Why 2 Month Old Won’t Nap Unless Held? | 3 Reasons

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Read this article to learn why your 2 month old won’t nap unless you are holding them from the proper way to place them in bed to habits.

If you find that your 2 month old wont nap unless held, even if you put them down after sleeping for some minutes, it could be because you got into the habit of holding them while they were taking a nap up to this point. However, it could be because you are putting them down improperly, which triggers their startle reflex or discomfort.

Getting your baby to sleep can be a challenge, but having a baby that will only sleep while you hold them adds to the challenge. You may find that you want to hold your baby in the first couple of months while they nap because it is comforting to both you and the baby, but this can quickly form an unwanted habit.

However, it could also be because your baby is uncomfortable, either because of gas or being awake for too long. Discomfort can also come from putting them down incorrectly, which is startling them or putting them in an awkward position. Luckily, there are some things you can try to help your newborn sleep without being held.

Your Baby is Uncomfortable

There are many reasons our baby could be uncomfortable before they fall asleep such as gas or sleep debt. If you are feeding your baby shortly before helping them fall asleep, you should consider whether you are burping them correctly or experiencing acid reflux. Staying awake for too long can also cause issues sleeping. 

There is a mixture of reasons your baby might be uncomfortable and craving to be close to you as a result. Some of those reasons are:

  • Needing to burp. Feeding your baby shortly before helping them fall asleep can help them sleep better, but it can also cause burping. Your burping technique needs to be more than patting the bubbles out but also squeezing them out. Try researching proper burping techniques to try the next time your baby feeds.
  • Having acid reflux. Feeding your baby before sleep can also cause acid reflux, where stomach acid splashes up into the esophagus, causing pain. Acid reflux can be minor and infrequent or more painful and regular, so talk to your doctor if you think this is a recurring issue. 
  • Having gas. Drinking from a bottle or breeding feeding will result in your baby swallowing air, leading to gas. Gas can cause discomfort, so your baby may want to be closer to you to help deal with that. 
  • Sleep debt. Newborns need a lot of sleep and can sleep for 16 to 20 hours per day. They can only stay awake for about 1 hour at a time before needing some rest time. Staying awake for too long can cause issues with their sleeping patterns and mimic colic behavior.

You’re Putting They Down Incorrectly

You may be putting your baby down incorrectly into their bed, which can startle them or make them uncomfortable. You should be putting your newborn down feet first, then bottom, then their head. Never lead with the head since it can startle them and wake them up.

Everyone is born with a primitive reflex that makes them startle when they experience sudden motion. Babies are no exception and can startle from any sudden motion or movement of their arms, legs, back, or neck. This means that when you move them from your arms to their bed, the action may startle them awake.

Ensure that you are putting your baby down in their bed feet first. Leading with their head is more likely to startles them, so putting their feet down first will be less jarring. Also, remember to more slowly as you move them from your arms to the crib, so the motion doesn’t elicit their reflex and wake them. 

Falling Asleep While Held is a Habit

We learn how to sleep in the first 4 to 8 months of life and will take that knowledge with us into the rest of our lives. If you are holding your baby while they sleep for the first couple of months, then it’s likely that they believe that is the only correct way to sleep. Ensure that you are allowing them to sleep in their crib.

Newborns love routines and patterns, so if you spend the first months with your baby sleeping in your arms instead of their crib, your baby is going to fall into that routine. Your baby will expect to sleep in your arms, and anything that deviates from that can cause them stress. It is similar to what adults feel when sleeping in a new place.

You should get your baby used to sleeping in a crib as early as possible. Don’t worry if sleeping in your arms has already become a habit because you can break it. It might take a few nights of fusing and not sleeping the whole night, but eventually, sleeping in their bed will be the new habit. 

Here are some tips on how to get your baby to sleep without being held:

  • Wrap them in a swaddle or blanket, so they feel like you’re holding them.
  • Use motion to soothe them to sleep, such as using a swing.
  • Offer them a pacifier to help lull them to sleep.
  • Keep your hand on their chest after you put them in bed, so they still feel your touch as they fall asleep.
  • Feed your baby after they wake up instead of before sleep. Feeding before bedtime can encourage you to hold them as they fall asleep. 
  • Let them fuse a little. Babies fuse about anything from discomfort to boredom, so you don’t always need to rush in to hold and soothe them. 


Your 2-month-old won’t nap unless they’re in your arms because they are uncomfortable, usually from feeding right before bed, you’re putting them down in bed incorrectly, or they have a habit of sleeping in your arms and not their bed. Remember that sometimes babies fuse and go through phases, so there could be any number of reasons they want to stay in your arms. See what works.