their bottom, as well as their back and neck. Your baby will be able to hear your rhythmic breathing and heartbeat, too, so it’s a relaxing and comforting sleeping position for them.

In a sling

Using a sling is also helpful for sleeping babies. It lets you hold your baby hands-free. They’ll be able to stay close to you, but you’ll be able to do other things while your baby rests.

Remember, you shouldn’t hold the baby while you’re standing up, just in case they fall. Don’t hold your baby if you’re sick, and only carry one baby at a time if you have multiples.

How and when to put your baby in their crib

Although it entirely depends on when you, as a parent, feel ready to introduce your baby to their crib, a good time to do so is around 6 months old. 

Baby sleeping in crib with Teddy bear
Tatyana Soares/Shutterstock

Use the crib for naptime

You can start the transition into their crib by using it for naptime. When it’s time for their nap, make sure your baby starts to nap in their crib. Introducing your baby to their crib during naptime will help them get used to sleeping in it. 

You should know when your baby is ready to go to sleep based on their behavior. If they’re fussy, yawning, rubbing their eyes, or looking away, they’re probably ready to go to sleep. 

When you’re ready to put them in their crib, make sure you tuck in your baby when they’re sleepy but not actually asleep. If they wake up during the night, comfort your baby by patting them, but don’t take them out of their crib because that will negatively affect their routine.

Use technology for support

You can try white noise to make the baby more comfortable in their room. But often, this transition is more difficult for parents than for babies. Using a baby monitor can help ease your mind if you’re a parent anxious about your baby sleeping in their own crib in a room by themself. 

There are even some mobile applications that can turn your tablet or phone into a baby monitor. However, another great option is to move the crib into your bedroom if there’s enough room. 

It’s completely normal if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night yet. Once your baby is about 5 months old, they should be able to start sleeping around seven hours per night.

But through this process, remember that babies don’t learn to fall asleep on their own in a day. It takes time and dedication. The best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to be patient. There are parent support groups that you can seek out for reassurance.

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