Researchers looked for the most effective technique to soothe a crying baby. To accomplish this, they observed parents cuddling, carrying around, rocking, and laying down their little ones and arrived at the conclusion that the "walk and sit" method was the optimal strategy. You just have to take the baby in your arms, walk around for a while - avoiding sudden or brusk stops or changes in direction - and then sit down holding the baby for five to eight minutes before laying them back down again.
According to Dr. Kumi Kuroda of the Riken Center for Brain Science in Saitama, Japan, "Excessive crying, especially during the night-time, is shown to be a major source of parental stress." However, she thinks the approximately 15-minute "walk around and sit" approach is worth trying before parents start really worrying about what may be wrong with their infant.
The scientists used video recordings and heart monitors to analyse the different ways to soothe crying babies, such as holding them while seated, holding them while walking, putting them in a cot, and rocking them. A very interesting discovery was that crying diminished only when the babies were in motion, either while being carried around or rocked. Simply sitting still with the child or putting them in a cot had no effect on stemming their tears.
The walk around and sit method really works: After five minutes, all the babies involved in the study stopped crying, and around half of them fell asleep. The main problem is that about a third of them woke up almost as soon as they were laid down again. The researchers wanted to find out what roused them. The monitor data showed that the infants' heart rates sometimes rose enough to wake them when physical contact with the parent was broken, and laying the baby down more gently made no difference. But sitting with the sleeping baby for five to eight minutes after carrying them around for a while helped them to reach a deeper stage of sleep.
In any case, the issue of babies crying remains complex, as they can have sleepless nights for different reasons. So far, there is no one solution that suits all crying babies, and other responses can be appropriate in various situations and at different times. "If the baby has a stomach ache, I don't think this will do much. Unfortunately, I think many parents will still have sleepless nights. That's part of being a parent," said Gianluca Esposito, a professor of developmental psychology and co-author of the paper at the University of Trento.
Picture: Crying Baby (DALL·E - 2022)