How to Get a Baby to Sleep Without Holding Them

Make A Baby Fall Sleep Without Holding Them

I know how hard it can be to get a baby to finally get some sleep without you holding them. Getting a baby to fall sleep at all is a struggle that I wish was highlighted more for things to watch out during parenthood. Let’s go over a few ways you can get your little one to fall sleep without you constantly holding them.

How exactly can I get my baby to fall sleep without holding them? Let’s start with the basics. Something that helps a lot is to ensure they have some place to lay down. This could be in a crib, cot, or a moses basket. When you lay them down, try to signal to them that it’s okay to fall asleep in a crib by gently touching them or letting them hold your finger or hand. White noise is another great way to help them fall asleep without you interfering.

Every baby is unique and some fall sleep much quicker than others. Sometimes a pin drop wakes some babies up, while others sleep through just about everything. Finding what can make your particular baby fall sleep is part of journey of parenthood.

How To Get Your Baby To Fall Asleep Without Holding Them

For the first portion of their lives, babies will usually associate eating and sleeping together. They are so used to it, but it can eventually become a problem – especially if it keeps them up in the night. A baby who isn’t asleep has a mother or father who’s also not asleep, as I’m sure you’re all familiar with that concept!

1. Alter Their Connection of Eating with Sleeping

By changing the connection of eating followed by sleeping, you’ll be able to help them get to sleep easily and by themselves. This process is gradual and will take quite some time. A good entry point for addressing this issue is to begin to feed your baby right when they first wake up. Remember that if you try feeding them when they are tired or falling asleep, they will probably fall sleep in the process or in your arms which is pretty much exactly what we’re trying to avoid.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them and not feed them if they actually are hungry. Never refuse food to them ever. You can begin trying to start this process after they’re at least some months old and you are completely entirely fine and comfortable with it.

If they are still crying, and walking around or rocking them to sleep isn’t working, then they are most likely hungry.

The main goal of this step is to not make your child starve, but rather to slowly and steadily break the association of them eating or feeding when you hold them with that of sleeping.

2. Teaching Them to Fall Sleep in Their Own Bed

This step is actually fairly simple. Essentially, you teach them to sleep in their own bed by rocking them to sleep while laying them in their bed when you notice that they become very sleepy.

Don’t give up on this stuff. Try it for a least a week. Now that we’re parents, we owe it to our children to give 110% in every aspect of life that involves them. It might take much longer (or hopefully shorter) than you expect. If you’re having no luck, you can always sit nearby them and make them as comfy as possible and see if this approach makes them fall sleep in their crib.

Remember that this is trial and error, and it might take you to several attempts. It might even seem like you’re making no progress at all in the beginning, but if you stay consistent, you and your baby will both reap the benefits eventually.

3. Touching But No Holding

I know this sounds pretty disheartening, but let me explain first. Eventually, you’re going to reach the point where your little one will be falling asleep in bed while you’re the only one in their room, making them comfortable enough until they fall asleep on their own. It’s not like you’re putting them in their bed and leaving the room or anything.

This process also takes time and lots of finesse. Really try to work with your child on this one and if you can pull it off, it’ll be extremely rewarding.

A cutesy and enjoyable way of doing this is to try letting your baby hold one of your fingers. The other hand could gently rub their face or their tummy, or whatever you think might help them fall sleep. The main goal is to be near them and let them know you’re in the room with them and they have nothing to be worried about. Sometimes, just seeing you and feeling your touch is all they truly need to fall sleep. It helps them feel safe and secure.

White Noise

White noise could be your child’s saving grace for helping them sleep. I love white noise because it helps my daughter fall sleep all by her own. I don’t even have to hold her. I’m going to expand on it a little bit below, but I actually made a post that’s in-depth and I talk about the wonderful benefits of white noise and different types of it here, and what kind of options you can use to help your little one fall asleep.

What Are the Benefits of White Noise?

To put things simply, white noise is a background sound that is subtle, and not really noticeable unless you specifically listen to it. It’s also usually something you can’t really hear unless the room is mostly silent.

Parents are starting to find out and realize that white noise is extremely beneficial to babies because it helps them sleep. It’s been such a hot topic that products are being created that specifically create white noise. Some products such as the Baby Shusher are also being made specifically to help babies fall sleep by utilizing white noise.

You might be thinking, “Why exactly do babies love white noise?” Well, let’s start by thinking about it in a logical way. To a baby and to their mind, white noise sort of mimics what they heard in their mother’s womb. While they’re in the womb, they can actually hear things such as their mother’s voice and the surrounding area. They can even hear the sound of blood pumping around them. These subtle of sounds are examples of white noise and babies are used to hearing it and enjoy it.

