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Why Baby Sleep On A Lap Only| Is it a Bad Habit?

Why Baby Sleep On A Lap Only Is it a Bad Habit (1)

Why is it that your baby is always sleeping on your lap? This is a question that may cross your mind as a new parent. Sleeping is crucial for a baby’s development, but it may be tricky for some parents. The parents must resolve problems that can lead to an unhealthy sleep routine, not only for the baby but also for the tired parents. As an expert in baby care, in this article, we will explain why babies love to sleep in their parent’s arms, the consequences of co-sleeping, and what mothers can do to make their babies sleep by themselves so sit back and keep reading. 

Why Do Babies Only Sleep While Held?

It has been observed that babies love to be carried and can only sleep when they are held by their parents. The baby might find this a comforting experience, but it could pose difficulties when developing individual sleep patterns for the infant. Let’s explore why all babies sleep when they are held.

1. Comfort and Familiarity:

Babies need familiar and warm bodies, particularly in the “fourth trimester”. It is the period of the baby’s life when he or she is transitioning from the safety and warmth of the womb to the outside world. According to multiple researches, many infants sleep well when they are held close enough by their parents, which makes it hard to mimic other sleeping circumstances.

2. Reminded of the Womb

A developing baby feels safe, warm, and cosy in the womb, constituting his or her first world. Holding a baby can also bring back memories of the womb and make them more relaxed. In particular, this situation may hold in the initial phases of a newborn’s exposure to the external environment.

3. Contact Napping

The process of contact napping, in which a child is held as he sleeps, is very important in the growth of a baby. The bond provides security, consolation, and bonding with other people.

4. Fourth Trimester

The fourth trimester is usually the first three months of the baby’s life. This is a period when babies are getting accustomed to life outside of their mother’s womb, and they feel most comfortable being held by their parents.

5. Learned Association

Through rocking, bouncing, and shushing, babies become familiar with the fact that sleep corresponds to being held. Babies may struggle with transitioning to independent sleep as a result of this relationship.

6. Hunger and overtiredness

Babies can also fall asleep when they are hungry or overtired during a feed, which prevents them from going to sleep independently at night. To assist babies in learning self-soothing and falling asleep, it is necessary to follow a regular sleep routine.

7. Reflux or Colic

Sometimes it can be hard for babies to settle down for sleep, as reflux or colic can make them uncomfortable and require some special care. Up to 1 in 3 newborn babies may have colic. The baby’s sleep problems also have to be diagnosed, treated and addressed for any underlying medical problems.

Is It Safe for My Baby to Sleep in My Arms?

The act of holding a baby to sleep is comforting to many parents as well as to the baby. The prevalence of co-sleeping at 12 months was 45.8%. Co-sleeping was more common among mothers with low socioeconomic status, less education, younger mothers, mothers with more previous births and children who wake at night. Nevertheless, one should bear in mind the safety aspects surrounding this practice and the dangers involved.

An infant in the arms of its mother

Risks of Co-Sleeping:

Co-sleeping  with your baby may cause risks such as:

  • Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Suffocation hazards due to soft bedding
  • Entrapment risks in gaps between mattress and bed frame
  • Higher risk of overheating for infants
  • Impact on parental sleep with constant awareness
  • Compromise in the quality of the adult-only sleep space

SIDS and sleep safety

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) refers to unexpected, unexplained deaths in babies less than one-year-old. About 2,300 babies in the United States die of SIDS each year. The specific reason for SIDS is still unclear; however, there are several ways parents can mitigate this risk by ensuring babies lie on their backs when sleeping and keeping away soft bedding and loose objects in the sleeping area.

Safe Sleep Practices for Infants

  • Place baby on their back to sleep
  • Use a firm crib mattress
  • Remove soft bedding and toys from the crib
  • Maintain a comfortable room temperature
  • Avoid exposing the baby to smoke
  • Attend regular well-baby check-ups and vaccinations
  • Incorporate supervised tummy time when awake
  • Breastfeed if possible
  • Consider offering a pacifier during sleep
  • Consider room-sharing with a separate sleep surface
  • Educate all caregivers on safe sleep practices

Read Also: Why Baby Sleeping More Than Usual? 

Benefits and Risks of Allowing Supported Sleep

When considering whether it is safe for your baby to sleep in your arms, it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks of this practice, as well as understand the potential impact on your baby’s safety and well-being. Let’s discuss the benefits and risks of allowing supported sleep:


Allowing your baby to sleep in your arms can provide several benefits including:

1- Solid Sleep: Babies may feel secure and comfortable by sleeping in their parent’s arms, leading to long and deeper sleep cycles.

