Scientific studies confirm that rocking a grandbaby to sleep uses all the major muscle groups, expends calories by the hundreds, and produces unexpected aerobic benefits. If you add singing or storytelling, the respiratory system benefits as well. By the way, don't consult WebMD for confirmation of these health claims; these are the kind that only personal experience can prove.
I love rocking Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie at bedtime or naptime. It is the ultimate sensory delight. I love nothing more than feeling the gentle weight of a little head in the crook of my arm or on my shoulder. I revel in those big blue eyes peeking out from blonde shags amid the lingering scent of milk and cookies or Sponge Bob toothpaste. If Bath and Body Works could bottle that in their Wallflowers bulbs, I would have one plugged into an outlet in every room of the house.
Nothing I know equals rocking for quality one-on-one time with a child. For that twenty or thirty minutes (or longer, if I am lucky), that child and I are the only two people in the world who matter. We can tell stories, joke around, or sing one of my vast repertoire of rocking songs, which includes an eclectic mix of 70s pop, American folk songs, country classics, church hymns, and Broadway show tunes--interspersed, of course, with selections from the more traditional children's canon. Sometimes, the kids pick the songs, and sometimes they sing along. There is no purer, sweeter sound that a little voice in song.
Right now, Pooh is the most rockable of my babies. Sooby is almost too big, and Bootsie is at the squirmy stage. But at barely two and small for his age, Pooh can make his little body fit my lap perfectly. Last time we rocked, he was in a joking mood. No matter what song I would start to sing, he would chime in with "O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree." "Oh, you," I would tease, it's not Christmas. You can't sing that!" But indeed he could, time and time again, and he loved the idea of putting a big joke over on Googie.
When sleep finally joins us, I take time to just watch Pooh at rest and to listen to his deep, rhythmic breathing. His day is done, and the million squabbles with his sister are behind him. The boo-boos don't hurt anymore. He has drifted into a sweet oblivion where the last thing he remembers is having the sole, undivided attention of someone who loves him beyond measure.
Yes, rocking a baby to sleep has numerous, undeniable health benefits. But I am convinced that the most important one is what it does for the heart.