How to Get a Newborn to Sleep Without Being Held

Getting your newborn to go to sleep without being held is one of the earliest jobs you will face as a parent.

Teaching your child to go to sleep on her own increases the odds that she will put herself back to sleep when she wakes up during the night. Babies accustomed to falling asleep in their parent's arms will likely cry for their parents when they wake up during the night.

Engage your baby during the day. Play music, talk to your baby, rub his feet and make funny faces. Naps are necessary, but if your baby sleeps for longer periods during the day than he does during the night, start watching the clock and wake him up.

End the evening with calming activities. Evening can be a challenging time, as parents get in from work and want to play with baby, but spend the last hour before bedtime engaged in calm, quiet activities. Spend time with your baby rocking or carrying him, giving him a bath and feeding.

Develop a bedtime ritual. Determine what activities you need to do each evening and work backwards from the time you plan to put your baby to bed. It doesn't matter if you feed baby before or after bath time, but plan on doing the same thing each night. Both parents should participate in the evening routine, so that your baby doesn't become overly dependent on one parent and becomes unable to sleep if that parent is unavailable.

Give your baby a soother. The University of Illinois points out that sucking on a pacifier or holding and stroking a small blanket are self-soothing behaviors. Be cautious about placing items in the crib. Fluffy blankets, stuffed animals and pillows should not be placed in the crib with a newborn because of suffocation risks.

Put your baby to bed while he is still awake. By keeping your baby active through the day and taking your time with the evening routine, your baby should be sleepy and ready for bed. Resist the temptation to rock or snuggle your baby until she is asleep, she should be tired but awake when you place her in her crib.

Rub his legs and arms gently while he drifts off to sleep. The safest position for a newborn to sleep on is his back, warns the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. If he becomes fretful, talk gently, but don't pick him up. By developing and following a bedtime routine, you know he is dry, clean and well-fed.


A newborn is too young to sleep through the night. They need to wake up, usually every three to five hours, to eat. Use the tips above to teach your child to go back to sleep on her own. When she is old enough to skip night feedings, she will be able to put herself back to sleep when she rouses through the night. This will also make current night feedings quicker, as you can lay baby back in the crib immediately after she finishes her meal.


Expect occasional crying fits. You can either allow your baby to cry it out or go into the room and soothe your child without picking him up.