7 Things to Do When You’re Stuck Under a Sleeping Baby
My babies hate sleep.
No, that’s not exactly right. My babies love sleep. But after three babies in the span of eight years, I’ve lived this inconvenient truth all three times: My baby will only sleep on me.
We’ve tried it all, I promise you. And we have confirmation from two separate babysitters, both well-versed in sleep-training even the most stubborn of babies. More often than not, our babies will sleep only when held.
By baby number three, I’ve made some peace with this reality. It helps to know that by the age of two or three, my kids’ sleep sucks approximately 37 percent less. Before my littlest one was born, I also learned a few things about baby sleep that opened my eyes to how I was getting in the way of my baby’s sleep. (More on that in a bit.)
Even so, she still struggles with sleep. And I’ve come to believe that there must be something physiological about my babies that for the first couple of years, they need to sleep on or near me in order to thrive.
What I Do When My Baby Will Only Sleep on Me
All this means that in the eight years since I first became a mom, I’ve spent a fair bit of time stuck under sleeping babies.
- With my first baby, I used the time to read the Hunger Games trilogy. (Also the Twilight series, but I’m not proud of it.)
- With my second baby, I used the time to write on this blog.
- And with my last baby, I wrote a book to help parents find happiness in the chaos of parenting life.
But sometimes, you don’t feel like being super productive. And for those times, I have a few suggestions for you.
Related: The Month My Baby Wouldn’t Sleep – And What I Did About It
7 Things to Do When You’re Stuck Under a Sleeping Baby
I consider myself an expert on what to do when you’re trapped under a sleeping baby. And so the next time you find yourself stuck holding a snoozer, I got you covered, my friend.
Here’s what you do:
- Stare at your baby and savor this moment. Your sweet baby won’t be this tiny for long! If you do this savoring thing properly, it will use up 2.7 seconds, so let’s get to the rest of the suggestions…
- Make a mental list of everything you should be doing but aren’t. A sink full of dirty dishes, a leaning tower of clean laundry to fold on top of the dryer, and cat hair tumbleweeds in every corner of your house? Add them to the list! Paying off your hospital bills from baby’s birth or – more realistically – calling the hospital to negotiate a 72-part payment plan? Add it to the list!
- Watch a movie you’ve been meaning to watch for a long time. This is your chance for some high-quality “me time” with no interruptions, so the sky’s the limit! But you will want to keep it pretty quiet so you don’t wake the baby, so try to pick something with very little dialogue. On second thought, best to stick with nature documentaries.
- Read something educational out loud to your baby in a soothing tone, such as The No-Cry Sleep Solution† or Go the F**k to Sleep.
- Perfect your phone photography skills so when your baby wakes up, you can post the most kickass baby photos Instagram has ever seen. A few ideas: a still life masterpiece of the pile of dirty diapers you’ve been collecting in the corner of the bedroom, a biting commentary on our stuff addiction as told by a collage of baby toys, parenting books, and empty Frappuccino bottles, or a close-up of cat hair tumbleweed to represent the stress and overwhelm of modern-day parenting life.
- Being stuck on the couch or in the bed is no excuse for being lazy. Do 200 calf raises, leg lifts, or butt squeezes. I have no idea if butt squeezes are effective, but you’re moving a muscle and that has to count for something.
- Do some ninja training! Slowly, ever so slowly, inch yourself out from under your baby. No, make that centimeter yourself out from under your baby. This will take you at least 15 minutes if you do it correctly. And then, at last, you’ll be free! You’ll sneak out of the bedroom, close the door so, so quietly, turn on the baby monitor, and take a deep breath. You can tackle those dishes, fold the laundry, and maybe even vacuum a tumbleweed or two. But first, a potty break while your hands are empty. And as you turn toward the bathroom…guess what? Your baby’s up! Next time, try being more ninja.
Baby Only Sleeps When Held? Here’s What Helped Me
If you were blessed with a non-sleeping baby too, you need this book by my friend Lauren: For the Love of Sleep: Practical Baby Sleep Solutions for the Everyday Mama.
Lucky for me, I read this book before my third baby was born, and I was able to avoid some of the hurdles I created for myself with my previous two babies. My littlest one still needs to nap on me some days, but it’s once in a while instead of every single nap. I can do the dishes, fold the laundry, and vacuum, too. I don’t do all that, but I could if I wanted to. All thanks to this book:
But if you’re in a tough spot as in “I need a sleep fix right now, or I’m going to run away from my family and hide out in an Appalachian shack 200 miles from civilization,” I highly recommend this free 3-part video series from my friend Rachel. She’s had five babies in five years, so she knows what she’s talking about. In these three short videos, you’ll learn the biggest baby sleep struggles – and how to fix them starting now.
What’s your best tip for killing time when you’re stuck under a sleeping baby? Share in a comment below!
Note: All information on this site is for educational purposes only. Happy You, Happy Family does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician.
Great practical ideas. The mental lists are the best :))
While I was “doing my time” under a sleeping/nursing baby I managed to finish reading everything that Jane Austen ever wrote. When that was done, I moved on the Anne of Green Gables series. At the end the 10th book I had a very hard time parting with Anne.
For the next one, I’ll make sure to practice my ninja skills in advance.
Do the food shop on an app on your phone! Sainsburys grocery app is mega easy for this!
…or create a Pinterest board of new recipes to try.
this is what grandmas and great grandmas are for!!! I have been told off by my son for holding the grandson when he sleeps – DONT TRY TO STOP ME – it enriches me too – live forever hold a baby!
When my babies don’t sleep on me and I have other kids to take care of, I will take my shirt as they sleeping and lay them down on my shirt, it’s warm and it smells like mom. Hasn’t failed me yet.
* take my shirt off* lol
I play Zeta. Earn yourself a Kitchenaid mixer by answering a few questions of interest to you. Their prizes range from vehicles to children’s toys. It’s a fun app that’s free with no permissions and can also be played at unonimous.com on your laptop. Enjoy!
You have a great sense on humour :)
I enjoyed reading your blog. Our baby is similar in which she will primarily sleep when held or cradled. I just want to make sure-is this still safe? She is on her back.
I never thought to do exercises while my baby sleeps on me. For the first month this was really the only way he would sleep, I got used to doing things on my phone for a good hour or so since I was stuck. These are great tips!
Um, I think the biggest piece of advice people searching on “baby will only sleep when on me” is how to get sleep themselves! We are sleep deprived and have no interest in reading a book or watching a movie. I want to know how to get the baby to sleep in a bassinet or crib so that I can actually sleep and therefore be a functioning human being!
I LOVE this. This describes my life right now to a tee! I almost woke the baby with my silent belly laughs. Thank you
So how did people get through this time? I’m still trying to help my 7 week old sleep in bed particularly during day. But then i’m unsure biologically if she’s ready for this? Sleeping on me is definitely becoming a routine
and I feel guilty …
My baby is 4 weeks old. She is sleeping on me as I type. If I put her down she will wake up, almost immediately, screaming. Good to know other mothers are going through the same thing.
I play games on my phone, read articles, pay bills, watch movies and yes sleep while baby girl is sleeping on me.
Thank you for sharing this blog.
Wait you guys are able to do things when stuck under a sleeping baby? I have to cradle mine with one arm to keep from trying to escape. Then I have to slowly roll off of me and then barely move my arm up until I’m free. It’s taken me up to 2 hours to get her asleep lately. She’s 8 months. Fits in 24 month oldoutfits. Idk what to do. She won’t eat solids either unless it’s my apple or a grape