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Why rocking your toddler to sleep isn't working

How to transition away from rocking to sleep, the facts behind independent sleep

A mom rocking a toddler to sleep

Why stop rocking to sleep if it used to work?

Does this sound familiar: “my child will only fall asleep if my husband or I hold and rock him to sleep. He falls asleep within 30-60 minutes, but then wakes up as soon as we transfer him to his bed.

We have to do the same for naps. If I don’t hold him then he might sleep for 30 minutes. If I do hold him he can nap up to 1-2 hours!

But then there’s the middle of the nights. He will wake up every couple of hours and we are EXHAUSTED. My husband keeps falling asleep in his room, waking up hours later with a sore back, and as soon as he walks out our son pops up again.

HELP! What are we missing and what is the solution?!”


In all honesty, independent sleep is the solution to so many of the sleep struggles (the endless rocking, failed transfers, short naps, multiple night wakings, etc).

If your child is comfortable and confident in falling asleep on their own, then they are more likely to be able to put themself back to sleep when they naturally transition (and possibly wake up) to the next sleep cycle.

When a toddler relies solely on someone else rocking them to sleep, they begin to associate the act of rocking with the act of sleeping. If the toddler falls asleep when rocked, then they will need to be rocked back to sleep WHEN they wake up in the middle of the night. Why am I so confident that they will wake up during the night? Because they will not know HOW to fall back asleep when they transition to the next sleep cycle.


You can start by trying these 4 steps to transition away from rocking your toddler to sleep:

Tip #1 - Hold and rock your toddler during the bedtime routine

You don't have to completely stop rocking your child! Toddlers NEED all the snuggles. By moving the snuggles to the beginning of the routine, you are beginning to transition away from rocking to sleep, as long as there is a step between the rocking and sleeping. What step could that be? Check out my blog post about the importance of including songs in your child's bedtime routine.

Tip #2 - Have a consistent bedtime routine

All the studies and research show that a solid and consistent bedtime routine is what makes the biggest difference for a successful bedtime. No matter the sleep issue, the number one tip is a consistent routine so that your child knows what to expect. When your child knows what comes next, they are more inclined to follow suit since structure provides kids with security.

According to the, “When you gradually reduce settling help, babies and toddlers are more likely to settle easily and fall asleep sooner.”

Tip #3 - Come up with a gradual plan to put your toddler to sleep without rocking

You can go as fast or slow as you and your toddler would like. Remember that progress is progress. If it feels right and you are confident, then keep on chugging along!

Tip #4 - Implement and enforce!

The key is consistency. If you need personalized guidance to help you reach your child's sleep goals, click the link below!

Why Toddler Sleep Consultants Are Life Changing

You can research the different sleep training methods and try to figure out which one will be best for your child. Then you will need to figure out how fast or slow to implement. And what if it seems to not be working? There are so many “what if” questions when implementing anything new. With the gentle guidance and support of a toddler sleep consultant, you will have all of these questions and more answered. Every toddler and family is different, so your plan and support should be tailored specifically to you.

That’s where Anna with @happylittleonesllc comes in! When we work together, it’s my goal to help you reach your ideal vision of sleep in a gentle and gradual way, so that your family is sleeping peacefully in as little as 1-3 weeks.

Ready to be the next HLO Sleep Success Story, so your family is getting the sleep they deserve? Enroll in my Toddler Sleep Solutions Program TODAY.


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