We have a two month old. We are big believers of using the 5 S's to sooth her ( swaddling, side, shush, swing , suck ) We usually swing/rock her in our arms. Recently we started to use the swinger seat because she's getting heavier and it's getting harder to hold her for long periods of tme while rocking her.

My big question is if we rock her to soothe her or to get her to sleep, will she be dependent on the rocking/swinging motion so much that she'll still need this when she gets older?

Eventually she will not fit in the rocker and will also be too heavy for us to rock her in our arms.

7 Answers 7


Short answer: No, rocking your child is fine.

Long answer: no, you can't really "overly rock" a child, but it can lead to the child learning to depend on it. If you don't make sure that you're putting the child down to actually fall asleep without rocking. Basically, if you don't put the baby down before the baby falls asleep, so that the child can fall asleep without you, then that can lead to those annoying, "My child won't sleep without me" problems.

This is actually true of everything you do for your child, make sure that she has to fall asleep on her own for a good portion of the time, it is OK to let them get to the "mostly asleep" state with help (that's a good thing), but if you let the baby fall asleep "with help" too often (and before you stop helping), it can be a headache (I've seen it with others' kids).


I don't think you should worry about this - everyone I have ever met who has kids rocks them. As they get heavier this rocking moves from in the arms to the rocker and eventually it peters out. I think this is a natural phase - they are continually rocked in the womb, so they have to be weaned off it.

One of ours did like to be rocked when she was too big, so for a short while we used to shoogle* her a bit when she was in her cot, by pushing her from side to side. But this got less and less until she didn't want it any more.

(*translation from the Scottish - gently shake)

  • Good point about rocking in the womb. Dr. Karp (author of the Happiest Baby on the Block book and developer of the 5 S's method the OP mentioned) even mentions this in his books and videos. Imagine getting used to this rocking for 9 months and then suddenly you're born into a whole new world with much less rocking. Even if you were rocked for hours a day, it would be a cut back from what you're used to! Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 17:45

Unfortunately, they grow out of it. The swaddling is the first to go as they start crawling and want their hands free. Then around the time they are walking and able to climb on and off your lap, they start squirming too much for rocking to be relaxing, unless they are sick or otherwise exhausted. Enjoy it while you can.

As for the heaviness issue, you just need to change the way you hold her so her weight is either higher up on your shoulder, on your lap, or on the armrest of a chair. I like to seat them on my left leg with their legs sticking out, then they bend forward and lay their head on my left arm, and I rest my hand on my leg. People think it looks funny, but it's very comfortable for long periods of time, for both of us, because all the weight is supported by my leg.


You can't spoil an infant. As the child grows she should be sleeping more and more on her own, maybe fussing a bit, but not crying. As long as that starts around 6-7 months I think you should be fine.


Rocking = comforting = that should be something we parents can always try to give.

With our kids, bouncing/rocking was a part of it, later moving towards back rubs. When they were 1 year old or so, yes, there were nights I loathed having to lie there for 20 minutes rubbing their back waiting for them to go to sleep. But, of course, now that they are older, I miss those times and the kids seem no worse for the wear (nor demanding backrubs).


I have noticed in my 10 years of practice that as long as you change the association before it gets too ingrained then the child will adapt within a few days to a new way. I would suggest changing the habit in the 5 to 7 month range. In the meantime enjoy your baby and do what you need to do.


I have a bit of a different opinion than the others on this. I believe that rocking like many things does in fact create an association and a dependence on it. Infancy is a time when many habits and associations are made. You just need to figure out the ones that are positive, neutral and negative based on your own values as parents.

As an example, we gave our daughter lots of fruits and vegetables when she first starting eating solids and I believe this contributed to her continuing to enjoy this nutritious food as she got older, as opposed to some of our friends who were constantly giving their children cookies, pasta and french fries with ketchup - sure enough you try to give these children broccoli or pears and they hate it.

Getting back to rocking, we did some of it early on but did not rock to sleep and instead let her fall asleep by herself in her bassinet/crib. She has now turned out to be a great sleeper.

My recommendation is, as they say, to "start how you mean to go on".

  • 1
    Not sure a comforting rocking is a fair equivalency to fast food grease.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 19:11
  • I think it's all about associations, whether it be tastes, touch, routines, sounds ...
    – Marplesoft
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 19:17

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