How to Get a Baby to Sleep WITHOUT Being Held

Getting a baby to sleep without being held is difficult. Well, getting a baby to sleep is a problem regardless of the method. Let’s talk about getting babies to sleep that doesn’t involve you holding them the entire time.

How to get a baby to sleep without being held? One thing that really helps is having a place to lay them. It could be a cot or a Moses basket. As you lay your baby down, touch them or have them hold your finger as you calmly teach them that it is okay to sleep in a crib of some form. White noise can also be effective in helping them sleep.

Sometimes getting a baby to sleep is like walking through a minefield. Every move has to be planned meticulously. But maybe therein lies the journey.

Steps to Getting Your Baby to Sleep Outside of Your Arms

Baby will frequently associate eating with sleeping for the first while of their lives. They will be conditioned to it. This can be a problem, especially if you are not getting sleep in the night.

Step 1: Break the Association of Eating with Sleeping

You need to break the association of eating paired with sleeping. This is a gradual process. A good place to start is feeding your baby when he or she first wakes up. If the baby is sleepy sometime, start walking around with them or rocking them. If you feed them while they are falling asleep, they will fall asleep in your arms which is exactly what we are not trying to do.

Something to note, this does not mean you should not feed them if they are hungry. Do not withhold food from a hungry baby. You should start trying this when they are several months old and you feel comfortable with it.

If rocking them or walking around with them is not working to get them to sleep and they are crying, then they are probably hungry.

The purpose of this idea is not to starve your child but to slowly break the connect of eating in your arms with sleeping

Step 2: Falling Asleep in Their Own Bed

This one is pretty simple, you teach them to actually sleep in their own bed. Rock your baby to sleep and when they are almost ready to go down to sleep, lay them in the bed.

Try this for a week and see how it goes. It may take some time. If they don’t like this approach, you can sit there and comfort them and see if they fall asleep in their crib after all.

This could take many attempts. It may be annoying and fruitless at first, but your baby will soon understand the routine. It will pay off eventually.

Step 3: Touching Instead of Holding

Okay, so this sounds heartless but hear me out. Since you are trying to get your child to sleep without you holding them, you are naturally going to progress to the point where they are lying in bed falling asleep with you only being there to support until they feel comfortable enough to fall asleep.

This can be a delicate process but a rewarding one. Working with your child can be one of the most rewarding acts in life. So keep going!

A way to help you do this is to let your baby hold a finger of yours. You could caress their face, rub their tummy, etc. The point is to have close contact so that they know you are there. Sometimes your touch and seeing your face is all they need to sleep. They just want to be safe.

White Noise

White Noise is one of my favorite methods to help my son fall asleep without me holding him. I’m going to touch on it a little right now but here is a post I made about white noise and another about ‘The Baby Shusher‘ which was featured on Keeping Up With The Kardashians as a tool which Kim used to help her baby fall asleep.

Why is White Noise a Good Thing?

White noise is that subtle background noise that you don’t notice unless you are listening for it. It’s something that is only audible if the room is completely silent.

Parents are discovering that white noise really helps babies sleep. So much that they are buying things like “The Baby Shusher” that create white noise.

So why do babies love this? Well, in a baby’s mind, white noise is a similar noise to what the baby heard in the womb. In the womb, the baby has heard the voice of the mother and other people. The sound of blood pumping through the body. All of these subtle sounds were white noise and the baby likes it.

Parents are beginning to discover this fantastic idea. It is so simple and easy.  You could even turn on a hair-dryer or play white noise, sound-scapes on your Ipod player ( do people still use those? )

You want to turn it up louder than you think. You see, babies are used to loud noise. The womb was loud for them. So don’t be afraid to turn it up a notch.

Well, let’s say that you don’t have a white noise making device. What can you do as a simple parent to create the idea of white noise? Shushing a baby while trying to get them to sleep is a great idea. Also like I mentioned earlier, use a hair-dryer, a vacuum cleaner or a ceiling fan. I think plenty of parents do that.

The Tranquilo Mat, featured on Shark Tank, was invented by a nurse & mother for her colicky baby. The magic of this mat is that it vibrates AND plays white noise, allowing baby to relax, regardless of whether mom or dad is holding them.


Swaddling a baby is one of the oldest methods of putting a baby to sleep. I don’t think anybody knows where it began. It has stood the test of time and it is tried and true.

Swaddling is the method of wrapping a baby up tight. This keeps their arms and legs in and will stop them from rolling over. If the baby is very young, they can’t roll themselves over.

I personally love swaddling, if you couldn’t tell. I have written in a story previously that my son had to stay a while in the NICU Nursery after birth. The nurses taught me how to swaddle him while I was there. It was a huge help to me. He would flail his arms and legs and get panicked often, so having this technique really helped me to calm him and get him to sleep. I am thankful for the help they gave me.

Many parents worry that swaddling can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Actually, swaddling your child can reduce the chances. They will be calm in this warm cocoon. Plus you want to lay them on their backs and if they are wrapped up, it would be really hard for them to roll over.

Have you heard of The Snoo? It’s a revolutionary “Smart Sleeper” bassinet equipped with artificial intelligence which detects when your baby cries. If your baby wakes up and needs to be put back to sleep, The Snoo will play white noise and vibrate until your baby falls back to sleep! Talk about putting your baby to sleep without being held!

Read my review of The Snoo here.

Related Questions

Can I spoil a baby by holding them too much? I don’t think it is possible to spoil a baby. You can’t over-respond to your baby. Babies need all the loving that they can get. Of course, you are going to want to teach them to be independent eventually. It’s a process. But, please do not ever think that you are loving them too much. They are babies. They need love.

Is it okay to let a newborn cry? There are lots of opinions on this matter. It can be good to offer a pacifier to a child. Some people do not believe in this and that’s okay. “Crying it out” is a sleep training tactic but I would not recommend it for babies. If they are crying, it is probably because they need you. You know your baby best. Do what you feel is right from your knowledge and experience.

Can a baby die from too much crying? I don’t know if a baby can die from this but I think that not responding to the baby over time can really damage its emotional wellbeing. You are a protector of the baby. He or she needs you. Some say it can damage your baby’s brain. Just love your kid and make sure to take care of them. Don’t neglect them and you will be alright.

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