Why does my baby only sleep in my arms?

Calm babies are more likely to find sleep, so it makes sense that when your baby is close to you and feeling safe, they drift off to sleep.

Your baby is instinctively driven to stay close to you for safety and security - it’s a survival instinct. In fact, separation from their caregiver can be very overwhelming for babies. That’s why we try to do it little by little.

How to get them sleeping in their cot

To help your baby learn to sleep in their own space, you can start by cuddling them off to sleep and then moving them to their cot when they're fast asleep.

When they wake, rather than immediately picking them up, try:

  • some gentle body rocking or patting while they are in their cot
  • talk or sing to them to let them know you are there.

If they cannot settle, it is absolutely fine to pick your baby up, cuddle them and calm them, then pop them back into their cot. Just do it little by little so the cot becomes something familiar and not something to fear.

As your baby grows, so does the capacity to tolerate separation from you, so don’t expect that every baby will know how to sleep in their cot immediately without help.

Get more baby sleep tips, including step-by-step guides for settling your baby and getting them off to sleep in Helen's book.

Got more questions? Book an appointment to speak with one of our baby specialists.


Author: Helen Stevens. RN. RM. MCHN. Manager of Clinical Services, Education and Research. Parent Infant Consultants. 0411880720.