How to Make a Baby Stop Crying, According to Science

Is there a miracle recipe for calming the crying of a baby in distress? Probably not. However, all parents will be happy to hear that scientists believe they have found a particularly effective way to soothe a newborn.

There are no precise instructions for use in pediatrics. And as any frustrated parent knows, there is no magic way to calm a crying baby, let alone put them to sleep.

About 20-30% of infants cry excessively and have difficulty sleeping for no apparent reason. These signs of distress naturally cause parental stress, even triggering, in some cases, acts of abuse. Although several sleep training methods or parenting programs may provide long-term improvement in this crying, there are no conclusive recommendations to date.

A study, however, highlights a fairly simple method that may be more effective than others. Something to give a little boost to distraught parents.

How to make a baby stop crying?

Their method relies on a little trick called “transport response”. This is observed in many altricial mammals (which depend entirely on their parents during the first moments of their life). These young, who are born unable to support themselves, are often transported by their parents. This has the effect of slowing their heart rate. But what about humans?

In their study, published in Current Biologythe researchers recruited 21 infants and compared how the latter reacted to four experiences: being held by their walking mother, being held by their mother while she was sitting, lying in a rocking cradle, and lying in a still cradle.

Observations revealed a real soothing effect for infants held while walking and those placed in a rocking cradle. In fact, they saw their heartbeats slow down in just thirty seconds.

For the researchers, the movements involved in these two conditions seemed to reflect the response to transport, but only when the infants were in distress. Based on their observations, they recommend that the parents concerned walk for five minutes while carrying the crying baby, before sitting down to hold him for five to eight minutes before laying him down to sleep.

Illustration of the method. Credits: RIKEN

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