Express Sleep Plan

Sleep Associations – Is Rocking Your Baby Harmful?

Is it a bad idea to rock your baby? It depends. It is never a bad idea to cuddle your baby and give him/her lots of love and affection! It’s only when rocking your baby becomes something you can’t keep up with is it a problem. Let’s take a step back and let me explain what a sleep association is.

What is your sleep association? How do you fall asleep?

What kind of routine do you do before you go to sleep each night? Do you watch TV? Talk to your partner? Do you read a book? Do you sleep on a pillow? These are the types of things you associate with going to sleep each night. What would happen if your power was out and you couldn’t watch the news or read your book? Would you have trouble falling asleep? Perhaps. Or, perhaps not. Would you have trouble going to sleep without your pillow? That might be more likely to give you trouble. Some sleep associations are stronger than others. What if you went to sleep with your pillow and covers and 2 hours later woke up and they were gone? Would you be able to go back to sleep without looking for the pillow? Now let’s look at how this concept might affect your baby/child.

What is your child’s sleep association? How does your child fall asleep?

Let’s look at how many babies fall asleep. They might fall asleep while their mother or father is rocking them in a rocking chair, bundled up and very cozy in their parent’s arms. Or, they may fall asleep sucking on a bottle of breastmilk/formula. Or, perhaps they doze off with the simple use of a pacifier. Minus the teeth issue with breastmilk/formula later on, there isn’t a problem with any of these methods of falling asleep until it is a problem.

From the time my son was an itty bitty baby, he loved to be walked, rocked and nursed to sleep. He also loved napping in the moving swing. At first this was not a problem. He would fall asleep quickly and we’d put him down. But, several weeks later, I found myself rocking him for 2-3 hours each night to put him to bed. He’d fall asleep easily, but then when I put him down he’d wake up! Ah! And, then I’d need to repeat it every 1-2 hours when he woke up. It was exhausting and I was at the end of my rope! So, we took to co-sleeping, which got us both more sleep, yet I was so nervous I’d roll on top of him or my husband or I would cover him with blankets. I’m not the best sleeper, so every time he’d want to nurse, I’d have trouble going back to sleep (and I never got good and switching sides without actually switching sides either). Co-sleeping works for many and I’m not knocking it. It just didn’t work for us and it is important for every family to learn what works for them best. After learning about sleep associations I was able to transfer him back to his crib at 4 months old and we both got a LOT more sleep then!

The problem with sleep associations lies in the fact that your baby needs YOU to recreate the environment in which they fell asleep. YOU become their “pillow” and when they wake up through sleep transitions (that we ALL have!) and their pillow is gone, they don’t know how to go back to sleep. So, the key is to allow them to go to sleep the same way they will wake up periodically throughout the night. If they wake up briefly and find you gone or the movement has stopped (as with my son) or their pacifier is gone or…they will wake up more and have to call out to you so you can “help” them once again. The beauty of this is that after they get to be about 3-4 months, they really don’t “need” you as much as you might think and they can actually learn to fall asleep on their own, if they haven’t learned already up to this point.

One final thought. I want to reiterate that rocking your baby, using a pacifier, nursing or drinking a bottle before bed, etc. are not bad things to do. If you don’t mind rocking your baby for 10 minutes and (s)he falls asleep, you transfer him/her to his/her bed and (s)he sleeps all night, then there is no problem. It’s only when you can’t keep up with the (insert sleep association) that it becomes a problem. Keep in mind that your sleep fragmentation that makes you exhausted is no better for your baby than it is for you. If you are cranky, don’t you think (s)he will be too over time? I would have LOVED to rock my son and boy did I try (unintentionally — just in my nature). We slipped back into bad habits more times than I wanted to count, but it just became a hitch for him EVERY time. In the end, I was able to continue to nurse him to sleep once he learned the necessary skills to go BACK to sleep throughout the rest of the night. With opportunity and practice we can all learn a new way to sleep, even without a pillow!

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. Or, join our Members Area packed with premium content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations.

