Does rocking your infant to sleep prevent them from learning on how to sleep on their own? I have heard from a sleep specialist that if we rock our baby to sleep, (before he learns how to fall asleep on his own), that this will greatly impact his dependance on us to put him to sleep.

At times I think we should nurture these youth years and be as close to our kids as we can. They grow up so fast. And other times, I worry that if we don't teach them young, it will translate into something a bit larger, later.

We all want what is best for our kids. Is rocking them to sleep going to hurt their development in terms of sleeping down the line?

2 Answers 2


Rocking your infant to sleep will not cause harm down the line. Parents often start sleep training well after infancy. There is no critical specific time in development for this to occur, because you can start sleep training at any point if your are concerned that your child’s inability to self sooth is interrupting your life as a parent. That is really the main reason to consider sleep training.

In other words, the downside of continuing to rock your child to sleep is that you will likely have to continue rocking your child to sleep. Possibly throughout the night if your child wakes and is unable to go back to sleep.

At some point rocking will become untenable and there will need to be an adjustment anyway.

Although it is often assumed that failing to cultivate self-soothing through early sleep training leads to sleep problems as children grow, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support this.

From here:

Some parents worry sleep training could be harmful long-term. Or that not doing it could set up their kids for problems later on.

The science doesn't support either of these fears, says Dr. Harriet Hiscock, a pediatrician at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, who has authored some of the best studies on the topic.

In the study, families were either taught a gentle sleep training method or given regular pediatric care. Then Hiscock and colleagues checked up on the families five years later to see if the sleep training had any detrimental effects on the children's emotional health or their relationship with their parents. The researchers also measured the children's stress levels and accessed their sleep habits.

In the end, Hiscock and her colleagues couldn't find any long-term difference between the children who had been sleep trained as babies and those who hadn't. "We concluded that there were no harmful effects on children's behavior, sleep, or the parent-child relationship," Hiscock says.

In other words, the gentle sleep training didn't make a lick of difference — bad or good — by the time kids reached about age 6. For this reason, Hiscock says parents shouldn't feel pressure to sleep train, or not to sleep train a baby.

As an aside, even if you are considering sleep training, experts generally do not recommend starting before 4 months (some say up to 6 months) so if your infant is under that age, you would want to wait anyway.


Based on my experience with both of my boys (now ages 7 and 3), rocking them to sleep did not impact their ability to self soothe or sleep on their own. There's a difference between rocking them to sleep and holding them while they are sleeping. I often did the former, and I think it's super important in terms of building a bond and helping the child to feel safe, especially in the early months. The key is to ensure that once they are sleeping by themselves. In my experience, it's not so much rocking them to sleep as it is holding them while they are sleeping that can impact them down the line, because they will get used to being held and you'll never get anything done! lol

As parents, especially new parents, we tend to worry (sometimes obsess over) whether or not we are doing the right thing or the best thing for our child(ren). We have to give ourselves grace and also trust our gut. Rock your baby if you feel like you need to. Sometimes it is exactly for the reason you shared in your post, because you're treasuring the moments before they slip away. That's okay. When the time comes, your child will adjust sleeping by themselves. There may be some trial and error, just like with anything else, so don't be afraid to nurture these moments. :)

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