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Calling all other mothers who have rocked their babies to sleep

(25 Posts)
Gooby Thu 14-Aug-03 17:39:54

I've got into the so called 'bad' habit of rocking my 3mnth old to sleep. All the books warn against it, all the old biddies warn against it, people on trains warn against it, yet I'm convinced I'm not the only mother out there doing it.

I'm happy doing it at the moment - most times I enjoy having him in a sling as I 'dance' with him or amble round tidying up - so don't mind that he needs to be rocked. But I don't imagine I'd be able to rock a toddler so easily so don't want to do it for ever! Also, I'm sure there'll come a point when I'd like to be able to leave him with a babysitter. But I can't imagine how the transition from needing to be rocked to not needing to be rocked will occur.

What I'd be interested to know is - have you rocked your baby to sleep and if so what happened when they were older? Did you have to wean them off the rocking? Did it cause problems at some stage? Or were your babies able to learn how to fall asleep on their own when older?

The Active Birth Centre book, 'Natural Baby' (I'm more of a 'hippy' mum than a 'gina' mum!) recommends settling a baby to sleep on their own from 4mnths on, putting them down when drowsy, staying with them while they fall asleep (reassuring hand on tum, songs, patting etc, trying again in a week or so if it doesn't work) I'm hoping this method will work as I'm just not up for controlled crying.

Any reassurance or words of warning from other 'hippy' mums (for want of a better description) out there?

Starsky Thu 14-Aug-03 17:45:32

I rocked my dd to sleep from when she was born until she was 4-5 months I would say. At that point, I started introducing her to going to sleep on her own during her daytime naps first. I would make sure she was tired then put her in her cot but stay with her until she was asleep. Once she had the hang of that I started on the more difficult (for me) night time sleep. She is nearly 8 months now and has no problems at all with going to sleep in the day and 8/10 nights if not more will go to sleep fine at night too. She has slept through the night from 5 months, currently goes from about 7pm-7am most nights. I know it is meant to be a bad habit, but I think that they have been so close to you for 9 months and used to being rocked as you move around, it will therefore take them about the same time to be fully out of getting rocked. I don't like the idea of leaving her to cry, but then I guess I am a big softy!!

Jenie Thu 14-Aug-03 17:55:16

My ds is 16months from day 1 he has been rocked and bounced to sleep using various gadgets and gizmos..... yeah I'm still rocking, singing and bouncing. Just so long as I leave a tape of me singing (very imbarassing) he'll let anyone do it.

I also have upper arm muscles that Arni would envy.

I will add though that I enjoy the time I spend doing it!

Jenie Thu 14-Aug-03 17:57:10

Oh yes did the same with dd and she still likes me to cuddle her till she goes to sleep, 1 week of screaming and wriggling is all it took her to move over from being rocked to being just lay next to.

aloha Thu 14-Aug-03 19:15:23

I think this is one for bobthebaby
I don't think cradles would have been invented if rocking didn't work, and I don't believe this thing that if you do something for a while you will never be able to do things differently. He's very young, and babies change incredibly as they grow. I never thought my son would sleep through the night, but eventually he did! If you enjoy it stick with it for the moment but you might try rocking him until he is right on the verge of sleep then putting him down to do the last tiny bit on his own. It might work, it might not...

Tissy Thu 14-Aug-03 20:22:15

dh used to "jiggle" dd to sleep if a dose of mummy's milk hadn't done the trick. He always used to accompany the jiggling with a repetitive sshh-ing noise, and when dd got too heavy to jiggle comfortably, he lay down on the bed, kept ssh-ing and she still went to sleep! Maybe you could do the same sort of thing introduce a noise, or lullaby tape (you singing?) and gently phase out the rocking. That way the changeover isn't too abrupt.

bobthebaby Thu 14-Aug-03 20:45:10

Hey Gooby - fellow hippy mum here.
IMHO the rocking thing is the baby needing its vestibular (inner ear) system stimulating. Some need it more than others to make that transition from a constantly moving womb to a still cot. Now that does sound quite hippy, aplogies, can't think of how to put it better.

The good news is that the need for vestibular stimulation lessens as your baby grows and can move about, so it shouldn't become such a major factor in going to sleep.

Tissy makes a good point about the associated noise or singing. If you introduce one now, when your baby gets too big, the noise alone may work.

You could also try to do other vestibular activities not associated with sleep such as knee bounces, and maybe a jolly jumper (bouncy sling over a doorway).

As for other people, well if you don't mind making the investment of time and energy, then it doesn't matter what others think. If you pay a baby sitter then they should follow your instructions to settle your baby. When dealing with the "rod for your own back" brigade, remember its your back.

misdee Thu 14-Aug-03 20:52:02

my best find, a rocking chair!! not one of the new glider chairs, just a good old fashioned granny style rocking chair.
my dd2 doesnt always require rocking to sleep, but sometimes she is really stroppy, and i find that a few minutes with me sitting with her on the rocking chair settles her quickly. its brilliant. and i didnt pay a penny for it as my lovely sister grabbed it from her old neighbour.

ninja Thu 14-Aug-03 20:56:28

Just sympathising with a non textbook mother. I too have a 3 month old - actually she now won't be rocked to sleep by me but is such a poor sleeper in the day that I resort to using a bouncy chair or swing. I also feed her to sleep at night - against all the rules. I've no solution to you but I have to say that a month ago she would be put down to sleep (particulrly in the mornng) and now she won't so even though I had the good habits then, they didn't last!

