Please Help! Baby Won’t Sleep Unless Held!

Babies could be demanding and one of the many things parents are concerned of is that their baby won’t sleep unless held. Do you have the same dilemma? You’re not alone!

Babies’ sleeping trouble is a common theme in most online forums and consultations. As parents, we feel responsible when our babies don’t have enough sleep. Regardless if you are a first-time parent or not, still there are instances that you are not sure on what to do to get the baby to sleep

We gathered some pointers to remember that could save you and your baby from endless nights and restless sleep.

Why Babies Won’t Sleep?

Most parents know that guilty feeling whenever our babies didn’t get enough amount of sleep. We could spend countless hours trying but we end up holding them and rocking them in our arms to sleep.

During the baby’s early days, we tend to “spoil” them by giving them the best we could. However, as the days passed by, it makes you feel tired of waking up more often and holding your baby to sleep. While most babies between 3-4 months of age can sleep through the night, some still find it challenging.

  • Parents unknowingly tend to encourage bad sleeping habits according to Dr. Charles Schaefer, author of Winning Bedtime Battles: Getting Your Child to Sleep (Barnes & Noble Books, 1998).
  • If the baby is six months old and still can’t sleep through the night, chances are he or she needs to be taught with smart sleep skills.
  • Babies are accustomed to sleeping in their parents’ arms so it is important to teach them early to sleep on their own. Failing to sleep train your child will be a problem in the long run. Sleep train refers to the regimen parents can do to adjust their kids’ sleeping behaviour.

What to do if the baby won’t sleep unless held?

There are effective and simple ways to sleep training your baby without holding him or her. Start doing these routines to get the baby sleep through the night.


Some nights, our baby would pop their eyes open the moment we stepped out of the nursery room. This is because of what others called night time separation anxiety. Yes, babies could feel it causing them awaken most of the time.

Evaluate your current sleeping arrangement. Are you co-sleeping with your baby? Or do you allow your baby to sleep in the nursery?

Experiment which among these sleeping distances work better for your child. Talk with your partner as well as the nighttime attachment of parents also varies. Some parents can or can’t sleep better knowing they are far from where the baby sleeps.


Establish his or her bedtime routine. Determine which activities should be done at night. Do you know that most babies get the days and nights mixed up?

According to Dr. John Herman, clinical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Children's Medical Center of Dallas, you can teach your child the difference between day and night. You just need to provide some cues such as light during daytime.

Whether it is because of a habit or a need, babies tend to claim they need you to comfort them. Remember that your goal here is to make your baby sleep through the night and teach your baby to be a natural sleeper.


Engage your child in various activities during the day. You can play with him and listen to music together, read him or her book or talk. While naps are important, make sure that your baby won’t sleep longer during the day and should be sleeping longer at night.

By keeping him or her active during the day and doing the evening routine you set for him, your baby will get ready to sleep on time. Remember that your baby should be tired but awake when you put him in his crib.


Remember, babies may or may not require swaddling to have a peaceful slumber but experts believe that using the appropriate sleeping sack encourage better sleep. Newborns tend to have this strong startle reflex called the Moro reflex making them feel like they are falling as they are about to drift. The sleeping sack will help you prevent this condition which usually results to them crying and waking up.


Don’t motivate your child to stay awake. If you have an older baby who still won’t sleep without you holding him, do not set yourself for more wakeful nights. We know it is a natural instinct for parents to comfort their child back to sleep.

We tend to hold them, rock them and give them pacifier which babies considered as “treats”. It’s about time you steel yourself. Put your child in her crib while she’s still awake, says Dr. Schaefer.

A little or a lot of crying could be expected but don’t worry that you are doing any psychological harm to your baby if you ignore her crying. Your main goal here is to sleep training your baby which is beneficial for the whole family.

When your baby is older enough to give up night feedings, soon she will also be able to put himself back to sleep.

More Reminders!

Most babies can adapt this program in just five days or less. While some babies need the assurance that mom or dad is checking on them frequently, some find it a tease. Thus, if you are checking him on his nursery, make sure that you make it quietly.

If you think that your child is getting active or clingy whenever he sees you, tolerate staying away. In case of night feedings, most infants are ready to give it up when they reach 3-4 months old. Keep the lights out whenever you change his diaper and settle him down as soon as he is done feeding.

Likewise, bigger babies have fewer feedings at night so they are less likely to wake up. It is overfeeding that could make them night owls.

You Will Get Used to It

Baby won’t sleep unless held might be one of the common challenges that parents should face. Babies today could be notorious in resisting your tricks and strategies to sleep training them. A wailing protest would be their best alternative if you won’t hold them down to sleep.

It is our goal to condition our child to sleep. Once you are able to meet his or her nighttime needs and be able to sleep train the baby at an early age, expect to have more peaceful nights and longer sleep.

Got questions? Comment them here!

Sabrina Lily

I am a mother who has a 2-year-old pretty baby boy and we are preparing for the arrival of a new angel. From pregnancy until the child is born and look at them grow up each day is a pleasant experience. The little angels are so adorable. Taking care of and look children healthy is the most wonderful thing. Through this website, I want to share the experience of motherhood’s life for those who are a mama.