Rice & Towel: My Baby Only Sleeps on Me!

Most babies are soothed by the 5 S's, and calm faster or sleep longer with snug swaddling. Some babies require a bit more to soothe. Sometimes methods like rocking, white noise, and a dummy are all needed at the same time to soothe a fussy newborn. All babies are so unique and have different preferences and it can be difficult to find the perfect mix of calming cues!

If you notice your little one prefers sleeping in the comfort of a loved one's arms or in a swing, your baby may prefer the side/stomach position or the 2nd S in the 5 S's. Babies who love Side/Stomach resist SNOO at first because they are among the ~5% who just do not feel very comfortable being on their back. 

Unfortunately, side-sleeping becomes a problem as sleeping on the back is the only safe position for several reasons:

  1. Sleeping on a person, in bed or on a sofa, creates unwanted safety risks (pillows, blankets, and accidental movements of your body covering baby's face or nose). Co-sleeping, when tired, is comparable to bed-sharing while intoxicated and of course, parents would never want to put their baby in danger that way.
  2. When seated, your baby’s head can roll forward causing trouble breathing…or even suffocation. The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends that babies never sleep sitting up in rockers, car seats, swings, etc.
  3. If your baby gets used to sleeping in a swing or your bed, they will probably have a harder time learning how to sleep on their own and have more sleep disruptions (i.e. colds, teething, 3-month sleep regression, etc.) than most babies. 

Luckily, 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 favourite S. Plus, there are additional steps parents can take so SNOO can help these babies be happier—and sleep better—on the back:

  1. Offer a feeding! All babies sleep better with a full stomach. So, even if you have recently fed your baby, try an extra 15-30 ml of milk to help them be totally satisfied.
  2. Try introducing a dummy. (Nursing Mums should wait a few days until breastfeeding is going well.)
  3. Using the App, lock SNOO on the purple or green level for all naps/nights. Click here to learn more!
  4. Boost SNOO's white noise. Extra sound can be very soothing and helps lull babies back to sleep from internal or external disturbances. You can use a much stronger sound—like a hairdryer— for 5-10 minutes to quickly soothe sudden fussing. (Hold it about a foot away from SNOO with the air directed away from your baby.)

If the above steps are not helping, Dr Karp's rice trick or towel tip can be used either together or separately to help side sleepers sleep better in SNOO. Here is what you will need:

  • 1 SNOO Sack
  • 500 g bag of rice
  • 1 new 1-quart freezer bag
  • 1 thin cloth napkin
  • 1-2 small hand towels 

Step 1: Place the SNOO Sack on a flat surface, lay your baby inside, straighten their arms, and secure the Velcro armband & leg flap.

Step 2: Fold a hand towel into a square that is 10-12 cm high.

Step 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).

  • Please Note: As you probably know, loose towels can be a suffocation risk. Make sure to only use the towels INSIDE the fully-zippered sack.

Step 4: Next, place the 500 g bag of rice in the new 1-quart freezer bag—squeeze out all the air and zip the bag closed—and then wrap that in the cloth napkin. Secure the napkin around the rice bag with a rubber band.

Step 5: Place the wrapped bag—INSIDE the SNOO sack—on your baby’s chest and upper stomach on top of the inner bands.

  • Please Note: As you probably know, loose objects can be a suffocation risk. Make sure to only use the rice bag INSIDE the fully-zippered sack.

Step 6: Zip up the SNOO Sack all the way…top and bottom.

The rice and towel tip can aid sleep in just a few days. Once your baby is comfortable in SNOO and sleeping great, you can eliminate the rice and towel—one by one—after their 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!



Happiest Baby does not provide medical advice. Please seek the advice of your healthcare provider if you have questions regarding a medical issue.

Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.

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