What Are the Dangers of Falling Asleep While Holding a Baby?

By Kathryn Hatter
Maintain alertness while you hold your baby.
Maintain alertness while you hold your baby.

Encouraging a baby to sleep can be an ongoing challenge that utterly exhausts a parent. In fact, it’s even possible to rock your baby to sleep and put yourself to sleep in the process. Although you may be so tired that you can’t keep your eyes open -- and though it may look awfully cute -- there are some real dangers in falling asleep with your baby in your arms.


Falling asleep while cuddling your baby could pose significant risk to the baby, warns the National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death and Pregnancy Loss Resource Center. If you fall asleep while holding your infant, your grasp on the baby may relax while you sleep. If this occurs, you could inadvertently drop your baby. Depending on your position and the surroundings, dropping your baby could have a significant impact. A chair without sufficient arm support or cushioning could result in the baby falling all the way to the floor.


With the relaxation of sleep, your baby may move from your arms and wedge down into the chair or bed frame, cautions the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. If this occurs, your baby has an elevated risk of suffocation or injury, which could be potentially fatal.

Alcohol or Drugs

An adult who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not have adequate awareness and wakefulness when caring for a baby, advises Dr. William Sears, author and pediatrician. Falling asleep while holding or cuddling a baby when you have alcohol or drugs in your system may lead to dangerous positioning of the baby, which could lead to injury. The impaired adult may not realize the danger until after a tragedy has already occurred.

Safe Alternatives

While it can be pleasant to snuggle a drowsy or sleeping baby, try to avoid becoming drowsy yourself. Always place your baby on a firm crib mattress to sleep. Ensure that the mattress is free of pillows, comforters, bumper pads, stuffed toys and anything else that could pose a risk of suffocation. A baby’s head should always stay uncovered while she's sleeping. Ensure that everyone who cares for your baby follows these recommendations to keep your baby safe.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.