2- Bonding Time: The act of holding babies as they sleep is very sentimental, which creates an unforgettable link between a parent and their child.


While there are benefits to allowing your baby to sleep in your arms, there are also important risks to consider, such as:

1- Unsustainable Practice: Relying on carrying your baby to sleep may at some point not be possible, especially with a grown baby who is getting heavier.

2- Risk of Dropping Baby: The parent may mistakenly fall asleep holding the baby, who will then unknowingly be dropped while sleeping. A 2001 study published in the journal “Injury Prevention” analyzed data from over 2,500 children and found that 53% of accidental falls involved falling from a bed or couch, and 12% from a caregiver’s arms. This could happen as parents can easily get fatigued or are in a deep sleep.

3- Difficulty Breaking the Association: Sleeping consistently with your baby in your arms would build a bond between holding and sleeping that is difficult to break, leading to difficulties in transitioning to independent sleep.

Pros and Cons of Allowing Supported Sleep

To decide for yourself whether it’s risky to put your baby in his arms, you need to look carefully at both the positives and negatives of choosing this method. Whether or not sleeping on the chest can affect a child’s future is an important issue that everyone should understand. Let’s discuss the benefits and risks of allowing supported sleep:


Allowing your baby to sleep in your arms can provide several benefits including:

1- Solid Sleep: When babies sleep in their parents’ arms, they feel warm and secure. This prolongs the length of each cycle between periods of sleep for longer time and deeper cycles of sleeping.

2- Bonding Time: The act of holding babies while they sleep is very sentimental, and creates an unbreakable bond between parent and child.


While there are benefits to allowing your baby to sleep in your arms, there are also important risks to consider, such as:

1- Unsustainable Practice: With a growing baby who is getting heavier, it would be hard to rely forever on carrying your child until he falls asleep. At some point, you may not even have such an option anymore.

2- Risk of Dropping Baby: A parent may mistakenly fall asleep with the baby, and when asleep the child will drop. A 2001 study published in the journal “Injury Prevention” looked at data from more than 2,500 children and found that falls accounted for over 53% of all unintentional injuries.

3- Difficulty Breaking the Association: If sleeping in your arms became habitual, the bond between holding and sleep would be difficult to break and you’ll find yourself having a hard time switching over to independent sleep.

tired mom sleeping with a baby in her arms

When to Stop Allowing Baby to Sleep in Arms?

Deciding when to stop allowing your baby to sleep in your arms is a personal choice that can depend on various factors. Here are some considerations that can  help you determine when it might be appropriate to transition your baby from sleeping in your arms to sleeping independently:

1- Age and Development

Babies also need to go through stages of sleep as they grow and develop. The NICHD Early  Child  Care  Research also states that in America, in infants aged 6-15 months, 53% of infants aged 6 months experience sleep problems. Some babies begin to establish routine sleep at around 3–4 months old, making it vital for them to learn how to fall asleep alone.

2- Safety

Carrying a baby while asleep might not be safe as he or she becomes more active during sleep. Putting your baby in a secure bed as you transition him can reduce the risk of suffocation and other accidents while asleep.

3- Sleep Associations

Consistently falling asleep with your child can result in giving birth to a bad sleep association if you make them sleep on their own. Transitioning your baby gradually into a more regular sleep environment, like a comfortable crib, is important for helping them form good sleeping habits in the future.

4- Parental Well-being

It may feel good to sleep with your baby, but you should also consider your needs, as you cannot allow your baby to sleep in your arms if it interferes with your own sleep and daily activities, so you may want to promote independent sleeping now.

How Do You Get Your Baby to Sleep Without Being Held?

If you are a parent, you may sometimes seek to discover ways to make your child sleep without being held. There are several helpful ways you can start teaching your baby to fall asleep without being held to her chest. These strategies include:

  • Use calming motions like swinging or bouncing to put your baby to sleep.
  • Ensure a warm sleep environment with appropriate covers, sleep sacks, or a regulated room temperature.
  • Position your sleeping or drowsy baby in a crib or bunker for deep sleep.
  • Swaddle your baby for a safe and comfortable sleep environment.
  • Maintain skin-to-skin contact by placing your hand on your baby’s chest for security.
  • Add an extra light blanket for added comfort and reassurance during sleep.
  • Keep your baby on your chest for a secure and comfortable sleep with some independence.
  • Place your baby next to your body for a feeling of safety and independence.
  • Babywearing allows you to carry your baby close while keeping your hands free, providing security for both you and your baby.

Doing this will encourage your baby to adopt independent sleeping patterns and better sleeping practices. Ensure that you give yourself and your baby enough time to get used to this goal and eventually achieve a more sustainable sleeping pattern for the family.