What kind of sleep associations do you have? What about your child?


  1. Rose says

    Great writing Nicole! :) I loved the pillow Analogy.

  2. says

    @Rose Thank you! The pillow sleep association is in other books, but one day it seemed to occur to me that *I* was my son’s “pillow”. It made it make a lot more sense to me. :p

  3. Janine says

    This helped me understand WHY my baby wakes up frequently and cannot fall back to sleep. Holw can I learn HOW to correct it? What should I do now that we have this ‘bad habit’?

  4. says

    @Janine You might check out some of my other articles on this site (See Featured Blog Posts in my sidebar) or my e-Book which is a step-by-step guide on how to break sleep associations and helping your baby sleep. Click on “Resources” on my menu and choose “Detailed (Step-by-Step) Guide”.

    Thank you for pointing out this article does not give additional links on where to go next. I’ll get that updated.

  5. Gigi says

    this was a good article…i’m right now with my 1 month baby and i do rock him for a couple of mins…but than he wakes up when i put him in his crib…But he’ll fall asleep on his own if I don’t pay attention. The pacifier works also..but whenever he realizes that he dropped it he wakes up crying. I think that the best way to make him through the night is to give him pumped milk through a bottle without picking him up just to burp him. And breast feed through the day. During the day my baby usually falls asleep looking at me.

  6. says

    @Gigi Thank you for commenting! Just so you know, I successfully breastfed my 2 boys at night until I night-weaned around 9 months old and didn’t have to give a bottle. It is possible to do both but still have them sleep. The pacifier is just another sleep association instead of rocking. The trick is not to replace one sleep association for another and even a bottle can become one. Good luck!

  7. Gina says

    Thanks Nicole for this article. This hit home in ways you can’t imagine. My first baby was such an easy sleeper, and we could put him down wide awake from the get go and he put himself to sleep, even sleeping through the night at 7 weeks old. My daughter, now 12 weeks, is a completely different baby, and though we tried to put her down “drowsy but awake” at the beginning, she put up a fuss, and I found myself picking her up and rocking her to sleep. At 8 weeks old she was falling asleep on her own and sleeping 8-10 hours a night, but suddenly one day it all went downhill FAST. And now if I put her down in her crib drowsy, she’s up crying 5, 15, 30 min later, and some nights it takes 3 hours before she’s down for good. I’ve been racking my brain wondering what went wrong, and after reading this, I realize she’s suffering from a sleep association. Is it too late to break her of this? She’s not 4 months, so it’s still too early for sleep training, yet we can’t continue in this way. What do you recommend for the “in between” age?

  8. says

    @Gina Your story sounds just like mine taking 3 hours to put baby to bed! You can work with her on trying to fall asleep on her own, staying with her while she is upset. It will depend on her personality and temperament how successful you will be, at this age, though. Hang in there!

  9. Rebecca says

    Thanks for the great article! My 5 month old definately has a sleep association problem! She always ‘needed’ to be rocked to sleep as a newborn and at 3 1/2 months I finally got her to self settle! All was great for about 3 weeks (she was only waking once in the night and going straigt back to sleep after a feed)and then she learnt to roll. Now she rolls over in her sleep and wakes up and can’t get back – even if we roll her back she then can’t settle again without a feed. THis has been happening every 2-3 hours all night every night now and I can’t break it! If I leave her to self sooth like she used to she just rolls over like its a game and then can’t sleep! Any ideas for rolling bubs??

  10. says

    @Rebecca This is usually a temporary problem until they can control the rolling. It is recommended for them to continue to sleep on their back to reduce the chance of SIDS, but some people help them learn to self-sooth on their tummies once they start rolling. Otherwise, it will probably be over in a week or two, if it’s not already by the time I answered this and you read it. :) Good luck!

  11. Rebecca says

    Thanks Nic – you were right! After 2 totally sleepless weeks my ‘rolling bub’ has learnt to sooth herself on her tummy. She now refuses to sleep any other way and will roll striaght to her tummy and go to sleep when put in her cot – so we just check her regularly and have our monitor on! Thanks for your reassurance!!

