The Cuddle Curl: How to Best Position Your Arms

5 Ways to Feel Better: How to Best Position Your Arms in the Cuddle Curl

March 31, 2021

I’m Tiffany.
I'm a safe cosleeping educator and mom of two little boys.
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As a new cosleeper, I religiously curled my body into a “C” at the beginning of every night and tried my best not to move a muscle. Of course this meant I was constantly achy and sore! My long nights in the cuddle curl position were a lot better after I realized the importance of finding a comfy spot for my arm.

The Five Most Comfortable Arm Positions For The Cuddle Curl:

  1. Reach Your Arm Up and Hug Your Pillow 
  2. Fold Your Arm Against Your Chest
  3. Rest Your Forearm On Your Waist
  4. Stretch Your Arm Across Baby’s Body
  5. Reach Your Arm Down and Place Your Hand Between Your Knees

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We all know that sleeping in the cuddle curl position is mandatory for safe bedsharing with an infant. It’s very protective — it ensures baby doesn’t inch up or down or away from you, and it facilitates easy breastfeeding throughout the night.

But if you can’t figure out a way to be comfortable, you likely won’t be bedsharing for long. Let’s begin with an obvious but rarely-discussed comfort factor: your arms.

If the cuddle curl isn’t just uncomfortable, but it’s painful for you, too, my Cuddle Curl FAQ guide will help. Browse the 5-star reviews from other achy bedsharing moms!

1. Reach Your Arm Up and Hug Your Pillow

Moms spend hours every day hunched over to nurse, play with, comfort and pick up their little one. Most mothers experience frequent back or shoulder pain, and it feels good to stretch out at the end of the day.

This position, in which you reach up and hug your pillow with both arms, is the closest thing to stretching out that you can muster within the cuddle curl.

That is certainly the case for me, and I love this position because it elongates and stretches out my constantly-sore back. I don’t sleep in it very often, however. One night I accidentally elbowed my baby in the head.

Luckily he wasn’t too young, and he was okay — in fact, he didn’t seem to notice.

But it spooked me.

The way your arm is bent in this position makes it very easy to elbow your baby’s head when you bring your arm down. In my case, I brought my arm down when I was barely awake, responding to him as he searched for a latch.

So even though I absolutely love this position, I don’t trust myself in it. I’d rather be a little more uncomfortable but not have to worry about accidentally hurting my little guy in my sleep.

2. Fold Your Arm Against Your Chest as You Cuddle Curl

This position conjures the cozy comfort of the fetal position. You fold your arm against your chest, lean forward, and put your weight on your arm.

I enjoy lying in this position because it brings me back to winter nights, pre-children, when I used to sleep bundled up under my comforter. But I don’t sleep in this position often now.

When you sleep in this position, your arm — or both arms, if you bring your other arm down from the pillow — is in-between you and your baby. Sometimes I lie awake, worrying about that.

What if my baby wants to nurse, but he finds a big arm or two blocking his path? What if he can’t smell my milk because of my arm and rolls in the opposite direction, looking for it?

One of the most incredible aspects of breastsleeping is that your baby’s face is homed into your breasts. They don’t want to be anywhere else! And this keeps them safe from wandering around the rest of the bed while you’re sleeping and unaware.

So I personally prefer to keep my arms away from my baby’s face. I don’t want anything blocking him from my breasts.

3. Rest Your Forearm On Your Waist

If you drop your arm while you’re nursing in the side-lying position — which is how breastfeeding in the cuddle curl works, you will find yourself doing this. Your forearm will rest in the hollow area between your hips and ribs.

This position seems the most logical to me — my hand will be ready to help my baby find a latch, roll onto his back, etc. But it’s not comfortable for me. It makes me feel like I’m about to roll backwards.

A thick, supportive pillow or partner providing back support is necessary to this position. Otherwise your elbow will slowly pull your arm backwards. Your whole torso will soon follow.

Do you know when I absolutely love to fall asleep in this position?

When I’m holding onto my baby’s little foot, or when he’s holding onto my finger. If you enjoy being physically connected with your baby as you two sleep, give this arm position a shot. Rest your forearm on your waist, and then hold onto your baby.

4. Stretch Your Arm Across Baby’s Body as You Cuddle Curl

Speaking about physical contact with baby — some moms like to sleep with their arm stretched across their baby’s body. It’s comfortable because they are stretching those sore arm muscles, it’s sweet, and it’s protective. If their baby stirs, they will know about it.

I don’t ever sleep with my arm in this position. Why? I don’t trust myself — I am just so tired! How do I make sure that my weight goes on my hand and not my arm, and I don’t crush my baby?

I know this is a popular arm position, but personally I don’t feel comfortable doing it while I’m asleep.

If you want to try this position, pull baby close to your breasts after they’ve rolled onto their back. Then stretch out your arm, and place your hand on the mattress on the other side of their body.

Put your weight on your hand, not your arm. Ideally your arm should reach over their tummy, not their chest — which could inhibit air flow if you push down too hard.

(Do you see why I am not comfortable with this position?)

5. Reach Your Arm Down and Place Your Hand Between Your Knees

When my baby was incredibly tiny and fragile — mere days old, I was terrified of elbowing him or whacking him with my arm in the night. So I instinctively reached my hand down and stuck it between my knees to hold it in place.

And it worked!

It kept me in that really tight c-position, and my hand did not budge! It stayed in that position from when I fell asleep to when I woke up to feed him an hour or two later.

If you’re reading this from a Western, industrialized country, you likely fear cosleeping. That is what we are taught!

So if you are a brand new bedsharer, and you are afraid of hurting your baby, try this position. Put your hand between your knees.

Your knees will hold it in place, and it’ll make sure that you’re in that tight “C” cuddle curl position — because obviously you can’t straighten out when your arm is all the way down like that.

I know it’s weird. But we all gotta do what works, right!

Find a Way to Cuddle Curl Comfortably

Try different things. Don’t stop until you figure out what works: what makes you comfortable, what keeps baby safe.

Because the more comfortable you are, the longer you’re going to want to bedshare.

So for the sake of your darling baby, let’s do it! Let’s find a way to keep you comfortable and happy all night long.

Disclaimer: If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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