Read Also: 11 Month Old Sleeping (Too Much, Not Enough, & Other Problems!)

sleeping togather with a baby

Additional Tips for Better Sleep

To further improve your baby’s sleep, consider the following tips:

Monitor your Baby’s Actions:

Ensure that you monitor your baby for sleep signals and put them to bed when they are yawning, rubbing their eyes, or becoming fussy. Doing this helps to put your baby on the best possible sleep schedule for them at a time when it is most likely that they will enjoy a good night’s rest.

Conquering Reflux

In cases of reflux and colic in your baby, seek a paediatrician’s assistance regarding the management of these conditions. In such cases, they may prescribe over-the-counter medicines, changes in diet, or other remedies that can ease your baby’s pain and promote better sleep.

Including these extra suggestions in your baby’s sleep pattern will make it even better and enable your whole family to get adequate sleep.

Read Also: SITBACK Method: A Guide to Taking Cara Babies for Better Sleep


Finally, helping your baby get used to independent sleeping requires finding the right solution for your family. Be assured that you’re not the only one grappling with this issue! It is encouraging to know that there’s someone or somewhere you can turn to for help! Take time to enjoy those additional cuddles, celebrate little victories, and cut some slack for yourself when things are not okay. Patiently and consistently, with a supportive attitude, you may be able to promote healthy sleep habits in your child and create a calm home environment for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What To Do If The Baby Only Sleeps On The Lap?

Many parents face the problem of their baby only sleeping on their lap. To teach your baby to sleep alone, gradually move from lap to crib. Establish a fixed time to go to bed every night, and make the sleep environment in the crib pleasant and safe. This gradual approach should help your baby get used to sleeping on their own.

Why Do Babies Sleep Better On A Lap?

It’s common for babies to sleep better on laps because it feels so comfortable and secure. Warmth and rhythmic motion experienced on a lap create the same comforting atmosphere as in the womb. This closeness adds a feeling of familiarity and comfort, helping the baby sleep better.

Is It Okay For The Baby To Sleep On My Lap?

It’s fine for a baby to sleep on your lap sometimes, but the most important thing is that they learn safe sleep practices. Don’t let the baby sleep in position for too long, or his risk of SIDS will increase. Switch over to separate sleep in the crib gradually, and establish healthy long-term sleeping habits for your baby.

Why Won’t My Baby Sleep Unless Held?

Some babies will not sleep unless they are held, and the security of closeness is very important to many young children. To solve this, try some soft sleep training techniques to help your baby learn self-soothing skills. Establish a fixed sleep time by preparing for bed, and be patient in encouraging independent periods of sleep. With time, your baby may become more used to sleeping alone.

Emiley Walker Author & Writer | Parenting and BabyCare at Mamaadoptation About I'm a passionate writer committed to using storytelling to support and uplift families on their fostering and kinship care journeys. At Mama Adoption, I create engaging content that empowers parents and caregivers navigating the joys and challenges of raising amazing children. Expertise Childcare Parent coaching Parenting Attachment parenting Parent-child Relationships Baby Products Newborn Baby Knowledge of different parenting approaches (e.g., authoritative, permissive, authoritarian) Strategies for managing and modifying children's behavior communication techniques Understanding child psychology Specialized knowledge in supporting children with disabilities Highlights Certified in Family dynamics, Parenting guide, Effective communication skills. Education Emily Walker holds a Master's degree in parenting guidelines from Air university where she cultivated her expertise in understanding child development, effective communication, and family dynamics. Her academic journey ignited a lifelong passion for unraveling the complexities of parenting and helping others on their parenting journeys. Experience Emily Walker's professional journey is marked by a wealth of experience: Nurse (RN) - Pediatrics or Mother-Baby Unit Babysitter Authorship: Emily has authored numerous articles, essays, and books on parenting guidelines, all crafted with a blend of academic knowledge and practical wisdom. Parenting Workshops: She has conducted workshops and seminars, both online and in-person, providing parents with actionable tools and strategies. Consulting: Emily has worked as a parenting consultant, offering personalized guidance to families facing unique challenges. Media Contributions: Her insights have been featured in various publications, including parenting magazines and television programs. Emily's Approach to Parenting: Emily advocates for: Positive Discipline: Promoting non-punitive methods for teaching and guiding children. Open Communication: Fostering open and respectful communication within families. Child-Centered Parenting: Prioritizing the well-being and development of the child while supporting parents in their roles. Thank you for visiting Emily Walker's author page. Join her on a journey of discovery and empowerment as she guides you through the fascinating world of parenting guidelines. Together, let's nurture the next generation with love, knowledge, and understanding.

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