  12. says

    @Rebecca You’re very welcome! I’m glad it was a “short” 2 weeks for you. :) Once my son went to his tummy, he didn’t go back either and slept so much better that way!

  13. Zena says

    Finding this site today was the most eye-opening of all sites I’ve read in the past couple of days! My daughter is 7 mo old and she MOST DEFINITELY has a sleep association. I know exactly what I have been doing wrong (which is breastfeeding her to bed at night) and I have no clue how to fix this! Please HELP me! As soon as I put her down into her crib she wakes up crying and if she doesn’t as soon as I put her down, she does after 1/2 hr max! And if I don’t pick her up (bc I want her to cry it out and maybe she’ll cry herself to sleep) she scream cries! I can’t hear her like that. What do I DO!??

  14. Adi says

    Zena– I have the same dilemma (to put it lightly) with my almost-10-month-old. He nurses to sleep (naps and at night) and wakes every 3 hrs. to eat. I co-sleep because I was going batty from having to stay in the room with him for HOURS because he’d woken up when I tried to transfer him to the crib and had to re-feed him (his sleep association) to get him sleeping again. When I transferred him to the crib he’d cry till he’s gagging and about to throw up; face, pj’s and sheet soaked with tears and there’s no way my husband and I can go through the pain of hearing him like we go around like wrecks throughout the day because of lack of sleep. Help. Help. Help

  15. says

    @Zena I’m so glad you found the site and it’s helpful to you! The key to changing sleep associations is to help your baby fall asleep in the same environment she falls asleep in at night, so when she wakes periodically she can go right back to sleep. The whole site and books are dedicating to helping you find the method that best suits you and your baby. I am also available for a personalized plan of action for you and your family, too. Good luck!

  16. says

    @Adi I remember those days. :( I hope you can find a method that suits your son’s personality. There are many methods to choose from. Good luck!

  17. Rachel says

    Nicole…Do you consider swaddling a sleep association? My almost 5 month old naps really well and had been sleeping 8pm-6am no problem..but in the past week hes breaking out of his swaddle and his hands are flailing in his face. I’ve tried just one arm swaddled and it really hasn’t worked either.

  18. Kelly says

    Our issues sound just like Zena’s and Adi’s. My daughter is just shy of 4 months. She has a nursing association and the problem is that it takes 1.5-2 hours of nursing to get her back to sleep during the night. This was not such a big deal when she was sleeping anywhere from 5 to 9 hours as her first sleep “chunk” of the night. But now she is waking after an hour of going to sleep and doesn’t sleep for more than an hour and a half or so without waking again (and the process repeats). It is like night time has become a series of naps with no long stretch and there is possibly more nursing than sleeping going on. I am not sleeping at all because I don’t fall back asleep very easily either!

    Is she old enough to start sleep training using your methods? I don’t know what your methods are yet but I’m considering downloading the book. I am desperate to stop the association but I know that she will cry for hours if I put her down awake – it has happened. Once we let her cry through the night without going to her. She cried for an hour and a half each time and barely slept. It was awful and we felt it was cruel and wrong and the result was that nobody slept so I went back to the all night nursing. I cannot keep doing this – I am exhausted beyond words and need to start working soon so I will need my sleep – and so does she!

  19. Kimberly says

    Hi Kelly,
    I would highly recommend downloading the book if you haven’t already as it can help you get on the road to establishing good sleep patterns. At 4 months old, she’s still pretty young and will need feedings during the night, but certainly, it would be helpful for there to less feedings or for it take less time to get her back down with longer stretches of sleep in between. I’d also recommend you check out this post on 4 month old schedules and try to work on getting her on a good day time schedule as daytime sleep (or lack of it) can affect the nighttime sleep. You might also consider seeking personalized sleep consultations from Nicole for a strategy specific to your family and your situation.

