My baby will only sleep in my arms

All babies are soothed by the 5 S’s: Swaddle, Side/Stomach, Shush, Swing, Suck. They calm faster/sleeps longer with snug swaddling, but in addition to that, some babies require added rocking, others sound and others need 3-4 of the S’s…all at the same time! In short, each baby has their favorites. It sounds like your baby loves the second S—Side/Stomach position, like cuddling next to you.  

SNOO improves sleep using 3 of the 5 S’s (Swaddle, Shush, Swing). That works great for most, but some babies who love Side/Stomach resist SNOO at first because they are among the ~5% who just don’t feel very comfortable being on their back.

These babies prefer sleeping on you or in a swing or rocking seat. Unfortunately, that becomes a problem because the back is the only safe position for sleeping for several reasons:

  • Sleeping with you—in your bed or on a sofa—creates unwanted risks (from pillows, blankets, and accidental movements of your body). Of course, you would never bed share if you were drunk, but when you’re very tired your brain can be as impaired as when you are intoxicated. (That’s why as many car accidents result from exhaustion as from being drunk.)
  • When seated, your baby’s head can roll forward causing trouble breathing…or even suffocation. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies never sleep sitting up (in rockers, car seats, swings, etc.).
  • If your baby gets used to sleeping in a rocking chair or your bed, she will probably have a harder time learning how to sleep on her own and have more sleep disruptions (from colds, teething, the 3-month sleep regression, etc) than most babies.

Fortunately, most side/stomach babies do very well in SNOO because the special womb-like sensations and super-effective swaddle help lull them to sleep even without their favorite S. Plus, there are additional steps parents can take so SNOO can help these babies be happier—and sleep better—on the back:

  • Offer a feeding. All babies sleep better with a full stomach. So, even if you’ve recently fed your baby, try an extra 0.5-1 ounce of milk to help her be totally satisfied.
  • Try a paci. (Nursing moms should wait a few days until breastfeeding is going well.)
  • Using the App, lock SNOO on the purple or green level for all naps/nights. (Learn More)
  • Add some stronger white noise. Extra sound can be very soothing and help babies forget that they are not on the side (as loud as a shower – 75dB). You can use much stronger sound—like a hair dryer— for 5-10 minutes to quickly calm sudden crying outbursts. (Hold it about a foot away from SNOO with the air directed away from your baby.
  • Elevate the baby’s head 1” using our SNOO lifters This makes breathing easier.


If all those steps are not helping, there are a few more that can do the trick (you will need 1 SNOO Sack, a 1 lb. bag of rice, 1 thin cloth napkin or diaper and 1-2 small hand towels). 

  1. Place the SNOO Sack on a flat surface, lay your baby inside, straighten her arms and secure the inner band.
  2. Fold a hand towel into a square that is 4-5” high (see image 4)
  3. Place the folded towel inside the SNOO sack under your baby’s feet and knees. Make sure the baby’s feet are higher than the knees.Babies_Knees_Up_1.jpg
  4. Next, wrap the 1lb bag of rice in the cloth diaper or cloth napkin.  Secure the rice with a rubber band.Babies_Knees_Up_2.jpgBabies_Knees_Up_3.jpg
  5.  Place the wrapped bag—inside the SNOO sack—on your baby’s stomach on top of the inner bands
  6. Babies_Knees_Up_4.jpg
  7. Zip up the SNOO Sack


Usually, these steps improve sleep in just a few days. Once your baby is comfortable in SNOO, you can eliminate the steps—one by one—after her sleep pattern becomes very consistent (usually after 3-4 weeks).


Please contact Customer Care if your baby’s sleep is not improving or if you need further information or advice.

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