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How to Get Newborn to Sleep Without Being Held

Newborn babies love being held as much as we also love holding them in our arms. The feeling of warmth and being safe in our arms give them comfort that eases them off to sleep. But eventually, we’ll need to get them to sleep without being held. Training them to sleep on their own will allow them get back to sleep when they wake up at night without the need to be held by you.

Normally, babies wake up several times during the night. And parents usually take them out from their cribs and rock them while being cradled in their arms. This typically calms them down and eases them off again to sleep. By not doing so, your baby may cry and further disrupts his sleep pattern.

Teaching your baby to sleep without being held is not something you can accomplish overnight.

If you leave your baby crying for too long just to force him to get back to sleep on his own, the experience may traumatize him.

You need to carry it out slowly but surely. The process may take several months to finally get it done and it involves repeated attempts as a part of the baby’s training. You’ll need patience and willpower to be able to pull this off. But you’ll see every effort is worth it when your baby finally learns how to get to sleep on his own without entirely relying on you.

Here are the steps to get your newborn baby to sleep without being held:

Let your baby know that you’re putting him down to sleep

Newborn babies are accustomed to fall asleep in our arms. The security they feel when we hold them makes them comfortable and safe, knowing that you’re protecting them while they’re sleeping. The first thing you need to teach your baby is to let him think that putting him down to his crib or bed is as safe as being held in your arms.

The reason why most babies cry when they wake up at night and found themselves sleeping on their own is the thought they are being abandoned someplace else.

Getting him familiarized with his crib or bed will make your first step easier. You need to convey to him that the crib or bed is a safe place by putting him down to it while he’s awake.

This won’t be easy at the beginning as your baby is likely to whimper at first. Try placing some soft toys in the crib to let him play and get the feeling of a fun and safe environment.

Once he gets comfortable with his crib or bed, next thing to do is to convey to him that the crib is a safe place to sleep. Your baby won’t probably sleep unless you hold him in your arms. That’s just fine, let him get sleepy while you rock him in your arms. But don’t let him fall deeply asleep in your arms. The point here is to teach your baby to sleep on his bed, not in your arms.

While half-awake, gently put your baby down to sleep on his crib or bed. You have to let him know that he’s been put down on his crib to sleep. Again, don’t expect to pull this off perfectly on your first attempt. Expect your baby to flap at first and you might need to pick him up again just to calm him down.

Be patient. Try to do this as many times as possible until your baby learns that the crib or bed is safe for sleep.

Stop rocking

Another reason why newborn babies easily drift off to sleep by being held is the motion of being rocked.

This motion ensures your baby of your presence and he becomes more comfortable. When you put him down to sleep, the motion stops and he wakes up, wanting the need to be rocked again.

This makes it more difficult to get your baby to sleep without being held. How do you solve this? Simple – stop rocking your baby.

But it isn’t actually as simple as it seems. Try holding your baby still, without any rocking movements.

This will get him used to the stillness position which can make putting him down to bed a lot easier. But then again, your first attempt may not work instantly. If he complains, rock him slower than usual and gradually stop. Repeat this until he gets used to it.

Once he learns to sleep without being rocked, you’ll know he becomes accustomed to the stillness of his environment. Putting him down to sleep on his bed won’t be problem anymore.

Teach your baby to sleep on his bed

Once your baby gets comfortable in the crib or bed, you may now forward to the next phase – teaching him to fall asleep on his bed.

When it’s time for a nap or bedtime, put him down straight to bed to sleep. Your baby won’t be able to do this on his own at first, so you’ll need to be near him where he can see you to help him drift off to sleep.

If he complains, this normally happens at first, touch your baby instead of holding him. Gently pat his leg or back to make him feel your presence. Pat your baby while he tries to fall asleep on his bed. Repeat this for several times until your baby gets used to sleep on his bed while you’re patting him.

Then proceed to the next phase – stop patting your baby. This will teach him to fall asleep on his own without the need to be held or be touched.

Your baby will still wake up several times during the night and you will still need to get up and feed him each time. Unless you’re breastfeeding, it won’t be necessary to pick him up and rock him just to get him back to sleep. Just give him the bottle and he’ll eventually get back to sleep after feeding.


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