Weaning 7 1/2 month old baby from Rocking and Holding to Sleep

by Anne Munnelly
(Omaha, NE USA)

Question: Hi Heidi, Is it possible to wean a 7.5 months old baby from being rocked/held to sleep? Currently we walk, rock or hold our 7.5 months old little girl to sleep. She usually falls
asleep with in 10 min and stays asleep ( most of the time).

It has become the final step in our
well established bed time routine. At night she sleeps pretty good. Usually 11 hours.
She may wake up 1 or 2 times. We dont get her out of her bed. She usually goes back to sleep within in 5 min or so. If she doesnt I will go in and give her the pacifer back or pat her and she goes back. Is it safe to say she "self soothes" if she goes back to sleep?
She has a pacifer and a " lovey" bunny.

My goal would be to be able to have her go to sleep at some point awake ( drowsy) without
CRYING excessively. We tried CRY IT OUT 1 night and I gave up!. It was horrible. She cried all
all night. And most of the next the next night. Is rocking ok if she sleeps all night? Are we creating a monster who will always need
to be held, walked, rocked? I enjoy it but don't want her to be to dependent on it. I know the key to good sleep habits is " self soothing". She sleeps pretty good at night but the
naps aren't always long enough. They range from 30 min - 2 hours. When she wakes up early from a
nap I have tried to leave her alone in the hope she will go back to sleep. She will go back to sleep at night but not at naps that last under 30 min. She starts crying and cries if I check on her.
Should I leave her alone if she wakes from a nap for any length of time? I would like for her to have at least an hour nap to reap the benefits of sleep. Any suggestions?

Anne Munnelly

P.S. I love your website! It is the best I have seen on SLEEP.. and I have looked at a lot of them!

Heidi's Answer: Dear Anne, Thank you for explaining your situation so clearly and for your kind words about the site!

Yes it is possible and 7-8 months is actually a good age - when many babies can learn to self soothe rather easily. No need for crying whatsoever.

Since you do not mind the holding and rocking, and in all 10 minutes is quite quick, there is no need to rush. But simply wean gradually, but putting her down earlier, little by little. It can be as little as 30 seconds every 3 days.

You can either do this by 'feel' or use a (quiet) timer to help you be consistent. So say you start with half a minute earlier. If all goes well, keep it at this for a few days.

Then again take away half a minute. And so on.

If she fusses a bit and seems to wake, stay calm, and try with just placing you hand on her head or tummy. But if it's to no avail, pick her up and rock a bit further.

And in this way you will work towards putting down drowsy at first, then more and more awake.

Throughout the process, talk to her to help encourage, and praise her enthusistically (!) anytime she wakes after having gone down well. As little as she is, this has an important impact.

You can read about this further on the self soothing page. Or for complete dedicated guidance, you may find my "No-Tears Self Soothing" guide helpful.

Do the same at naps. To help her get to sleep longer naps more consistently, the self soothing work will help of course, try fiddling a bit with her nap schedule. Make sure they are at regular times (say within 15 minutes) each day. And shift to half an hour earlier (if she's very tired at the usual time) or later (if she's not tired at all).

It is OK to leave her for a couple of minutes if she wakes, just to give her the chance and the time to go back to sleep by herself. This can be fussing, even light crying in her sleep - but if she starts to get upset then it's better to go in. What can help is to make some noise from the corridor or so, just hearing you can be reassuring enough for her to go back to sleep.

Lastly, you might want to start working on a 'system' to keep her pacifier within her reach so she can put it back in by herself, whether it is at nights or at naps:

- During the day, help her practice to put the pacifier back in herself, by playing games, applauding when she tries, ...

- Keep it near her when asleep. You can either use a soft short ribbon to attach it to her PJs or sleeping bag. Do not it safely and make it too short for her to get entangle in it in any which way. Or choose a ready made solution such as the Sleepytot Baby Comforter.

Good luck, take care,

Comments for Weaning 7 1/2 month old baby from Rocking and Holding to Sleep

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by: Anonymous

Thanks. sounds like she is self soothing somewhat already! good luck.

by: Anne

Hi Heidi! wanted to tell you A GREAT BIG THANKS for your tips on self soothing the gentle way! our little girl is now 8 1/2 mos old and has been going to sleep more and more awake since trying the technique. She now goes down completely awake falls asleep in 10 min and goes back to sleep at night when she wakes! She sleeps 10-11 hours a night and her naps have gone from 30-45 min to 1 - 2 hours! All with out the severe and harsh crying it out methods! THANKS!

Good news!
by: Heidi Baby-Sleep-Advice

Hi Anne, I'm glad to hear that, well done, keep up the good work!

And thank you for taking the time to let me know, really appreciate that.

Take care,

Hyperactive when drowsy
by: Mira

Could this technique work for babies who become increasingly distressed and/or hyperactive whenever they are put down drowsy? What might you recommend? Thank you!

Yes, with this in mind
by: Heidi-BabySleepAdvice

Dear Mira,

Yes you should be able to use the gentle self soothing method also then. I see two options, and it will depend on why she is distress/hyperactive:

Some babies will only cope well with really tiny steps at first, i.e. with almost unnoticeable difference in when you put them down (i.e. still very much asleep), and only progress very slowly. Just gives them (body and mind) plenty of time to adjust. Once the first clear progress is there, then you may be able to proceed a bit faster and progress will speed up.

The other cause could be that your baby becomes frustrated because of the lengthy process, and might fare better when you simply but her down rather awake, allow her to fuss a bit if necessary (some babies need this to get rid of the tension) and she may find sleep more easily like that. Mind that I am not implying to let her cry it out, not at all, but a little bit of fussing without getting upset, is what some babies need.

Hope this helps,

Thank you
by: Mira

Dear Heidi,
Thank you so much for your quick and insightful response. We are going to give these techniques a whirl!

Timer question for hyperactive baby
by: Audrey


I will try this technique as my baby become hyperactive when i put her down drowsy. I will try to time how long it takes and take out 30 seconds every few days. Not sure it takes the same amount of time every day though.

Do you mean we start the timer once she is asleep? Because getting her to sleep can take between 10-20 minutes. I'm so discouraged i hope this will help!!!


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