I believe every mom will agree that there’s hardly anything more beautiful than rocking your baby to sleep and enjoying some peaceful time with your little one. It’s definitely something to look forward to throughout the day.
Not only do you get to snuggle your bub as she dozes off to sleep, but you get some time to rest, too. It’s definitely an efficient way to lull your little one to sleep. And although it’s helpful, many moms wonder if it’s the best way to do so.
At one point, your baby will have to learn to sleep on her own. If she’s used to being rocked, this might make the whole process a lot harder. On top of that, your little one will grow and become heavier, which will make it a lot more difficult for you to rock her to sleep, too.
If you’re a new parent or a mom-to-be, you’re probably thinking of different methods that will help your baby fall asleep. Today, we’ll learn about the benefits and disadvantages of rocking, as well as the safest ways to do so if you decide to use this method.
Pros of rocking your baby to sleep
Moms have been rocking their babies to sleep for ages now. In fact, your mom has probably rocked you too at one point!
When thinking of all the babies that were raised like this, there must be some benefits to it that made moms opt for this method. We’re happy to report that there are many! Let’s see what are some of the main ones.
1. It’s a great option for an emergency sleep
When your baby becomes over-tired (yes, that happens sometimes), falling asleep can be really hard for her. Don’t worry, these things happen. Sometimes you simply can’t adapt to your baby’s nap time, and you have to take some extra steps to help her fall asleep.
In times like this, rocking is a great solution. If it’s long past your little one’s nap time, you’ll notice her fighting sleep with all her being. To maintain her sleeping schedule, rocking her fully to sleep is the best way to go.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t happen all the time, so it won’t become a habit for your bub. This is also a nice solution when your baby is sick or distressed. Being close to her mom will help her calm down and give her a sense of security which, in turn, helps her fall asleep faster.
2. It helps you soothe your baby
Your baby has been tossing and turning in your belly for nine months. Because of that, it comes as no surprise that the rocking motion will help you soothe your newborn. Your baby’s inner development system has a natural response to rocking that has a really calming effect on her.
This, however, only lasts for about four months. After that, your baby’s reaction to rocking is based purely on her being used to falling asleep that way.
Because of that, it’s better that you don’t do it all the time, or that you rock your baby until she’s drowsy and then put her down into her crib. That way, you’ll calm her down enough for her to be sleepy, but she’ll still learn to fall asleep on her own.
3. It’s a great way for you to bond with your little one
One of the main reasons why moms opt for this method, on top of it being calming and soothing, is because they love being close to their little ones. I remember how much I enjoyed rocking my niece to sleep. It felt nice and personal, and I had a feeling we really bonded that way.
In fact, knowing you’re going to get a moment alone with your baby with her being on your chest is something a lot of moms look forward to throughout the day. And can we blame them? Feeling your little one falling asleep in your arms is one of the most magical experiences ever.
Your baby will find safety and security in your arms, and it’s a great way for the two of you to bond. Still, I don’t recommend doing this all the time, as your baby could become dependent on it, which could create plenty of sleep-related issues later on.
Cons of rocking your baby to sleep
Although it’s a wonderful way to bond and calm your little one down, rocking your baby to sleep has some disadvantages that you must consider. Let’s see what are the biggest ones.
1. Your baby can become dependent on it
As I’ve already mentioned, your baby can become dependent on rocking in order to fall asleep. If your baby made the association between sleep and rocking, she won’t learn any other ways to fall asleep on her own. As she grows bigger and heavier, this can create a lot of issues for the family.
Not only will it become harder for you to rock her, but you’ll also lose plenty of your free time trying to lull your little one to sleep. Sometimes, you’ll have to rock your baby for an hour or even longer in order for her to finally fall asleep.
2. Vigorous rocking can be harmful
If you’ve been rocking your baby for way too long and she can’t seem to fall asleep, it can be very frustrating. When you feel anger or frustration, you may often find yourself rocking your baby harder than usual, trying everything to make her fall asleep.
Unfortunately, this is how parents accidentally cause serious injury to their little ones. Although playful interaction or soft rocking won’t cause any harm, vigorously rocking your baby can lead to shaken baby syndrome (SBS).
Babies are more vulnerable to this condition as infants or in the first year of their lives. This is mainly because their brain and neck muscles still haven’t developed fully to resist vigorous shaking.
3. It might disrupt her sleep
Rocking your baby to sleep regularly can lead to her becoming dependent on the motion. When this happens, the baby may have a hard time staying asleep if she’s not being rocked. As a result, she’ll wake up every time you put her down into her crib.
Interrupted sleep can be distressing for infants, as they won’t get enough rest. You’ll notice your baby becoming fussy, crying a lot, and never getting enough sleep.
On top of that, you’ll have to spend all your free time rocking your little one until she wakes up. Because of that, you won’t get the rest you need either.
How to rock your baby to sleep safely
To avoid any potential harm when rocking your baby to sleep, it’s important to know how to do it safely. The most important thing is to be gentle and pay attention to how your baby reacts to rocking. If it seems like it’s calming her down, keep going.
Don’t give up simply because your baby is refusing to fall asleep. This method takes time, patience, and practice. Both of you are learning and it won’t take too long before you begin to understand what your baby likes and what works best for her.
Always keep your baby close to you. She’s been inside your tummy for nine months, so any time she feels you close to her it will naturally calm her down. She’ll feel your skin on her skin and listen to your heartbeat, which will soothe her and help her drift off to sleep.
Just like us, babies need a nice sleeping environment. Set the mood for napping. Tell your family members to keep quiet and move to a calm part of your home. Dim the lights and you can even put some soft white noise in the background. Just be careful that you don’t fall asleep, too.
How to wean your baby from rocking
Weaning your baby from rocking can be pretty challenging, but it’s far from impossible. The first thing you should do is create a bedtime routine for your little one. For example, you can start with a bath, dressing her into her pajamas, and feeding her.
After some time, she’ll associate these things with bedtime, and she’ll begin to feel sleepy when it’s time for her routine. As you’re feeding her, use this as an opportunity to snuggle your baby, which will help calm her down even more.
You can put your baby to bed and read her a bedtime story, which is another great way for the two of you to bond. Don’t drag on your routine for too long, and limit the number of stories you read to her to one or two.
When you notice her getting sleepy, say goodnight, put her down into her crib, and let her sleep. Your baby will get plenty of snuggles during her bedtime routine, which will be a great replacement for rocking. No matter how hard it is at first, she’ll quickly adapt to her new way of falling asleep.
Also, you can try some other methods like the shush-pat one. Who knows, it may work wonders for your baby allowing you to get a bit more rest as well.