  20. jmt says

    Thank you for your insight! I’m struggling with getting my 6 month old to sleep with my having to nurse him to sleep. We have been co-sleeping so that I can get the rest I need but we are wanting to transfer him to his crib. Like you said, as soon as I lay him down, he wakes and cries. And if I’m lucky enough that he doesn’t “catch” me sneaking out, he wakes up within a few hours wanting me to nurse him back to sleep. I’m his “pacifier” and although I love him, I NEED A BREAK! :)

  21. Kimberly says

    Glad you found it helpful. It does sound like there are some sleep associations that you’ll need work on breaking with him when you’re ready to start some sleep training. I’d recommend checking out this post as a place to start: or consider buying Nicole’s e-book at It covers exactly how work on helping your little guy learn to fall asleep and get back to sleep on his own without you. Wishing you and your baby good sleep soon!

  22. Cassie says

    My son is 5 1/2 months. He has no trouble falling asleep, but wakes up a ton during the night. He is in his room and I breastfeed/at sitter w/ pumped milk during the day. He was sleeping 5-6 hour chunks until he hit the 3.5 month mark and now I feel I nurse him more frequently at night then during the day. He eats every 3 hours at night (every 3-4 during the day). I can occassionally give him his paci, pat him and sshhh him and he will go back to sleep, but then will wake again 15-30 min later just to get him back down again. I tried CIO and he will cry for as long as I let him until I give in a feed him (have let him cry for up to 2 hrs for a few consecutive nights). I know he still may need to eat once at night, no problem there, but EVERY 3 hours is exhausting. Again, I can stretch that out occassionally, but that means I am up every 15-30 min to get him back to sleep temporarily where as if I just feed him I know I will get another 2.5 hrs before he wakes again. Everything I have read speaks of trouble falling asleep. He will go down wide awake with no fussing, but the waking ‘to eat’ is our issue. Thoughts/comments?! Thanks!

  23. Kimberly says

    Hi Cassie,
    My first thoughts are about how much is he eating and sleeping during the day. Too little of either sleep or food can affect his nighttime sleep. At this age he will still need a couple of feedings at night as 10-12 without eating would most likely be too long for a baby this age. As a first step, I’d take a look at this post about schedules for a 6 month old and compare it with yours to see if you can identify where he may need an additional feeding or where he might not be getting enough nap time. You don’t mention if he’s eating solids yet so that could factor in as well. I’d also recommend contacting Nicole for some specialized sleep consultation. She can help create a plan that specific to your situation and that fits with your family philosophy.

  24. Cassie says

    Thanks so much for your response. Coulter began solids at 5 months, eats 3 meals a day (1/2 to 1 stage 1 container each meal). He generally eats 10 oz of breastmilk a day (during the week) via bottle and nurses twice at night before bed and in the morning before the sitter. Then there are the dreaded 3 nursing sessions at night! His schedule is a lot like the 7 month schedule 1 with the staggered feedings. He has two solid naps (1-2 hrs each) then a late afternoon catnap (30 min). Maybe I am expecting too much from him since I have friends with younger babies sleeping better and because my pedi and other sites and resources say he should be sleeping ‘through the night’ at this point. Also, my daughter (now 3) was a horrible sleeper as well, but she is my ‘spirited’ child. He is a lot more laid back, so I hoped for more sleep this go round. Again, thank you and I will consult with Nicole!

  25. rachel says

    My 9 month old has always slept only about 4-5 hours before waking up to breastfeed. She had acid reflux until she was about 6 months so she could only eat small amounts. I was ok with this up until now but it seems like I am just getting more and more tired from waking 2/3 times a night and can not keep up with her and my three year old during the day. Not to mention trying to keep up with my part time business. At this point I have tried the self soothing (all she does is scream until she gets what she wants, breast) and having my husband try to rock her, putting her down awake and letting her fall asleep, all this does not change the fact she still wakes up. It seems she will do this until I stop breast feeding? I am starting to give her bottles/formula during the day to get her used to other ways of eating but she does not like to take it from me! Help!

