Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Research: How Carrying Calms Babies

It’s almost instinctive; parents around the globe have walked their infants up and down halls in their efforts to calm them. Now research confirms that this time tested calming ritual works!  A recent study shows that carrying your baby (defined as holding and walking at the same time), has more of a calming effect than holding alone.

Carrying Effects on Babies
Carrying causes 3 things to happen; it decreases voluntary movement of the infant; it reduces babies' heart rate, and it decreases crying. Why? Carrying actually calms the baby’s nervous system (if you want a really technical explanation of how this works, read the full journal article referenced below).

Over the years, we’ve promoted “repetition to soothe” as a tool to calm your crying baby. Carrying is a perfect example of this. It both brings baby close to your body and involves repetitive movement.

How to Use Carrying as Repetition to Soothe
Anytime your baby cries, first you want to try to find out why he is crying. Check for the obvious reasons first, like hunger, discomfort, or a dirty diaper. Then check less obvious things like overstimulation (lights, noises, people, etc.) If your baby is still upset after you’ve fixed everything, then try repetition to soothe. Hold your baby close and repeat a calming action or words over and over. This is where carrying can be incorporated! You may be wondering though just how you are supposed to know if you’ve taken care of the reason for the crying, if it’s not completely clear. If there is an underlying issue (like pain or hunger), crying will continue after the carrying stops.

Slings and Soothing
Slings or other baby carriers are a great way to carry your baby and save your arms! Remember, the key to calming is the repetitive motion, so don’t stand still! For more information about slings, click here. Remember to follow all manufacturer directions to ensure safety when using any baby carrier.

What are some other examples of how you use repetition to soothe with your baby?
Esposito G, Yoshida S, Ohnishi R, Tsuneoka Y, Rostagno Mdel C, Yokota S, Okabe S, Kamiya K, Hoshino M, Shimizu M, Venuti P, Kikusui T, Kato T, Kuroda KO. Infant Calming Responses during Maternal Carrying in Humans and Mice. Curr Biol. 2013;23(9):739-45.

1 comment:

  1. We bounce and bounce on an exercise ball. We also recorded ourselves shushing with a white noise app so we won't pass out from it.