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Q&A: How do I get my baby to sleep on his own?

Shari Bruno, Certified Lacataton Consultant


Q I'm a mother of a 18-month-old who was a 6 week premie and has been rocked to sleep since he was born. I still have to rock him to sleep. I have tried to let him go to sleep on his own, but he cries until I go to him. What can I do to help him fall asleep on his own?

A Rituals are a big help at nap or bedtime. Since your son enjoys being rocked, you could try reading a book or singing a song while sitting with him in the rocker before laying him down to sleep. But read only one story or sing one song, don't let him draw you into ten or twenty minutes of this. When you lay him down give him a favorite blanket or toy and if he stands up, gently lay him back down and tell him he has to go to sleep and stick to your guns. As hard as it will be, don't pick him up, but also don't leave him to cry himself out. It's important that you leave the room and close the door, but do check back every 5 minutes or so until he falls asleep or is calm. This does not mean going into the room, but watching from a spot where he cannot directly see you. If it seems he's very wound up you may want to go into the room to lay him down again, recover him, and once more let him know it's time to go to sleep. Continue doing this until he falls asleep, and expect it to take some time in the beginning. Don't be discouraged if he doesn't seem to "get" it right away. The most important thing is consistency. If possible, do not be away from home during naptime, and begin his bedtime rituals at the same time every night. Being a preemie, your son may just be a high needs baby. All this means is that it will take a little more time and patience to "teach" him to sleep on his own, or tackle most anything that requires self comforting. But he will eventually get it down, as long as you create a plan and keep with it. If you have anymore questions let me know.


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Shari is the mother of 4, ages 11 months to 13 years. She is a LLL Certified Lacataton Consultant. She provides all mothers who want to breastfeed with information and encouragement.

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