Is Rocking Toddlers to Sleep Bad?

A toddler who wants you to rock her to sleep every night might have a flawed sleep association, advises sleep expert Nicole Johnson, with the Sleep Baby Site. While you may enjoy snuggles with your toddler, it might not be wise to create a situation where your toddler depends on rocking to sleep.

Sleep Associations

A sleep association is simply the standard routine or pattern involved with going to sleep, according to Johnson. Just as an adult probably has a bathroom routine and a standard way of turning out the light and climbing into bed, a child needs this, too. Whatever sleep associations you have instituted with your toddler will be the ones he insists on having to go to sleep as he gets older 1.

Dependency on Rocking

If you always help your child fall asleep with rocking, you may become stuck as your toddler continues to require this crutch to fall asleep, warns pediatrician and author William Sears, with the Ask Dr. Sears website 2. You may also receive numerous wake-up calls throughout the night when your little one wakes up and cannot put herself back to sleep independently, advises psychologist Laura Markham, with the Aha! Parenting website 3. Your child will open her eyes in bed and immediately feel that she needs you to rock her to get back to sleep because she does not know any other way of going to sleep.

Independent Sleep Habits

The ability for your toddler to fall asleep independently may have a variety of benefits. Your bedtime routine could become easier, shorter and less stressful for you after you train your toddler to fall asleep by himself in his bed. In addition, any times that your toddler wakes overnight, he should be able to successfully go back to sleep without your help.

Sleep Training

To break the rocking-to-sleep habit, institute a different bedtime routine, suggests pediatrician Alan Greene, with the website 4. You might include a bath, a snack, brushing teeth, a few story books and then snuggling in bed for a short time. Make the new routine pleasant and consistent. Your toddler may object at first, but with firm consistency, she should accept it within a few nights.