My six month old son sleeps quite well but always needs my help actually falling asleep in the first place. I can't seem to get him to sleep without rocking him to sleep. Trouble is it's taking longer and longer to rock him to sleep now he's not a newborn anymore. Any ideas ?
The key to your question is to “gradually break his reliance on me” you know exactly what is happening, he is reliant on you to go to sleep. This all started as a baby when you started to rock him to sleep then he started to rely on this to go to sleep – in fact his brain believed that he couldn’t possibly go to sleep without the rocking.
How to change this now? At this point you can either stop rocking him altogether and place him in his cot without the rocking – however he is likely to cry and protest this change in routine – this is ok, if however you want to do this gradually then I suggest that you start changing it or alternating it for him. By this I mean, rock him for a few seconds then stop for a few seconds. It is expected that once you stop he will protest, then you need to rock again. This will be repeated, again and again.
The first few nights/days you will not seem to progress however by the third, he will start to anticipate the ‘shake up’ or ‘alteration’. Then you need to start to lengthen the ‘stopping’ time and shorten the ‘rocking’ time until you are barely rocking at all. I would also add in the ‘put him down into his cot movement’ which, he will then again protest because it is a change in routine, then pick him back up and rock again and once again gradually lengthen the length of time in his cot. He will soon get used to the rocking and in cot time and then just leave him in his cot to settle, he is okay, he may protest but will be fine.
Before long, as long as you are consistent, he will begin to settle in his cot. Be sure however that he is not overtired - I would aim to have him down for a sleep between 1 hour to 1 ½ hours of wake time.
The more overtired he is the longer he will protest for and it will take for him, to settle at sleep time. So protect this time for him.