First of all let me start by saying that I am absolutely not telling you that you NEED to put your baby down. Nope. Not at all. You will never get that kind of advice around here. If you’re happy to keep that little one close and hold them tight then you keep on doing that. I know for sure it makes your baby happy so you enjoy those snuggles as long as you want.
I personally held or wore my baby for almost every single one of his naps for at least his first year of life. Because, like many babies, he was NOT exactly a huge fan of being put down and would scream most of the times I tried. That’s baby language for
‘what just happened? Where am I? Where’s my safe place gone? Please pick me back up again’.
And it’s no surprise really, he’d been snugged up in his cosy, little womb home for the vast majority of his precious little life and so would do anything to have those tight, warm, close, snuggly conditions replicated as often and for as long as possible.
So, I found ways to work around it and to keep him with me as he slept, AND I found ways to help make that transition from my body to his bed a lot easier and more comfortable for him.
So for those times when you really do need your arms back, when nature calls, when you’re completely exhausted and when you just need a break, then read on as I share my 6 favourite tips for putting down your sleeping baby without waking them up.
And while I’m not going to guarantee that following these steps will work every time for every baby, they should certainly improve your success rate!
It takes about 20 minutes for a baby to enter deep sleep. If you pop baby down before they reach that point they’ll be more alert to the movement and more likely to wake. Watch for when their little limbs have stopped twitching and their breathing has steadied and deepened and then go for it.
- Lower your body, not theirs.
Rather than take baby’s body away from yours and lower them away from you onto their sleep surface, keep their little body as close to yours as you can while you lean forward over their sleep space. The longer you can keep contact between your chest and theirs the better, ideally until they are actually on the sleep space so then you move away from them and not the other way round. Not only do babies like being snuggled in tight, but they also have a really strong fall reflex so this slight tweak can help prevent that being triggered and waking them.
- Bum first!
In a similar vein, if you look at how we naturally put babies down, it tends to be that the top of their back and head touch down first. BUT, if we place their little bottom down first then gently lower the rest of their body and finally their head it’s a much more comfortable, gentle transition and is much less likely to wake them up.
- Keep the pressure
Once you’ve got baby down on their sleep surface, rather than just get up entirely in one go, leave a hand with medium pressure on their chest and wait a little while. Then gradually lessen the pressure until your hand is completely off their chest.
- Use a comforter
Rather than just leave cold air in the space your body was when you put baby down, if you snuggle a nice soft comforter between you and your baby as you hold them, when you pop them down the comforter remains in place on their chest complete with your scent and so the space left by your now removed body becomes less obvious for them, they still remain in contact with what they were already in contact with.
- Swaddle or sleeping bag
Swaddling plays three roles with younger babies…it keeps them all wrapped up nice and tight which is really reassuring and womb like; it keeps their temperature consistent when you move them from your chest to their bed and it keeps their arms from flailing out in that fall reflex response when you pop them down…three things that will help them stay asleep during that transfer. For older babies a sleep sack has the same effect temperature wise and means that instead of swapping your warm embrace for their cold bed, they get to take the warmth of your cuddle with them.
So there you have it, my top 6 tips for putting down a sleeping baby. Give them a go and let me know how you get on!
Or, you know just hold them tight a little longer ? …and if your baby really will only nap on you, I have a nap survival guide just for you, just pop your details in below to get yours.