I went through a stage of reading all the books and all they served to do is to make me feel bad and anyway dd does what she wants and that changes weekly if not daily. When I stopped trying to beat myself up about the way I was doing things/how much sleep she should have etc she became so much more settled.

I know this isn't much use to you but you aren't alone and I'm sure I'll be going through the non crying methods with you.

Chablis Thu 14-Aug-03 21:59:32

OK - I'm willing to buck the trend here and say that we rocked DS1 to sleep from birth until about 1 year and I can categorically say it was, in our opinion, the biggest parenting mistake we made. If he was having 2 naps + going to bed, that meant 3 half hour sessions of rocking and bouncing a day, which lasted the best part of a year and I paid for in wrecked back muscles (he was a big, heavy baby at birth - 10lb 3 oz !) Also no-one else seemed to quite have the same knack, so it made baby-sitters and the nursery a poor second, and DS1 a 'difficult' child to put to bed in their experience. In short, his inability to 'put himself to sleep' began to ruin our life.
With DS2 we vowed not to make the same mistake, and from a very early age began to put him in his cot, semi awake, to fall asleep himself. OK, we often stayed with him, or put a gentle hand on his back, or lightly patted him, but he did not get into the habit of fallng asleep on us, and gradually we 'distanced' ourself from him when he fell asleep, so that by about 3-4 months he didn't need us to be there with him. I have to say it worked for us, and it seems that DS2 is a much 'easier' contented and easy to leave with babysitters baby.
I too missed the 'cuddliness' on occasions, but on balance still think it was the right thing to do. Also, with a toddler as well, we didn't have the luxury of time to devote to rocking every night.
It's your choice really, but just remember that the longer you leave it, the more entrenched a habit it will be to break. HTH.

princesspeahead Thu 14-Aug-03 22:46:01

also be careful what your associated noise is. I must have sung bloody "Edelweiss" (yes, yes, the sound of music) ten billion times and I can hardly bear it any more!

judetheobscure Thu 14-Aug-03 22:52:12

Each to his own is what I say, but I'm seconding Chablis thoughts on the matter. Dd1 we fed, rocked and sang to sleep for 9 months. Finally we got fed up with the time it was taking - 20 verses of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" was taking its toll - and did controlled crying to get her to sleep. It worked in 3 days. With the dss we had much less time anyhow so didn't fall into the trap of spending ages rocking etc. If they didn't fall asleep after a feed we would put them in the cot anyway; sometimes they would gumble or even cry a bit but 9 times out of 10 they would drop off within 5-10 minutes. Then when they were a little bit older and we wanted some structure to the day they had regular nap times and seemed to understand that the cot was a place for sleeping in and not for mega-rocking sessions.

If you've got the time and the energy there's no problem with rocking imo; you can sort it out later although it may be that it is more difficult when they're older especially if you don't like controlled crying (which can be done to varying degrees - there are some other threads on controlled crying). If you don't want to rock for ever then 4 months seems a good age to start changing the strategy.

ma1 Thu 14-Aug-03 23:05:13

I don't think rocking your baby to sleep when he is very little necessarily leads to later problems settling themselves. It is not a bad habit and you just have to ignore other folk. You are really the only expert when it comes to your baby. I think some babies need to learn how to fall asleep and it may be that rocking them etc helps them learn how to switch themselves off. I don't think controlled crying has any place in a baby less than 6mths at the very least With my daughter she was rocked to sleep when very little and like you I enjoyed it. She went down to bed at night no bother from a really early age and I think it was because she felt pretty secure that if she wanted company etc. she could have it.She is now 2 and we are lucky with how good really she is at her sleep. I think the idea of having things associated with sleep is great and a routine is really important. My son who is 6mths found it much more difficult to fall asleep particularly during the day - he really fought it sometimes but he will go if rocked in his wee bouncy chair etc.after a couple of minutes so rocking both of them to sleep really hasn't caused us any problems. He goes down no bother at night and always finds it much easier if he has "blanky bear".They both just needed less and less comfort to fall asleep as they got a bit bigger. We didn't do anything special.I'm not really an earth or hippy mother but I honestly believe that you can't spoil a little baby with too much time and comfort. If you were that little and helpless you'd want a cuddle to go to sleep too.Sorry if I've gone on a bit.

twiglett Thu 14-Aug-03 23:29:08

message withdrawn

ma1 Thu 14-Aug-03 23:39:11

Totally agree with Twiglett

bobthebaby Fri 15-Aug-03 03:17:34

Ninja, add me to the list of mothers whose babies change their minds about their favourite sleep trick every month or so. The 6 month idea seems sensible to me. I may start being a bit more consistent when our UK trip is over.

