Baby Won’t Sleep Unless Held

Ever had this problem? You lay your baby down as gently as possible, but the second pajamas hit sheet, the screaming starts. Plop your baby back on your chest?  The crying immediately stops. This common struggle exhausts parents and makes them feel…stuck. 

Babies aren’t dummies! They know a good thing when they find it. To him, your warm, familiar, subtly moving body (arms or chest) is so much more welcoming than that quiet, cold, still bassinet. And while it feels very sweet (or more truthfully, like your only option) when he crashes on your body, it’s actually risky to let him. 

Is it Dangerous to Hold a Baby to Sleep?

Happiest Baby's founder, Dr. Harvey Karp said, "I've gotten emergency calls in the middle of the night after babies sleeping perched on mom or dad’s chests fell to the floor. Plus, co-sleeping on unsafe surfaces like couches, reclining chairs and adult beds, increase the chances of SIDS."

What Should I do If My Baby Only Sleeps When Held? 

Many parents find that giving their babies a "4th trimester" of comforting stimulation–just by using the  5 S's–can help improve sleep. Unfortunately one of the 5 S's is not safe to use for sleep…that is the side stomach position. So if you have a baby who really loves that particular "S" you want to do the other 4 S's, even more, to try to help your baby sleep on their back.

Swaddling can help a baby feel more enveloped–like in the womb–which reduces startling and helps babies feel more comfortable on their back. 

[Read more: How to Swaddle a Baby]

Also, using the right type of rumbly white noise all night long can keep babies sleeping longer…and less dependent on sleeping on top of their parents.

Working with thousands of families, Dr. Karp recognized that many babies still prefer sleeping on top of their parents, despite being swaddled and having white noise. It was because of that that he's worked for 5 years with MIT-trained engineers to develop a bed that is highly effective at soothing babies and promoting sleep by adding womb-like motion to the best swaddling and white noise to create a sleep environment that truly give the babies a "4th trimester" of soothing care.

SNOO: The Solution if Your Baby Only Sleeps on Your Chest

SNOO imitates the pulsing sounds and movement of the womb and makes baby feels “at home again,” by calming crying and easing him into slumber. Yes, swaddling, rumbly white noise and pacifiers are great cues in their own right, but think of the SNOO bassinet as a one-stop solution. In addition, after your baby has gotten to sleep, SNOO drops to a level to “maintain sleep” through the night. This is incredibly helpful to finicky babies who shun the still bed because it prevents them from rousing at any little bump in the night. And, SNOO gradually weans your baby off sound and motion by 6 months to make for an easy transition to the big kid crib. And meantime, the mom, dad and baby will be better rested and without the worries.

So while SNOO should solve your “I-Can’t-Get-Him-Down” agony, you’ll still want to teach your baby self-soothing skills. The wake-and-sleep technique does it best–and is a great help to all parents, whether or not SNOO is right for your family. While it sounds counterintuitive, waking your baby slightly before putting him down actually helps your guy put himself to sleep. That’s the ultimate goal, for him to do it on his own without entire routine!

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