6 to 8 Weeks: Reduce the Rocking to Sleep
You may relish rocking in your glider as your little one drifts off in your arms, but eventually, she needs to learn to fall asleep by herself. In the first nine months, Baby's sleep cycle is about 60 minutes; if she dozes only after you've held or bounced her, then each time she wakes, she'll need your help. "It becomes a crutch," says Kim West, a licensed child and family therapist in Annapolis, Maryland, who specializes in newborn and infant sleep.
You'll want to begin putting the brakes on rocking at 6 to 8 weeks, when your munchkin starts to snooze more at night. "As long as Baby is not colicky, you can lay her down in her crib drowsy but awake and skip the rocking," West says. By 4 months, you'll want to eliminate sleep crutches, West says, whether it's pacing the nursery or nursing her to sleep, so that Baby can fall asleep on her own. "If it's any later, it's harder to get a baby to let it go," she says.
Break the Habit West suggests shaving a few minutes off your rocking session each night until you're ready to quit completely. Consistency counts. You don't want to stop rocking him one night, only to start again the next. It will only make quitting more difficult. If Baby cries, stroke his head gently or sing him a lullaby, but don't lift him out of the crib. Considering that the average baby takes 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep, you need patience (and strong nerves). Take heart, though: Just because you're no longer rocking Baby to sleep doesn't mean you have to give up cuddles. You can still nestle in a cozy spot and sing songs, but don't use motion to lull Baby to dreamland.
Yes! Weaning Success! "We read books and sang songs as usual during our son's bedtime routine, but then we'd put Daniel down in his crib to conk out on his own," says Edyta Ryga, of Syosset, New York. "That first night, he fussed, so we sat in the room with him for a spell and let him know we were there. Within a couple of days, Daniel was falling asleep without our help."