Help My Baby Will Only Sleep in My Arms

5 min read
Help My Baby Will Only Sleep in My Arms

It’s only natural for babies to want to be held. Your body warmth, the sound of your heartbeat and your voice, your smell and the secure feeling of a cuddle all make it so much easier for bubby to settle and get a good rest. How many times have you seen a newborn startled in their sleep, only to be immediately soothed by a reassuring voice and a pat on the bum! But what happens if your little bundle wont sleep anywhere else? SAHM Clancy looked into this not-so-unpleasant dilemma, as she struggles to even get a load of washing on the line after the birth of her daughter 9 weeks ago!

One of the most reported problems in new Mum’s is their baby’s hesitance to sleep on their own. Constant cuddling from birth from Mum, Dad, family and friends can mean your baby spends a significant amount of time in other people’s arms, especially first born grandchildren and those with older siblings. Everyone loves to cuddle a new baby, but this can pose problems when everyone returns home or to work or school and Mum is left with the usual day-to-day jobs to do and a little one who won’t be put down. And whilst it’s a nice problem to have at first, sitting and cuddling your newborn is not sustainable long term as you will eventually have other things to do, no matter how helpful your husband/partner/mother/other kids are.

90% of Mums who experience this problem say their baby is fine to sleep in their crib or bassinet at night on their own, but struggle to stay asleep on their own during the day. Here are some strategies to help get your little one to sleep on their own during the day:

Make a Space

If you feel more comfortable with your baby sleeping in a more central room, such as your lounge room, during the day, create a space for a bassinet or rocker for your baby to sleep in. While it may be tempting to let them sleep on the couch, this can be dangerous, especially if you have other kids running around and inevitably crash landing on your couch.

Start Early

Keep in mind with every sleepy cuddle that you may be making a rod for your own back. Encourage your family members and friends to lay the baby in their designated sleeping area if they are fast asleep. Newborn babies can only really stay awake for 30-40 minutes and then sleep, but this doesn’t last long and there will be plenty of time for smiley playtimes in a few weeks.


Most babies that won’t sleep during the day will wake on transfer. So many times has my little girl been snoring her head off with her mouth wide open, only to wake up 30 seconds  after I’ve put her down! Try to keep the transfer as smooth as possible, or spend an extra minute or two with your hand laid gently on their chest once you’ve put them down.

No Rock n Roll

Try not to rock your baby to sleep. This is incredibly difficult, as it’s a natural movement to sway when standing up, or pat their back or bum when they are drifting off. But that constant movement is what your baby is missing when they are put down. Swings and vibrating rockers can give your arms some reprieve, but keep in mind this isn’t eliminating the need for movement to be soothed.


There is much debate as to the effectiveness of routine in newborns before 3 months old, with some people believing it’s crucial and some thinking it’s a waste of time and just encroaching on the precious first months with your baby. Whether you want to start at 3 weeks or 3 months, a routine is essential eventually for smooth running of your household (especially if you have other kids) and a restful sleep pattern for your baby. There is evidence that babies sleep better when they are familiar with the process before a nap, but conflicting advice as to when to start.


When all attempts fail, grab yourself a sling or baby carrier. Your little one still thinks they are a part of your body when they are first born, a sling keeps them close to you and allows you some freedom and hands free time. Check out our article on Baby Slings for information to help you choose the right one for you. Also make sure you are using the sling correctly – here’s some information from the Sids and Kids website on correct baby sling use – 

Babies are only really little for such a small amount of time, and whilst the problem of not being able to do much for the first few months can seem endless and frustrating, keep in mind that they will eventually outgrow it. Babies don’t cry to manipulate, they cry to communicate and because they need you, and I can’t think of anything more special than to be someone’s ‘everything’, no matter how high the washing pile gets!

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