Newborn Won’t Sleep Unless Held. HELP!

Does your baby start to cry as soon as you put them in the crib? It’s like an invisible alarm goes off as soon as you lay them down, thinking that they are fast asleep.

My daughter is now 2 and a half, but even I remember those tough times at night when she wouldn’t sleep unless being held, so I know lots of parents struggle with this and I would love to have a great resource for them. Here are some of my findings to help all the new parents out there, because I feel you!

Studies have shown that 60% of the newborns sleep through by 6 months while 80% sleep through by 9 months. Normally, newborns have a longer sleeping schedule compared to older babies. They sleep around 16 to 18 hours a day, about 8-9 hours during the day and 7-8 hours at night. The only time they will wake up, is when they are feeling hungry or need to change the diaper.

Most babies do not sleep at night for straight 7-8 hours until they are three months old, and that’s because they are unable to differentiate between night and day. As soon as they’re around 5 months old, their sleeping cycle starts to sync with their surroundings.

Newborns are unable to make themselves fall asleep, which is why they need you. Pacifiers, swaddling, rocking, and breastfeeding are some of the many ways to help your baby fall asleep. Sleep helps in the development and growth of newborns and offers numerous mental, cognitive, and physical health benefits.

How do you teach your baby to sleep without being held?

Teaching your newborn baby to sleep without being held

According to the clinical director of the sleep disorder center, John Herman, babies can be taught to sleep at night from the very beginning. Newborns do not know the difference between the day and night or when it’s time to sleep or wake up.

To teach your baby when to sleep the first thing should be placing your baby’s crib near the window because it can help them organize their circadian rhythms. The next most important thing is to set a specific bedtime and wake up routine for them. This will help them automatically feel sleepy when its bedtime.

Also, make sure that that you let the sunlight lit the room, and make a sound during the day to prevent the baby from sleeping. While at night, keep the lights low and maintain quietness. These little practices act as cues for newborns and help them understand to sleep at night and wake up during the day.

Even if your baby gets up at night feeling hungry, maintain the low lights and quietness and avoid doing anything to stimulate their senses like singing a song or tickling their feet. By maintaining this routine, if your baby wakes up from a nap during day time, he will know that it’s time to wake up. While waking up at night will help them go back to sleep.

AgeRecommended sleep
Newborns (0-2 months)16-18 hours
Babies (2-6 months)14-16 hours
Older babies (6 months to 1 year)16 hours
Toddlers (1-3 years)10-13 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years10 to 12 hours
School going children (5- 10 years)10 to 12 hours
Recommended daily sleep amount

Learning when to hold your baby?

Experts say that newborns need attention at all times to be able to grow emotionally, mentally, and physically. Holding a baby cannot be categorized as spoiling them rather it’s fulfilling their needs. Your baby cries and needs you to hold them because they are:

  1. Hungry
  2. Lonely
  3. Tired
  4. Uncomfortable
  5. Ill

Firstly, Make sure that your baby is well-fed because they need nutrition for their growing bodies. Secondly, a newborn craves warmth in their early days, therefore wrapping them in a cozy blanket will make them feel cozy and secure.

If your baby is perfectly fine but starts to cry as soon as you lay them in their crib then instead of holding them back up do the following:

  • Gently stroke them
  • Sing in a low voice
  • Play soothing music
  • Hang interesting toys from the crib to divert their attention
  • Practice babies to lay/ sit in the crib
  • Use soft cushions and blankets

If you still fail in stopping your baby from crying than try to cuddle with them in bed until they fell asleep. This way, they won’t wake back up, and cry rivers to make you hold them back.

Should parents pick their baby up as soon as they start crying?

Should parents pick up newborn baby as soon as they cry?

Dr. David Obudzinski, A pediatrician in Royal Oak recommends parents respond to their newborns upon crying. He stated that the more parents care for their infant when they cry, the more secure and loved their newborns feel. This security and love help them in the long run, as they grow up confident and strong in their personalities.

For 6 months older babies, parents should especially take care of their emotional needs, otherwise, these neglected babies will grow up feeling insecure and unwanted for the rest of their lives. If your baby is crying half the time then consulting a pediatrician is the best option, as there could be any other reason for it.

Research supports that babies who were loved and cherished in their early childhoods grew up to become healthier adults. Hugs and kisses can never grow old and parents should show their love to their children, no matter their age. It helps them in making healthier choices in life.

Ten-tear Taming techniques:

These techniques will help you calm your baby down in case they feel irritated or uncomfortable for an unknown reason:

  • Sway your Baby’s crib lightly maintaining the rhythm
  • Give your baby light strokes on the chest
  • Wrap them in a soft comfy blanket
  • Sing to them or talk to them in a calming voice
  • Play the hanging toy on the crib
  • Take them into your arms and walk them
  • Go on a car ride
  • Place them near vibrating sounds
  • Help them burp to relive them from trapped air bubbles
  • Bath them in warm water

When should your baby be put down after feeding?

Babies should not be put down right after feeding, otherwise, your baby is likely to spit up. 15-30 minutes is the minimum time you should keep your baby up because some babies hold a lot of gas inside. If they are put down before 30 minutes, which is an estimated time for them to burp, then it will make them spit the milk out.

Another reason to keep the baby upright is that their esophagus muscles are not mature enough to close properly. These muscles mature when the baby gets 12 years old and this is why year older babies do not have spitting issues. In case your newborn has GERD, then keeping them upright for 45 minutes is recommended.

Tips for putting your newborn to sleep

Tips for helping your newborn sleep without being held
  • If your baby only sleeps on your chest then get yourself a SNOO. It is a baby bassinet, that helps the baby falls asleep through gentle rocking and noise.
  • Make sure that your baby is safe sleeping, meaning, sleeping on its back and not on the tummy. Also, the surface should be soft along with pillows on the sides of the crib.
  • If your baby isn’t up much and feeds less than 8 times a day, then call your pediatrician for advice.
  • To help your baby develop a good sleep pattern, expose them to sunlight a lot. Sunlight helps stimulate them and prevents them from falling asleep during the daytime.
  • Year-old babies can develop separation anxiety because not having you around can make them upset and lose sleep. Visit your baby often when that happens, and respond to their crying by rubbing their back.
  • There is no hard and fast timeline for your newborn’s sleep. Take your time to figure it out.
  • Lack of sleep can have side effects on your child which cannot be reversed later in life. Sleep deprivation can be harmful to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral health.
  • Sound sleep helps your child’s creativity, problem-solving skills, decision power, leaning, and energy.
  • Keep in mind the good rule of thumb, that you can’t spoil your newborns under 6 months. So, shower them with love as much as you can and respond to their crying because that’s their way of telling that they need you.
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Hajira is a certified editor, an experienced and thoughtful writer, and a mother of two. Her deliberate passion for writing convinced her to become a writer along with her mom duties. Driven by her passion for writing, she takes pride in providing the best possible. She aims to incite and provoke enthusiasm in her readers.

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