Saying Good-Bye to Sleep Crutches

9:16 am |

sleeping baby

What would you do if I told you that in order for your baby to be the BEST sleeper and to get those nice long nights sleeps and daytime naps that the soother has to go in the garbage can?

Or that you can no longer breastfeed your baby until he/she is asleep and then transfer them to the crib?

Of that driving around in the car at 2 am to get your baby to sleep is not going to happen anymore?

Does panic set in?

Are you thinking “there is NO WAY MY BABY WILL EVER SLEEP IF I CAN’T DO THIS!”

Well I hope I can offer you some comfort in knowing that most clients I work with feel this way and are often so pleasantly surprised that those nasty habits become a thing of the past pretty darn quick and without much grief.

When your baby or toddler relies on something for sleep it makes it very challenging for them to develop positive, long-term sleep skills.

Picture it: Your baby falls asleep while breastfeeding, and soft lullabies are playing in the background. When they wake (usually 40-45 mins later after their first sleep cycle), the music isn’t playing, and the breast isn’t there to soothe him, your child gets confused and needs those things to get back to sleep.  So you start the cycle all over again.

It is best for your child to not have any dependencies for sleep. A strong sleeper has the ability to self soothe.  When a child is taught and guided properly and in a positive and loving way, the sleep skills will not only be amazing, but they will stick and you won’t find yourself having to go back and “retrain” to break nasty habits again.

Are you ready to give your baby the gift of good sleep?  Ready to trash the soother, the non-stop rocking, bouncing, 1 million bum pat and car driving routine?  It shouldn’t be a scary decision, rather an exciting one. Health is number one and honoring your child’s and yours should be too!

Goodbye props…HELLO sleep!


Janey Reilly, founder and principal of WeeSleep, is a leading professional infant and toddler sleep coach. Janey believes that providing infants and toddlers positive sleep skills in a gentle and guided way will in turn not only create healthier children but healthier and more joyful parents with a more balanced home life.

Find her at or call or email today to get some advice and sleep right away! 289.983.6464

Holly Klaassen has been running The Fussy Baby Site since 2007. Inspired to start the site after giving birth to her second child, the site aims to provide support and information to parents of fussy, colicky, high need or 'spirited' babies and kids. The main message of this site? You are not alone! When Holly isn't writing for The Fussy Baby Site, she can be found writing for other businesses on topics related to digital marketing, social media, business, and of course, parenting.

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Category: Sleep

Comments (8)

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  1. Kim says:

    I have read millions of articles and chapters in books on how to teach your child to have healthy sleeping habits.. And I followed all the advice and when my baby was able to fall asleep all by himself and started sleeping through the night I felt so proud, thinking I had accomplished this together with him. And then all of it changed. Up to 4 months there was nothing wrong at all and as soon as our baby was able to roll over, it was bye bye healthy sleeping habits. We didn’t change A THING, but all of a sudden he would just NOT fall asleep by himself and since that day he hasn’t slept through one single night.

    We had none of those bad habits, but in the end the things called “bad habits” did come in. He started to fall asleep at the breast, he started to need his paci, he started to need being rocked and held until he fell asleep. I felt so bad for all these habits to slip in and felt guilty.. But honestly? I’m not sure anymore. Cause my baby let me know when he was ready to fall asleep without the breast and now doesn’t need it anymore. He spits out his paci right before he goes into deep sleep.. And he let me know when rocking was no longer needed. Now all I do is sit down with him, hold him and sing him a song and he drifts off. He wakes up a few times a night, but only asks for me about once or twice and often not much is needed to help him back to sleep.

    So what about those babies that have all the healthy sleeping habits… Until they don’t?

  2. Rebecca says:

    I think it is too bad that people are saying you shouldn’t rock or nurse your baby to sleep. When they are older those are some of the most cherished memories of infancy, not the stresses of having to train your baby. Your baby can’t do anything else for her/himself, why should we expect them to self soothe? Self soothing is developmental and children learn it when they are ready. I know that there are family situations that make sleep training necessary such as a single parent with several children or having a career that requires being well rested. I highly recommend Dr. Harvey Karp’s new book on sleep. His method works, especially with younger babies with little or no tears and you can nurse, rock, feed your baby to sleep. I am not against sleep training, I just think parents should explore other options first before making them cry.

