New parents (and not-so-new parents!) know that one of the hardest transitions is getting your baby to sleep anywhere else other than your arms. Your newborn feels safe and secure in your arms, so it makes sense that's where they sleep the most soundly! Many babies fall asleep during or right after eating, or while being rocked, so in your arms in where they stay. And then you go to put the baby down, and their eyes shoot right open! But as you've probably gathered by now, it's hard to be productive when you're holding a sleeping baby all day. Not to mention, parents need to decompress and relax, too. If your baby will only sleep on you or in your arms, we have some information you might find helpful.
Why it's not a good idea for your baby to only sleep in your arms
We know how hard the first weeks of a baby's life can be. It's not called the fourth trimester for nothing! But there are lots of reasons your baby should be sleeping in their crib, bassinet, or cradle, and not just in your arms. Most importantly, safe sleeping should be a priority, and babies are safest sleeping on a flat, baby-proofed surface.
Additionally, while it may be difficult in the early weeks and months, it's so important to start laying the groundwork for good sleeping habits. Babies need to be taught good sleep habits and independent sleep - they need to figure out to fall asleep on their own, how to self-soothe, and how to fall back asleep as their sleep cycles in and out. It's hard to teach these habits when they're in your arms.
Also, if you're holding your baby anytime they're sleeping, it's likely you're not getting much sleep yourself. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect all aspects of your life, including your physical and mental health.
Tips to help get your baby to sleep out of your arms
One thing that a lot of parents swear by is swaddling - wrapping your baby snugly in a thin blanket or baby swaddle can mimic the warmth and security they feel when they're in your arms, and prevent their own arms from startling them awake. Keep in mind, swaddling is not recommended after your baby starts to roll over, but you can transition to a sleep sack for older babies.
You may also want to try a smaller bassinet or cradle for newborns or younger infants. Some babies aren't comfortable sleeping in a larger crib, and sleep better in a smaller, more cozy space.
One of the most important ways to transition your baby to sleeping out of your arms is a good schedule, one where you follow their cues. Many newborns can only stay awake for about 45 minutes at a time, so fit in feedings and diaper changes during their most awake time, and pay close attention to when they start to get sleepy. Rather than wait for them to fall asleep in your arms, put them down when they're drowsy.
If they do fall asleep in your arms, put them down once they're asleep and walk away. You may have to come back a few times to soothe them, but after a while, they're going to feel comfortable enough to self-soothe and fall back asleep on their own.