12 answers

Seeking Advice How to Wean Toddler from Rocking to Sleep?

I'm looking for ideas on how to wean my toddler from rocking her to sleep for naps and night time. I know I have let this gone too long, I usually sit with her on the rocking chair while she lays on my lap then after about 3-5 mins she is sound asleep. I can't do it anymore mainly because I had surgery a couple of months ago and I'm also 7 months pregnant. She is on the light weight side but I still want to be able for her to fall or go to sleep on her own (she sleeps in her bed not crib). Other than CIO (which wouldn't work since she can open the door herself) or laying on the bed with her (the bed makes a lot of noise when I get up...) I don't know what else to try?



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I still rock my 2 year old to sleep, we talk and sing sweet songs and remember the day together. I beleive it to be the most wonderful part of having a child. Is there something wrong with it? It feels right.

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If the rocking chair is in her room I recommend laying her down in her bed while you sit in the chair. That way your there with her, but not holding her. Sometimes it's just being there that counts. Good luck. :)

Hi K.,

I was a "rocker mom" myself....and loved every minute of it until I realized it was going on too long, and I need to change our routine :o)

I continued rocking and TALKING to my son (quietly) so he wouldn't fall asleep so fast :O) I rocked for a little bit until I could feel his body "relaxed". Then I put him in his bed and ACTED like I was gong to get in with him. Then I would say, "oh shoot! Mommy forgot the close the refridgerator, I'll be right back". I did this about 10 times the first 2 nights, then layed down with him if he wasn't asleep. I made sure to come RIGHT back the first few times in order to gain his "trust". But after the first 2-3 nights, I took a little longer to come back. Then a few nights later, a little bit longer....until eventually he fell asleep waiting for me :o) I had to come with all sorts of "little white lies".....rotating laundry, forgot to feed the dog, I forgot to clean the favorite sippy cup, whatever I could think of :O)

I don't know if you want to be a "sneaky mom", but tricks like that STILL keep the Peace in my home :o)

~N. :O)

I don't believe in CIO but I was able to train my toddler to lay in his bed and put himself to sleep at night. We started when he was not quite 2. We would put him in his bed after the regular bedtime routine and tell him that if he could be good & quiet for 1 minute, we would bring him a raisin (his favorite treat). If he cried or yelled, I would appear at the door and tell him he couldn't have his raisin unless he was quiet. So after 1 minute of being quiet he'd get a raisin. Then it was a fun game! We started waiting longer and longer between raisins until he finally fell asleep waiting for the next one. It was a little up & down, where some nights he would be really upset and I'd still have to nurse him to sleep after playing the raisin game for a while. But we kept at it, and after a few weeks he could put himself to sleep almost every night. It's been 3 months and he still sometimes asks for a treat at bedtime, but most nights he just goes right to sleep.

I got this method from a Dr. Sears book and I was so glad it worked! Otherwise I would still be nursing and rocking for 45 minutes every night. Good luck to you!

I agree with Andrea about rocking our children to sleep feeling right, but I'm with you. Being almost 6 months pregnant, it's hard to lay a sleeping toddler in his bed without my belly getting in the way, back pain, etc.

I started with naptimes and told him that he didn't have to sleep, but he DID need to lay down and rest (I called it "rest time" instead of "naptime" too). He was falling asleep on his own fairly quickly, so I started just laying him in his crib at bedtime, too. We still have our nights where he wants to be rocked, but on those nights I tell him we'll sit in the chair for 2 minutes, then he has to go to bed, whether he's asleep or not. We rock for 2 minutes, and he's actually to the point now where he'll tell me he's ready to go to bed before the 2 minutes are even up!

How quickly you go with this depends on how well she does, but be prepared for the nights when she cries because she wants to be rocked. My son was just over 2 when I started this with him (mainly because he wasn't napping), and it took about a week with nap/rest time. Bedtime was a little trickier, but overall it only took a couple weeks. Have a good routine in place, and pretty soon, she'll be anticipating everything :)

I just sat next to my daughter's bed and told her that I would stay for one song on her CD. It took a long time, but eventually she would go to sleep on her own. It will take some time, and you will have to walk her back to her room for a while (depending on how persistant she is...it took my daughter a couple of months). You just have to lead her back in to her room without engaging with her (no answering questions, no talking, etc.). Good luck!