    • Holly says:

      Hi Rebecca, thanks for your comment! Just to clarify, I don’t think Janey is AT ALL proposing we don’t rock or soothe our babies. And I know she’s also not a proponent of crying it out. There are gentle approaches to teaching your baby to self-soothe, when they’re ready.

      • Nadine says:

        I would really like to emphasize the very last sentence “when they are ready”. My oldest son was ready at 8 months of age or what many consider as “normal”. My youngest son is 15 months old and he still needs to nurse to sleep. He had a short period of time when he fell asleep even in his crib after I nursed him and then put him down and then from one night to the next, he went back to nursing and only nursing to sleep. There is absolutley nothing I can do and I have tried about everything known to man! So I really believe, both is right: At some point, we need to help our children to be able to fall asleep without a “sleep crutch”, but we also have to let them decide, when they are ready. Even if it’s not intentionally, it’s very easy to make a mom of a “bad sleeper” feel guilty and down if it’s indicated that giving our baby what he needs (a prop) is wrong.
        (I am not saying that’s what is happening here, but I see it all the time and it’s so irritating!)

  3. Heather says:

    I totally agree that sleep crutches can cause anxiety and stress (ie., my friend with a 2 year old who she still drives to sleep for naps – yuck), and it’s okay to try new things in order to make things easier for yourself as a parent. Babies often are more adaptable than parents think.

    But this sounds a lot like a promotional advertisement for her sleep training business, and there IS a clear implication that we should move away from nursing / rocking to sleep.

    My son outgrew nursing/rocking to sleep at about 6 months, when he was ready. I took my cues from him.

    My mom rocked me to sleep until I no longer needed it, and she didn’t have to go to college with me.

    • Holly says:

      Hi Heather, I think the implication was that nursing or rocking UNTIL asleep can can result in wake ups (i.e. when your baby wakes after his or her first sleep cycle and suddenly mom isn’t there). I don’t think this is refuted by any sleep experts…if you’re co-sleeping of course, this is different because mom WILL be there when he or she wakes up. If or when a parent decides it’s time to help baby to learn to fall asleep independently (for example when night wakings get to the point where sleep deprivation is a worry), he or she will need to fall asleep without something that will be ‘missing’ when they wake up (eg. a car ride, mom rocking, etc.).

  4. Beth says:

    I don’t agree that babies should not have ‘crutches’ to fall asleep. Even the use of the word ‘crutch’ has a negative connotation.

    I have two children – one is a toddler and the other seven years old. My older child was breastfed to sleep until well after two years old. Everybody said, ‘oh, you’re making a rod for your own back’ and ‘gosh, you can’t even go out at night, can you?’

    Well, I wasn’t making a rod and I did go out at night.

    Of course babies enjoy soothing lullabies, nursing to sleep, rocking or pacifiers. Who wouldn’t?

    If attachment parenting works for you, it’s the easiest system in the world. You ‘wear’ your young baby to sleep or you nurse and co-sleep with your baby. Mostly, you’re there when she wakes up – and she goes back to sleep quickly after a feed.

    While I admire any gentle and compassionate attempt to help both mom and baby get more sleep, I can’t agree with any approach that calls nursing to sleep/rocking/etc a ‘crutch’.

    My daughter is the most independent sleeper – and person. One day I told her that it was time to have two bedtime stories, rather than a ‘nurse to sleep’. She said ‘fine’ and that was that.

    • Holly says:

      Hi Beth, Thanks for your comment. I just want to re-iterate that this article was written from the perspective of a professional who helps parents who want to learn to help their babies get more sleep. The point of the article was NOT that parents shouldn’t rock or soothe their babies, but that if/when the time comes that parents feel their baby could benefit from falling asleep independently, putting their baby to bed AWAKE is necessary. NOT that parents shouldn’t rock, soothe, sing to, etc. their baby. I can see why the statement ‘nasty habits’ would trigger that belief. However I can assure you neither this site, nor the sleep consultant who wrote it discourages parents from soothing and cuddling their babies.