  26. Kimberly says

    Hi Rachel,
    Typically at this age, a baby can go all night without a feeding. If you read through this post (, you’ll see that it’s right about at this age that Nicole recommend considering giving night weaning a try. A 9 month might still need one feeding to get through the night depending on how much she’s eating during the day but that can be from a bottle. Other considerations here are whether or not she has learned to be able to fall asleep on her own and/or to go back to sleep on her own. If she’s solely relying on breastfeeding to go to sleep and to fall asleep and her wakings are not just about feeding. I’d recommend that you also check out some of the Nicole’s one on one email consultation services as she can often help quite a bit in just one or two emails. You can find more information here about those services:

  27. Dana says

    My son (who’s 6 1/2 months old) will ONLY nap in his swing (or his car seat). He protests his crib for naps (and I mean screams), but goes down (fairly) easy for night time. How do I break him of this habit and how do I set a nap schedule?! It sure would make my days a little easier having some type of a schedule! Any suggestions?

  28. Kimberly says

    Dana- I would really suggest that you check out Nicole’s e-book, Mastering Naps and Schedules. She covers all things related to better napping and getting your baby on a good daytime/nap schedule. You can find more about the book here:

  29. Amanda says

    I think reading all these posts made me feel worse….. None of these babies have anything to worry about…

    Jacks Routine:

    9am: Feed

    11am cereal+ 60mls milk and fruit

    12 pm or1pm Bottle and sleep/nap till 2pm

    3.30 Fruit yogurt biscuits

    5:40 pm Bath

    Even if I dont bath him he still want to sleep…. So i have a shower while he is in bath… otherwise I wouldnt get one because he is awake the rest of the time….

    6;00pm sleep
    If I ignore his sleep he will scream and fall asleep on the floor… he go to sleep 9 30 then be up half hour later and be up till 4 or sleep till 3 and wont go back to sleep….

    8:30pm awake

    9;30 Dinner

    sleep/bottle at 12pm or 1pm —- Every night…….. EVERY NIGHT!!!!!

    I do not want to say poor me… but honestly it seems I am the only one that has this possum sleep …. Cutting out sleep doesnt work…. So what am I to do ? —- I get upset sometimes when mum brag about their child sleeping but then I look at their child development and think well yes but your child isnt advanced so you dont know what is like to have such an active, alert and constantly on the go child………( I do not mean my comment in a way that lowers the other child or I think Jack is better at all…. all child are different but it seems sometimes I am the only one that knows this?)

    Should I be concerned…

    Jack has been standing since 7 months and fully walking now… His fine motor and gross motor skill are 2 months ahead…. I just think this has something to do with his sleep… Being smart means sleep sleep ?

  30. Amanda says

    Dana I wouldnt be concerned….. I would co-sleep with Jack because when he was born the Dr broke his colar bone when he was delivered by a c-section ( and he only sleep if I held him slightly or in his rocker) To promote the cot I put the side down and would transfer him to his cot when he feel asleep…. after he was calm and happy the side went up and I places him in a sling and rocked him to sleep…… and put him in Now Jack sleeps in his cot… No worries… he just doesnt sleep very much as you can see on the precious post…. If you ever need support I will try my best to help…

  31. Jenn Focke says

    This is my first and I have twins. But one of my 4 month old’s is not doing well at night. We eat at 730pm and we put him/them down awake. He falls asleep fine and then wakes about 130am to eat a full feeding. But then he ALWAYS wakes up again either at 3:30 am or 5:30 am. – we try not to pick him up but even after patting his back, feeding (usually 2oz) and even a paci he often drifts in and out of sleep with bouts of crying and then we repeat the back rub and paci… after a few cycles that take about an hour-1.5 hours i finally crater and just bring him into the bed with me where he falls right to sleep and sleeps until 730am!

    Do we need to just let him cry it out at 3:30 or 5:30?

