Holding your baby and rocking with them is just such a wonderful experience for the parents, but also for the baby.
Actually, movement of any kind causes vestibular stimulation, which is stimulation in the inner ear, which is shown to sooth children, and actually shown to provoke cognitive awareness in children. So when you're hugging them and rocking them, you're actually helping to make them smarter.
So there are a couple of different ways to rock a baby to sleep. Some babies like the up-and-down motion, some babies like the swaying side-to-side motion. Most babies like to be head up on a slight angle, belly-to-belly with you, so they feel really close and comfortable to mom and dad.
You can rock them, really, in the way that's most comfortable for you. I tell all of my clients, and what I've done with my own children, is actually a combination of swaying and going up-and-down where you sway, dip, sway, dip, sway, dip. It really shows to calm the babies down and get them comfortable.
Then a wonderful thing is to, obviously, sing to the babies, talk to the babies. You know you want them to go to sleep, but there is nothing they like to hear more than the sound of your own voice. You can talk about your day, you can talk in a more quiet voice, you can sing a song. Singing is wonderful. It's been seven years, and I still sing to my children and rock them to sleep every night.
There is nothing more wonderful, and nothing better that you can do than connect with your children at any age and rock them. But this is the best way for rocking babies because it helps that babies don't get to much of jarring from this way or up-and-down.
By doing the dip in the middle, you kind of break anything that's too fierce. If you do rock them a little too aggressively, sometimes it can actually make them more upset, or wake them up instead of wind them down to sleep. So any kind of gentle swaying is the best way to rock your children to sleep.