Everyone has their own tips for soothing their baby. If they work for them, that’s all there is to it. However, in order to provide generalized solutions, a team of scientists from the RIKEN Center for Brain Sciences in Japan studied which was the best option, scientifically speaking.
They conducted their research, now published in Current Biology, on both mouse pups and human babies, with similar results. By focusing on those that interest us, namely humans, they analyzed different typical situations to put them to sleep, while measuring variations in their heart rate.
The way babies communicate and show their discomfort is to cry. However, their heartbeat can also give us a lot of interesting information. So much so that we have discovered that the perfect trick to put them to sleep is based on two keys: walking and not singing victory too soon.
The best way to put a crying baby to sleep
To carry out this study, the authors took several mother-child pairs and asked the first to put their baby to sleep in the usual way: by walking with the baby in their arms, in the pram or sitting down. Since the objective was to test the response of infants, two techniques were used. On the one hand, a camera was attached, so that each baby’s visible response could be seen. On the other, each baby was connected to an electrocardiogram device that was adapted to him.
Because babies do not always cry, a distinction has been made between three states: crying, awake and calm or sleeping. In this way, they could see that the reactions were very different, depending on the state they were in before.
It has been observed that the best way to put them to sleep when crying is to walk with them in your arms. In fact, after five minutes, all of the participants who were crying had fallen asleep. And, of course, their heart rate had slowed down a lot. But what is curious is that this effect was not observed in babies who were awake and calm. If their mother tried to accompany them to sleep, their heart rate increased and it became much more difficult to put them to sleep.
Do not sing the victory too quickly.
Another relevant finding from this study is that it’s when babies show the greatest increase in heart rate that their mothers finally leave them in bed. Also, if they hadn’t yet found deep enough sleep, they tended to wake up and fidget again.
So we also calculated the best time to put them to sleep in the crib. Of course, the data varies from baby to baby, but it has been found that on average, mothers must sit with their baby for 8 minutes before bedtime.
In other words, the best way to put a crying baby to sleep is to calm him down with a 5-minute walk in your arms, then spend 8 minutes sitting up before putting him to bed.
The device to put your baby to sleep
Since babies’ heartbeats have provided some very interesting data on when and how they fall asleep, scientists’ next goal is to allow parents to replicate what they did in the lab at home.
To do this, as explained in a press releasethey are working on a wearable device that measures babies’ heart rates and displays the results on a cell phone. This would be a new front in the field of “wearables”. It is no longer just about measuring our sleep, counting our steps or measuring our heart rate. In the future, we may be able to put babies to sleep using a smartwatch. More than one person would certainly be ready to walk the talk. But in the meantime, the little tip of this study is a good way to start. And it’s free – what more could you ask for?
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