I am currently going through the same thing with my 13 month old daughter and I am 4.5 months pregnant. I want to "break" the cycle before the 2nd baby gets here so we are starting early. There really isn't any easy way to do it except jump in with both feet. We started eight days ago and so far I give her a B grade. Here is what I did...

a) I started on the weekend ...more time, more patience
b) Started the nap time/bedtime ritual an hour earlier than usual
c) Began setting her up for "quiet time" come sit on the couch and mommy will read you a book. But insisted she lay down --not touching me. If she starts to sit up and climb in my lap --I remind her that its quiet time.
d) After 30 minutes we would move to her room and I would lay her in the crib --always reminding her its quiet time. I sit on the floor. She crys I remind her that mommy loves her and its time lay down. Up, down, Up down she goes but I don't let her stand up. Cry, Cry.
e) After 20 minutes or so I move further away but still talking to her. She will sit up and making crying noises. Eventually I make my way outside the room and that when the crying starts. I go back in about every ten minutes and check on her, hug her and say good night.

Finally after eight days I am not in the room at all. Lay her down and leave --less than 5 minutes of crying. I go check on her and if she is still up she waves and continues to lay in her bed.

I don't recommend the hard core CIO approach seemed too difficult for both us. So I made a modified version that seems to work. Now watch tonight I will catch hell and she'll cry until I bleed from the ears. Hahaha. Good luck, have faith it'll work.


What about incentives? You could use a calendar and put stickers on it every time she goes to sleep by herself. With a bigger incentive at the end of the week. Like a trip to her favorite park or a trip to the ice cream shop. Or a toy that she really wants. Or a book.

When its time for nap or night time you can remind her of what she is earning.

Hope it all works out for you. :)

I think you could probably talk with her and just be honest that you really can't rock her now because of your surgery. (It may be best not to mention the new baby in this regard.) Then give her the idea that she is helping you by being a big girl. Use some of the ideas for alternatives at bedtime that others have suggested, but let her know while you're doing it that she has an important part in the bedtime routine. Most kids this age like to feel like the 'big helper' to their moms.

I still rock my 2 year old to sleep, we talk and sing sweet songs and remember the day together. I beleive it to be the most wonderful part of having a child. Is there something wrong with it? It feels right.

What we did was tell them they had to go to bed and stay in bed, but they didn't have to go to sleep if they weren't tired. BUT they had to make ME think they were asleep. They could read quietly or listen to music. But they had to STAY IN BED and be quiet enough to fool me into thinking they were asleep.

They LOVED the idea of trying to "fool mommy". And they actually fell asleep within about 10 - 30 minutes without a huge fight about it. I checked on them at regular intervals, without them knowing of course.

Don't know if yours would fall for that or not ... but it might be something you could give a try. Good Luck.

I always hated giving up rocking them to sleep. Was a special them and me time I really loved.

We are working on this with my youngest right now, who will be 2 in a month. At nap, I still end up rocking her to sleep half the time, but at bed time we do our normal routine and then I put her in bed and sit in the rocking chair so she knows I am there. We are working toward me leaving the room before she is asleep but she shares a room with her sister and they tend to talk and try to keep each other up when I have left the room.
Good luck and please let me know how it goes!
Also, congratulations on baby #2!!

Greetings K.: I am thrilled to hear about your new little one that is coming! So many exciting things to have happen and so many changes to make in getting ready for it.
I have to tell you that I have never been able to figure out how to stop rocking my children. I have a daughter that is 34 and when she comes to visit she will sit with me and we rock and talk. The same goes for the other children and Grandchildren. I am told that I have just the right size chair because I can have a little one at my side and one in my lap and still read while we rock. But I am not about to give birth either, which limits your bending places and spaces. I have 2 ideas that we have done in our family.
Why not try getting her a childs CD that she can put the disk into and when it is nap/ bed time only she gets to listen to it. We got our 2 year old the Disney movies themes cd and she loves it. At 2 none of my children got the concept tht there was a new baby coming and we had to make room. One thing that we did was get a childs rocking chair and a new baby doll or a new bear and our little one learned to rock her/his baby to sleep then go to bed with their baby so the baby could sleep. I hope this can help somehow. God Bless Your Little Family, Nana G

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