  32. Cam says

    I think my problem is similar to a few posts but was hoping you could give me some insight. My son is 7 months old and typically eats before going to bed but doesnt fall asleep while eating. I’ll put him in his crib with the pacifier and then he falls asleep watching the mobile. He has never slept through the night. He wakes up atleast twice to eat and sometimes I think because he is startled or wants the pacifier. I’ve read about the cry it out method but I’m just not sure if that’s what I should try or if so, exactly how. I’ve also heard that he doesn’t need to eat in the middle of the night-it’s just habit. When he does eat at night, it’s usually 6-7 ounces so I feel like he’s really hungry. I don’t mind getting up if he really needs the milk but it seems like everyone I talk to their babies sleep atleast 6-7 hours at one time. I’m afraid Luke isn’t getting enough good sleep in a row and I’m pretty exhausted too. Any suggestions?

  33. Nikki says

    My problem is similar to Jenn’s. I feed my 4 month old boy about 7.30pm and put him down to bed awake and he settles himself quickly. He then wakes up between 3am and 4am when we do a nappy change and feed and then he goes back down again until about 8.30am. However over the last few nights he has woken up at 1am and 5am. I’m wondering if i should be feeding him again or whether i should let him cry it out so he drifts back off to sleep?! I don’t want him getting into the habit of thinking he gets a feed everytime he wakes in the night? What would you recommend?

  34. carmelite says

    My 4 month old was sleeping a 6-8 hour stretch at night two weeks ago, but that first stretch of the night dropped to just 5 hours, then 4 hours, then 3, and now he only goes 1 or 2 before the waking begins. He then wakes up every 1/2 to 2 hours throughout the night. He has never napped well. He has always had difficulty pooping, since birth (cries, squirms, screams and has lots of gas, won’t poop unless held in specific positions), and I think this was often a factor in making him a poor napper b/c he would wake for every fart, and would cry for hours trying to poop, bypassing any chance of a nap. Between 6 and 10 weeks he pretty much cried all the time that he was awake. He always slept well at night though, and never pooped at night until recently. Now, in addition to all of the awakenings to eat at night, he gets up between 2:30am and 4:00am every night to poop, which is an hour long process for him.

    He has always fallen asleep either breast feeding, being rocked, or in his swing, and is almost always swaddled.

    Needless to say, I am dangerously exhausted these days, and he is pretty cranky too.

    Do you think the change in nighttime sleep patterns is due to an association problem? I am so paranoid that he is having more gastrointestinal distress, or is teething, or something like that. He has been such a fussy baby but had been doing much better lately. Any change in his patterns terrifies me that he is getting worse again.

  35. Allison says

    Just wondering if everyone give their child a feeding after the nap in stead of before? My daughter is 10 1/2 months and I always give her her bottle just before I lay her down for the nap. I noticed in everyone’s schedule here though, it seems like the feeding is given after the nap. What do you suggest and why?

  36. Alexia says

    I have a 5 month old who wakes during the night, but not to eat, just for her pacifier. Sometimes she will fall back to sleep on her own but sometimes she won’t. Some night she only does this a couple of times, but other night it seems like every couple of hours. Can you help with this kind of situation?

  37. Lori says

    My 6-month-old needs a pacifier and swaddle to fall asleep. I have no idea how to break him of these. He sleeps fine from about 6:30 to 11pm or 12am. Then, he wants to be rocked. I put him down awake (sometimes wide awake), and he goes to sleep fine. However, from his first wake-up, he’s up every 2-3 hours. I nurse him twice and rock him the other times, and he’s up for good around 5am (obviously still tired). Sometimes, I can get him to go back to sleep around 6am, but not always. We are going to do some sleep training next week (my husband is taking a week off), and we are going to break him of the swaddle first. I really don’t know where to start. If I had known about sleep associations before, I definitely would have done things differently! Great article!

  38. Brandi says

    Dear Nicole,
    I am wondering if shush-pat would also be a sleep prop. I have been doing controlled crying for 5 days now with our 4.5 month old and the success is very patchy. The shush pat seems to be working for getting him past the cranky stage (while lying in his crib) and also often works to extend naps as he wakes at the 30-35 minute mark every nap.