Parents are starting to realize that it’s a wonderful idea to reintroduce these familiar and comforting sounds to help their child fall sleep. It’s logical, simple, and effortless to pull off. Something as simple and cheap such as a hairdryer or fan is able to produce white noise. So, not only is this a simple method, but it’s also a cheap one. You can even whip up some white noise MP3s or YouTube videos.

Note: you probably want to increase the volume to louder than what you think would be acceptable. Babies are actually familiar with white noise and it will benefit them more to have it play louder than usual. The womb was a noisy and hectic environment, so don’t think that they can’t handle a little white noise!

So, what if you have no white noise device? No worries, you can make white noise with pretty much anything around your house. If you have a smart phone or laptop at the minimum, then you’re well equipped already. If you have a fan anywhere, that’s also another great option. If you have a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, etc., you can make white noise. There are so many different options available to you!

A neat invention called the Tranquilo Mat (which actually first appeared on Shark Tank, pretty cool) was invented by a mother and nurse for her baby who would not fall sleep. This mat is so cool because the magic behind it is that it can play white noise, while vibrating your baby. This allows them to relax and fall asleep regardless if you were holding them or not.


Swaddling babies is amongst one of the most well-known methods of putting a baby to sleep. It’s also one of the oldest methods around. It began probably thousands of years ago and has withstood time because it’s a method that is simple and works.

Wrapping up a baby tight and snug is what swaddling is. It keeps their body secure and will prevent them from rolling over. Remember that babies who are very young don’t have enough motor skills/strength to independently roll over without your help.

Personally, I think swaddling is a wonderful method. It’s a great way to show them that you truly love them. It’s a wonderful technique to make your baby calm and get them to sleep as well.

There are some concerns though. A lot of parents are afraid that SIDS a.k.a. sudden infant death syndrome can occur as a result of swaddling. However, this is a common misconception. Swaddling can actually decrease the chances of SIDS. It essentially reduces an attempt for them to possibly cause harm to themselves. Plus, it makes them feel nice and warm and secure. Always remember to make sure that you lay them on their back when they’re wrapped up, because it’s extremely difficult for them to roll themselves over without your help.

Have you ever heard of The Snoo? It’s a smart and revolutionary smart device that has AI that can detect when your baby is crying. In the event that your baby does wake up and needs to go back to sleep, the Snoo will vibrate and play white noise until your baby falls right back to sleep. Finally, technology that actually helps us for once! Check out my review of the Snoo right here.

Other Questions

Is There Such A Thing as Holding A Baby Too Much? – This would imply that you are spoiling a baby and that they will take advantage of you or will be negatively impacted by you holding them too much. You can’t really over-respond to your child at this point in their life. Babies want and need all the love that they can possibly get. I don’t think there’s a thing as “too much love” at this stage. Obviously, at some point you need to hold back on that and let them be their own individuals, but we are not even REMOTELY close to that point. Raising a child is a long process. So, to answer your question, no I don’t think you can. They are babies, and they need as much love as you can possibly give.

Can I Let A Newborn Cry and Is It Okay? – The answer to this one is a little less clear and cut. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on this question. Some people would rather give a pacifier to a child, while others wouldn’t. Either choice is fine. Crying it out which is a sleep tactic for children, is a whole different story. I don’t suggest trying to implement it for newborns or infants. They are too young to attempt this sleep training method. If your baby is crying, it’s probably because something is wrong and they need your help. Nobody knows your baby better than you do. Always use your head and do what you believe is the right thing to do based on your gut instinct, knowledge, and life experience. Better yet, if you aren’t sure how to solve this life puzzle, then a trip to the pediatrician first might be a very smart option to consider.

Can my baby die from crying too much? While this question might seem silly for some, it’s good to have these kinds of questions. A baby might not be able to die from directly crying only, but excessive crying and not tending to them can damage their emotional well-being if it becomes a habit. If they’re crying in the first place, they probably need you to help them. Who knows what kind of long-term or short-term damage it can cause their brain? Instead of asking this question, just try to do your best to make sure that they aren’t crying too much before being tended to. Nobody likes neglect, especially not babies!

About the Author Elizabeth

Hi everyone, I'm Elizabeth. My beautiful daughter Alice keeps me awake occasionally...but when I'm busy and can't sleep, I post parenting tips and different ways you can get your baby to sleep soundly through the night, and even naps!