One of the things that your unborn baby does respond to is movement, so during the day it is constantly being rocked as you move about. At night when you are resting or lying down, that will not happen so much, so perhaps the baby is not being rocked to sleep.

This made me wonder that do we really need some kind of cradle for the newborn? Does it actually help in making the baby sleep?

Is it possible to make the baby sleep without purchasing any cradle? If yes, how?

P.S. Cultural difference:
Infants/toddlers are not allowed to sleep separately from parents, no question of even letting them sleep in a separate room.

  • Soft rocking certainly helps a child sleep, but it's by no means a requirement.
    – DA01
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 1:39
  • In Finland, it is common for babies to sleep in cardboard boxes. So a cradle is not 'really' needed. mindfood.com/… Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 10:54

2 Answers 2


In his popular book The Happiest Baby on the Block, pediatrician Harvey Karp lists 5 "s"-es that help calm fussy babies as they adjust to life outside of the womb:

  1. Swaddle tightly
  2. Being placed on the stomach (not recommended for sleep due to the connection between back sleeping and a decline in the SIDS rate)
  3. Swing/sway (this is where the cradle comes in)
  4. Shush (some people make a shushing noise themselves, others use fans, dryers, hair dryers, or a white noise track)
  5. Suck while nursing or on a pacifier

You can get a swinging/swaying/rocking motion from many other things than a cradle. You can rock your child in your arms by swaying them back and forth. You can - and I'd watch a video of this first to make sure you get it right to avoid injuring your child - lay your child on your lap out over your extended knees and gently jiggle your child. You can sit in a rocking chair and rock your child. You can use a swing. You can use a bouncy seat. You can use a cradle.

At the end of the day, though, all forms of "motion sleep" are something that your child will need to be weaned off of. During the newborn phase you have to do whatever you have to do (that is safe for you and your baby) to get sleep for the whole household. However if you have a child who is content sleeping in a crib or other still, flat surface you should embrace this. It is one less transition you will need to make later. But if your child hates sleeping in this way, then a swing, inclined sleep surface such as a Fisher Price Rock 'n' Play, or a cradle may be helpful.


Being rocked will help many babies sleep, but it certainly isn't necessary for all babies. The warmth and comfort of close proximity is enough for some (most?) babies. Anecdotally, my son easily fell asleep so long as someone was holding him, regardless of whether we were rocking or not.

Rocking, however, is a definite help when the infant is being fussy, and/or actively resisting sleep. It's still not the only option, of course. Swaddling can be just as effective for many kids, and there are methods of carrying and rocking an infant that can work wonders without the need for a crib or rocking chair.

Note that, cultural differences notwithstanding, co-sleeping (having the infant sleep in the same bed as one or more parents) is not recommended, due to a demonstrated increase of risk of suffocation or SIDS.

However, having the baby sleep in the same room, in a separate crib, cot, or bassinet is recommended.

Side-car cribs that attach to your bed are another possibility, although the safety/risks of these does not seem to have been sufficiently researched, and organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics don't recommend their use.

  • here are methods of carrying and rocking an infant that can work wonders without the need for a crib or rocking chair. What are those methods? Secondly, what's the duration of age for which swaddling and rocking is necessary? Commented May 31, 2013 at 4:51
  • @user462608 From what I remember, there are at least a few different methods. We were given a couple of books and videos that described them, but never actually needed to use them (my son was pretty easy-going as an infant). I did a quick youtube search, but there's just too much noise (unrelated videos that match my search terms). I'll see if I can find some later. As for "what's the duration of age for which swaddling and rocking is necessary?" No age. They're not necessary if you can find alternatives that work for you, and how long you use them depends entirely upon your child.
    – user420
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 11:33

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