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How can I get my 16 month old to sleep? He will only sleep if we rock him.

There may be several reasons why your little boy will only allow you to rock him to sleep. If you did want to begin by making a change to how he falls asleep at bedtime then you might like to think about 'scaffolding' up around the rocking at bedtime with several additional multi-sensory sleep cues, e.g. something he can hear, something he can smell, something he can feel (it could be as simple as patting, stroking, rubbing, etc.).

The more you use these new sleep cues alongside the rocking, in conjunction with the biological feeling of sleepiness at bedtime, the stronger the association between them and sleep will become. This will make it easier at some point in the future to think about gradually removing the rocking and getting him to sleep in another way.

It might also be worth considering his sensory needs. Sometimes babies have increased need for sensory stimulation to allow their nervous systems to dial down (and switch off) and as a result this can impact their sleep. The good news is that you can provide them with a lot of this sensory diet during the day which means come bedtime they find it easier to switch off and fall asleep, and potentially less movement is required.

For example, if he currently requires movement to help him dial down you might like to consider sessions in a swing in the park during the day. You could also try bouncing him on a yoga ball outside of sleep time or alternatively you can rock him during the day, but try to avoid rocking him when he is upset. I really hope that this gives you something to start with.

Emma, Tinto Expert