    But is this too a prop? Am I hindering his self-soothe development? And will have to end up doing CIO anyway?

  39. Leona says

    Hi everyone,

    My nine month old boy has sleep associations created by us :(

    He used to fall asleep after his bottle and we would put him into his crib not fully asleep but with his eyes closed. If he woke it was only once and we would feeb him and he would sleep through after. Then we went home to Ireland on a trip and things are terrible since. We have stoped the bottle but the screaming and screaming when he wakes is awful and we have to rock him for a minimum of an hour before he goes back down (this will be after several attempts).

    He uses a bottle for his naps too and since we came home he will not take an afternoon nap. The thing is that he CAN sleep through and does it sometimes and also he CAN put himself back to sleep after he wakes.

    I think he is teething but he is always teething and I’m not sure that can always be the reason.

    Any help in busting the bottle and rocking associations and also general help is appreciated. We are slowly going mad.


  40. Debbye says

    @ Allison- One reason that many people choose to give their baby a meal upon waking instead of before sleep is to not create any “sleep associations” with feedings. By feeding when a baby wakes up, you can be certain that he/she is not falling asleep eating and therefore can learn to fall asleep on his/her own, or at least not have a habit of needing to eat to fall asleep! Of course, this is NOT a rule… Many people feed before sleep, and that is just great! It’s most important to find and do what works for you!

    @ Alexia- I am sure you’ve heard the adage “It’s not a problem till it’s a problem.” That would be true in the case of pacifier use for sleep too. If it has become a problem, then you will want to wean her form the pacifier at night. There is no magic cure, unfortunately, but your daughter is young enough that it should not take too long for her to learn and adjust to sleeping without it. The first few days are generally the roughest, just like any sleep training. If you’d like more personalized help, you can read about all of our sleep consulting services here:
    Best of luck!!!

    @ Lori- Good luck with the sleep training! You can tackle one thing at a time, or everything at once. That is up to you and your husband. You mentioned removing the swaddle first… You can slowly take the swaddle away by basically unwrapping one boday part at a time until he is no longer swaddled. Wrap him with one arm out for a night or two, then both arms, then legs. Otherwise, you know that he needs to learn how to fall asleep on his own, and you sound pretty ready. If you haven’t chosen a method yet, here is a link to a series of articles that may be helpful:
    Remember to try and stay consistent, and that the first days will be the roughest!
    Good luck!!!

    @ Brandi- Yes, sshhing and patting can become a sleep prop, but no, that does not mean that you will HAVE to do CIO. Sometimes the sshhing and patting works great and does not become a sleep association, but on the other hand, for some babies it does hinder sleep. Think of it as just a step in the process. Once your baby is used to falling asleep without the original association you were trying to break, and napping longer with the patting, you can begin to pull back on the sshhing and patting. Your instincts will tell you too. Your baby is on the young side, and sometimes babies simply need more time to learn to sleep!
    Good luck!!!

    @ Leona- I am sorry you guys are having such a hard time! It is a good sign though that he CAN sleep through sometimes! This age can be a hard one for babies sleep. Here is a link to an article about this “sleep regression.”
    Whether a bottle association, rocking, or otherwise, you will basically treat them all the same, and may want to begin some sleep training to help him get to sleep and back to sleep on his own. Most importantly, be sure he is on a good schedule for his age, ( ) choose a game plan, and be consistent. Hopefully things will smooth out soon!


  1. […] “Sleep association” are also known as “sleep props” or “crutches.” This means your baby has a specific item or way that they have been conditioned to believe they need in order to be able to fall asleep. For many babies, this will be a pacifier, bottle feeding or breastfeeding to sleep. For other babies, this may be some movement such as rocking, bouncing, walking or a ride in the car. Some higer needs babies will come to rely on a combination of sleep crutches such as bouncing with a pacifier. […]