aloha Fri 15-Aug-03 09:52:16

I have to say that I only really learned what my baby needed by accident one day when I'd done everything - sung, rocked, cuddled, patted etc, and he was still screaming so went downstairs in despair to call dh at work - I'd got so far as 'listen to that! I can't cope!' and ds went to sleep!! I was staggered. At that age he actually seemed to need to cry briefly before going off - as if he was expelling energy or just sort of saying 'Oh, I'm so tired'. It normally lasted five minutes or less, but before I'd rushed in at the first cry, 'comforted' him and actually just irritated him when he was trying to get off to sleep. He really did seem to be want to be left alone. Babies do differ in their tastes and not all babies want a cuddle as they go off to sleep IME. Ds is now incredibly affectionate and a very happy, cuddly baby but he still finds it very difficult to get off to sleep unless he's on his own and quiet.

SamboM Fri 15-Aug-03 10:16:26

I used to rock my dd to sleep every night until she was about 6 or 7 months. I loved it and so did she, who cares what GF thinks!

I did try putting her in her cot at around 5 or 6 months but she screamed herself to a frenzy. At 7 months she started to settle herself better, so I would leave her snivelling and whimpering for 5 mins, then go in and cuddle her in her cot, not get her up, and in about 3 days she was going to sleep pretty much immediately. Since then she has slept 7 or 8pm to 7 or 8 am and it is BLISS!

So I would just do what comes naturally (man!)

fidget Fri 15-Aug-03 12:28:53

I have always rocked my ds (now 3) to sleep, we both loved it and even now when I think back to those times I get a warm fuzzy feeling. Now at 3 my ds sleeps in a big bed and I lie with him until he's asleep. Many people may see this as 'a problem or inconvieniance' but I still enjoy it. It's takes about half an hour we talk about our day then he slowly drifts off and I like watching him. I feel if you are happy doing it, do it, they are only little once.

Gooby Fri 15-Aug-03 13:18:51

Thanks for all these replies. This is only my second discussion on mumsnet and am now feeling a warm glow (er, told you I was a hippy). It's really really good to hear what's happened to other mothers and know that I'm definitely not the only 'rocker' out there! It's also helpful to know how it turned out for you (bad as well as good).

As I'm new to the site can anyone help me out with the abbreviations? So far we've had IME, IMHO, HTH. It's probably really obvious, but hey, my brain is fried with all those night feeds.

ps Good to meet fellow hippy mums/softies. I have no objections to textbook approach/routines (all my best friends are doing them and of course you have to do what's right for you and your baby) but it just sometimes feels like I'm the only person NOT doing it 'by the book'! So thanks for all the support.

Gooby Fri 15-Aug-03 13:25:22

ps - bobthebaby - i liked the inner ear theory, and the 'remember it's your back' - good point.
ninja - ta for the support, good to know we'll be going through the non crying methods together!

prufrock Fri 15-Aug-03 14:27:20

Check this thread for abbreviations

It's strange isn't it - I did Gina Ford, because she suited me, but also felt (until I found Mumsnet) that I was the only one following that method.

wobblymum Sat 23-Aug-03 11:38:51

I'm going to admit to being a terrible mum!! I haven't rocked my 2-month old dd to sleep at night since we got out of hospital at 2 weeks! Not that I object to doing it, it just happened that way. As long as she's well fed and changed, she seems to go to sleep fairly happily (stop cursing me, I DO have other problems with her!!!). But I do rock her a lot in the day when she won't settle so maybe later this will creep into bedtime, I don't know.

When we first brought her home she wouldn't settle in her crib at all but she would sleep in her rocker and because that lay quite flat we just let her sleep there, instead of trying to rock her to sleep in her crib. Then at about 5 weeks I kept trying her in her crib before I put her in the rocker and after about a week she just went to sleep in the crib. So that probably had more to do with not rocking her than anything else.

Surely you should just do what your baby needs, whether that's rocking or not? I do second the idea of trying to get them to sleep in the day without being rocked first, then it seems to follow through into the night. Also, what I can't live without is a mobile. DD loves the music ("You Are My Sunshine"!!!!) and the animals keep her from crying while she watches them, until she just gets too tired and drops off.

Slink Sat 23-Aug-03 12:42:12

i rock my dd when she was a babe, i think it was becoz i could not bere putting her down and also alot to with she had colic foe the first three months. she is 2 now and it has done her no harm, she looks at the clock sees that the it is 7pm and says "mama bed please"
of she will go i read her three bokks and she is a sleep.

Do whats best for you and not the books they are not there in the dark night when that babe needs you, before you know it they won't want hugs or kisses they will leave home treasure them while they are small.

iso Sat 23-Aug-03 13:03:05

Hi,another hippy mum here.

I rocked my baby to sleep and fed her to sleep. We still co sleep. She's about fourteen months now, and also tells me when she's tired and wants to go to bed. Usually about eight. Haven't found that it's been a problem, and she stopped wanting to be rocked once the colic subsided.

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